Hometown Rankin - February & March 2016

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volume 3 number 1<br />

Feb/Mar <strong>2016</strong><br />

storming the runway<br />

____________________<br />

Faith Hill Country<br />

____________________<br />

Best Desserts in<br />

<strong>Rankin</strong> County<br />

____________________<br />

Miss Mississippi<br />

Hannah Roberts

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<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 3

4 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

publisher & Editor<br />

Tahya A. Dobbs<br />

CFO<br />

Kevin W. Dobbs<br />

Consulting Editor<br />

Mary Ann Kirby<br />

Account Executives<br />

Alicia Adams<br />

Rachel Lombardo<br />

Contributing Writers<br />

Camille Anding<br />

Olivia Halverson<br />

Mary Ann Kirby<br />

Susan Marquez<br />

Kerri Walker<br />

staff Photographer<br />

Othel Anding<br />

Contributing<br />

Photographer<br />

Olivia Halverson<br />

Administrative<br />

Assistants<br />

Alisha Floyd<br />

Brenda McCall<br />

Layout Design<br />

Daniel Thomas - 3dt<br />

Missy Donaldson - MAD Designs<br />

• • •<br />

You’ll have to agree–Valentine’s Day is the over-arching theme of <strong>February</strong>. So, with that fact<br />

settled, we have assembled content in this issue that revolve around things we LOVE.<br />

First are celebrities! We all are caught up in the glitz and glamour of the famous. Faith Hill and<br />

Miss Mississippi Hannah Roberts are our own stars and you’ll LOVE reading about them.<br />

We also have a surprise celebrity for you–the mayor of Puckett. His talent is cue stick artistry–<br />

designing and creating pool cues that are sold worldwide. In fact, he’s one of 5 artisans in the world<br />

that makes up this elite group of professionals.<br />

Then there are our own hometown couples who share the beginning of their LOVE stories of<br />

how they first met. You’ll also LOVE our featured desserts by local restaurants that make every<br />

month sweeter.<br />

This is a perfect opportunity to say that we LOVE our readers! You<br />

guys give us such incredible feedback and we’re honored that you spend<br />

your time with us. And last but certainly not least, we LOVE our<br />

advertisers. Remember to thank them and show them some love by<br />

sharing some hometown dollars with their businesses. Every one of us<br />

play a vital role in their continued success.<br />

Regardless of <strong>February</strong>’s frosty days and the brisk winds<br />

of <strong>March</strong>, LOVE will always warm our hearts. We hope<br />

you LOVE this new issue!<br />

www.facebook.com<br />

/hometownrankinmagazine<br />

For subscription information<br />

visit www.htmags.com<br />

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

601.706.4059<br />

26 Eastgate Drive, Suite F<br />

Brandon MS 39042<br />

• • •<br />

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

may be reproduced without written permission from<br />

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

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

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

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

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

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

is funded by advertising.<br />

On the cover: Faith Hill<br />

In this issue Favorite Things about <strong>Rankin</strong> County 8<br />

A Mississippi Girl 12<br />

How We Met 16<br />

A Leap of Faith 22<br />

Loving Lazarus 30<br />

Best Desserts in <strong>Rankin</strong> County 40<br />

I Love Us 46<br />

A Cord of Three Strands 56<br />

Storming the Runway 62<br />

Espiritu Cues 66<br />

Remaining Faithful 76<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 5

6 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

<strong>Rankin</strong> County<br />

is one of the fastest growing counties in<br />

Mississippi. So it should come as no surprise<br />

that when we asked some of the locals to tell<br />

us what their favorite things were about<br />

living in <strong>Rankin</strong> County, the answers<br />

were varied and heartfelt.<br />

And we couldn’t have<br />

said it better ourselves...<br />

8 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Voncille Anderson<br />

The best thing about living in <strong>Rankin</strong><br />

County is its wonderful, small town<br />

environment, which helps in raising<br />

a family. <strong>Rankin</strong> County has an<br />

outstanding school district. As a<br />

nineteen-year <strong>Rankin</strong> County teacher<br />

and parent of two RCSD students,<br />

I know first-hand that our district<br />

employs the best teachers and<br />

administrators in the state. <strong>Rankin</strong><br />

County also has amazing sports<br />

leagues and extracurricular programs<br />

that engage our children physically<br />

and mentally. We have incredible<br />

coaches who volunteer and dedicate<br />

their time to our children. I find comfort<br />

in knowing that when my children go<br />

outside to play, not only are they safe,<br />

but I also have neighbors who are<br />

concerned about their well-being.<br />

I am proud to say that <strong>Rankin</strong> County<br />

is my home.<br />

Clay Parker<br />

My favorite thing about living in <strong>Rankin</strong><br />

County is that each city is still able to<br />

give you that small-town feeling.<br />

I love working for and being a part<br />

of a community that gives so much<br />

support to our community’s first<br />

responders police, fire and EMS.<br />

Veronica Moore<br />

What I enjoy and love about living in<br />

<strong>Rankin</strong> County is that it’s reminiscent<br />

of my childhood home. I love the<br />

“country feel” of being removed from<br />

the busy interstate and the leisure it<br />

provides. It’s important to me for my<br />

children to have a similar culture<br />

passed to me from my grandparents.<br />

Aggie Cunningham<br />

What I enjoy the most about living in<br />

<strong>Rankin</strong> County is the hometown feel<br />

of a small town community. The<br />

people are friendly, always willing to<br />

help when needed, and very giving.<br />

Scott Hill<br />

We have made such great friendships<br />

since moving to <strong>Rankin</strong> County in 2008.<br />

We can’t imagine calling anywhere<br />

else home.<br />

Jamie Perry<br />

What I love most about living in <strong>Rankin</strong><br />

County is the quiet, beautiful country<br />

life with the convenience of being close<br />

enough to the town of Pelahatchie and<br />

Brandon for shopping! Pelahatchie is<br />

a small town filled with so many great<br />

businesses and people.<br />

Allie Enis<br />

Hard to pick just one favorite thing<br />

about living in <strong>Rankin</strong> County, but I<br />

would have to say my church family,<br />

my close knit neighborhood friends<br />

and the wonderful teachers my<br />

children have been blessed with in<br />

Brandon are at the top of my list.<br />

Tina Rials<br />

Just a few reasons I have loved living<br />

in <strong>Rankin</strong> County my whole life are the<br />

friendly folks, hometown pride and<br />

convenience of the big city, but with<br />

a small town feel.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 9

Pit Smoked<br />

Barbecue<br />

dine-in . take-out . catering<br />

Brandon<br />

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769.241.5151<br />

Flowood<br />

268 Dogwood Blvd<br />

601.992.4200<br />

Madison<br />

175 Grandview Blvd<br />

601.605.4025<br />

visit dickeys.com<br />

Richland<br />

1201 Hwy 49 S #5<br />

601.487.8139<br />

10 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Overcoming Anger<br />

Do you ever get angry?<br />

Feel your anger gets out of control?<br />

Can anger even be controlled?<br />

What if you were told you didn’t even<br />

have to get angry?<br />

In the following interview, anger is the topic of<br />

discussion between Jim Thorn of 103.9 WYAB<br />

Radio and Dr. Perry Sanderford, a licensed<br />

professional counselor at Crossroads<br />

Counseling Center.<br />

Jim Perry, everyone has found himself or herself getting<br />

angry. From your perspective, how is anger defined?<br />

Perry Anger is an emotion of the body that is designed<br />

to reach a goal. Anger has an objective, it wants to<br />

accomplish something.<br />

Jim Is anger natural?<br />

Perry I would say, yes. It is instinctive. We begin in<br />

early infancy to use our body to get what we want.<br />

Jim Are there any times when it’s healthy to be angry?<br />

Perry We want to think that anger is good. For example,<br />

the recent act of terror in Paris. Anger was our initial<br />

reaction–one that we may think should accompany<br />

the response to such a horrible act. But the truth is that<br />

anger, itself, is not necessarily the most effective tool for<br />

responding. We can and should respond decisively to<br />

such horrific acts of violence, but most of the time the<br />

anger, in itself, doesn’t really accomplish all that much.<br />

What you can do with anger, though, can be just as<br />

effective, or perhaps even more so, in solving<br />

problems–even very large ones.<br />

Jim How can we suppress the anger emotion that<br />

bubbles up so quickly? For example, when we are on the<br />

road someone unexpectedly pulls out in front of us.<br />

Perry I don’t believe it’s possible to suppress anger<br />

surging in the moment–simply because anger is a<br />

trained and instinctive reaction of our body. To not<br />

instinctively react in anger, we have to have something<br />

in place internally before the incident occurs. Again, I<br />

want to make it clear I am not saying that we do not act.<br />

I am simply saying using anger is not necessarily the<br />

most effective problem solver.<br />

Jim Are you saying we can eliminate anger altogether<br />

from our lives?<br />

Perry Pretty much. But to do so, one has to have<br />

confidence they have the ability to think and the ability<br />

to respond purposefully to solve the problem. Without<br />

that kind of confidence, we instinctively resort to anger.<br />

For example, a spouse who feels disrespected or<br />

controlled by an angry spouse often responds, in return,<br />

with anger. The problem here is that we now have two<br />

angry people–which, more often than not, creates an<br />

even greater explosive situation. On the flip-side, when a<br />

spouse is confident they can think and act appropriately<br />

to the reality of the situation, they then are in a position<br />

to respond with greater clarity and decisiveness.<br />

Jim From a Christian perspective you mentioned<br />

replacing anger with something else. Talk about anger<br />

from a Christian perspective.<br />

Perry Therein lies the very essence of Christianity.<br />

Christians have a great confidence in the sufficiency of<br />

God to provide for our every need. Christianity is not just<br />

a label, it is “trusting in God”. If Jesus can be crucified,<br />

placed in a grave, and then come back to life, then<br />

Jesus can certainly be trusted to protect us in any given<br />

situation. Confidence in Christ is what keeps us from<br />

being angry. And by the way, we don’t have to win every<br />

disagreement. In fact, Jesus said we can lose and still<br />

win. Now that’s powerful.<br />

Jim Often anger comes up because we defend our<br />

perspective and what we think is right. But are you<br />

saying that sometimes it’s best to kind of back away<br />

even if we stand firmly on our position?<br />

Perry I’m saying we can be powerful in the story. We<br />

don’t have to be a doormat. But we can be more powerful<br />

if we remain calm. We can think, and then if necessary,<br />

express ourselves with confident actions. We are not<br />

asking people to be stupid. You can distance yourself<br />

from someone that wants to harm you. Don’t make<br />

yourself available to somebody who attacks you. But at<br />

the same time, you don’t necessarily have to respond<br />

immediately with a fight. For Christians, there is a<br />

greater force within us and we can trust Him.<br />

Jim I would imagine that someone who gets angry<br />

fairly regularly would take a little more time to re-program<br />

in order to get back to the position that you are talking<br />

about.<br />

Perry Getting angry regularly is a way of saying we<br />

have programmed our body to use anger to problem-solve.<br />

But we can ‘un-train’ ourselves, too. It requires confidence<br />

and practice. It’s like jumping out of an airplane. You<br />

believe the parachute is going to hold you up–but you<br />

really don’t know until the ripcord is actually pulled.<br />

You hope life will go better if you don’t respond in<br />

anger, but you are not 100% sure until you try it. The<br />

more you practice trusting God and not attempt to solve<br />

problems with anger, the more confidence you build in<br />

this process.<br />

It’s a matter of learning how to do life in a way that works<br />

better. But, you may insist you can do life better with<br />

anger, and if so, then keep doing it. But my observance<br />

in everyday life is that people not only accomplish very<br />

little with anger, but they actually make the situation<br />

worse.<br />

Jim What would you recommend for someone that<br />

struggles with anger?<br />

Perry: Chronic anger means something in life is not<br />

working. If something is not working, you don’t want to<br />

keep doing it. A lot of people do, however. They go to<br />

their grave using that same anger that has accomplished<br />

very little. The definition of insanity is doing the same<br />

thing over and over again expecting different results. If<br />

anger is not working for you, consider doing something<br />

different.<br />

However, you may not know what to do. If I know where<br />

I want to go but am not sure how to get there, I use a<br />

map plotting the pathway to the desired destination.<br />

If you want to overcome anger but don’t know how,<br />

then find someone who knows, and ask. A good Christian<br />

counselor is actually a life-coach who can teach you<br />

how not to be angry. Remember, lots of people say they<br />

know the pathway to living well, but they may only be<br />

guessing. Guessing, when in error, has its own negative<br />

consequences.<br />

That’s why I think Christian counseling is the finest<br />

source of information available to the world. Jesus was<br />

the smartest human that ever lived. He knows how to<br />

live well. This information has been proven reliable for<br />

thousands of years or it would have died out by now.<br />

A confident life in the pathway provided by Jesus Christ<br />

is truly living well–even in overcoming anger.<br />

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________<br />

For more information, please contact Dr. Perry Sanderford at Crossroads Christian Marriage & Family Counseling. 601-939-6634.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 11

12 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

A Mississippi Girl<br />

Hannah Camille Roberts was crowned Miss Mississippi in 2015<br />

and went on to compete for the title of Miss America <strong>2016</strong> where she was named as first runner-up.<br />

As a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Hannah majored in biochemistry with a minor in biology.<br />

After getting to know her here, we were quick to realize that she’s as smart as she is beautiful.<br />

We are so proud of this Mississippi girl!<br />

At what age did you first begin dreaming<br />

of being Miss America?<br />

I’ve watched Miss America every year since I was<br />

a young girl and I have always looked up to those<br />

women.<br />

Were you a regular in pageant competitions<br />

growing up? If so, were you encouraged by<br />

your results?<br />

I truly did not compete in a lot of pageants as a<br />

child. Other than Miss Mississippi, I have only<br />

competed in Jr. Miss/Distinguished Young Woman.<br />

Describe a typical day during your time<br />

at the Miss America competition.<br />

The days at Miss America typically included a<br />

rehearsal time in the morning until mid-afternoon<br />

and then a night event such as dinner.<br />

Who did you consider to be your biggest<br />

competitor in the talent division?<br />

I definitely considered Miss Georgia, Betty<br />

Cantrell, now Miss America, to be my biggest<br />

competition. She has one of the best voices<br />

I have ever heard in any pageant.<br />

What kind of food did you eat at the<br />

competition and was it all provided<br />

by the pageant?<br />

Our meals were all catered or provided by the<br />

Miss America pageant and were selected by a<br />

dietitian. I have never been a huge fan of dieting<br />

or restricting food so I had everything from salad<br />

to ice cream during those two weeks!<br />

What was your most enjoyable part of the<br />

pageant?<br />

The most enjoyable part of any pageant is meeting<br />

other young women. I made so many friends at Miss<br />

America and stay in touch with them all the time.<br />

What is something you learned at the pageant<br />

that most people would never know?<br />

Many people assume that “pageant girls” are mean<br />

or snobby. But through this organization, I have<br />

learned that these women are real girls. They all<br />

have struggles and they aren’t perfect, but they are<br />

supportive and loving and want to make a<br />

difference in the world.<br />

What was the most difficult part of the<br />

pageant competition?<br />

The most difficult part was not being able to see<br />

my family. My family arrived in Atlantic City very<br />

early in the week, but I had very little time to<br />

communicate with them and did not get to see<br />

them until Tuesday night. We are a very tight-knit<br />

group, so this was a struggle for me.<br />

Give some pointers to other girls who aspire<br />

to being Miss America.<br />

Being competitive at Miss America is all about<br />

preparation. If this is your dream, start preparing as<br />

soon as you can. Whether it’s developing a talent,<br />

creating a fitness plan, or learning about politics<br />

and interview skills, starting early is a huge benefit.<br />

Describe your interview with the judges.<br />

My Miss America interview was the most difficult<br />

10 minutes of my life! It’s set up like a press conference<br />

and all types of questions are fired at random.<br />

What was the one food on your “can’t eat<br />

list” that you craved the most?<br />

Although it may have been a good idea to have a<br />

“can’t eat list,” I never made one. However, my<br />

favorite “bad” food is Taco Bell all the way! I am<br />

known for showing up to interview practice with<br />

a take-out bag in one hand and my interview<br />

notebook in the other.<br />

Was there ever a time in the week that you<br />

wished you were back home living your<br />

normal life?<br />

Absolutely not. Only one girl from Mississippi gets<br />

to go to Miss America each year, and this year it was<br />

me! There was not a single moment that I regretted<br />

being there and I soaked up every second of it.<br />

What is your favorite memory from the<br />

competition?<br />

Sunday night (crowning night) after the top 15<br />

were announced. I was announced 14th and one<br />

of my best friends, Miss Arkansas Loren McDaniel,<br />

was announced 15th. I think I screamed louder<br />

when her name was called than I did for my own.<br />

I was very close to all of the girls that made it into<br />

the Top 15 and we were all so excited for one<br />

another. That is a moment I’ll never forget.<br />

What are your goals for the future?<br />

I will begin medical school at UMMC in August<br />

and plan to specialize in pediatric reconstructive<br />

plastic surgery. I hope to live in Jackson or Oxford<br />

once I graduate.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 13

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14 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

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<strong>Hometown</strong> Brandon • 15

How<br />

We Met<br />

Everyone has their<br />

“How we met” story.<br />

From meeting in the first grade,<br />

to sharing classes in college,<br />

to being set up by mutual friends,<br />

everyone’s story is unique.<br />

Here are just a few “How we met”<br />

stories from some of our readers.<br />

16 • <strong>February</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Julie & Donny Parker<br />

Brandon<br />

Melissa & Scott Crawford<br />

Pearl<br />

Donny and Julie sat beside each other in Mrs. Simpson’s<br />

first grade class at Iuka Elementary School. Their friendship<br />

developed through the tenth grade when Donny asked<br />

Julie out on a date to see the movie, “Three Men and a<br />

Little Lady” and dine at Taco Bell. Several more dates and<br />

a few high school dances later, the couple graduated from<br />

Iuka High School in 1992.<br />

The Christmas before the two of them went to<br />

Mississippi State, Donny proposed. Their engagement<br />

lasted all through college until Julie finished her student<br />

teaching. She said, “I finished student teaching on a<br />

Thursday, graduated from Mississippi State on Friday,<br />

and got married on Saturday.” Today, Donny and Julie<br />

live in Brandon. They have three children: Benton, Anna<br />

Scott, and Lila. This year, Donny and Julie will celebrate<br />

their twenty-first wedding anniversary.<br />

Scott and Melissa met in Hawaii in the summer of<br />

1986. Scott was serving as a minister of youth intern at<br />

First Southern Baptist Church of Pearl Harbor. That<br />

summer, Melissa helped Scott with ministry activities for<br />

the youth group. After that summer, they returned to their<br />

homes. They wrote to each other and spoke on the phone<br />

as often as they could. Melissa eventually asked Scott to fly<br />

out to California to meet her family. That week Scott said,<br />

“The Lord confirmed to both of us that he was calling us<br />

to each other.”<br />

Scott went back to New Orleans Baptist Theological<br />

Seminary and finished his master’s degree. Melissa continued<br />

with her college education at UCSB. She flew out to see<br />

Scott graduate from NOBTS in December of 1990. Scott<br />

proposed marriage to her that Christmas. To his delight,<br />

Melissa said yes. After a long engagement with multiple<br />

relocations for both Scott and Melissa, they ended up in<br />

Las Vegas doing ministry together. They were married on<br />

May 22, 1993 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Three children and<br />

eighteen years later, Scott and Melissa moved their family<br />

back to Scott’s hometown of Pearl. Scott has been the<br />

pastor at First Baptist Church of Pearl since 2012, and<br />

Melissa teaches at Park Place Christian Academy.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 17

Judy & Barry Kirkpatrick<br />

pearl<br />

Heather & Ben Bryan<br />

Flowood<br />

Barry was sent to Meridian Navel Air Station in 1961.<br />

Upon arriving, one of his roommates set up a double date<br />

for them. The roommate was going on the date with Judy<br />

and arranged for Barry to be with one of Judy’s friends.<br />

From the first minute they met, Barry knew he wanted to<br />

get to know Judy better. A couple of days later, Barry found<br />

out Judy was going to take her niece to the Meridian County<br />

Fair. He made sure he was there. Barry said, “We had a<br />

great time until we rode the Ferris wheel. After coming<br />

down I threw up–not a very good impression to make.”<br />

Barry did not have a car at that time so they didn’t go<br />

out much until Christmas when he went home and bought<br />

a 1957 Pontiac. When Barry returned after the holidays, he<br />

ran into snow south of Butler, Alabama. The weather got<br />

pretty bad, and a neighborly couple hosted Barry for the<br />

night. The next day, Barry drove in over 8 inches of snow<br />

on the roads. He went to Judy’s home, then called his duty<br />

officer and said he couldn’t make it back to the base. Barry<br />

spent another week at Judy’s parents’ home. They got<br />

married June 29, 1962. In June, Barry and Judy will<br />

celebrate their fifty-fourth wedding anniversary.<br />

Ben and Heather spent their whole lives less than a mile<br />

from each other. It wasn’t until they were ages 20 and 21<br />

that the two actually met. Their college roommates were old<br />

friends, and eventually Ben and Heather found themselves<br />

in the same circle of friends. They started dating in the<br />

spring of 2008. Heather said, “I remember calling my mom<br />

after our first date to tell her I had just met the man I was<br />

going to marry.”<br />

Today Ben and Heather jokingly talk about how from<br />

day one they were sure that marriage was in their future.<br />

Ben and Heather both finished their degrees at Ole Miss<br />

and moved home to join the real world. Ben proposed<br />

the day after Thanksgiving, his favorite holiday, in 2009.<br />

They were married July 10, 2010. Since then, Ben and<br />

Heather’s family has expanded and they have two<br />

wonderful children: Caroline born <strong>March</strong> 20, 2013 and<br />

Josh born December 8, 2015.<br />

The couple currently resides in Flowood. Ben works<br />

at Morgan White Group as an accounting associate, and<br />

Heather teaches at Norwest <strong>Rankin</strong> High School. The<br />

Bryans are excited to raise their family in the same<br />

community they both grew up in.<br />

18 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Juniper & Delwin Wallace<br />

Flowood<br />

Whitney & Marcus Canoy<br />

puckett<br />

Juniper and Delwin met in August of 2002 while both<br />

teaching in the art department at Brandon High School.<br />

They ended up in the same group of friends where five of<br />

them would go out to dinner once a month. Juniper would<br />

often ask Delwin for help with big projects like painting<br />

sets for the theater program. Their students would always<br />

say to Juniper, “You and Mr. Wallace should date.” Sure<br />

enough, by <strong>February</strong> of 2003, Delwin and Juniper started<br />

dating. They were engaged in July of the same year but<br />

decided to keep their engagement a secret.<br />

When they came back to school after that summer, a<br />

coworker grabbed Delwin’s hand to see if he was wearing<br />

a wedding band. She suspected Delwin and Juniper had<br />

eloped over the summer. Delwin said, “What are you<br />

looking for?” He grabbed Juniper’s hand with the engagement<br />

ring on it and said “This?”<br />

Delwin and Juniper got married outside at the Mississippi<br />

Ag Museum in June of 2004. About fifty students attended<br />

the wedding as they were closely invested in Delwin and<br />

Juniper’s relationship. Today, the Wallaces live in Flowood.<br />

Delwin teaches art and Juniper teaches theater at Northwest<br />

<strong>Rankin</strong> High School. They will celebrate their twelfth<br />

wedding anniversary this year.<br />

Marcus and Whitney were both students at Mississippi<br />

College, but never actually met until Marcus’ friend stepped<br />

in. He told Marcus that his girlfriend worked with a girl at<br />

Ulmer’s Stride Rite named Whitney. They thought Marcus<br />

and Whitney should meet. Marcus said, “I was a bit nervous<br />

at the prospect of participating in a blind date for lots of<br />

reasons. Still, we both agreed to a double date and I fell in<br />

love at first sight.”<br />

Twenty years later, Marcus and Whitney have remained<br />

inseparable. They live in Puckett, where Marcus is the pastor<br />

at Puckett Baptist Church and Whitney is a part-time<br />

physical therapist at St. Dominic’s. Whitney is also a fulltime<br />

mom to their three children, Kayleigh, Nolan, and Jase.<br />

The couple just celebrated their eighteenth wedding<br />

anniversary on January 3. That date is also special because<br />

their cancer-surviving daughter turned 13 on the same day.<br />

Marcus said, “No marriage is perfect, but God is, and we<br />

know that God brought us together. He has blessed our<br />

marriage and our family.”<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 19

20 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 21

A Leap<br />

of<br />

Faith<br />

22 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

On December 19th, the Mississippi<br />

Country Music Trail unveiled a trail<br />

marker honoring Faith Hill at the<br />

corner of Main and Mangum<br />

Streets in Star, Mississippi.<br />

As a young girl growing up in Star, Faith<br />

found her passion for music and singing and<br />

followed her heart to Nashville at the young age<br />

of 19. She has now been a force of nature in the<br />

entertainment industry for over two decades,<br />

having achieved unprecedented success in the<br />

worlds of country and pop music as one of the<br />

top-selling and most-awarded female artists of<br />

all time. Over the course of her career, she has<br />

had fourteen #1 singles and multiple albums<br />

topping both the Billboard Top 100 and<br />

Country charts, with six multi- platinum studio<br />

albums and selling more than 30 million albums<br />

worldwide. She’s won five Grammy Awards,<br />

twelve ACM Awards, four Billboard Music<br />

Awards, four American<br />

Music Awards, four<br />

People’s Choice Awards<br />

and three CMA Awards.<br />

We had the chance<br />

to ask Faith, and her<br />

close-knit family, a few<br />

questions and got a<br />

peek of what it was<br />

like for her growing<br />

up in Star.<br />

What is your favorite memory of growing up<br />

in Star/<strong>Rankin</strong> County?<br />

One of my fondest memories of growing up in Star was the<br />

winter that Highway 49 froze over completely from a big<br />

northeastern storm that fell down into the deep south in<br />

the early ‘80s. Highway 49 and everything else was closed.<br />

This is the day that Gaye McCann, now Gaye Knight, and<br />

I would become best friends. We played all day on the<br />

highway…sliding, falling, running, laughing, sliding, falling,<br />

and laughing again and again.<br />

What is the one thing you miss the most about<br />

living in a small town?<br />

Life in a small town is something everyone should have the<br />

opportunity to experience at least once in a lifetime. Dreams<br />

seem bigger when you come from a small town; although,<br />

somehow they seem more obtainable because either you have<br />

the support of friends and family, which gives you strength to<br />

work hard and be successful or you have so much drive to get<br />

out of the small town that it motivates you to work even harder.<br />

I miss my family and I miss knowing every road and where<br />

each one leads. There is power in that knowledge; the power<br />

of knowing where you are going, as well as the power that<br />

comes from the drive to get out of something so familiar and<br />

discover what the world has to offer.<br />

Is there a favorite tradition that you and your<br />

family had growing up that has been carried<br />

over to your family?<br />

There are many things that I have<br />

carried over to my family. Lots of<br />

traditions–and most all of them are<br />

related to food and faith. My<br />

parents had the most incredible<br />

vegetable garden. My brothers<br />

and I had the chore of weeding,<br />

shelling peas, butter beans–whatever<br />

was required. I absolutely<br />

hated it when I was growing up<br />

and usually found an excuse to<br />

not always be home when I<br />

needed to help.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 23

But once I moved away, I realized how valuable that garden<br />

was to my parents and our family for so many reasons. After<br />

my brothers and I moved into our own homes, my parents<br />

worked the garden and would split the harvest evenly between<br />

us siblings. There is no one that can cook green beans and butter<br />

beans like Edna Perry. I do know the secret and I cook them for<br />

my family but they just never seem to be as good as my moms.<br />

When did you know that you wanted to be<br />

a country singer?<br />

I always knew I wanted to sing. Truthfully, there was never any<br />

doubt whatsoever. I just never thought of doing anything else.<br />

It was as if singing chose me. My soul was set on fire every<br />

Sunday with music from the church. That music transformed<br />

me to another place and still does to this very day. The soul of<br />

those old gospel hymns just resonated in me from as far back<br />

as I can remember. After seeing Elvis Presley in Jackson when<br />

I was 12 years old, I knew there would be no other path I could<br />

take but to sing. However, it wasn’t until high school that I<br />

decided country music was the music I wanted to sing. Country<br />

music was not as popular then as it is now, so without question,<br />

I was in the minority when it came to this style of music.<br />

Were your parents supportive of your decision<br />

to move to Nashville?<br />

My parents have always been supportive of all of their children.<br />

They worked hard and instilled in us a strong work ethic that<br />

my brothers and I share. We were taught that nothing comes<br />

without hard work, to treat people with respect and dignity,<br />

and never take one day for granted.<br />

Education was important as well. I begged to move to Nashville<br />

straight out of high school but my mom insisted I go to college<br />

before making my final decision to move away. The fact that I<br />

only attended college for one semester probably broke my mom’s<br />

heart! And as a parent of three teenage daughters, with one in<br />

college, one on the way to college, and another not far behind,<br />

I can only, now, imagine the worry that I must have caused my<br />

mom. However, my parents raised us in faith and I know that<br />

they could not have survived what I put them through without<br />

that faith and without lots of prayer.<br />

24 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

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

encouragement to anyone with big dreams,<br />

what would it be?<br />

Do what you love. Find your passion in life and work hard<br />

to make it happen. Nothing comes without hard work.<br />

Be a good person and treat people with respect, always…<br />

that is something that never goes out of style. Kindness is<br />

a universal language and no matter how far you climb and<br />

no matter how successful you become, always be humble<br />

and kind.<br />

You have represented Mississippi and your hometown<br />

well. How did it make you feel to be honored with a<br />

marker on the Mississippi Country Music Trail?<br />

I am proud to be from the great state of Mississippi and I am<br />

humbled to be included in a list of so many great artists that<br />

came before me.<br />

You have won numerous awards and accolades, but<br />

what do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?<br />

My biggest accomplishment in this life has been my children.<br />

I thank God everyday for my family. I was born to sing but<br />

I was raised to be mom. That is my greatest joy.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 25

Brother<br />

Wesley Perry<br />

What is your favorite memory of living in <strong>Rankin</strong> County?<br />

My family moved to Plantation Shores when I graduated high<br />

school…1978…yes, I’m old! I can remember playing in Hwy. 49<br />

one winter because there were no cars. The road was covered<br />

with snow and we played in the highway.<br />

Were you and your siblings close growing up?<br />

Yes. I was eight when she came to us and our brother, Steve,<br />

was six. Faith was adopted from birth. My parents named her<br />

Faith, but I gave her the name Audrey. The name came from<br />

a beautiful woman on a TV show. I think it was Big Valley–<br />

and maybe it was Audra. But I named her Audrey after that<br />

pretty lady on TV. So her name is Audrey Faith Perry.<br />

Steve works for Faith now and lives in Franklin, Tennessee.<br />

Is there a favorite tradition that you and your family<br />

had growing up that has been carried over to your<br />

family?<br />

We don’t have specific traditions or anything like that, but<br />

what we do have is LOVE of family. We love people. My parents<br />

love people, I love people, and my kids love people. We also are<br />

helpers…we love to help others. We love to serve.<br />

What is it like being the brother to one of the most<br />

successful country music singers of all time?<br />

Sometimes it’s great and other times it’s just another day. Faith<br />

has always helped us. She helped with my kid’s college and she<br />

helped with the funding to build our home. She gives me stuff<br />

for the kids I teach and much, much more.<br />

What is your favorite song that Faith sings?<br />

My favorite is off of the “Breathe” CD–“There Will Come<br />

a Day.”<br />

26 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Parents<br />

Edna & Ted Perry<br />

Otherwise known as G-Maw and G-Paw.<br />

Answers were relayed to us by Wesley.<br />

How long have you lived in <strong>Rankin</strong> County?<br />

Since 1978<br />

What is your favorite thing about living in a small town?<br />

G-Paw said his favorite thing is getting to know all of the<br />

people and then looking to see if he sees anyone that he knows<br />

where ever he goes.<br />

G-Maw said making close friends that are always there when<br />

you need them.<br />

Do all of your children have a musical side?<br />

Yes. My youngest son, Steve Perry, took piano lessons and<br />

Wesley plays a little guitar and sings from time to time.<br />

(Funny fact interjected by Wesley - In my family we have many<br />

folks with famous singer names…. Faith Hill, my brother Steve<br />

Perry and my daughter Katie Perry, I’m the odd man out!)<br />

When did you realize that Faith had the talent to sing?<br />

When she was two, standing in a pew at church singing with the<br />

hymnal upside down.<br />

When she told you she wanted to move to Nashville<br />

to pursue a country music career, what was your first<br />

thought?<br />

(Answered by Wesley) My mom said no. Said she got lost in<br />

Jackson and she knew she wouldn’t be able to find her way<br />

around a place such as Nashville. My dad has always given her<br />

his support since the very beginning.<br />

Do you remember where you were the first time you<br />

heard Faith on the radio? What was your reaction?<br />

Driving down Highway 49 headed home from work.<br />

My mom’s reaction was, “Well, there she is on the radio.”<br />

As a parent, how did it make you feel to see Faith<br />

honored in such a special way with the marker on<br />

the Mississippi Country Music Trail?<br />

My dad said he was so proud. He never thought she would get<br />

this big! My mom said she would have told your reporter that<br />

she is proud of all of her children.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 27

28 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 29

30 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Mary Ann Kirby<br />

couple of years ago, I was walking<br />

back to my then-downtown office<br />

from lunch and noticed a man up<br />

ahead that clearly looked as if he had fallen<br />

on hard times. He was leaning against the<br />

wall watching as I approached and just as<br />

I did, asked if I had a dollar to spare. Now<br />

I knew he was going to ask me that but<br />

what proceeded to come out of my mouth<br />

was astonishing, even to me. I said, “I don’t<br />

have a dollar. I even had to charge my lunch.”<br />

And while I’m quite certain the guy doesn’t<br />

take American Express or care, for that<br />

matter, that I’d been faced with the grueling<br />

decision between cash or credit, he still<br />

managed a gracious nod as I passed him by.<br />

I felt guilty–and ridiculous.<br />

It got me to thinking, though, as I<br />

continued on, what should I have said?<br />

Better yet, what could I have done? It was<br />

the second incident in as many weeks that<br />

left me with the same question.<br />

The week before, my son and I had made<br />

a trip to Yazoo City to see my grandmother.<br />

On the way there, I noticed an older man<br />

standing alongside the highway trying to<br />

fix his bicycle. His front wheel was lying on<br />

the ground and there was a sign on the back<br />

of his bike that said, “Broke and hungry.”<br />

I instantly wished I’d known how to fix a<br />

bicycle–but kept driving, nonetheless. I<br />

mean, you never know about people, right?<br />

Well three hours later on our way back,<br />

we passed that same man now riding his<br />

repaired bike down the shoulder of that<br />

same highway having made it a good<br />

distance from the original sighting. It was<br />

as if God was giving me a second chance<br />

to redeem myself. I told my son, “I wish<br />

there was some way we could help him,”<br />

and he said, “OK, but how?” And in the<br />

time it took us to wrestle with what to do,<br />

at 70 miles per hour, we had traveled<br />

another half-mile down the road–still<br />

not stopping. It weighed on me.<br />

So that day, downtown, as I carried my<br />

purse in the crook of my arm channeling<br />

my inner Reese Witherspoon in Legally<br />

Blonde, I once again failed the exercise<br />

with which I was presented. The man on<br />

the street was seemingly broke and in need<br />

and I did nothing to help him. You know,<br />

Lazarus was overlooked repeatedly and<br />

look how that story ended.<br />

How else could I have helped? A<br />

sandwich and a bottle of water may have<br />

done just the trick–just like the sandwich<br />

and bottle of water I’d bought myself a<br />

half-hour earlier. I mean, the fact that he’s<br />

willing to suffer an existence of poverty<br />

and begging rather than turn to a life of<br />

crime suggests to me that he might actually<br />

be of high moral character. I say that sort<br />

of jokingly, of course. The point is, who are<br />

we to judge? And what does that sandwich<br />

cost in the grand scheme of things? Well,<br />

based on the story of Lazarus, it could cost<br />

me everything.<br />

Regardless of how we act or think in<br />

those situations, we could each do a little<br />

more to help those who have a lot less.<br />

And in reality, the “beggars” in our lives<br />

are not limited to those penniless and on<br />

street corners. We’re surrounded by people<br />

starving emotionally, spiritually, and<br />

socially–and how we feed them matters.<br />

So as we embark upon a new year,<br />

I’d like to offer a prayer for peace and<br />

new beginnings. I pray that joy will fill<br />

our days, peace will fill our hearts, and love<br />

will fill our lives. I pray that we’ll be blessed<br />

with all the good things God has to give<br />

and that we will all live in love and truth<br />

in <strong>2016</strong>. n<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 31

RichlandFire<br />

Department<br />

Grand Re-Opening<br />

January 14, <strong>2016</strong><br />

Alan Miller, Jay Glenn, Tim Everett, Marshall Robinson<br />

Micah & Jessica Sanford Ricky Chapman, Lawrence Taylor Mike Harrell, Leroy Wilson<br />

Lisa Dutton, Lori McClendon Daniel Johnson, Jordan McAlpin Mayor Mark Scarborough, Mayor Butch Lee<br />

32 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Forrest Rhemann, Stanley Roberts<br />

Bob Wedgeworth, Rob Martin, Richard Redfern, Pat Sullivan, Clay Burns<br />

Terrance McEwen, Thomas Dudley, Collin Jones, Sandra Ray, Buddy Ham<br />

John Gray, Chris Snow, Brandon Weems<br />

Terri Wood, Todd Sanford, Barbara Adams<br />

Melinda Quick, Laura Mayo, Cathey Winne<br />

Scotty Gainey<br />

Lee Ashley<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 33

4-25-15<br />

2.5 x 1.75<br />

Attitude Ability Awareness<br />


The Boondocks is an all-inclusive training facility designed<br />

for both men and women to learn safe gun handling and<br />

defensive firearms training for multiple skill levels.<br />

Monthly TWAW Chapter Meetings<br />

State of the Art Facility<br />

Skilled and Certified Instructors<br />

Safety is our Priority<br />

Education is Key<br />

Enjoyment is Goal<br />

Class Descriptions on Website<br />

www.BoondocksFTA.com<br />

Sign up online for your class<br />

Click on Class Title to receive class description/prices/etc.<br />

11771 Highway 18 769-972-2382 Raymond, MS 39154<br />

TWAW Shooting Chapter Clinton/Raymond MS<br />

www.TWAWshootingchapters.org<br />

34 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

©2014 Ergon, Inc. All rights reserved.<br />

ergon.com<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 35

–engagement–<br />

MadisonLeighAnnBurrell<br />

& BoMikel Bilello<br />

Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey David Burrell of Brandon,<br />

Mississippi announce the engagement of their<br />

daughter, Madison LeighAnn Burrell, to Bo Mikel<br />

Bilello, son of Mr. and Mrs. Donnie Paul Bilello of<br />

Enterprise, Mississippi.<br />

The bride-elect is the granddaughter of Mr.<br />

Charles Harry Smith, Jr. and the late Mrs. Peggy<br />

Joyce Smith of Pearl and Mrs. Doris Ellen Burrell<br />

and the late Lonnie Buford Burrell, Sr. of Pearl.<br />

Miss Burrell is a 2011 graduate of East <strong>Rankin</strong><br />

Academy and a 2015 graduate of Mississippi State<br />

University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in<br />

business administration. At State, she was a<br />

member of Delta Gamma sorority, MSU Fashion<br />

Board, Sigma Alpha Lambda honors society, and<br />

Campus Activities Board. She is employed as a<br />

sales consultant at Miskelly Furniture in Madison.<br />

The prospective groom is the grandson of<br />

Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wayne McLemore of<br />

Enterprise and Ms. Mary Jane Talbot of Baton<br />

Rouge, Louisiana and the late Mr. Donald<br />

Salvatore Bilello of Thibodaux, Louisiana.<br />

Mr. Bilello is a 2010 honor graduate of<br />

Enterprise High School, where he was salutatorian.<br />

He is a 2014 summa cum laude graduate of<br />

Mississippi College, where he earned a bachelor’s<br />

degree in biological sciences and was a member<br />

of Phi Theta Kappa. He is now furthering his<br />

education in the physical therapy program at<br />

University of Mississippi Medical Center.<br />

The couple will exchange vows on Saturday,<br />

<strong>March</strong> 5, <strong>2016</strong> at six o’clock in the evening at<br />

The Ice House Venue in Jackson, Mississippi<br />

with a reception immediately following.<br />

Upon returning from a honeymoon in St. Lucia,<br />

the couple will reside in Brandon.<br />

36 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

–wedding–<br />

StephanieBrookeSlaughter<br />

& JustinDavidTullos<br />

Stephanie Brooke Slaughter and Justin David Tullos were united in<br />

marriage October 3, 2015 at The Ivy Venue in Flowood, Mississippi.<br />

The ceremony was officiated by Reverend Gary Knight and Reverend<br />

David Slaughter.<br />

The bride is the daughter of Rev. and Mrs. David Slaughter of Pelahatchie,<br />

Mississippi. She is the granddaughter of Dr. Kenneth Slaughter and the late<br />

Nancy Slaughter of Jackson, Mississippi and the late Mr. and Mrs. George<br />

Welford of Waynesboro, Mississippi. The groom is the son of Mr. and Mrs.<br />

Michael Tullos of Brandon, Mississippi. He is the grandson of Mr. and Mrs.<br />

George Tullos of Brandon, Mississippi and Mr. and Mrs. Wade Morrison of<br />

Byram, Mississippi.<br />

Given in marriage by her father, the bride wore a gown of ivory taffeta<br />

by Allure bridal. The strapless ball gown featured a sweetheart neckline<br />

with ruching detail. The fitted bodice was accented at the waist by a belt<br />

of Swarovski crystals, and a chapel length train completed the ensemble.<br />

A cathedral-length illusion veil, adorned with matching crystal detailing,<br />

accented the dress. Stephanie’s bouquet was a beautiful cascade of white<br />

roses, freesia, ranunculus, and willow eucalyptus.<br />

Attending Stephanie as her matron of honor was Mary Kate Partrige.<br />

Additional attendants were dear friends Ashley Cocilova, Marion Patti,<br />

Shanna Funcke, Rebecca Parker, and Nikki Raney. Each attendant carried<br />

a hand-tied bouquet of red, white, and peach roses with eucalyptus leaves,<br />

which complemented their eggplant, long chiffon dresses. Serving as flower<br />

girls were Adalyn Roberts, Miriam Raney, and Lydia Raney. Attending Justin<br />

as best man was Wil Mann. Groomsmen were John Murphy, Brett Boling,<br />

Will Roberts, Daniel Barnett, and Zach Farrar.<br />

To the bride and groom’s surprised delight, they exited the ceremony to<br />

the song “Oh Happy Day” performed by a gospel quartet from Anderson<br />

United Methodist Church.<br />

Following the ceremony, the bride’s parents hosted a reception on the<br />

grounds of The Ivy. Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres of traditional southern<br />

fare provided by Wendy Putt of Fresh Cut Floral and Catering. Guests were<br />

entertained by music and a photo-booth provided by Crowd Pleasers DJ<br />

services. Her mother lovingly prepared the bride’s five tier almond cake.<br />

Cakes by Iris prepared the groom’s two-tiered chocolate cake depicting his<br />

love of hunting and Mississippi State. On the eve of the wedding, a dinner<br />

was hosted by the parents of the groom at The Ivy.<br />

After a honeymoon to St. Lucia, the couple is at home in Brandon,<br />

Mississippi.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 37

Urology Associates<br />

of Mississippi<br />

Our physicians are highly skilled and experienced<br />

in treating a wide array of urology conditions<br />

Utilizing state of the art equipment and advanced treatment techniques,<br />

each of our board certified urologists have specific areas of urological<br />

expertise in addition to providing general urologic care to patients<br />

all over the state of Mississippi.<br />

Avinash C. Gulanikar, M.D. • Mark A. Condon, M.D. • Sujith K. Reddy, M.D.<br />

Please visit us at our new location:<br />

294 East Layfair Drive • Flowood, MS<br />

601.936.4645<br />

38 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 39

40 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong><br />

Life is Short.<br />

Eat Dessert First<br />

Whether you have a passion for pastry or an utter devotion to chocolate,<br />

every once in a while, it becomes necessary to satisfy your needs<br />

with a sweet and indulgent treat. And when cravings call,<br />

these go-to desserts are sure to satisfy.

Cerami’s<br />

Homemade New York Cheesecake<br />

with candied red raspberry sauce will make you<br />

re-think cheesecake. Creamy, light, and not-too-sweet,<br />

creating a balance between sweetness and tanginess.<br />

It’s a chef favorite!<br />

Nothing Bundt Cakes<br />

Chocolate Chocolate Chip<br />

Chocolate bliss. This incredibly moist, decadent chocolate<br />

cake is packed with chocolate chips and rich, home-baked<br />

flavor that’s certain to earn sighs of delight.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 41

The Alumni House Sports Bar & Grill<br />

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Bread Pudding<br />

drizzled with a caramel and chocolate sauce, topped<br />

with house whipped cream and trail mix confetti.<br />

Rich, dense and indulgent!<br />

Table 100<br />

bananas foster<br />

Made with bananas, butter, brown sugar and<br />

cinnamon, the bananas are flambéed tableside<br />

and served over vanilla ice cream.<br />

42 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Cardiologists:<br />

John Bellan, MD<br />

J. Michael Bensler, MD<br />

Alfredo Figueroa, MD<br />

F. Earl Fyke, III, MD<br />

William K. Harper, MD<br />

W. Hampton Jones, III, MD<br />

S. Todd Lawson, MD<br />

Keith D. Thorne, MD<br />

James L. Warnock, Jr. MD<br />

H. Chris Waterer, III, MD<br />

Surgeons:<br />

William J. Harris, III, MD<br />

W. Stewart Horsley, MD<br />

Daniel Ramirez, MD<br />

Nurse Practitioners:<br />

Misha Craven, ACNP-BC<br />

Lynne C. Currie, FNP-BC<br />

Lyndsey Dill, ACNP-AG<br />

Mary Gordy, CFNP<br />

Rachel Hearst, FNP-C<br />

Adrianne Kelley, ANP-C<br />

Susan Patterson, NP-C<br />

Tonya Sweeney, MSN, ACNP-BC, CCDS<br />

No hospital in Mississippi has been caring for<br />

heart patients longer than Baptist.<br />

Baptist brings together experienced cardiologists, cardiovascular<br />

surgeons, nurse practitioners and clinicians to offer the most<br />

comprehensive care in the region for patients with heart disease.<br />

Find out more at mbhs.org/baptistheart. Trust your heart to<br />

Baptist Heart.<br />

501 Marshall Street<br />

Jackson, MS 39202<br />

844-MD-HEART<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 43

etirement,<br />

assisted living<br />

& memory care<br />

community<br />

call now to schedule a tour<br />

(601) 345-2202<br />

Every day of life is a blessing.<br />

350 Town Center Way Flowood, MS 39232 blakeliving.com<br />

please join us in welcoming<br />

Anita Davis<br />

as the new executive director<br />

for the blake at flowood.<br />

44 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

On Tuesday December 22, 2015, GEICO, The Wounded Warrior Project,<br />

and Barnett’s Body shop of Flowood presented a car to wounded veteran<br />

John Patterson and his wife Holley of Florence, Mississippi.<br />

John was a member of the U.S Army and Mississippi National Guard.<br />

He was wounded in combat and has had several surgeries to repair his hip.<br />

John has a service dog named Tucker to help with PTSD.<br />

GEICO partnered with Barnett’s Body Shop and several other local businesses<br />

to provide the Patterson’s a much needed reliable mode of transportation.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> Magazines thanks you for your service!<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 45

46 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

I Love Us...<br />

Mary Ann Kirby<br />

Ah, Valentine’s Day. My earliest thoughts of the beloved<br />

celebration date back to the third grade and are of tiny die-cut cards<br />

stating such simple messages like, “Some-bunny loves you” and,<br />

“Will you be mine?” I can remember the importance of finding just<br />

the right cards to give out, too. No way did I want anything too<br />

mushy or anything. Picking out the card was serious business. They<br />

would eventually be placed in individually decorated brown paper<br />

sacks that were taped to the back of everyone’s little-person sized<br />

desk. Love was so easy.<br />

Years later, flowers and gigantic helium balloons were the<br />

must-have order of the day, often delivered to the workplace. I was<br />

never the recipient of such over-the-top deliveries and was even<br />

admittedly a bit jealous of those who were. I mean, had they<br />

somehow figured out a secret code to love that I hadn’t? And how<br />

were you supposed to get those big ol’ things home anyway?<br />

I eventually married in my early thirties. Prior to that time,<br />

while I managed a couple of fairly decent relationships, I was mostly<br />

single–a lot. I mean, there were easier things in life than trying to<br />

find a nice guy, you know. Like nailing jelly to a tree. But it was<br />

worth the wait. I would eventually find my perfect match and we<br />

will celebrate 17 years of marriage this year. Yay!<br />

So as I look through the thousands of cards at the store and<br />

contemplate the message I want to convey, I’m struck by a simple<br />

yet powerful thought. I love us.<br />

In reality, the card I’m looking for should say, “Happy Valentine’s<br />

Day. Who, in a million years, would have ever thought that I’d be<br />

standing here for the umteenth time looking through this sea of red<br />

and pink hearts? But, despite the fact that I get grumpy and have<br />

unpredictable mood swings, you keep coming home–and I thank<br />

you for that. And even though you’ve yet to develop the ability to<br />

read my mind, I continue to love you anyway. We’ve made a pretty<br />

darn fabulous kid that, with any luck, will think marriage is a good<br />

thing after watching us. So, there’s that. Happy Valentine’s Day! I<br />

love us.”<br />

There need to be cards with those types of “real” messages.<br />

Someone could make a fortune.<br />

Relationships are hard. All relationships. And they take work.<br />

Anything worth having, does. And while my husband and I have<br />

certainly made a good run so far, we’ve definitely had our moments–<br />

but we always manage to work through them. Eventually, we even<br />

laugh it off. Laughter is about connection, and laughter and love go<br />

hand-in-hand.<br />

So while I might not be one of those that gets $100 worth of<br />

helium delivered to the front door, I will get a funny card from my<br />

fella. It will likely still be in the store bag from which it was bought<br />

along with one of my favorite Hollywood gossip-type magazines<br />

and a box of little white powdered donuts. He knows they’re my<br />

favorite and that means the world to me.<br />

The truth is that love isn’t always perfect. It isn’t a fairytale or<br />

a storybook and it doesn’t always come easy. Love is overcoming<br />

obstacles, facing challenges, fighting to be together, holding on,<br />

and never letting go.<br />

It’s a short word that’s easy to spell, difficult to define, and<br />

impossible to live without. Love is work, but most of all, love is<br />

realizing that every hour, and every minute, and every second of<br />

it was worth it–because you did it together.<br />

Maybe more marriages would survive if people knew that<br />

sometimes the “better” comes after the “worse.” And that’s ok.<br />

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, over and<br />

over, with the same person. I’m thankful for my person. I really do<br />

love us. ♥<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 47

<strong>2016</strong><br />



30 th Anniversary Charity Ball<br />

Saturday, <strong>February</strong> 27<br />

6:00 PM<br />

McClain Lodge<br />


Entertainment provided by MEET THE PRESS<br />

Silent Auction, themed packages and door prizes<br />

$100 per couple (tickets may be purchased at the door)<br />

Cocktail Attire<br />

All printing donated by Dallas Printing<br />



Don't miss our next<br />

issue, April <strong>2016</strong>!<br />

Like us on Facebook<br />

www.facebook.com/hometownrankinmagazine<br />

Say it sweeter.<br />

Give them something to smile about this Valentine’s Day.<br />

Jackson-Flowood • 163 Ridge Way, Suite E • (769) 243-7108<br />


48 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

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<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 49

Mother / Son<br />

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50 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 51

Matters<br />

of<br />

Heart<br />

the<br />

Susan Marquez<br />

William J. Harris, MD

William J. Harris’s fascination with the heart began<br />

in early elementary school when he checked out a book<br />

about heart surgery from the library. Always a tinkerer,<br />

he was a detail person from an early age. “I always<br />

liked doing things with my hands,” he said. “I built<br />

models, and I loved books on how and why things work.<br />

I would break things down to see how they worked,<br />

then put them back together again.”<br />

The Jackson native was born in Dallas and moved<br />

to Jackson when he was four years old and attended<br />

St. Richard’s School through the eighth grade. His<br />

family moved into the Mill Creek subdivision near the<br />

Reservoir in 1975, and Harris graduated high school at<br />

Northwest <strong>Rankin</strong>. He went to college at Mississippi<br />

State University, where he majored in bio-medical<br />

engineering.<br />

“I chose my major because I thought it would be fun.<br />

Only about four or five people from my class went on<br />

to medical school.” Harris went to medical school at the<br />

University of Mississippi, then completed an internship<br />

and residency in general surgery at the University of<br />

Alabama at Birmingham. He then completed a<br />

fellowship and residency in cardiothoracic surgery at<br />

the UAB before returning to Jackson.<br />

“I didn’t have physicians in my family,” said Harris.<br />

“But after wanting to be a priest, I decided around<br />

the ninth grade that I wanted to go to medical school.<br />

I suppose I’ve always felt a calling to help people.”<br />

Harris credits his bio-medical engineering education<br />

with giving him the skills to take a big problem and<br />

break it down into small, fixable, problems. “That’s what<br />

medicine is all about. Medicine is complicated–I like to<br />

make sense of it.” The credit to his real interest in heart<br />

surgery goes to Anthony Petro. “When I was a first<br />

year med student, I got in contact with him, and he<br />

invited me to come up and watch him do surgery. He<br />

taught me detail things; like scrubbing hands before<br />

surgery—there’s a sort of ritual to it. It got to where he<br />

or his nurse would call me when they were doing<br />

different procedures, and if I had time, I’d go scrub in<br />

and observe.”<br />

Today, Harris is chief of cardiovascular surgery at<br />

Baptist Medical Center. While he does all types of heart<br />

surgery, he has a special interest in mitral valve repair,<br />

robotic cardiac surgery, minimally invasive heart valve<br />

surgery, minimally invasive atrial fibrillation ablation,<br />

treatment of varicose veins, venous reflux and spider<br />

veins. “The best thing is to repair mitral valves, not<br />

replace them. That requires both technical skill and<br />

scientific knowledge. It has an artistic sort of bent to<br />

it, which really appeals to me.”<br />

Harris clearly remembers the first time he looked<br />

down on someone’s chest. “A clamp was placed on<br />

the aorta, and the heart and lungs were not moving.<br />

It profoundly impacted me. From then on I was certain<br />

of what I wanted to do.”<br />

He has been at Baptist for 14 years now. “From a<br />

professional side, my analytic personality finds<br />

satisfaction in doing surgery. I get immediate feedback<br />

on what I’ve done. It’s nice to know that what I’m doing<br />

provides someone with immediate help. It’s also<br />

gratifying to take someone who is extremely ill and do<br />

something technically challenging. Organizing a team<br />

to help you do something very difficult to provide a<br />

good quality of life is rewarding. Doing surgery on<br />

people creates a very personal relationship. It takes a<br />

lot of trust for people to give up control to someone<br />

they may not know very well. I spend a lot of time<br />

away from work thinking about my patients.”<br />

In his spare time, Harris enjoys spending time with<br />

his family. He is married to wife, Cindy, and together<br />

they have three children. “I also enjoy riding my bike<br />

when I can, and playing guitar.” Harris has been playing<br />

guitar since he was 13, and now plays for the show choir<br />

at Jackson Prep, a gig he’s had for about ten years. n<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 53

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54 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

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<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 55

A cord<br />

of three<br />

strands<br />

is not<br />

quickly<br />

broken.<br />

Ecclesiastes<br />

4:12<br />

56 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

A Cord<br />

of<br />

3 Strands<br />

Nestled into a corner of Florence,<br />

Mississippi, is the home of Sam and<br />

Peggy Simmons, two of the most<br />

genuine and loving people I have<br />

ever had the pleasure of meeting.<br />

I was greeted at the door with a hug, smiles,<br />

and excitement. It was an honor to be<br />

welcomed into their home to hear how<br />

their love story unfolded.<br />

In August of 1950, Sam Simmons was<br />

asked to escort three young ladies who were<br />

bridesmaids at his friend’s wedding. One of<br />

those bridesmaids was Peggy.<br />

“That was our first meeting,” said Sam.<br />

“We knew we liked each other, so the next<br />

day after the wedding, I brought her back to<br />

Florence–with the permission of her mother.<br />

We got engaged in October.”<br />

Sam was a senior at Mississippi State<br />

University at the time. “After we got engaged,<br />

I couldn’t stay away from her. I went to see<br />

her on the weekends or she came to see me<br />

in Starkville. It was a whirlwind. That’s when<br />

I realized I couldn’t live without her,”<br />

said Sam.<br />

Sam and Peggy married on December<br />

17, 1950, and recently celebrated their 65th<br />

anniversary. They have six children, fourteen<br />

grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren.<br />

Sam and Peggy made their home in Florence<br />

in the house that formerly belonged to<br />

Peggy’s parents.<br />

“It has been a good 65 years,” said Sam.<br />

“Our marriage has been built, first of foremost,<br />

on faith. We both have a strong faith in the<br />

Lord Jesus Christ. Church and Sunday school<br />

are very important to us. Our family and<br />

children grew up in that environment.”<br />

Sam offered advice to new married couples:<br />

“The man needs to learn to say I’m sorry,<br />

forgive me, and I love you. You’re always<br />

going to have some friction, and it’s not bad<br />

to have some pretty big fights because it’s so<br />

much fun to make up.”<br />

Peggy added her words of wisdom. “No<br />

marriage is perfect. You are completely different<br />

in personality from your spouse. We’re just all<br />

different. When you realize that, you’re better<br />

off because you learn to get along.”<br />

“We never considered divorce, but we did<br />

consider homicide a few times!” joked Sam.<br />

“You have to realize that when you marry,<br />

you’re not just marrying the one you love.<br />

You’re marrying their family,” added Peggy.<br />

“I realized that Sam was from a very nice family.<br />

I was impressed with that because they were<br />

all sweet, thoughtful, and kind. Sam has always<br />

been sweet and thoughtful and kind to me.”<br />

“Sam is just a good man. I think he’s a<br />

keeper. He certainly did everything in the<br />

world to try to make us happy and see to it<br />

that I didn’t have to go to work. He made the<br />

living for us. I don’t think I realized, until<br />

later years, that I could have had no choice<br />

but to go to work. I always appreciated that<br />

and tried to count my blessings even though it<br />

was very hard to stay at home and raise the<br />

children. He always helped me in any way<br />

that he could,” said Peggy.<br />

Sam recalled, “I’ve heard Peggy make the<br />

statement, ‘I didn’t do anything. I just stayed<br />

at home.’ But she was working when I got up<br />

in the morning—ironing and fixing lunches.<br />

When I went to bed at night, she was still<br />

working. So I don’t buy that she didn’t do<br />

anything. She did a lot to raise six children, and<br />

that was a lot harder than what I had to do.<br />

We worked it out when we worked together.”<br />

“We’ve enjoyed our children and<br />

grandchildren as they’ve been born. They live<br />

in different states. We always look forward to<br />

seeing them,” said Peggy as Sam showed me a<br />

family photo album.<br />

“I think we are kindred spirits in agreement<br />

about what’s important and what’s not<br />

important,” said Sam. “Faith first, family<br />

second, friends third, and then community.<br />

I think those are some pretty good building<br />

blocks.”<br />

As Sam and Peggy said goodbye to me<br />

with hugs and well wishes, I felt as if I was<br />

already one of the family–after spending just<br />

one hour with them. These two are a true<br />

example of a marriage woven into the Lord. n<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 57

58 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong><br />

Reader<br />


Amy<br />

Gibbons<br />

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

County your home?<br />

We decided to make Brandon our home to be<br />

closer to family. It’s centrally located for work, it’s<br />

very safe, and is growing with lots of opportunities.<br />

The school system was important, too. At the time<br />

we moved to Brandon, our son was entering the<br />

6th grade at Brandon Middle School. He is now a<br />

senior at Brandon High School.<br />

How long have you lived in <strong>Rankin</strong> County?<br />

We moved to Brandon in August of 2009.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

I am married to David Gibbons and we have one<br />

son, Hayden, who is 18-years old and is a senior at<br />

Brandon High School. In December of 2014, one<br />

of Hayden’s best friends asked to come live with us<br />

and came to our home the week before Christmas.<br />

We became licensed foster parents to a 19-year old<br />

who is also a senior at Brandon High School. It’s<br />

been very different adding another person to our<br />

home, especially with Hayden having always been<br />

an only child. Hayden and this young man have<br />

been best friends since the 8th grade and we were<br />

honored he wanted to come live with us. He loved<br />

Brandon so much that he too wanted to come back<br />

here and graduate from Brandon High School.<br />

David and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary<br />

in <strong>February</strong>. We were both reared in Jackson and<br />

have lived in Memphis, Tupelo, and most recently,<br />

Magee for 14 years prior to moving to Brandon.<br />

We both are graduates of the University of<br />

Southern Mississippi–David with an electrical<br />

engineering degree and I with a Master of Social<br />

Work. I’m a licensed clinical social worker.<br />

Hayden plans to attend Ole Miss starting the<br />

in fall of <strong>2016</strong>. We have been members of First<br />

Baptist Church of Brandon since 2009. We are<br />

all very active in our church and community and<br />

feel it is important to give back and support the<br />

community in which we live.<br />

What is your favorite memory of living in<br />

<strong>Rankin</strong> County?<br />

My favorite memory of living in <strong>Rankin</strong> County<br />

was our very first Brandon Christmas parade in<br />

December, 2009. It was very cold and about<br />

halfway through the parade it began snowing!<br />

We were at the parade with some friends and I<br />

remember standing in the cold and the snow and<br />

thinking, “I am home”. I just fell more in love<br />

with the town. After the parade, we went to our<br />

then-pastors Dr. Scott & Dacia Thomas’s home<br />

and had cookies and hot cocoa and all the kids<br />

played outside in the snow. It was just such a<br />

special memory and we were made to feel so<br />

welcomed like we were such a part of the<br />

community. I will never forget it!<br />

Where are your 3 favorite places to eat in<br />

<strong>Rankin</strong> County?<br />

Heart & Soul in Brandon, Table 100 in Flowood,<br />

and Jerry’s Fish House in Florence.<br />

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

County on the weekends?<br />

Shopping! <strong>Rankin</strong> County has some great places<br />

to shop…O! How Cute Gift Market, Heart of the<br />

South, Apple Annie’s, the Outlet Mall, and<br />

Dogwood Market Place. We also love to go to the<br />

Brave’s games, especially on Friday nights for the<br />

fireworks. Hayden loves High Heaven Trampoline<br />

Park and he and friends love to go to Shiloh Park<br />

and play ultimate Frisbee. We go to movies at<br />

Tinseltown, Brandon High School football on<br />

Friday nights, and anything water related at the<br />

Reservoir.<br />

Share some things you enjoy doing in your<br />

spare time.<br />

I have a great girls group that tries to go to the<br />

movies every Tuesday night. I love to go out to eat,<br />

spending time with family and friends, and having<br />

friends and family over to cook out. I also<br />

volunteer a lot with the PTO at Brandon High<br />

School and with the <strong>Rankin</strong> County Republican<br />

Women.<br />

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

I want to go to Australia, take an Alaskan cruise<br />

and take a year and tour England, Italy, France and<br />

Greece. I love to travel!<br />

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

I admire our First Lady Deborah Bryant. Deborah<br />

is so genuine, friendly, outgoing and personable.<br />

She always has a smile on her face, makes everyone<br />

feel welcomed and important, and she is a great<br />

ambassador for our state and <strong>Rankin</strong> County.<br />

She’s a great role model for young girls.<br />

Where do you see yourself ten years from<br />

now?<br />

I see myself still living in <strong>Rankin</strong> County, working,<br />

and still enjoying being with family and friends.<br />

I’m looking forward to seeing what the future<br />

holds for my son. I feel <strong>Rankin</strong> County has given<br />

him such a strong sense of community that should<br />

serve him well in the future.<br />

What is your favorite childhood memory?<br />

I have a lot of favorite childhood memories. What<br />

I mostly think about is how safe I felt growing up<br />

and how much I loved being with my family. We<br />

were always with family and cousins. We would all<br />

pile into the family car and drive to the beach for<br />

weekends. It was wild, loud and hectic! We<br />

continue this tradition, even now, with Hayden<br />

and still bring along cousins!<br />

If you could give us one encouraging<br />

quote, what would it be?<br />

My favorite quote that I use all the time is,<br />

“Live what you love, love what you do!”<br />

What is your favorite thing about<br />

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

My favorite thing about <strong>Hometown</strong> is that all the<br />

community-based stories are even more interesting<br />

because you get to learn about people you share the<br />

community with. n<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 59

60 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Worthy of Merit<br />

Dr. Barry Moss<br />

Chief Executive Officer, Merit Health <strong>Rankin</strong><br />

With an expansive career in health care administration, Barry Moss has a great<br />

vision for Merit Health <strong>Rankin</strong>. We recently had a chance to ask Barry a few questions<br />

about his life after coming to <strong>Rankin</strong> County and here's what he told us . . .<br />

Q. What lead you to want to serve<br />

as a hospital administrator?<br />

A. I grew up in a health care family and saw the<br />

significant role they were able to play to positively<br />

impact the lives of others. I deeply value the opportunity<br />

to work for an organization, which is an instrumental<br />

part of the wellness of our community. In addition,<br />

health care takes on such a team approach and I<br />

really enjoy working in a team-based environment.<br />

You never know when you may be able to help<br />

someone in need.<br />

Q. Since moving to <strong>Rankin</strong> County,<br />

what are some things that you<br />

particularly like?<br />

A. It is a great county that pushes to reinvest for<br />

long-term success and development. <strong>Rankin</strong> County<br />

is an exceptional place of balance, with access to<br />

progressive growth and innovation while maintaining<br />

the relationships of the past. Also, we are fortunate to<br />

have a wonderful partnership with Merit Health River<br />

Oaks and Merit Health Woman’s Hospital that allows us<br />

to serve our neighbors in a variety of settings and roles.<br />

My family moved here with me from Hattiesburg and<br />

we have been proud to call Mississippi our home for<br />

the past several years. In <strong>Rankin</strong> County, we’ve been<br />

especially pleased with the warm welcome we have<br />

received from local residents. It feels as though our<br />

family has just become part of an even bigger family.<br />

Q. What are your hobbies, or<br />

what do you enjoy doing when<br />

you’re not at Merit Health?<br />

A. One of the great things about <strong>Rankin</strong> County is<br />

the endless high school sporting events to attend.<br />

It is fun to see those student athletes playing out their<br />

dreams by representing their schools and hometowns.<br />

Q. What are your plans for Merit<br />

Health <strong>Rankin</strong>?<br />

A. Over the 60 years since the hospital opened,<br />

Merit Health <strong>Rankin</strong> has provided quality access to<br />

healthcare with physicians and support staff who live<br />

in our neighborhoods. This community-centered<br />

approach has worked very well for our hospital and<br />

the other hospitals in the Merit Health network share<br />

the same philosophy.<br />

With that said, our goal at Merit Health <strong>Rankin</strong> is to<br />

expand our services and medical specialties to serve<br />

the needs of our local residents. For example, we just<br />

opened a Merit Health Medical Group clinic onsite at<br />

Merit Health <strong>Rankin</strong> with a nurse practitioner who<br />

specializes in gerontology. This niche of care is crucial<br />

for our area. Over the past year we also added an<br />

orthopedic surgeon, gastroenterologist, neurosurgeon<br />

and general surgeon to our staff.<br />

Q. Where did you grow up and<br />

what’s a favorite childhood<br />

memory?<br />

A. I was blessed to grow up in a small town called<br />

Winfield, Alabama. In a small town you remember the<br />

great friends and families, the summers on the lake,<br />

and the relationships that last a lifetime.<br />

Q. What impact would you like to<br />

make on <strong>Rankin</strong> County?<br />

A. I am honored to be part of this community and<br />

Merit Health <strong>Rankin</strong>. We are proud to be part of the<br />

Merit Health network and will do everything we can<br />

to continue to provide patients with an excellent<br />

experience during their stay. Merit Health <strong>Rankin</strong> is<br />

blessed to be located here in Brandon and I am excited<br />

about meeting and working with local leaders and<br />

organizations to ensure Merit Health <strong>Rankin</strong> continues<br />

to be a very active member of our <strong>Rankin</strong> County. n<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 61

62 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Storming<br />

the Runway<br />

Susan Marquez<br />

Too tall…Too skinny...Too beautiful? Avery Eaton never felt like she<br />

fit in with her classmates when she was a child. “By the time she was in<br />

the sixth grade, she was the tallest student in her class, even taller than<br />

the teachers,” said Avery’s mother, Shelley Eaton. “She was a good<br />

student, and very athletic but from the sixth grade on, it was difficult<br />

for Avery. She was teased by other students and it hurt her deeply.”<br />

While she was anything but an ugly duckling, Avery certainly grew<br />

into a beautiful swan, gracing the runways of New York for Fashion<br />

Week and more. Her height, physique and beauty caught the attention<br />

of the right people in the right places at the right time, and now the<br />

17-year-old is destined for a successful career as a major fashion model.<br />

“People always told Avery that with her height, she should be a<br />

model,” Shelley said. “She’s always loved fashion and had a strong<br />

fashion sense from the time she was a toddler. She loves hair, makeup<br />

and style.”<br />

When she was 16, Avery got a job at W by Azwell, a women’s<br />

clothing store in Dogwood shopping center. While there, she did all<br />

the modeling for their Facebook and Instagram pages. “I liked it, and<br />

thought I might want to pursue more modeling,” said Avery. “I couldn’t<br />

find a modeling agency in Mississippi–there really wasn’t much<br />

modeling in the state.” Instead, she went the fitness route, training for<br />

her first fitness competition. She won the competition, and says that,<br />

until this day, she is still obsessed with it.<br />

“I was scouted by Jamie Ainsworth with JEA Models in Jackson,<br />

and I went to a showcase in Oxford with agents from all over the world.<br />

I signed with Funny Faces, a commercial agency, and was asked to come<br />

to New York for a couple of months.” At age 17, Avery packed her bags<br />

and moved into an apartment in New York with a couple of other girls<br />

from the JEA agency.<br />

Upon her arrival in New York, Avery went about setting up<br />

appointments with modeling agencies. “I had to learn my way around,<br />

learn how to use the subway, how to hail a cab,” she recalled. “I had never<br />

been to a big city like New York, and it was pretty overwhelming.” But<br />

the tenacious teen’s desire to succeed as a model superseded any fears<br />

she may have had. She landed a contract with MSA Models. They flew<br />

her to some auditions in Los Angeles and back to New York where she<br />

began trying out for Fall Fashion Week. Almost immediately she<br />

booked three shows.<br />

At the Carmen Steffens show at Grand Central Station, Avery<br />

shared the catwalk with two Victoria’s Secret models. “Those are the<br />

models I look up to,” said Avery, who knew them all by name. “I walked<br />

with Adriana Lima from Brazil and Toni Garrn from Germany.” Avery<br />

walked in the number three spot behind the two super models.<br />

Avery didn’t really know what to expect as she dipped her toes into<br />

the world of high fashion modeling. “It’s a lot harder than I imagined!<br />

I didn’t know it would be so competitive. There are girls who come<br />

from all over the world to audition. It’s not as glamorous as it looks,<br />

either. There were days when I had to cram five or more auditions into<br />

one day. I was bouncing from Brooklyn to Manhattan and all over for<br />

specific time slots. I had to arrive with my A-game, looking presentable.”<br />

There have also been unexpected highlights to the business for<br />

Avery as well. “My favorite thing is working with an amazing group<br />

of creative people. From makeup to hair to the lighting and<br />

photography, it is a collaborative effort to create a work of art.<br />

I love being a part of it!”<br />

While Avery wants to model as long as she is able, she does want to<br />

go to college some day. “I’m not sure what I’ll study, but I think it will<br />

be something to do with the fitness industry.” n

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64 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 65

Espiritu<br />

Cues:<br />

A <strong>Hometown</strong> Man’s<br />

Worldwide Craftsmanship<br />

Kerri Walker<br />

<strong>Rankin</strong> County is the home of Russ Espiritu, a world class<br />

pool cue craftsman. Russ and his wife Carolyn reside in<br />

Puckett, Mississippi, and Russ is serving his third term as<br />

mayor of Puckett. The two built a shop adjacent to their<br />

home where they work together to make Espiritu Cues.<br />

The shop houses dozens of machines<br />

and aisles of woods and animal skins<br />

that are used to make the highly<br />

collectible cues. Espiritu Cues are<br />

intricately inlayed with many different<br />

woods, colors, and materials. Russ has a<br />

computerized system that can carve<br />

designs into the cues with precision.<br />

66 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 67

He uses only the finest materials to build<br />

his pool cues including gold, sterling silver,<br />

ivory, malachite, turquoise, opal, jade, pearl,<br />

pau shell, snake skin, lizard skin, elephant<br />

ear, and exotic woods such as bubinga,<br />

macassar ebony, and redwood burl. Russ<br />

has been featured in many publications<br />

such as the Billiard Encyclopedia, The Blue<br />

Book of Pool Cues, Billiard Digest, Pool &<br />

Billiard, and various catalogues and calendars.<br />

Russ began handcrafting pool cues as a<br />

hobby in 1984. “I was in Texas playing pool.<br />

I ran into a guy who was a pool hustler,<br />

actually. We went to a cue shop in Houston.<br />

He said, ‘These cues are really expensive.<br />

Why don’t you make them, and I’ll sell<br />

them,’” recalled Russ.<br />

“When I came back to Mississippi, I told<br />

Carolyn about it, and she thought I was<br />

crazy. I went around to some wood working<br />

places, and they didn’t have a clue how to<br />

make cues. So I got a lathe–in fact it’s that<br />

one right over there. It really wasn’t the<br />

machine I needed though, but we still use<br />

it for sanding. That was in late ’84. In 1991,<br />

my wife and I decided to go full-time. We<br />

took some pool cues to New Orleans and<br />

showed them to a guy. He looked at them<br />

and said they were pretty nice, but he<br />

never ordered anything. We came back<br />

home, and as soon as we walked in the<br />

door, the phone was ringing. The guy<br />

from New Orleans said he wanted to by<br />

all the ones I had. We took the cues to<br />

him, and when we got there, some other people<br />

around New Orleans had already heard about<br />

us. They came down there, too. So I’ve got him<br />

and three or four other dealers there that carry<br />

them. That’s where we started.”<br />

Today, Russ has a two-year-long waiting list<br />

of people who want his cues. “It doesn’t take<br />

long to get the cue made, but you have to get<br />

in line to get it made,” said Russ. “First you<br />

make the wood round and drill a hole in it. It<br />

takes a year to make one shaft. That’s not<br />

working on it every day. We let it sit and then<br />

turn it down some more. We have to let the<br />

wood sit for a while before we turn it again or<br />

it won’t stay straight. The wood’s fibers may try<br />

to twist slightly. It has to be dry, and we turn it<br />

down so many thousandths at a time so it stays<br />

straight. That’s important. It’s a long process<br />

that takes about five cuts over twelve months.<br />

We have to stabilize the wood sometimes.<br />

We’ll inject it with a dye sometimes. It’s for<br />

hardening and appearance. We definitely<br />

developed the process.”<br />

“We have dealers all around the world,”<br />

said Russ. “We don’t sell much in Mississippi,<br />

but in Louisiana, it’s huge. The West Coast,<br />

East Coast, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, Japan,<br />

China—everybody knows the name. Dealers<br />

will order six or eight cues, and we’ll make up<br />

whatever we want and send it to them. Then<br />

they’ll re-sell it in Russia or Switzerland or<br />

wherever they’re calling from.”<br />

Russ and Carolyn travel the world for<br />

pool tournaments and shows. “We only go<br />

to big professional tournaments or national<br />

68 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

tournaments,” said Russ. “We go to Las Vegas<br />

once, Pennsylvania once, and Louisiana twice.<br />

We just got back from Hawaii. If I go to Japan,<br />

there may be a world championship. We have a<br />

display and sell them at the tournaments. There<br />

will be 10,000 pool players there. We’re at each<br />

tournament for two weeks. People fly in to shows<br />

from all over the world to buy these cues. They’re<br />

collectors, so when your name gets with these<br />

people, you can do pretty much anything.”<br />

When Russ travels, he also buys exotic woods<br />

and skins. “We get woods from all around the<br />

world–South America, Australia, Hawaii. The<br />

ebony comes out of Africa. We get wood from<br />

a lot of Asian countries,” said Russ. “Most of the<br />

wood is brought in from an importer. It’s usually a<br />

musical instrument supplier. They dry it. I see them<br />

at a show and tell them what I want and they<br />

send it. We’re pretty picky about the types of<br />

woods because that’s what makes a pool cue.”<br />

Russ and Carolyn’s 17-year-old grandson<br />

works part time in the shop running the inlay<br />

machines, programming the computers, and<br />

putting the designs into the cues. “I told him he<br />

could have the shop when he’s ready,” said Russ.<br />

Other than his grandson and one other part<br />

time worker, Russ prefers to do the crafting<br />

himself. “I have thought about expanding, but<br />

everybody wants me to work on the cues. But<br />

I’m getting my grandson into this a little. He<br />

can do the programming on the computer for<br />

sure. He’s smart. It’s not as easy as you think.”<br />

“If you have a lot of people working for<br />

you, they do more work for sure. But if you<br />

don’t watch what they’re doing, they might not<br />

be doing it right. It’s just a job to them. If they<br />

don’t put it together right or don’t put enough<br />

glue on something, it falls apart. The quality<br />

goes down. So we just do it ourselves,” added<br />

Russ.<br />

“We work seven days a week out here.<br />

We never get caught up. We could work<br />

24-hours a day, and I don’t think we’ll ever get<br />

caught up. We’ve built this up, and we can’t<br />

disappoint people. I have clients who would<br />

buy all these cues right now if I had them<br />

ready. Our clients count on us,” said Russ.<br />

As he pulled a cue from a case, Russ said,<br />

“This is one of the cues that the Rolling<br />

Stones played with. I made some pool<br />

cues when the Rolling Stones came to<br />

Memphis. I sent them up there so they<br />

could play with them. The deal was they<br />

would sign my cues and send them back,<br />

but they came back unsigned. Minnesota<br />

Fats was a friend of mine, too. We know<br />

everybody.”<br />

Russ and Carolyn’s roots are set<br />

deeply in <strong>Rankin</strong> County. “If we made<br />

pool cues in Washington, D.C., for<br />

example, we’d be selling really high<br />

dollar stuff all the time. But Puckett is<br />

our home.”<br />

From craftsman to mayor to high<br />

school golf coach, Russ strives for high<br />

quality in each of his roles. “Our pool<br />

cues are like art; they play well and<br />

last forever.” n<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 69

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70 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

19th Annual<br />

Garden Extravaganza<br />

Paula Pettis,<br />

Prissy Pots Landscaping<br />

Haley Barrett, MNLA<br />

Looking for a great event to officially kick<br />

off spring? We have just the event that will<br />

make you want to get your hands dirty. Mark<br />

your calendars for the 19th Annual Garden<br />

Extravaganza (formerly the Jackson Garden &<br />

Patio Show) on <strong>March</strong> 18th, 19th & 20th at the<br />

Mississippi Trade Mart on the Fairgrounds. The<br />

Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association<br />

(MNLA) is excited to bring so many vendors<br />

together in one central location for all of your<br />

garden and patio needs including flowers, trees,<br />

landscape professionals, equipment, yard art,<br />

ironwork, pottery, one of a kind bird houses,<br />

garden accessories and much, much more.<br />

Admission is only $6 per person. Children 15<br />

and under get in free and, as always, there is<br />

plenty of free parking.<br />

The early bird gets the worm, or in our case<br />

the tomato plant. The first 100 people through<br />

the door on Friday and Sunday, and the first<br />

200 people on Saturday will get a free tomato<br />

plant, courtesy of Rivers Plant Farm and<br />

Jackson Farms Nursery.<br />

All three days will be filled with demonstrations<br />

and seminars. Our exciting ‘how to’<br />

demonstrations will be located on the showroom<br />

floor and will include topics such as: Hot plants<br />

for <strong>2016</strong>, how to create the perfect mixed<br />

containers, and much more. Since the Garden<br />

Extravaganza is a family friendly event, we have<br />

also added ‘make and take’ demonstrations to<br />

the children’s activity area to teach kids fun<br />

gardening skills. Ball Seed Company and BWI<br />

Companies team up with MNLA to sponsor<br />

this area.<br />

<strong>March</strong> 18-20, <strong>2016</strong><br />

MS Trade Mart<br />

Jackson, MS<br />

For a complete list of seminars and<br />

demonstrations, please visit www.msnla.org. All<br />

seminars and demonstrations are free with paid<br />

admission. And while at the show, be sure to<br />

register for fabulous door prizes donated from<br />

our wonderful exhibitors.<br />

As in year’s past, attendees will get the<br />

opportunity to view several of central Mississippi’s<br />

finest landscaper’s work in the outdoor living<br />

spaces competition area. These outdoor living<br />

spaces will be in the middle of the exhibit hall,<br />

will serve as the focal point for this year’s show<br />

and will give you great ideas on how to make<br />

your outdoor space the best it can be. They will<br />

incorporate a wide range of styles, from the<br />

outdoor kitchen area, the secluded backyard<br />

retreat, tranquil water features, family entertainment<br />

areas, and lounge areas to watch your<br />

favorite show or team. All of the landscape<br />

professionals will be on hand to discuss how to<br />

make your landscape dreams a reality.<br />

Is your grass looking less than green? Is there<br />

a fungus among us? Do you have mysterious<br />

weeds? As always, the experts from Mississippi<br />

State University Extension Service will be there<br />

to answer any questions, provide information<br />

and test soil for free.<br />

Of course the real stars of the show are<br />

always the flowers. You’ll find this year’s Mississippi<br />

Medallion Award Winners, tropicals, ferns, trees,<br />

shrubs, roses, bedding plants, vegetables, herbs<br />

and so much more. Many of the garden centers<br />

will have dish gardens, fairy gardens, beautiful<br />

hanging baskets and gorgeous mixed containers<br />

that are ready to brighten your porch for the<br />

spring.<br />

Not sure which plants that you need? We<br />

will have plenty of people that can help you<br />

with that. There will be numerous garden center<br />

employees, landscapers, and MSU experts<br />

available to help you out. Bring pictures of the<br />

area or container that you are buying plants for<br />

and know the amount of sunlight and shade<br />

that the area receives. These are very important<br />

things to know when shopping for plants.<br />

And don’t worry about what to do with all<br />

your purchases. There will be a customer<br />

holding area available where you can in the<br />

products that you buy and continue shopping<br />

without having to carry your purchases around.<br />

Once you are finished shopping, you can drive<br />

around to the back and have your purchases<br />

loaded in your vehicle. It’s like valet for your<br />

plants!<br />

__________________________________________<br />

Visit our web page www.msnla.org, find us<br />

on Facebook, or call 601-919-8111 for more<br />

information on the <strong>2016</strong> Garden Extravaganza.<br />

Like us on Facebook for a chance to win tickets—<br />

Mississippi Garden & Patio Shows!<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 71

<strong>2016</strong><br />

d i x i e<br />

n a t i o n a l<br />

Livestock Show &<br />

72 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

It’s that time of year again!<br />

Time when cowboys and cowgirls from all over the<br />

nation descend upon Mississippi’s capital city for the<br />

annual Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo.<br />

During the month of <strong>February</strong>, The Dixie National brings<br />

with it a variety of programs and activities that take<br />

place to educate, entertain, and engage participants and<br />

onlookers alike. The 51st annual livestock show kicks off<br />

January 30 and runs through <strong>February</strong> 23.<br />

The Dixie National Rodeo is the largest professional<br />

rodeo east of the Mississippi River. It is produced by<br />

Smith, Harper, and Morgan Rodeo Company, hosted by<br />

the Mississippi Fair Commission in Jackson, Mississippi,<br />

and has been nominated as one of the Top 5 Large Indoor<br />

Rodeos of The Year for the past five years. This award is<br />

voted on by the cowboys in the Professional Rodeo<br />

Cowboy Association (PRCA).<br />

The rodeo kicks off <strong>February</strong> 11 and goes through<br />

<strong>February</strong> 17 in the Mississippi Coliseum. Special<br />

entertainers are featured each day of the rodeo and<br />

include Easton Corbin, Maddie & Tae, John Anderson,<br />

Joe Diffie, Frankie Ballard, 38 Special, and Tyler Farr.<br />

Tickets may be purchased through Ticketmaster at the<br />

coliseum box office.<br />

The Dixie National Quarter Horse Show, the Southern<br />

Classic, is the premier event of the Mississippi Quarter<br />

Horse Association. Also held in <strong>February</strong> on the state<br />

fairgrounds, it is the largest quarter horse show held<br />

during a stock show in the nation.<br />

The national exposure the quarter horse show<br />

receives makes it a gathering place for the top horses<br />

in the country and a field day for spectators. With<br />

an average audience of over 4500, the Friday night<br />

free-style reining is the most crowd pleasing class<br />

and demonstrates the great physical ability of the<br />

American Quarter Horse. The Southern Classic dates<br />

are <strong>February</strong> 16-21.<br />

The Dixie National Equine Expo, the largest equine<br />

related trade show in the south, runs in conjunction with<br />

the quarter horse show. It features everything imaginable<br />

for the equine enthusiast. With over 65,000 sq. ft. of<br />

shopping, the Equine Expo is located inside the<br />

Mississippi Trade Mart on the fairgrounds. With vendors<br />

from across the nation, the latest fashions, trends and<br />

shopping will all be under one roof. It is one of the<br />

largest equine tradeshows in the Southeast. The Equine<br />

Expo is <strong>February</strong> 17-21.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 73

First Baptist<br />

Brandon<br />

Garage Sale<br />

for International Missions<br />

<strong>February</strong> 12-13, <strong>2016</strong><br />

FBC Brandon’s College Street Gym<br />

Preview Friday 6am-8am $5<br />

Sale 8am-2pm Free Admission<br />

Saturday 6am-2pm<br />

74 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Affordable Tuition<br />

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<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 75

76 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Remaining<br />

FaithfulJill Dale<br />

As a writer, I’ve written many stories and<br />

articles on various subjects. I wrote procedure<br />

manuals and procedure documents on web<br />

applications and other application processes<br />

for a few years. I then began writing for the<br />

agent magazine that is distributed to the<br />

agency force of Southern Farm Bureau Life<br />

Insurance Company. I remember reading<br />

trade magazines and hearing the stories<br />

about the importance of life insurance and<br />

what it means to a family. I would listen to<br />

agents talk about delivering the death claim<br />

check and how hard that was, but also the<br />

relief and comfort it brought to a husband,<br />

wife or mother or father. Never did I think<br />

I would become the story I read about and<br />

wrote about.<br />

As I sat Sunday morning, two days after<br />

my son died, I reflected on this and how life<br />

has a weird way of playing out. I stared at a<br />

blank document on my computer. I’ve never<br />

been at a loss for words when it comes to<br />

writing, but now I was. The hardest thing I<br />

have ever written would be the obituary of<br />

my 5 year old son, Campbell Grady Dale.<br />

How would I condense his life, his impact<br />

into a brief obituary? How do I tell the world<br />

what an amazing, phenomenal boy Campbell<br />

was? How do I tell people about his love for<br />

his friends at the hospital, for his family, for<br />

his twin sister and especially for his Father in<br />

heaven…the one he trusted to take care of<br />

him and heal him forever of his cancer?<br />

What would I most want people to know<br />

about the most amazing boy who called me<br />

mom and David dad? I think it could be<br />

summed up with this–he fought a brave<br />

battle against a fierce enemy and the ultimate<br />

Victor won, the One who wins every battle<br />

against death, every, single time. Campbell<br />

believed that God would heal him of his<br />

cancer, and He did. He may not have healed<br />

him in the way we wanted, but He healed<br />

him according to His perfect will, His perfect<br />

plan for Campbell’s life and for ours.<br />

From the first day Campbell was diagnosed,<br />

we laid him at our Father’s feet. We knew it<br />

would take a miracle to heal him. The odds<br />

were stacked against him, but we were ready<br />

to fight. Our prayer was always that “Thy will<br />

be done” whatever that may be. As we went<br />

through the original treatment protocol<br />

beginning in <strong>February</strong> 2014 of 54 weeks of<br />

intense chemotherapy and 24 days of<br />

radiation, we trusted God with each step,<br />

with each decision that we made. When<br />

Campbell’s cancer returned in April 2015,<br />

we continued to trust Him and His plan for<br />

his life. When we received the heartbreaking<br />

news on August 17, 2015 that our doctors had<br />

done everything that they could to heal him<br />

here on earth, we continued to trust Him.<br />

We always knew Campbell would be<br />

healed, but now we knew that healing would<br />

come in heaven and not here on earth. As<br />

the words began to flow, so did the tears as<br />

I reflected on what most would consider a<br />

short life. His life may appear short to the<br />

normal person, but the impact he had and<br />

continues to have will be felt for years to<br />

come. He lived the exact amount of time<br />

God had ordained as He knit him together<br />

in my womb…not a day more or a day less.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 77

The following narrative tells the arduous<br />

story of the Dale family’s journey with<br />

cancer. Jill Dale made regular journal<br />

entries about the journey on CaringBridge.<br />

org. This includes excerpts of Jill’s posts as<br />

compiled by Susan Marquez.<br />

Snips and snails and puppy dog tails,<br />

that’s what little boys are made of. Campbell<br />

Dale was a normal little boy in every way.<br />

Spirited. Curious. Exuberant. At least, until<br />

he began having issues with constipation one<br />

weekend. The series of events that followed<br />

became a journey of heartbreak tempered<br />

with faith and love.<br />

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed,<br />

for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;<br />

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”<br />

– Isaiah 41:10<br />

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made<br />

perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9<br />

<strong>February</strong> 12, 2014 was a day the Dale<br />

family will never forget, for that was the day<br />

life as they knew it forever changed. “We had<br />

not noticed anything abnormal over the<br />

weekend,” his mom, Jill Dale, wrote on the<br />

overview of the family’s CaringBridge site.<br />

“Campbell had been constipated a little, but<br />

nothing unusual. On Monday, <strong>February</strong> 10,<br />

he went to school like normal.” Yet the<br />

four-year-old still complained about being<br />

constipated. An enema, a trip to the doctor,<br />

and a couple of rounds of Miralax later,<br />

Campbell’s temperature was climbing and<br />

his belly was swollen. His doctor sent them<br />

to a Radiology group to get an X-ray done.<br />

When that came back inconclusive, a CT<br />

scan revealed a mass in the boy’s abdomen.<br />

“We were immediately sent to Blair E.<br />

Batson Hospital for Children where we were<br />

admitted at 5:30pm. After running more<br />

tests on Thursday, we sat down with our<br />

doctors and were told our son had a mass in<br />

his belly that needed to be removed. It could be<br />

anything from lymphoma, to neuroblastoma,<br />

to a taratoma or rhabdomyosarcoma (at this<br />

time rhabdo was toward the bottom of the<br />

list).” On Friday, surgeons were able to remove<br />

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

The mass was sent to a pathology lab and on<br />

<strong>February</strong> 19, the family learned that Campbell<br />

had been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma,<br />

a rare form of cancer of the tissue. “They were<br />

able to remove all of his tumor, but of course,<br />

there were what they call studs left. We were<br />

scheduled immediately for a bone scan and<br />

PET scan for Monday, Feb. 24th. On Tuesday<br />

the 25th, a bone marrow aspiration was done<br />

along with the placement of a chemo port.<br />

The preliminary results from the bone scan<br />

and PET scan came back favorable meaning<br />

it had not spread to the bones or other organs.<br />

That Tuesday at 5:00, we were told that our<br />

son has Stage IV rhabdomyosarcoma and<br />

they had found a spot in his bone marrow.”<br />

Campbell’s parents, David and Jill, were<br />

told the road before them would be difficult<br />

and hard. “We didn’t want to know the success<br />

rate, that didn’t matter to us,” Jill wrote. “All<br />

that mattered was ‘Can we beat this?’” The<br />

chemo regimen would be aggressive, radiation<br />

would be needed and 54 weeks is what it will<br />

take. “As I laid my head on the table and cried<br />

more than I have in two weeks, I didn’t think<br />

I would be able to walk out of the room. So<br />

David and I looked at each other, signed the<br />

papers to begin treatment and told the doctor<br />

to do whatever needed to be done to save our<br />

son. The one thing that stood out in my mind<br />

was David telling the doctor we know the<br />

Great Physician (Jehovah Rapha) can heal<br />

Campbell, not doctors or medicine…HE<br />

provides the means to do it. So we called our<br />

family in to tell them. The road before us<br />

might be difficult, but we were determined<br />

not to lie down and give up. We were in the<br />

fight of our lives and we were confident that<br />

Campbell would beat this.”<br />

The family resolved to bathe themselves<br />

in scripture and pray continuously without<br />

ceasing.<br />

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew<br />

their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;<br />

they will run and not grow weary, they will walk<br />

and not be patient.” – Isaiah 40: 29-31<br />

Campbell’s first chemotherapy treatment<br />

began on Wednesday, <strong>February</strong> 26. All went<br />

well. He actually slept through the first<br />

treatment (he had been given some medicine<br />

to calm him after a rough morning so he slept<br />

all afternoon). The treatment started with<br />

two drugs, Irinotecan and Vincristinem. The<br />

Irinotecan was scheduled for five days straight.<br />

Campbell’s twin sister, Avery (aka ‘’Shu”)<br />

visited, and the children watched movies and<br />

ate Chick-fil-A together. At the time, Jill was<br />

reading a book, “The Red Sea Rules,” given<br />

to hear by a woman at church. “I have found<br />

so much wisdom and guidance in this book,”<br />

Jill wrote. “Meditating on the truths in it has<br />

brought so much peace: ‘So take a deep<br />

breath and recall this deeper secret of the<br />

Christian life: when you are in a difficult<br />

place, realize that the Lord either placed you<br />

there or allowed you to be there for reasons<br />

perhaps known for now only to Himself.<br />

The same God who led you in, will lead you<br />

out.’ So we trust in this and we know that<br />

HE will make a way. We don’t understand<br />

why we are enduring this trial and may never<br />

know while we are here on this earth, but we<br />

know that the same God who paved the road<br />

before us will walk beside us down this road<br />

every step of the way. Mine and David’s<br />

prayer throughout this entire journey is that<br />

God will be glorified in everything. Don’t<br />

worry about anything; instead pray about<br />

everything and don’t forget to thank God for<br />

His answers.”<br />

78 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every<br />

situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,<br />

present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6<br />

On <strong>March</strong> 3, after 5 days of treatment,<br />

Campbell was released to go home. “We<br />

were all very thankful to be going home to<br />

our familiar territory, routine, food, etc. “<br />

Like most children, Campbell was a creature<br />

of habit. He thrived in his own environment.<br />

“We will return to the clinic for our post op<br />

appointment at 8:40 Thursday morning and<br />

then our first outpatient treatment will be at<br />

12:30 on Thursday. We will continue to do<br />

outpatient for treatment weeks two through<br />

five, barring Campbell doesn’t get fever or<br />

sick, which would put us back in the hospital.<br />

David and I have decided that each day we<br />

would find at least one thing to give God<br />

praise for...we are thankful and blessed to get<br />

the opportunity to do that each day of<br />

treatment. Each morning, our prayer is that<br />

Campbell’s side effects from treatment<br />

would be minimum or NOT AT ALL.<br />

We boldly pray for not at all. I am constantly<br />

reminded to experience true joy in each and<br />

every moment of the day and cherish the<br />

time God gives me with my family.”<br />

“I will extol the Lord at all times; HIS praise will<br />

always be on my lips.” –Psalm 34:1<br />

“Our bold prayer is that at six weeks,<br />

when Campbell has his first evaluation, that<br />

they will find no cancer. We know this is a<br />

bold request, but our God is bigger than cancer<br />

and we know HE hears each and every request<br />

we offer up to HIM. Our other request is<br />

that the side effects from the chemo will be<br />

minimum or none at all. Thank you again for<br />

all of your prayers, love and support. We are<br />

praying without ceasing that Campbell will be<br />

completely healed…his story is not finished.”<br />

Throughout the treatment, Jill and David<br />

sought moments of normalcy for their children.<br />

About a month after he was diagnosed,<br />

Campbell was able to return to Trinity<br />

Preschool for a brief moment to enjoy Fairy<br />

Tale Day. He dressed as a pirate, and his<br />

twin sister, Avery, dressed as Rapunzel. A few<br />

days later, Jill arranged a photo session with<br />

photographer Allison Muirhead. “Our<br />

friendship/relationship with Allison goes<br />

back 7 years. She took our wedding pictures,<br />

newborn pictures, first year pictures and many<br />

other pictures since, of the twins and our family.<br />

I knew there was no one else I wanted to take<br />

these very special pictures and capture our<br />

family as only she can. Because we don’t know<br />

what the future holds for our family, we wanted<br />

to have memories of what we were before<br />

chemo/radiation.”<br />

Radiation…such a scary word. “It’s one I<br />

never thought I would speak of, especially<br />

pertaining to my child.” A meeting with<br />

doctors revealed that Campbell was<br />

unfortunately not a candidate for the proton<br />

therapy the family had hoped for. “Because<br />

of the rare location of his Rhabdo (in the<br />

abdomen) and the studs that were left from<br />

surgery, the proton therapy will not work.<br />

Without getting too detailed, proton therapy<br />

hits the tumor (or cancer cells) with radiation.<br />

Because Campbell’s cells are probably so<br />

small, there is no way to know what to hit<br />

and you can’t just hit thin air and hope you<br />

are hitting the possible cancer cells remaining.<br />

In his case, you can’t hope, you have to<br />

know for certain that the radiation is hitting<br />

what it is supposed to so that it won’t come<br />

back. So, the only way to do that is to radiate<br />

his entire abdomen.” The good news is the<br />

radiation could be done at UMC. The bad<br />

news would be the toll it would take on<br />

Campbell. The side effects from radiation<br />

will be worse since it is targeting his abdomen…<br />

nausea, vomiting, intestinal issues (because<br />

the intestines do not like radiation), etc. He<br />

will be put to sleep every day for five days a<br />

week for five weeks (because of his age and<br />

the need to be completely still he has to be<br />

put to sleep). He will also be receiving chemo<br />

throughout radiation. We are scared, we are<br />

nervous and we worry about the many side<br />

effects to come. Secondary cancer is a big<br />

one. We know that God provides the wisdom<br />

and tools to the doctors to do their jobs so<br />

we signed the papers once again and said do<br />

whatever you have to in order to save his life<br />

and give him a chance at living a long, full life.”<br />

The toll on the entire family was hard.<br />

“I’m tired, we are tired and my heart aches<br />

for my four-year-old who doesn’t understand<br />

why we keep doing all of this to him. I don’t<br />

know if there has ever really been a time in<br />

my life where I cried out to God that I was<br />

so scared and I wasn’t sure I could keep<br />

going. As much as I feel we are fighting an<br />

uphill battle, HE reminded me that HE is<br />

right there, fighting the battle with us. Oh<br />

gosh how HE loves Campbell more than<br />

I do…HE loves him so much I can’t even<br />

fathom the depths of HIS love for him. So<br />

I release it to HIM, I release Campbell to<br />

HIM, trusting HIM to continue to carry us<br />

through on this journey.”<br />

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD<br />

is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the<br />

earth. HE will not grow tired or weary, and HIS<br />

understanding no one can fathom. HE gives strength<br />

to the weary and increases the power of the weak.<br />

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men<br />

stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD<br />

will renew their strength. They will soar on wings<br />

like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they<br />

will walk and not be faint.” –Isaiah 40:28<br />

“From the fullness of HIS grace we have all received<br />

one blessing after another.” –John 1:16<br />

By January, Campbell’s little body was<br />

struggling from the effects of the radiation.<br />

“I’m going to be honest (and David and I<br />

have always said from day one of this journey,<br />

we would never sugarcoat it to make it more<br />

pleasant because honestly there aren’t a lot of<br />

days I count as pleasant). November and<br />

December were rough months for us.” It was<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 79

week 42, and the radiation had an adverse<br />

effect on Campbell’s bladder, necessitating<br />

the insertion of stents. During that procedure,<br />

it was determined there were muted cancer<br />

cells in Campbell’s bladder. “My emotions<br />

have been all over the map lately and this fear<br />

has taken hold of my heart and my life once<br />

again. I would love to say that I have it all<br />

together and all figured out and we are<br />

managing well, but that’s a lie. I am scared<br />

of what my son’s future looks like…what our<br />

future as a family looks like. In the weeks<br />

since, I have experienced a flood of emotions,<br />

but through it all, I have felt God’s presence,<br />

HIS Peace that surpasses all understanding<br />

and daily gentle reminders that HE is still on<br />

HIS throne, HE has Campbell, us, all of us, in<br />

the palm of HIS Hand. And I’m reminded of<br />

that great hymn, ‘It is Well With My Soul.’<br />

I love the words and how comforting that<br />

those words written so many years ago are<br />

still so true, so relevant to my life, to all of<br />

our lives today. I love Kristene DeMarco’s<br />

(Bethel Music) worshipful rendition of it<br />

and find myself listening to it daily.”<br />

With nine weeks left of chemo, David and<br />

Jill began to look forward to week number 54.<br />

That’s when a scan would be performed to<br />

determine if the cancer was in remission.<br />

All along, family, friends, church members,<br />

neighbors, co-workers and others pulled<br />

together to feed the Dale family literally and<br />

spiritually. The family was provided with meals,<br />

cards, ‘happies’ and more which let them<br />

know that they were not alone on their<br />

journey.<br />

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,<br />

that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”<br />

–Psalm 90:14<br />

The final week of chemo came on week<br />

51, one year into the journey that began with<br />

Campbell’s diagnosis of cancer. Jill was<br />

reflective in her CaringBridge post: “I think<br />

about how this is definitely not how I<br />

pictured my life, especially after having kids.<br />

Through this year, I am learning to not take<br />

life for granted, but to hold on to every<br />

second and to make sure that I make every<br />

day count for HIS Kingdom, as that is my<br />

sole purpose here on earth: to be in so close<br />

fellowship with HIM that HE reveals<br />

HIMSELF to me. That I am open to what<br />

HE is teaching me, showing me and that my<br />

life will be a reflection of HIM and will draw<br />

others to HIM, because that is what life is all<br />

about, living a life that glorifies HIM so that<br />

others will come to know HIM as their<br />

Savior. What a huge responsibility, but what<br />

a glorious, magnificent thing. I never would<br />

have thought cancer would teach me so<br />

much and bring me so far down that the only<br />

way to rise up is reaching and grasping HIS<br />

hand. That’s what we are doing, we grasp and<br />

we hold on as tight as we can because I never<br />

want HIM to let me go. To face a monster<br />

like cancer without a Savior, well, I cannot<br />

even imagine. People ask David and me how<br />

we do it, but I really don’t think we do it. We<br />

do the only thing we know, which is to pray<br />

and trust that HE knows better than us what<br />

is best for us and for Campbell. I don’t think<br />

God makes people get cancer. It’s easy to<br />

blame Him when something bad happens. I<br />

think because of the sinful world we live in,<br />

death, disease, immorality, etc. is a part of this<br />

world. It makes us hope for something better,<br />

a place where there will be no death, disease,<br />

sin. What a magnificent thing, I mean can<br />

you imagine living somewhere like that for all<br />

eternity? That’s why I have hope, because<br />

this life is not the end for me, for Campbell,<br />

for all those who believe. A better place is<br />

waiting and if Campbell gets there before<br />

me, well what a glorious reunion that will be.<br />

He can sit at Jesus’ feet and wait for me to<br />

join him. No, I don’t want my child to die,<br />

but no one does so I have to trust and believe<br />

that God will heal him and he will live a long,<br />

full, healthy life.”<br />

In May, the Dale family prepared<br />

themselves for twelve three-week rounds of<br />

chemo, 36 weeks with no break in between.<br />

Campbell’s cancer had returned. “People<br />

always ask how we do this day in and day out.<br />

The answer is I just don’t know. There are<br />

days that I am a blubbering mess and other<br />

days where I forget this reality and our life<br />

feels a little “normal” whatever that is. I<br />

remember vividly having a bad day almost 2<br />

weeks ago, bad enough that I was hyperventilating<br />

and I couldn’t control the tears, the<br />

anger or the emotions. Thinking about all<br />

these things and being mad at God and<br />

being mad at the world and not understanding<br />

why my son was suffering so much. David<br />

came home that night and reassured me that<br />

it was going to all be okay. He said no matter<br />

what, we were going to be okay (it’s funny<br />

how God puts two people together – we are<br />

so different, but yet our strengths and<br />

weaknesses cancel each other out…God knew<br />

that when he brought us together nine years<br />

ago). After spending much time in prayer<br />

that Tuesday night and basically crying and<br />

praying on my knees at the foot of my child’s<br />

bed (although this has become a regular scene<br />

for the past 15 months), the next morning<br />

I felt this peace wash over me and it has been<br />

with me ever since. I know that was and is<br />

God saying trust ME, love ME, look to<br />

ME…I’ve got this. I have carried you this far<br />

and will continue to carry you until the end<br />

when you join ME in Heaven. HE continues<br />

to give me, give us, a peace that surpasses all<br />

of our understanding, strength to endure and<br />

hope for tomorrow. Chemo starts tomorrow<br />

(Monday). We are ready to fight and win.<br />

We don’t know what the next 36 weeks<br />

looks like.”<br />

80 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

“Yet I am always with you, you hold me by my right<br />

hand. YOU guide me with your counsel, and<br />

afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I<br />

in heaven but YOU? And earth has nothing I desire<br />

but YOU. My flesh and my heart may fail, but GOD<br />

is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”<br />

–Psalm 73:23-26<br />

Those weeks were difficult for Campbell<br />

and for his family. Jill went through all range<br />

of emotions, including anger and helplessness.<br />

“I don’t understand why these kids get<br />

cancer, fight so hard and then lose the fight.<br />

I think it is something I may always struggle<br />

with (another question for that day when I<br />

get to Heaven). I want more than anything<br />

else in this world for my child to beat this<br />

cancer. I know the odds are stacked against<br />

him and there is literally nothing that neither<br />

I nor David can do to change that. I want to<br />

control the outcome. I want to control how<br />

he responds to chemo. I want to control<br />

every last part of it, and I can’t. I simply have<br />

to let it go, lay it down at my Savior’s feet and<br />

remember that Campbell is not mine. He is<br />

only a gift to love and nurture and point him<br />

to the One who loves him more than I do.<br />

What a tall order, but what a gift we’ve been<br />

given. More than anything else in this world,<br />

I want him to know God, to know Christ as<br />

we do, a loving Savior that died so that we<br />

might live. But really, isn’t that what life is all<br />

about for all of us?”<br />

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have<br />

peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take<br />

heart! I have overcome the world.” –John 16:33<br />

By mid September, Campbell was fading.<br />

“I’ve cried many tears in the past few days,<br />

knowing that Campbell is one day closer to<br />

being HOME. He sat up in bed last night<br />

and I was talking to him as he was drinking<br />

his apple juice. I asked him if he was tired, he<br />

nodded yes. I asked him if he was ready to go<br />

home and he said yes. I then asked him if he<br />

was ready to see Jesus. He nodded yes. I<br />

hugged him tight and told him, not much<br />

longer, and then told him that Jesus would<br />

take care of him and told him to wait for us.<br />

No one prepares you for this…there are<br />

no classes, no book to walk you through<br />

watching your child fight cancer and then<br />

watching the cancer take over their body. I<br />

don’t think there is any possible way to write<br />

a book about it or tell someone how to do it.<br />

You do it by experience and it’s an experience<br />

I wish we never had. David and I look at each<br />

other some days and feel like we are living in<br />

this alternate universe or something. It’s just<br />

a strange life we have these days. I think we<br />

just go through the motions, just trying to<br />

get through the day. There have been good<br />

moments during the day with Campbell and<br />

I cherish those. They are becoming few and<br />

far between though. He’s tired and has slept<br />

most of today. He’s on oxygen around the<br />

clock and we have tried to keep him as<br />

comfortable as possible with medication.<br />

He knows he is loved so very much and we<br />

kiss him and tell him that as much as we can.<br />

I think what is scary to me is not having him<br />

physically here to kiss and to touch. That’s<br />

what scares me and it’s something I have<br />

struggled with and have asked God many<br />

times during the day to give me comfort and<br />

peace in that.”<br />

As difficult as the journey was, there were<br />

blessings scattered all along the way for both<br />

Campbell and his family. Several people with<br />

the MSU alumni flew the family back and<br />

forth to Starkville on Aug 25th so that<br />

Campbell could be a Bulldog for a day.<br />

“We are grateful to so many people,” wrote<br />

Jill, “from the athletic department at MSU<br />

(the basketball team, the baseball team, the<br />

football team, Coach Mullen, Dak Prescott<br />

and Scott Strickland), to Allison Muirhead<br />

and John David Smith that captured so<br />

many memories for us that day.” The<br />

Make-A-Wish Foundation in Mississippi<br />

helped with that, as well as granting<br />

Campbell’s wish to go to Disney World.<br />

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we<br />

are wasting away yet inwardly we are being renewed<br />

day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are<br />

achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs<br />

them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on<br />

what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what<br />

is unseen is eternal.” –2 Corinthians 4:16-18<br />

On September 18, 2015, just 11 days shy<br />

of his sixth birthday, Campbell Grady Dale<br />

passed away. “We are heartbroken and<br />

feeling an emptiness in our hearts because<br />

our precious Campbell is no longer here with<br />

us. We are rejoicing that he is now with his<br />

Savior, the one that loves him more than we<br />

can fathom or imagine. Oh to witness that<br />

sweet, precious reunion when he ran into his<br />

Daddy’s arms and to look upon HIS glorious<br />

face and hear HIM say, “Well done my good<br />

and faithful servant. Now come and rest.”<br />

We look forward to the day when we will be<br />

reunited and we can worship our Father<br />

together at HIS feet.”<br />

“I am the Lord who comforts HIS people and will<br />

have compassion on HIS afflicted ones. You can<br />

transcend your troubles because I am both powerful<br />

and compassionate.” –Jesus Today by Sarah Young<br />

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and<br />

the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who<br />

is to come, the Almighty.” –Revelations 1:8 n<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> madison • 81

Voted Oxford’s<br />

Best Hotel 2011-2015<br />

Legendary Hospitality and<br />

Uncompromising Comfort<br />

on America’s<br />

Most Beautiful<br />

College Campus.<br />

120 Alumni Drive • Oxford, Miss.<br />

888.486.7666<br />

www.TheInnAtOleMiss.com<br />

82 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Serving our county<br />

Sheriff Deputy Wade Spencer<br />

rankin county sheriff's Department<br />

How long have you been with the<br />

<strong>Rankin</strong> County Sheriff’s Department?<br />

Two and a half years.<br />

What do you enjoy most about your<br />

typical day?<br />

Getting to work with the guys on my shift.<br />

What is the toughest thing you have<br />

experienced as a deputy?<br />

Anytime someone loses a family member<br />

unexpectedly.<br />

What did it mean to you to be named<br />

Deputy of the Year?<br />

<strong>Rankin</strong> County probably has the best<br />

group of deputies in the state, so to win<br />

this award is definitely something that I will<br />

never forget.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

I am married to Linsey Spencer. We have<br />

three children, Stella (2 yrs. old) Brendan<br />

(11 yrs. old) and Easton (2 months).<br />

Share some things that you enjoy<br />

in your spare time.<br />

Watching football and playing with my kids.<br />

What are three things on your<br />

bucket list?<br />

Hunting trip to Kansas, go to a baseball<br />

game at Fenway Park, and take my<br />

children to Disney World.<br />

What do you consider your greatest<br />

achievement/accomplishment and<br />

why?<br />

The day I convinced my wife to marry me.<br />

Being the wife of a law enforcement<br />

officer is as hard as actually being one.<br />

Who is someone you admire<br />

and why?<br />

My dad. He has been in law enforcement<br />

for over 30 years and still loves every day<br />

of it. He would give the shirt off of his back<br />

for anyone that needs it.<br />

What is your favorite holiday and why?<br />

Thanksgiving. You get to see all of your<br />

family, but you don’t have to buy anyone<br />

presents!<br />

What is your favorite childhood<br />

memory?<br />

Playing baseball.<br />

What is the biggest mistake you<br />

think young people make today?<br />

Trying to grow up too early and too quickly.<br />

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

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

Go to college. Life will be much easier if<br />

you do.<br />

What is most rewarding about<br />

your job?<br />

Whenever I’m able to make a positive<br />

difference in someone’s life.<br />

Where do you see yourself ten years<br />

from now?<br />

Working right here.<br />

What’s your favorite thing about<br />

<strong>Rankin</strong> County?<br />

I’ve lived in other places around the state,<br />

and I’ve never seen a place that respects<br />

law enforcement quite like the citizens<br />

here. I can’t tell you how many times,<br />

since I’ve been here, that someone has<br />

gone out of their way to thank law<br />

enforcement for the job that they do.<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 83

Kick Off The Season<br />

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Located inside the Holiday Inn-Trustmark Park<br />

110 Bass Pro Drive, Pearl<br />

With over 27 video stations all tuned to sports, you won’t<br />

miss a pass, punt or touchdown. Even if you’re not the<br />

world’s greatest sports fan, you can still have a lot of fun,<br />

and score some of the finest cuisine around, as well as a<br />

huge assortment of craft beers. Come on over!<br />

Join us for Happy Hour! Monday–Friday from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.<br />

Lunch & Dinner: Mon–Sat: 11:00 am–10:00 pm • Sun: 11:00 am–9:00 pm<br />

Breakfast: 6:00-10:00 am, 7 days a week<br />

Phone ahead: 601-939-5238 • www.alumnihousepearl.com<br />

84 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>


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<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 85


rankin county Schools<br />

Northwest<br />

Northwest <strong>Rankin</strong> Middle School, in partnership with parents<br />

and community, is committed to providing all students with a<br />

challenging, quality education. Recognizing the uniqueness of<br />

each student, we will strive to produce lifelong learners who will<br />

be successful citizens in a rapidly changing society.<br />

With more than 850 students, each one is provided an<br />

opportunity to learn and participate in educational classes and<br />

extracurricular activities. NWRMS is an A-rated school with<br />

some of the highest state test grades in RCSD.<br />

“Student involvement is very important,” said Shea Taylor,<br />

principal. “We want every student to be involved in something.”<br />

Extracurricular activities include Cougar Choir, Jr. Beta Club,<br />

Theater, Future Business Leaders of America, Fellowship of<br />

Christian Athletes, Academic Team, Math Counts, Green Club,<br />

Science Bowl, Yearbook, Writing Club, cheerleading, and dance<br />

team and athletics.<br />

This year NWRMS received a $3,000 grant from Mississippi<br />

Department of Education for a community garden. Students will<br />

be constructing and planting four raised beds. The project was<br />

inspired by our summer reading book, “Counting by 7s,” written<br />

by Holly Goldberg Sloan. “We are hoping the garden will be an<br />

annual project that will teach students about healthy choices,” said<br />

Alice Rainwater, vice principal.<br />

As part of the RCSD initiative of 1:1 technology, NWRMS<br />

started an eighth-grade tech team to assist students and teachers<br />

with laptop technology. This 17-member team works ‘quick fixes’<br />

that are needed and downloading software. By the 2017-2018<br />

school year all students, grades 7-12, will have a their own laptop.<br />

In December, students participated in an Hour of Code, a<br />

global initiative to introduce students to basic computer coding<br />

and introduce them to computer science.<br />

Pisgah<br />

Pisgah Elementary School is a rural kindergarten through sixth<br />

grade school located off of Hwy. 43 in north <strong>Rankin</strong> County. The<br />

school provides multiple opportunities for students to achieve<br />

skills to thrive in the twenty-first century, to attend college, be<br />

ready for the workplace, and be successful in the community.<br />

Pisgah Elementary School has an open-door policy to<br />

students, parents, and teachers, which creates a community spirit<br />

of cooperation. Students and faculty are honored at different<br />

events, as well as, parents and grandparents. These events are<br />

highly attended and foster community participation.<br />

Mrs. Michelle Land, a special education teacher, was recently<br />

named PES Teacher of the Year. She works diligently to accelerate<br />

learning for her students.<br />

Mrs. Susan Williford, PES music teacher, received a grant<br />

from Mississippi Professional Educators to begin a recorder club<br />

for her fifth grade students.<br />

Mrs. Misty Oster, Venture teacher, started the Jr. Beta Club<br />

last year. We are excited to have 54 members inducted this year, and<br />

these students participate in several community service projects.<br />

The goal of PES is to provide a safe and secure climate for all<br />

students who come to school to learn and succeed. A qualified,<br />

experienced staff works together to assure that the students are<br />

prepared to continue on their pathway to success through high<br />

school graduation.<br />

We are ready, we are respectful, we are responsible, and we are<br />

the pride of Pisgah!<br />

Follow us on Facebook or at www.rcsd.ms/pisgahes.<br />

86 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

Puckett<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> Hero Gives Hope<br />

Puckett Elementary School fifth and sixth grade students<br />

recently received words of wisdom from Dr. Tom Burnham when<br />

he spoke to them about having goals for being college and career<br />

ready. The idea of getting him to visit the students came from<br />

reading about his recent recognition by Hinds Community<br />

College as Alumni of the Year. It was in the interview that Dr.<br />

Burnham shared about his own initial challenge in college; how<br />

homesick he was when he first went to Hinds because he was<br />

from Puckett, a small, close knit community.<br />

In hearing his story, we knew our students at Puckett needed to<br />

hear from one of their own about his journey through college and<br />

the foundation it gave him for a successful career in education;<br />

one he only had a glint in his eye about when he was their age.<br />

Being a Puckett graduate, Dr. Burnham had an inspiring heart<br />

to heart conversation with the fifth and sixth grade students<br />

about how they can show the rest of the state and nation the<br />

quality of students that are from Puckett and <strong>Rankin</strong> County<br />

by setting goals and committing to them. He spoke about how<br />

important having goals is and how committing to those goals<br />

is what truly makes someone successful. During his visit, our<br />

students heard about his personal journey, like what made him<br />

stick to it during those years in college when he pumped gas at<br />

nights and attended classes during the day. Our hometown hero<br />

also shared with students that the best preparation for his success<br />

was doing his best each day at everything he did. Dr. Burnham<br />

challenged the students to re-read the Dr. Seuss book titled<br />

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and relate it to the importance of completing<br />

college and believing in themselves to have the courage to go after<br />

their life goals.<br />

Our hometown hero gave much more than a speech. He gave<br />

hope!<br />

Richland<br />

At Richland High School, we make it a priority to reward<br />

deserving students. Our school has offered two major incentives<br />

for students who have met the PBIS school standards thus far.<br />

After the completion of the first nine weeks, RHS held a Perfect<br />

Attendance Celebration for students who hadn’t missed a day of<br />

school, nor had any sort of tardy or checkout.<br />

El Ranchito, a local Mexican Restaurant and school sponsor,<br />

joined efforts with the school and provided a lunch buffet for 147<br />

students who qualified for the recognition. In addition to a<br />

celebratory meal provided, numerous drawings for gift cards were<br />

awarded to students. The student response was overwhelming,<br />

and there was an outpouring of appreciation from students who<br />

partook in the event. It goes without saying, there are several<br />

students striving to keep their perfect attendance.<br />

The largest reward for our students is Field Day, which is held<br />

once a semester. The first one was held in early November on the<br />

RHS football field and over 600 students were awarded. In<br />

order for students to be eligible to attend, they must meet the<br />

following expectations: Five or less absences, three or less tardies,<br />

no F’s on their report card, and zero major discipline infractions.<br />

While at Field Day, students were able to use their accumulated<br />

PBIS tickets to purchase an array of food items or enter multiple<br />

drawings. At the close of Field Day, the school held numerous<br />

prize drawings for gifts such as, Dr. Dre’ Beats, two mini iPads,<br />

t-shirts, and gift cards.<br />

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

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 87


rankin county Schools<br />

McLaurin<br />

The McLaurin High School Beta Club joined with McLaurin’s<br />

JROTC and the Star Woman’s Club on November 11, 2015 to<br />

host a Veteran’s Day Breakfast for the community.<br />

The breakfast for local veterans and their families was a<br />

student-initiated idea. This event was planned and coordinated by<br />

a student committee that won a service project idea contest at the<br />

Mississippi Fall Beta Leadership Summit in Biloxi. The students<br />

were selected from all of the schools at the summit to present their<br />

idea at the National Beta Club Convention in New Orleans in<br />

June <strong>2016</strong>. They were the only school from RCSD selected.<br />

Over twenty local veterans attended the event and were honored<br />

at the Veteran’s Day program hosted by the JROTC. The guest<br />

speaker was LTC Danny Knight. Knight is a McLaurin graduate<br />

who is a lead instructor in the McLaurin JROTC program. During<br />

Knight’s address he stated that, “Most veterans do not expect great<br />

rewards or accolades for their service. All they really expect is a<br />

word of thanks or gratitude. Thank You, two words, eight simple<br />

letters. We take these words for granted. We say it when someone<br />

opens a door for us or helps us at a store. We say it so often it loses<br />

its value. However, today, this Veteran’s Day I ask you to say it with<br />

great meaning to a veteran that you know or come into contact<br />

with. It means a great deal to know that the American people we<br />

all chose to defend appreciate our service!”<br />

Following the program, the veterans greeted every McLaurin<br />

student as they left. Hugs and tears were accompanied by grateful<br />

hearts and the students expressed their appreciation for their<br />

dedicated service.<br />

JROTC Awards this year: 1st, 2nd, 3rd place finish at the<br />

Alcorn State University Magnolia Challenge Raider Competition<br />

in DEC 2015; Superior Cadet Awards for 2015:<br />

Keeley Wilkinson (12th grade) -Jonah Burroughs (11th grade)<br />

-Victoria Sprayberry (10th grade) -Justin Coke (9th grade);<br />

JROTC Program Accreditation Inspection-Honor Unit with<br />

Distinction (November 2015)<br />

Beta Awards this year: Junior and senior high Beta traveled to<br />

Biloxi in the fall for the Fall Leadership Conference. During the<br />

conference, both Beta clubs got to learn leadership skills and get<br />

to know Betas from all over the state. Both groups received<br />

distinguished leadership service awards at the conference. The<br />

junior Betas presented a Backpack Buddy program in service<br />

project completion and was selected to present at national<br />

conference in New Orleans this summer.<br />

The senior Betas presented a Veteran’s Day project and it, too,<br />

was chosen to be presented this summer. Both groups qualified<br />

McLaurin for Beta School of Distinction due to the tremendous<br />

growth of our club membership.<br />

JROTC Instructors – LTC Knight, SGM Fitts<br />

Beta Sponsors – Kris Morris, D.C. Knight<br />

88 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong><br />

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

FORMAT<br />

• 4-person Scramble<br />

• Shotgun start - 1:00 pm<br />


• 18 holes of golf with<br />

cart and range balls<br />

• Lunch<br />

• Goodie Bag<br />

<strong>Rankin</strong> County Chamber<br />

Golf Classic<br />

Thursday, <strong>March</strong> 17, <strong>2016</strong><br />

The Refuge, Flowood<br />

PRIZES<br />

• Top 3 Teams<br />

• Hole-In-One Chances<br />

• Closest-to-the-Pin<br />

• Longest Drive<br />

• Door Prizes<br />

www.rankinchamber.com<br />

To register your team or for more<br />

information www.rankinchamber.com<br />

call <strong>Rankin</strong> Chamber<br />

office at 601-825-2268<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 89

Camille Anding<br />

The Time Coin<br />

Sally pulled out her sharpest red<br />

crayon and rolled it between her<br />

fingers as she contemplated her<br />

teacher’s instructions to make a valentine.<br />

The studious third grader couldn’t decide<br />

where or how to begin. It wasn’t that Sally<br />

didn’t understand the meaning of valentines,<br />

but they certainly meant more than pink<br />

construction paper and red glitter.<br />

Some valentines were extravagant – like the ruby ring her dad had<br />

given to her mother. It was the perfect color for Valentine’s Day and<br />

surely pleased her mother. “We can’t afford this,” her mother kept saying,<br />

but it was a perfect fit and dazzled in the light, like her mom’s smile.<br />

Sally knew it must be a treasured and costly valentine. It was a special<br />

lesson for Sally to learn. Love is extravagant.<br />

When valentines can’t be extravagant, they can be creative. Sally loved<br />

the story her mother told her about the time Sally’s parents were dating.<br />

“We were in college and didn’t have any extra money. Your dad appeared<br />

at my dorm with a large piece of cardboard – but he had attached all sorts<br />

of candy to it in the shape of a giant heart. All my friends were envious<br />

of his thoughtfulness and creativity.”<br />

The classroom had grown quiet as all the<br />

students were busy creating the perfect<br />

valentine – all except Sally. She was still<br />

pondering the “what kind” and “how” of her<br />

valentine. She would always remember the<br />

Valentine’s dinner her mom had served. There<br />

was candlelight with their fine china, chicken<br />

strips with valentine-red catsup, pink creamed<br />

potatoes and homemade pink rolls with pink<br />

lemonade. She even brought out strawberry cake for dessert. You could<br />

never put a special valentine like that in an envelope or box. Sally so<br />

wanted her valentine to be creative like her mom’s.<br />

The years passed and time translated Sally into a mother with a<br />

family of her own. Change hadn’t always been good. She was sorting<br />

through her parents’ belongings with only their memories present.<br />

She opened a box brimming with cards and letters. There in the midst<br />

of her mother’s keepsakes was the valentine Sally had made as a third<br />

grader. The pink heart was still edged in red glitter with Sally’s message:<br />

I will love you forever and for always. Love, Sally.<br />

Extravagant? No. Creative? Not really. A treasure? Most definitely.<br />

Sally had given her most precious and inestimable wealth – her<br />

forever love.<br />

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest<br />

of these is love.” n<br />

90 • <strong>February</strong>/<strong>March</strong> <strong>2016</strong>

<strong>February</strong> 27th 7pm 11pm<br />

Supporting the<br />

UMMC Alliance<br />

The Lake House<br />

135 Madison Landing Circle<br />

Ridgeland, MS<br />

For more information: ummc-alliance@umc.edu<br />

To purchase tickets: www.umc.edu/affluentaffair<br />

<strong>Hometown</strong> <strong>Rankin</strong> • 91

Because there’s Merit<br />

in faster care.<br />

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

find faster care in the emergency room. We work diligently<br />

to have you initially seen by a medical professional* in 30 minutes –<br />

or less. And, with a team of dedicated medical specialists, we can provide a<br />

lot more care, if you need it.<br />

The 30-Minutes-Or-Less E.R. Service Pledge – at Merit Health.<br />

Central<br />

Madison<br />

<strong>Rankin</strong><br />

River Oaks<br />

River Region<br />

*Medical professionals may include physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.<br />

92 • June 2015<br />


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