Hometown Rankin - June & July 2017
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volume 4 number 3
messages from heaven
I Carry You with Me
A Sprawling Lakeland Drive
the two of us,
WE HELP MOMS AND DADS PLAN FOR LIFE’S CURVE BALLS.
12 Woodgate Drive, Suite F • Brandon, MS • 601.724.1870 • palmerslay.com
Christopher P. Palmer email@example.com / Craig L. Slay firstname.lastname@example.org
2 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 3
4 • June 2017
publisher & Editor
Tahya A. Dobbs
Kevin W. Dobbs
Mary Ann Kirby
Dacia Durr Amis
Mary Ann Kirby
Daniel Thomas - 3dt
• • •
I flip the calendar to June and before I see the highlights attached to
that month, I immediately think of Father’s Day. These men represent
people holding powerful influence over their children. Hometown
Rankin salutes all those special fathers who have invested their most
precious gift in their children—the gift of time.
Right behind Father’s Day comes VBS. What wonderful memories
I have of Kool-Aid, cookies, and getting my turn to carry the Bible or
flag during the processional. My thoughts and prayers go with all those
volunteers and young hearts being molded.
June also heeds vacation days and sunburns at the pool. Add snow
cones and lots of watermelon to finish off a full month.
July is flag-waving month, and it’s our honor to highlight the
Crossgates Exchange Club’s special patriotic flag weekend. Mark your
calendars to visit this red, white, and blue experience. Then grill some
burgers or hotdogs and celebrate our nation’s freedom. What a
The calendar turns quickly for those of us working with deadlines,
but we at Hometown Magazines treasure our opportunity to journal those
events that fill our pages.
Thank you, readers and advertisers. We celebrate you, too!
For subscription information
Contact us at info@HTMags.com
26 Eastgate Drive, Suite F
Brandon MS 39042
• • •
All rights reserved. No portion of Hometown Rankin
may be reproduced without written permission from
the publisher. The management of Hometown Rankin
is not responsible for opinions expressed by its
writers or editors. Hometown Rankin maintains the
unrestricted right to edit or refuse all submitted
material. All advertisements are subject to approval by
the publisher. The production of Hometown Rankin
is funded by advertising.
In this issue Hometown Neighbors 10
Home of the Free Because of the Brave 23
Messages from Heaven 46
I Carry You with Me 58
A Field & Club of Heroes 68
A Sprawling Lakeland Drive 74
The Best Day 84
Hometown Rankin • 5
What does it mean to you
when you see the American Flag?
It reminds me of the sacrifices
of those that preceded us and
of the sacrifices that we
should be willing to make
to preserve, protect, and
defend our freedom.
It means pride.
It’s something that
that we live for in
the United States.
Irl Dean Rhodes
The flag represents
patriotism. It is a symbol of
the pride and strength of our
It means peace to me.
I think it’s for the
people, and how far
America has come.
6 • June 2017
It means patriotism
It’s for the people
who stood for that flag.
Judge Kent McDaniel
It represents everything our
country stands for that is
good. It also represents some
things that are bad. But I’ve
learned we have to take the
bad with the good.
It represents the
United States of America…
It means reflecting on
sacrifices my grandfather, my
father, and other
veterans have made.
SFC Keither Dennis
Heritage, the history of
this country. It means more
to me as a soldier because
I support and defend the flag.
Pride. The flag means a lot
to me. I’ve been overseas;
I’ve seen the flag during
Desert Storm. It’s a hallow
feeling I have and sense of
honor when I see the flag.
I feel such a sense
of pride in my country.
Hometown Rankin • 7
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8 • June 2017
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1323 W Government St
268 Dogwood Blvd
175 Grandview Blvd
1201 Hwy 49 S #5
Hometown Rankin • 9
10 • June 2017
“When you say, ‘I’m from Brandon, people know where it is!’”
Georgia Grubbs said with noticeable pride and total agreement by her husband, Truitt.
Jackson had been their home where they had planned to raise their three children,
but school uncertainties forced them to move.
After being told the fifth time that their children would
have to change schools one more time because of
consolidations, they pulled up roots and planted their
lives in Rankin County. It was a good plant for the
Grubbs as well as the citizens of the county.
As for the Brandon school system, Georgia says, “It couldn’t
have been better.” Truitt credits Dr. Mike Vinson, their superintendent
of education, for turning the schools around.
Truitt and Georgia have always been faithful public school
supporters. Truitt was the “baby” of six children, and when all of
his siblings boarded the school bus, he cried to go to school with
them. The next year was too long for him to wait. When his
crying wouldn’t stop, Truitt’s mother visited the principal and
convinced him that Truitt needed to be in school. He started
“primer,” as it was called, six months early.
When thinking back over the positive growth of their beloved
county, Truitt, an active Republican, believes that his party has
played a major role in Rankin County progress. “I believe this
county (Rankin) carried the heaviest Republican vote in the state
and has influenced state-wide elections,” he says with a politician’s
pride. He added that Rankin County is the home of Governor
Phil Bryant (before the governor’s mansion), Tate Reeves, Dick
Hall, and Gregg Harper.
Representative Harper is a Republican that recognizes the
influence that the Grubbs wield. He refers to Truitt as his adopted
daddy and has spoken publicly about believing that Georgia and
Truitt have had more influence on his election than any others.
The Grubbs are not your “front-porch-rocking” neighbors.
Truitt began his career as a 4-H county agent in Lawrence County
and moved on to Lincoln County for eleven more years. After a
break to earn his master’s degree from Mississippi State, he
returned to work as the southwestern district director of the
cooperative extension service for twenty years.
He recalls traveling to Brandon to buy calves for his 4-H
clubs from J.W. Underwood. His farm was located on acreage
that was to become Crossgates Subdivision. Truitt credits
Underwood for quality development of Brandon in those early
stages of city planning.
After the Grubbs’ sons had begun and operated Green Tree
Landscape and Maintenance for ten years, Truitt retired after
his thirty-two years with the extension service and joined his
sons for the next ten years.
Georgia added amid her contagious laugh, “The boys told
him if he behaved, they’d give him a riding lawn mower!” She
joined the family business as the financial operator after retiring
from six years as director of Kinder-Gates, a children’s day care.
Hometown Rankin • 11
12 • June 2017
After the family invested the twenty years of time plus
hard work in the Mississippi heat, they sold the landscaping
business that had grown to be the largest landscaping business
In 1998, after selling out and making it Truitt’s second
retirement, he chose an inside job with Community Bank in
charge of Golden Advantage which covers senior deposits and
Here they made more friends and got their first real taste
of travel. The Community Bank employment lasted eighteen
years with a busload of travel miles and great memories.
Rocking chairs still don’t interest the Grubbs. At 82, Truitt
enjoys tending his 125-acre long-leaf pine farm in Simpson
County where he and Georgia have additional roots. They
purchased and combined two log cabins (1867 and 1890
versions) to make a spacious retreat for family gatherings and
events. Truitt is also active in restoration of his Simpson County
Pinola High School.
When these two notable Brandonites reminisce about earlier
days, Truitt remembers speaking with a person years ago
concerning Rankin County. The man told Truitt, “When I think
of Rankin County, I think of an old farmer, an old truck with a
gun rack and three hound dogs in the back.” Not anymore!
“It’s a county of great law enforcement, good schools –
thanks to good, strong judges. The highways and byways have
been other major accomplishments,” Truitt believes.
Georgia looks back to the safety of raising their children in
the Crossgates neighborhood, but the lake carried its fear of fish
hooks and drownings. When the city drained the lake, she saw that
it was only two feet deep. “If I had known that, I wouldn’t have
worried so much,” she said as she and Truitt laughed together.
“In Brandon, you seem to know everybody and trying matters
here,” Truitt continued. He remembers Carl Lofton whose life
Truitt tries to model. “He was my Vo-Ag teacher with high
principles. I tried to catch him doing wrong but never did.”
The Grubbs three children, with their families, live within
twelve miles of Truitt and Georgia. Candice Perkins, their
daughter, is a school teacher in Flowood. Roe Grubbs, a former
mayor of Brandon, is the director of Capital Properties, and
Matt is regional sales manager for Taylor Power Generators.
The Grubbs are counting on their seven grandchildren to
continue their legacy. Truitt’s mother helped define that legacy
when she gave him these instructions: Be the best, and be the
leader in your community.
Truitt has always remembered those instructions, and his
companion of sixty years affirms, “And he is the best!” n
Hometown Rankin • 13
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14 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 15
16 • June 2017
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Hometown Rankin • 17
18 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 19
CITY OF FLOWOOD
Northwest Rankin High School
Performing Arts Center
20 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 21
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22 • June 2017
Beth S. Bowman
According to AARP, there are 18 million veterans living in the
United States. It was my privilege and honor to interview six
of those amazing men. Four are residents of Plain View Living
in Richland and two live at The Blake in Flowood.
Their stories were diverse, funny, heart breaking, and dauntless.
They each told their stories without any personal glory or honor,
instead with humility and a pride in the United States and their
particular military branch.
Together, these brave and determined men served a total of 52
years. Many times during the interviews I felt like an outsider as
they spat out military acronyms, ranks and abbreviations. They
recounted world changing events with the ease that most of us
tell the weather or directions to a new place. These men may
forget details of recent events such as the name of a new great
grandchild or the address of their favorite cousin but they can
remember with vivid accuracy the details surrounding the years
spent in military service.
On the following pages are some of the
courageous, brave men i met ➣➣➣➣
Hometown Rankin • 23
Columbus Laverne Roberts
Hometown: Mt. Olive, MS
Branch of Service: U.S. Navy
Howard Don McCoy
Hometown: Forest, LA
Branch of Service: U.S. Air Force
John Robert Goodman
Hometown: Morton, MS
Branch of service: U.S. Navy
Mr. Roberts’ brother had joined the U.S. Navy
two years earlier so his mom was agreeable
for him to do the same. As he left for basic
training in Camp Perry, Virginia, his brother
told him about a girl named Polly who wanted
to write to a military “boy”. Laverne wrote the
first letter to Polly and she wrote back. Each
time he came home on leave, he and Polly
spent time together and fell in love. Later they
married and he still keeps the first picture of
Polly he ever had in his wallet, along with a
$2 bill from his first Navy pay. With amazing
clarity, Laverne Roberts shared details from
his years in the military. He enlisted during
WWII and ended up in combat in Northern
Africa. His tour of duty found him in 17
different countries in three years. King
George VI and President Franklin D.
Roosevelt once visited his ship, the USS
Catoctin. The Catoctin was the most successful
of all amphibious assaults of the war because
her antennae relayed the signals for all of the
communications on shore and in the water
during the invasion of Southern France.
Mr. McCoy served in the military between
the Korean conflict and Vietnam. He served
for 2 years then received word that his daddy
had died. Mr. Don said that he wished he
would have been able to stay a lot longer but
his family needed him. As a cook at the Air
Force base, he was responsible for making
sure the men had enough to eat and that
meant potatoes were served three times
a day, every single day. He has not peeled
a potato since leaving the Air Force.
When Mr. Goodman signed up at age 17,
his dad had to sign papers agreeing for
him to enter military service. Although
his leaving for basic training broke the hearts
of several “sweethearts” back home, he found
a wife while on a bus during leave one
weekend. He refused to get off the bus until
he got her address. She reluctantly gave
her address and later she gave him her
hand in marriage. Although the Naval base
in Millington, Tennessee, was home for
John four different times during his
career, he also saw a lot of the world.
His electronics and aviation training
enabled him to spot enemy submarines
as he flew in the Anti-Submarine Warfare
(ASW) planes all over the world.
He completed his service after 28 years
of faithfully serving our country.
24 • June 2017
William Simmie Honea, Jr.
Hometown: Copiah County
Branch of Service: U.S. Marines
Hometown: Purvis, MS
Branch of Service: National Guard
Hometown: Sumrall, MS
Branch of Service: U.S. Air Force
Mr. Bill left for the Marines on his
birthday, March 8, 1945. His high school
released him early so he could go to
boot camp. After training on Paris Island,
South Carolina he was stationed in North
Carolina when the news was announced
that the war was over. Bill recalls that
the excitement about the end of the war
tingled with great apprehension and
a myriad of questions about the
future for those in military service.
After basic training, Mr. Burt served
during the civil rights demonstrations at
Jackson State. He remembers it being a
terrible time as people was divided over
the issues. He can remember that time
being very difficult for the military as
they tried to keep the riots from escalating.
Most frightening for him was having to point
his gun and keep peace among relatives
and friends who attended the riots.
Mr. Clois signed up when he was around
18 years old and served 4 years. His nickname,
Clem stuck with him all of his life. He recalled
that you could not call the standard issue gun,
the M1, a “gun”. You were required to call it
a “weapon”. If you didn’t call your gun a
“weapon”, your commanding officer ensured
that you would remember the second time.
These six men represent our men and women in uniform well.
Their stories blessed me and their dedication challenged me.
Thank you, Laverne, Don, John, Bill, Burt, & Clois.
We are grateful for you.
Hometown Rankin • 25
26 • June 2017
Ladies’ Night Out
April 6 - Pelahatchie Baptist Church
Hometown Rankin • 27
• Booklets • Color Copies, Flyers • Trade Show Displays
• Brochures • Stationery • Event Printed Materials
• Business Cards • Mailing Services • Banners, Posters
• Business Plans • Post Cards • Promotional Items
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28 • June 2017
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Hometown Rankin • 29
A bigger house and
a basketball goal.
and a teddy bear.
I’d get him a gun because
we like to go hunting.
If you could give your daddy
anything for Father's Day,
what would it be?
A house with lots of land.
I’d get him some new bait
for his tackle box.
A new camera because
he’s a photographer and he
needs a new one.
Some new baseballs
for his baseball bucket.
30 • June 2017
I love that he plays games
with me, mostly UNO.
He plays games
with me like kickball.
He plays basketball with me
and makes me do my best
at everything I do.
Dr. Amanda Stocks
I love his big heart. My dad has
always shown me an example
of helping people in need.
He plays basketball with me.
He plays baseball with me.
When I have swim meets, he’s
always there for me, even when
I have long distance meets.
I like that he’s tough with me
and that’s because he was
in the Marine Corp. He’s so
glad I don’t have a baby sister
so he doesn’t have to
change more diapers.
Hometown Rankin • 31
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32 • June 2017
Serving our county
Rankin County Emergency Communications Officer
Why did you decide to pursue law
As long as I can remember I have wanted to be in
law enforcement. My original plan was to join the
Army as a military policeman just to gain some
experience. Twenty years later I retired from the Army
and, after a few different jobs and a long battle with
the disease of alcoholism, I got sober and, by the
grace of God, was given the opportunity to re-enter
law enforcement serving the citizens of Rankin
County as an emergency communications officer.
I thank Him each and every day for that privilege.
How long have you served in your
I have worked here for a little over two years and
I love it. The camaraderie, brotherhood, and
compassion for others that my co-workers show
every day reminds me why I have continued to
serve this county, state, and nation.
Tell us about your family.
I am a divorced father of 3 young adults, one of
which has been a Marine for the last 8 years. I could
not be more proud. I also have 3 siblings that live in
Rankin County and a sibling in Simpson County.
What is the toughest thing you have
experienced in your job?
Seeing families and young adults being torn apart by
violence and substance abuse is just heartbreaking.
However, if I can get through to just one person it
eases the burden.
Share some things you enjoy doing in
your spare time.
I love to cook, garden, and do something nice for
at least one person every day. That’s a personal goal
I set for myself at the beginning of my recovery.
What are three things on your bucket list?
Although I enjoyed the movie, I’ve never been a
bucket list person. If I had to make a list at this point
in my life it would be to: Enjoy my family and tell
them I love them as much as I can; be kind and
compassionate as much as I can; and try to help
people in any way I can.
Who is someone you admire and why?
In 1988 during my first tour in Germany I had a unit
first sergeant named Jackie B. Irwin. He had been
an infantryman during the height of the Vietnam
War. His leadership and dedication to taking care
of soldiers was the model that I based my career on.
I still think of him often to this day.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Living, hopefully. And still serving the citizens of
Rankin County with the Sheriff’s Dept. The
professionalism and compassion I found here has
helped me refocus on the goodness in people and
a strong desire to help as many as I can.
If you could give one piece of advice to
a young person, what would it be?
I believe every able-bodied citizen should serve their
country for at least one tour. It instills self-discipline,
a sense of pride, and a sense accomplishment.
It also makes you a more marketable member of
the workforce—in some ways as good as a college
education, depending on your chosen field.
What is a favorite childhood memory?
Working in the garden with my daddy and papaw.
What is the biggest mistake you think
young people make today?
Not working in the garden with their parents. There
is a lot to be learned in between the rows of dirt
that can’t be found in an electronic device.
What is your favorite thing about
Not to be redundant, but the members of our
profession. They take great pride in their duties
and go above and beyond every chance they get.
It motivates you to want to do more. Although we
deal with a lot of people at their worst, they are
not bad people and we show compassion to all.
That’s a job to be proud of.
Hometown Rankin • 33
34 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 35
36 • June 2017
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118 Service Drive, Suite 9
Calling all Leaders!
Interested in Leadership?
Apply now for the 2017-2018 Leadership Rankin Program
Application Deadline: June 30, 2017
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101 Service Drive ■ Brandon MS 39042
Invest in your future and become a leader in Rankin County!
Established in 1994 and
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Anyone with an interest
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Must live or work in
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Find out more at www.rankinchamber.com
Hometown Rankin • 37
March 30 • providence Hill farms
38 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 39
On May 4, 2017, Mississippi Blood Services celebrated their annual Reunite
for Life event. This gathering of blood donors and patients celebrates life and
embodies the importance of being a blood donor. During the event patients were
able to meet some of the donors whose blood helped save their lives. This year’s
honorees were four very special patients whose lifesaving treatments depended
on volunteer blood donations.
Chandler Norman was in an ATV accident in January 2016. Chandler sustained
multiple injuries including a shattered left leg, torn femoral artery, fractured skull,
broken jaw, and a lacerated liver and spleen. Chandler received more than 40 units
of blood throughout his treatments, which included eleven different surgeries.
Chandler ultimately lost his left leg above the knee, but thanks to volunteer blood
donors, Chandler is wrapping up his junior year of high school and is back to
doing the things he did before his accident.
Josh Sexton was diagnosed with osteosarcoma of the right humerus in January
2016. Due to the nature of his cancer, Josh underwent the amputation of his right
arm, collar bone, and shoulder blade. Throughout his treatments, Josh needed
several units of both whole blood and platelets. Now a healthy and active 9-year
old, Josh want’s others to know just how important donating blood is.
Blake Sebren was in a serious vehicle accident with his sister and girlfriend in
March 2016. During the accident, Blake sustained several life threatening injuries
including a crushed pelvis, and bruised kidneys and lungs. Blake lost his right
kidney due to the damage from the impact. During his treatments, Blake used
more than 75 units of platelets and whole blood. Although he still has more
surgeries ahead of him, Blake is here today thanks to the kindness of those who
selflessly donated blood.
Nicole Jones is no stranger to the need for blood. In 2014 Nicole was diagnosed
with TTP, a rare blood disease, and required hundreds of units of platelets to
survive. In January of 2016 the unthinkable happened, and Nicole once again
was diagnosed with TTP. Nicole needed AB platelets–nearly 200 units. MBS put
out the call for help, and it was answered! MBS was able to get Nicole the
lifesaving units she needed.
40 • June 2017
Services offers a
variety of donation
For more info
on blood and
Hometown Rankin • 41
April 1 • Pearl community Center
42 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 43
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44 • June 2017
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Hometown Rankin • 45
Mary Ann Kirby
46 • June 2017
Anyone that has ever lost a loved one
knows of the longing that comes with
wanting to somehow reconnect. In our
minds, we know they’re gone but we
still need to feel them to know that
they’re ok--- and neither time nor
distance can change that desire.
There’s an old saying that goes,
“When cardinals appear, angels are near.”
I’ve always been enchanted by that idea
as the red cardinal has played many
prominent roles throughout our history.
The notion that cardinals are messengers
of spirits exists across numerous
cultures and beliefs--- just ask anyone
that’s seen one when they
needed it most.
But truth be known, redbirds
are pretty common in this area.
They thrive in this habitat and while
I’d love to think that every time
I see one it’s a spirit-come-to-visit,
it’s just as easy for me to
imagine that it’s not.
In 2012, my grandmother died at the
age of 96. When it was time to clean
out her house, her youngest son from
California (and the sibling-declared
family-favorite among the four of her
children and two grandchildren) came
to Mississippi for a week to help with
the overwhelming task ahead. She had
lived in the same house in Yazoo City
for over 80 years.
There was stuff everywhere–in the
attic, in the garage, in drawers, and in
closets stacked from floor-to-ceiling.
Much of it I had meticulously sorted
over the course of several weeks and
months but when it came time to do
the final clearing, a lot of it was taken
to the curb. We worked for days to
ultimately prepare the house to be sold.
I called the waste management
company to arrange for a special pick-up
since it was just too much to leave until
the regular trash day. They needed a
heads up–it was a lot. Besides, I needed
to get back to Jackson and wanted to
know that it would be taken care of.
Early the next morning, as promised,
the garbage truck ran and around
mid-day I called my uncle to verify that
it had, in-fact, all been cleared away. He
walked outside and was just astounded
at what had previously been an absolute
massive amount of rubbish. The
mountain had been reduced to a single
random Christmas ball. Every bit of it
As he leaned over to scoop up the
old faded ornament, he noticed
something shining in the grass. He
reached down to find a little gold heart
charm. The irony was not lost on him
that it was all that was left–and that he
had found it. He stuck it in his pocket
and went back inside.
His wife was in the kitchen at the
stove fixing a late breakfast. They were
still on California time and were slow
to get going, not to mention worn out
from the several days of hard labor,
prior. He reached in his pocket and
showed her the heart-shaped trinket
and when she flipped it over, she
noticed right away that it was engraved
with the name John. That was his name
–my grandmother’s youngest son–the
declared family favorite, which now
seemed somehow divinely confirmed.
Hometown Rankin • 47
Several years before her death, my grandmother gave me an
enamel-coated steel colander. It had belonged to her, seen decades of
usage, and was the only “strainer” I had. I used it regularly and often.
It had long-since begun to rust where some of the enamel had
chipped away, but I continued to use it anyway. I eventually purchased
a new one–coincidently, after she passed. The one she gave me was
just too rusty. So one day I decided to throw it away.
I put it in the garbage. I took it out of the garbage. I put it back in the
garbage and before I even closed the lid I reached back in to rescue it.
It was not just a rusted colander but a piece of my past–and a piece of
someone important to me. I thought to myself, “This is ridiculous!”
And after wrangling with it for almost an hour, I proceeded to shove
it down into the trash bag and tie it shut, once and for all.
The weather on the morning of “trash-day” was bleak. It was
already drizzling and the forecast called for the possibility of severe
conditions later that afternoon. By the time I got home from work,
dark had fallen. It was storming with 30-mile-per-hour winds, and
my garbage can had blown clear to the end of the cul-de-sac. I had
no choice but to battle it out and go get it.
The rain was blowing sideways and I was soaking wet and dragging
the garbage can behind me. I noticed what appeared to be some type
of helmet in the grass next to the curb–dome shaped and glistening
under the streetlight in the pouring down rain. Maybe it was my son’s.
I’d grab it as I dashed up the driveway.
But it was no helmet. It was that colander, turned upside down and
sitting there all by itself. How did it get out of the bag that I had so
painstakingly and reluctantly tied together? I was stunned–and still
am to this day.
48 • June 2017
So a few weeks ago, I was in our backyard building a fire in our fire
pit. I had decided to dispose of some sensitive paperwork that really
should have been shredded, but burning was simply more convenient
and certainly more fun. In the closing of my grandmother’s estate, I
had stored countless banking statements and papers that needed to
be discarded but were too sensitive to just put in the trash–and still
held value in my heart. So I poured a glass of wine and my husband
and son helped load up the fire pit. I recalled funny stories about my
beloved grandmother as they continued to crumple up papers and
put them below the logs. Then we lit them.
The fire struggled to catch. My wood was wet. I decided to add
some kindling from a pot we keep nearby. That’s when I saw the
blooms. For 30 or 40 years, my grandmother had a pot of succulents
on her back porch that stood year-round on a little dime-store plant
stand in the rain, sun, sleet and occasional snow. She was a master
gardener and yet these succulents were the only plant-life I brought
home with me after her death. I’d had them now for four years and
they live on my back patio next to a big fat pot of kindling. I looked
down and they were in full bloom–and they hadn’t been the day before.
I’ve never seen them bloom. Ever. I didn’t even know they would.
So, I’ve decided they were blooming just for me. As if to say, it’s ok to
let go–just never forget.
Coincidence? Maybe. But it serves as a wonderful reminder that we’re
never far apart. The truth is that the bond we share with those we
love is a bond never lost or broken–not even by death. Death just
changes the dimensions–like water, evaporating into steam.
Or like a redbird sitting on a window ledge singing, “My spirit will
live on forever there within your heart.” n
Hometown Rankin • 49
Purses & Pearls
Muse Center • April 19
50 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 51
• 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
• 1 c. powdered sugar
• 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
• 16 oz. Cool Whip
• 16 oz. strawberries, sliced
• 2 ripe bananas, sliced
• 12 oz. raspberries
• 3 tbsp. crushed graham crackers
In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat together
cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until
light and fluffy. Beat in Cool Whip until combined.
Fold in strawberries, bananas, and raspberries.
Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle top with
graham cracker crumbs.
• 24 oreos
• 6 tbsp. melted butter
• 1/4 c. sugar
• 2 blocks cream cheese, softened
• 1/2 c. powdered sugar
• 1/4 c. chocolate sauce
• 2-3 hot cocoa packs
• pinch of salt
• 2 c. heavy cream
• 1 c. mini marshmallows
In a food processor, pulse Oreos until they are
fine crumbs. Transfer crumbs to a bowl, then
add butter and sugar and stir until combined.
The texture should be similar to wet sand.
Grease a 9” pie plate and press in the crust
mixture. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat
cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add powdered
sugar, chocolate sauce, cocoa packets and salt and
mix until smooth.
Add about half of the heavy cream and beat
until smooth. Add the rest of the heavy cream
and beat until very fluffy.
Fold in mini marshmallows. Pour cheesecake
mixture into the prepared crust.
Freeze until solid, about 4 hours.
Peaches n’ Cream
• 8 small peaches, sliced
• 1/4 c. sugar
• 1/4 c. brown sugar
• 1 tsp. cinnamon
• 15 graham crackers
• 2 c. heavy cream
• 1/4 c. powdered sugar
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1/4 c. sliced almonds
Macerate peaches: In a large bowl, combine
peaches, brown sugar, sugar and cinnamon. Toss
until the peaches are evenly coated in the sugar.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Make whipped cream: In a large bowl, combine
heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat
mixture with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form.
Assemble lasagna. In a 8” square baking pan,
place graham crackers in an even layer. Spread an
even layer of whipped cream over the graham
crackers, top with macerated peaches then sprinkle
some almonds on top. Repeat three more times.
Chill in refrigerated until the graham crackers
have softened, about 2 hours.
52 • June 2017
Drunk & Dirty
• 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
• ½ cup bourbon, or other sour mash whiskey
• ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tablespoon packed brown sugar
• ½ teaspoon ground ginger
• 4 cloves garlic, cut in half
• ½ cup water
• 2 pound beef tenderloin (feeds 4-5 easily)
• 2 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
• ¼ cup vegetable oil
Prepare the smoker for an indirect cook at
225-275 degree dome temperature. Add wood
chunks and/or chips (oak, pecan, or hickory -
don’t overdo it).
Combine ingredients down to the garlic with
1/2 cup water and marinate beef for 2-4 hours.
Remove beef from the fridge, reserve marinade
and cover beef with ground pepper. I don’t measure,
I just completely cover both sides with black pepper
and then add the white pepper not quite as liberally.
Put half the marinade in the refrigerator and add
the vegetable oil to the other half, if planning to baste.
If not basting put all the marinade in the fridge.
Heat the basting sauce to a boil for a few minutes
and keep warm on low.
Put the roast on the smoker and cook until
almost done–1½ to 2 hours, mopping every 20
When almost done (120 degree internal temp)
remove from the grill and bring it up to sear temps
Holding with tongs, place the roast back on
when grill is 500 degrees or so for about 1 minute
per each of the four sides. You’re just trying to get a
nice char but not too much.
Remove from the grill, tent with foil, and let sit at
least 5 minutes (closer to 10 is fine). While resting,
bring reserved marinade to a boil for a few minutes
then lower to low and reduce by about one quarter.
Slice and either drizzle marinade over the slices
or serve on the side for guests to drizzle themselves.
Flat Iron Steak
• 1.5 pound flat iron steak
• Cluck and Squeal ‘Beef Specific’ Rub;
Cavendar’s Greek Seasoning; Montreal Steak
rub; or your favorite steak seasoning
Coat steak liberally with the rub and allow it to
“melt in” for 45 minutes to an hour, while the
steak is coming to room temp.
Prepare the grill for a direct cook at 600+ degrees.
Sear for 60 seconds per side, then remove
while bringing the temp down.
Close the vents down and get the temp close to
Finish, flipping as needed to prevent
overcooking on any side.
Remove when the internal temp reaches
125 degrees (for medium rare).
Rest for 10 minutes before thinly slicing against
• 1 12 oz. skin-on salmon fillet, center-cut
• Dizzy Pig Raging River Rub
• Dizzy Pig Shaking the Tree Rub
• Olive Oil
• Big Green Egg Kodiak River Rub
Pat the filet dry then liberally coat salmon with
the Raging River or BGE Kodiak River rub. Allow
to “melt in” for 45 minutes to an hour.
Prepare the grill for a 400* direct cook (on an
Egg, the grid can be elevated or at the fire ring
level). Add any chips (alder, apple, etc.) just before
putting the salmon on the grill.
If using “Shaking the Tree” rub, add just prior to
placing on the grill.
Oil the grill surface generously with a rag (or
paper towel) soaked in vegetable oil, then place the
salmon flesh down (skin up) on the grid.
Grill with the dome closed for 2 minutes, then
using a thin spatula, flip the filet to skin down and
insert a temp probe, if using.
Grill for another 5-8 minutes or so - until the
internal temp is 120 degrees or until white protein
starts to ooze onto the surface of the fish.
Remove, cover with foil and rest for 5 minutes
Hometown Rankin • 53
54 • June 2017
march 30 • Richland Community Center
Hometown Rankin • 55
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56 • June 2017
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Hometown Rankin • 57
58 • June 2017
Love is an incredible
& powerful force.
It tests your courage, strength,
dedication, patience, kindness,
perseverance, and a million
other little things.
The people we shower with our affections will put that love through a lot
— sometimes by their actions, or sometimes by their circumstances. But of all
the different people you love, the love for your child is perhaps one of the purest
and strongest. When they hurt, you hurt, and you’d give anything to make them
better — even give a part of yourself. That is precisely the decision Matt and Ashley
Dykman made when they learned that their beloved son would be born in need
of a kidney transplant.
When Ashley was 17 weeks pregnant, she and her husband Matt made the trip
to the doctor that everyone looks forward to when they are expecting: the one
where they would learn the sex of their baby-to-be. Unfortunately, along with that,
came news no new parent hopes to hear — that their son was suffering from a rare
birth defect called Eagle-Barrett, better-known as “Prune-Belly Syndrome”. His
abdominal wall was not forming correctly and affected the development of his
organs, particularly his kidneys.
When he was born, Sawyer’s kidneys did not function at all and his parents were
forced to put him on dialysis. Many surgeries were performed to help him with
different issues that commonly arise with his type of syndrome. Seeing the stress
that the Dykmans were going through, their hometown community of Florence
banded together and held several fundraisers to help ease the financial burden of
hospital bills for the family.
Hometown Rankin • 59
60 • June 2017
Knowing that being placed on a transplant list and then waiting for a kidney to
become available would likely be a long and arduous process, Matt and Ashley
decided that each of them would get tested to see if they were a match. Miraculously,
they both were great candidates to donate to Sawyer! Matt decided that he would
take the lead and proceed with the additional preparations to give one of his kidneys
to Sawyer. There were seemingly infinite visits to every kind of doctor that tested
and evaluated Matt from head to toe, but in the end, he was deemed a worthy
donor. In order for a small child like Sawyer to receive an adult organ, however,
he had to reach a certain weight (22 pounds to be exact). At 18 months old, Sawyer
had finally grown big enough, and father and son went into the operating rooms
where their lives changed forever.
“I was blessed to be able to be a kidney match and give Sawyer a chance at a
better and healthier life. There was no hesitation when I heard I was a match.
I immediately said yes. We are thankful it has given Sawyer a chance to thrive and
love life like he does. He is the greatest little boy and I am thankful to be his dad,”
Today, Sawyer is a six-year-old social butterfly. He never meets a stranger, and
sings and dances to his heart’s desire. He is doing well in school, though he has a
few developmental delays due to spending the first 2 years of his life in the hospital.
He runs and plays just like any other kid, but does so just a little more carefully than
most. Ashley explained, “His life has made us stronger in our faith and taught us, as
a family, just to roll with life. It’s hard to have a disabled child, but he is so loving and
energetic and fun that you forget he’s disabled all the time.”
Along with his 3-year-old sister Sadie and 9-month-old sister Frannie, Sawyer
continues to approach everything with an excitement and fervor reflective of the
second chance he’s been given through the immense love and generosity of his father.
E.E. Cummings once wrote, “I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart).
I am never without it (anywhere I go you go, my dear)”. It may not have been a
heart that was donated, but it is clear that Matt’s kidney was given in an abundance
of love. Sawyer will forever carry his father with him, both in body and spirit. His
journey proves that love truly does triumph over all. n
Hometown Rankin • 61
62 • June 2017
The Crown Club
Junior Auxiliary of Rankin County Mother-Daughter Social
Tuesday, April 25 | Pelahatchie Community Center
Hometown Rankin • 63
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64 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 65
66 • June 2017
Brandon Municipal Center
Hometown Rankin • 67
A Field & Club of Heroes
Betsy Ross, a seamstress in Philadelphia
in 1776, made it into the history books
as the maker of the first American flag.
However, her actual involvement in its
development is highly debated.
No official records or documents
place her with the first American flag
across her lap, but there’s ample
evidence that the Exchange Club of
Crossgates has honored and celebrated
our national flag and the patriots who
gave their lives for the freedom Ole
Let me introduce this special club.
The National Exchange Club is the only
service organization that exclusively
serves communities in the United States
and Puerto Rico. Volunteers use their
talents and time to benefit their local
communities and their country. Their
core values are basic: family, community,
Exchange members are involved in
activities and programs that benefit youth,
promote pride in our country, and honor
military and public service providers.
The Exchange’s National Project is the
prevention of child abuse.
The Exchange Club of Crossgates is
our local chapter and carries out
enormous accomplishments with their
small band of twelve members, men
Their first major goal was to provide a
park for children close to the community.
They purchased 12.5 acres of land from
Tom Underwood in 1978 to create a
youth sports complex. It is adjacent to
I-20 at Woodgate Drive South. It’s been
the home park for the Brandon Soccer
Organization since its inception and was
named after the club’s first president,
68 • June 2017
Updates to the park over the years
have included a sprinkler system
covering ten acres, field lighting,
a concession building, and several
additional buildings on the property.
To fund these major expenses, the
Club constructed a 50’ long BBQ pit
and have cooked many thousands of
chicken halves to sell to the public.
They eventually turned to the annual
October Haunted House for their main
fundraiser which the club members
begin work on in March. With help from
the Boy Scouts and the First Baptist
Church Youth Group, the Club raises
thousands of dollars to give toward
and fund their various projects.
The project that Hometown Magazines
wishes to spotlight is their Memorial Flag
Field. This July 1-3, they will display 500
full-size American flags that originally
flew on the Exchange Club’s first 9/11
Memorial Flag Field.
This Club has hosted two 9/11 Memorial
Flag Fields on their park with over 4,000
full-size flags standing in a uniform grid
that Mayor Butch Lee and Sheriff Brian
Bailey, along with other volunteers,
helped implement and complete.
The flags were displayed with names
and information of those who died in
the attack of 9/11 plus soldiers who were
killed in the following war.
This July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, the 500
flags will be waving on the soccer field
park, reminding I-20 travelers of the
price of freedom. The entrance to the
parking lot is on Woodgate Drive South,
next to the Enterprise Building, for those
who want to walk through the flags.
The memorialized flags will be for
sale with pole and the original yellow
ribbon and a name tag that identified
the fallen soldier associated with the
flag. The cost is only $10. There is no
set program planned, but a concession
stand will be open for visitors.
Louise Pipitone, a forty-year member
along with husband Pat, said about the
flag display, “It’s the most rewarding
thing our Club has ever done. Truckers
have pulled off the interstate all hours
of the night to walk through the lighted
flag field, the largest in the nation. Others
have brought flowers and teddy bears
to leave by the flags.”
A special salute and thank you go out
to this band of patriotic, hard workers.
They need our participation in community
projects and “new blood in memberships,”
Mrs. Pipitone expressed. “We
need parents to teach their children to
volunteer and become active.”
Community involvement in an
organization that promotes Americanism,
patriotism, and youth, would be an
excellent means of commemorating all
the fallen on this July’s Memorial Flag
Field. The Exchange Club members urge
us all to, “Come and show respect.”
Hometown Rankin • 69
70 • June 2017
United Methodist Church
Hometown Rankin • 71
©2014 Ergon, Inc. All rights reserved.
72 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 73
As told by Jessica Lay
With close to 60,000
vehicles driving on Lakeland
Drive each day, it’s hard to
believe that it was once beautiful
pastureland for dairy cows. Jessica
Lay remembers, because her father
ran the dairy farm that once stood
where River Oaks Hospital is
today. “We moved there when
I was five-years-old,” Lay recalls.
“I was entering the first grade.
I went to school in Pearl.”
Her father purchased the land in
1944 for $35 an acre – a pretty hefty
sum in those days. “People told my father he’d never be able to
afford that land, but he said that he’d pay for it selling milk.
And he did just that.” The family moved to Rankin County
from the Forest Hill area of Jackson. At that time, Lay’s father
was delivering milk in glass bottles on the doorsteps of families
all over South Jackson. “People would put their milk money in
a jar for my father to pick up when he delivered the milk. It was
a different time back then. People were honest.”
The first idea that something
would happen where Lakeland
Drive is today is when Leland
Speed was fishing with Lay’s
uncle. “Mr. Speed told my uncle
that a road was going through
the area. He said the land would
be worth a million dollars
someday.” Gus Primos did a
good bit of the work, partnering
with the Lay family to sell
and develop some of the land. “Gus had the
money and we had the land. It was a great partnership!”
At the time, Lakeland Drive ended just shy of the Pearl River.
“The Stocketts had a horse barn there,” Lay recalls. When the
road was brought through, Gus Primos wanted to build a
school. “Jackson Prep now sits on the site where our hayfield
used to be.” Lay recalls there was an old tenant house with a
cistern behind it on the back of the property. “I used to ride my
horse back there, and all the way to the Pearl River.”
74 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 75
76 • June 2017
Moving to Rankin County was a wonderful thing for Lay,
who said she recalls that that the family’s home in Forest Hill
didn’t have running water. “The commodes didn’t flush and we
had to bathe in a number two wash tub. In the house out in the
country, we had a real bathroom with a real bathtub. It was like
having my own indoor swimming pool! The first day we were in
the house I got in the tub and stayed in it all day until I was
shriveled up like a prune and my mother made me get out.”
She loved living in the country. “Our house and dairy barn
were near where River Oaks is today. The hospital sits on what
was once our cow pasture.” The family went through
the Easter flood of 1979, and unfortunately, many
family photos were lost in the disaster.
Today, Lay lives with her husband outside of Brandon. The
family continues to have business interests on Lakeland Drive.
Folks who drive in the area frequently are familiar with
Layfair Drive, named after the Lay family, and they own Layfair
Shopping Center. “I still drive up and down Lakeland Drive all
the time. It’s still so unreal to me that there has been so much
change in the area during my lifetime!” n
Hometown Rankin • 77
May 5 • Pearl Community Center
78 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 79
Hunks & Heels
The 3rd Annual Womanless Beauty Pageant benefitting the MS Burn Foundation
Thursday, April 27, 2017 at Jaco’s Tacos in Jackson
80 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 81
RANKIN COUNTY’S NEWEST VENUE IS NOW OPEN!
Open House • 5pm-7pm • Thursday, July 6th
Please join us • Light refreshments will be served
202 North College Street • Brandon, MS
To schedule a tour or to make reservations, call 601.706.4059
82 • June 2017
Call us to schedule
your next visit.
Sarah Langston, DMD
14 Woodgate Drive
Brandon, Mississippi 39042
Hometown Rankin • 83
84 • June 2017
It certainly felt like Matt Withrow’s
best day when he was drafted by the
Atlanta Braves as a pitcher in the 6th
round in 2015. Since baseball had become
a major part of his life while growing up
in Odessa, Texas, it was like waking up
from a dream and seeing it was reality.
In the oil field town of Odessa, there
wasn’t much extra-curricular to enjoy
– other than sports. Matt, with his two
older brothers, spent free time in athletics
along with seasonal hunting and fishing.
Matt played his first baseball in the
9th grade, but in a short time the pitching
mound became his favorite spot on the
field. He credits his dad, who played with
the Chicago White Sox, and older brothers
with part of his baseball success. Some
really good coaches, one that played with
the Yankees, are others that taught him
basic skills and command on the pitching
mound. One brother presently plays with
the Kansas City Royals.
Texas Tech University in Lubbock,
Texas, was where he pursued his college
education and baseball dream. He also
renewed his friendship with Kristin, a
young lady he had known since elementary
school. “She didn’t like me then,” he says
with a laugh, but times change and so did
their relationship. They were married in
November of 2016 and live with their host
family, the Wilsons, in Clinton, Mississippi.
The 6’5” pitcher starts every fifth day
of the Braves’ schedule. The conditioning,
practices and weight room fill Matt’s
days before and after all ballgames. It’s
a demanding schedule with only two
off-days a month.
One baseball report said of Matt:
“Withrow’s attitude on the mound is
notable and a definite positive.” A scouting
report describes Matt this way: “Withrow’s
listed at 6’5” and 235 pounds, and he looks
that, for sure. He strikes an imposing pose
on the mound, pulling his cap over his
brow to give the hitter no real view of his
eyes as he focuses on the plate.”
Matt says that he’s learned to block
out fan noise when he’s pitching. It’s a key
part of focus that his dad taught him.
For Rankin fans of the Mississippi
Braves, here’s a bit of trivia about Withrow,
#40. Roger Clemens is his favorite, all-time
baseball player, and if you consider
wearing the same shirt for every game a
superstition, Matt has at least one game
Matt continues to play hard and
perfect his pitching skills. All the workouts,
pre-game and practice drills are the hard
parts to playing professional baseball,
according to this pitcher. He chooses not
to focus on the “what ifs” associated with
his future in baseball but enjoy the dream
of being on the pitching roster. Matt says,
“When you’re on the mound, that’s your
Hometown Rankin • 85
Keep The Rez Beautiful
Sixth Annual Project Rezway - Reservoir’s Recycle Fashion Show and Rezzy Awards
April 27 • MS Craft Center
86 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 87
How One Girl
for the Better
ven though you’re small, you can make
a difference,” is the advice Becca Blair
gives when talking with groups of
preschoolers and elementary school kids.
Becca, age 9, has taken these encouraging
words to heart with her own recent efforts to
promote and grow recycling in her community.
“Help Me Go Green & Recycle”
88 • June 2017
From a very young age, Becca’s family instilled in her
the importance of conserving our natural resources and
being good stewards of the environment. Along with her
family, Becca is a faithful volunteer with Keep the Reservoir
Beautiful, the local Keep Mississippi Beautiful affiliate. Since
she was only 3 years old Becca has been picking up litter and participating
in other clean-up activities in and around the Ross Barnett Reservoir,
helping her fellow volunteers maintain the natural beauty of this popular
recreational destination for residents and visitors alike to enjoy.
Becca’s interest in recycling, however, was sparked just last spring
by an article on landfills she read as part of a school assignment. Becca,
a homeschool student in 3rd grade at the time, learned from the article
that 70% of the materials sent to landfills can be recycled. This statistic
grabbed Becca’s attention prompting her to ask her mom if they could start
recycling at their home, and see how much material they could save from
the landfill. While this idea seems simple enough, the Blair family live in
Rankin County; and recycling here is no easy task for residents compared
to other counties and cities in the Jackson area. The County does not offer
curbside recycling services, and only operates two recycling drop off
locations in a County of nearly 150,000 residents.
Despite these challenges Becca’s mom, Michelle, agreed that their
family should start recycling, and encouraged Becca to turn her idea into
a school project by keeping track of how much material their
household collects for recycling. After getting the hang of
recycling at their house, Becca and her mom noticed that the
family trash had been reduced from 2 bags of trash a day to
1 bag every four days. “Once I saw how much recycling helped
us, I wanted to help my neighbors,” recalls Becca. And with that thought
in mind, Becca, supported by her family and neighbors, began collecting
recyclables in her neighborhood for transport to the nearest county recycling
drop-off center located at the Reservoir Fire Station. She developed
a slogan “Help Me Go Green and Recycle” and started advertising her
“recycling services” by distributing flyers around her neighborhood. She
also asked her friends at Keep the Reservoir Beautiful to get involved.
The organization happily answered the call by donating reusable
recycling tote bags. These bright orange repurposed potato sacks are
used to hold collected recyclables. Becca gives a bag or bag(s) out to
anyone in the neighborhood who asks to participate. Bags are also offered
as a welcome to folks just moving in along with Becca’s flyer and a tasty
homemade treat. Initially Becca collected from only a few neighbors, but
as word spread of Becca’s expanded school project, more and more
neighbors asked to be added to her “route”. According to Michelle,
75-80% of their neighbors put their bags out once a week. To keep this
enthusiasm going, Becca conducts contests periodically to encourage
Hometown Rankin • 89
90 • June 2017
her neighbors to recycle as much as they can. For example, she awards
restaurant gift cards or similar items to the family who puts out the most
recyclables that week. Also, Becca is working with her friends to plan
a neighborhood recycling fair. The fair will include a cookout as well as
games and activities designed to educate and encourage recycling and
waste reduction. These incentives encourage her neighbors and motivate
Becca to honor her commitment. “They are expecting me to come by, and
I can’t let them down,” says Becca of her weekly recycling pick-up. Every
Monday, rain or shine, Becca hops in the back of her grandfather’s truck
and picks up the potato sacks full of recyclables, records the weight, and
takes the materials to the drop off center. Since starting the project, Becca
has collected over 3,000 lbs. of recyclables from her neighbors!
In addition, to helping her neighbors recycle, Becca conducts and
participates in several activities to promote and educate the residents
of Rankin County on the many benefits of recycling and other waste
reduction practices. She speaks to groups of all ages including preschool
classes, high school green clubs, and homeowners’ associations; and
manages Instagram and YouTube pages to share what she has learned
and encourage others to recycle in their local area.
Also, Becca has participated for the past two years in the “Project
Rezway” fashion show, an event sponsored by Keep the Reservoir
Beautiful, modeling her homemade fashions made from recycled materials.
This year’s entry, designed with the help of Becca’s grandmother, Kathy,
consisted of a “Steampunk” style outfit made from the fabric of a broken
trampoline, playing cards, coffee filters and other recycled items. The
ensemble was a big hit with the fashion show audience and contest
judges, snagging the Project Rezway first-place prize.
Given these efforts, it’s no wonder local, state, and national organizations
are taking notice of Becca. Recently, she was recognized nationally by Keep
America Beautiful with their 2016 Individual Youth Award. In addition, she
has won awards on the state level from Keep Mississippi Beautiful and was
named “Recycling Star” by the Mississippi Recycling Coalition (MRC).
The “Recycling Star” award was presented on March 2, 2017, at
the state capitol as part of MRC’s annual Recycling Awareness
Day co-sponsored this year by Keep Mississippi Beautiful.
Becca’s efforts have also shined a light on the important issue of
recycling and the desire of residents in Rankin County and across the
state to have better access to recycling services. In addition to the many
environmental benefits, recycling has a significant economic impact in
Mississippi. Recent studies conducted by the Southeastern Recycling
Development Council (SERDC) identified 11 manufacturing facilities
in the state reliant upon recycled material. These factories generate
$2 billion annually and employ nearly 2,000 people. As Becca read in
the article that inspired her efforts, many of the materials these industries
need to develop new consumer goods are being thrown away. Recovered
materials are supporting our local economy, yet Mississippians annually
spend an estimated $70 million to dispose of recyclables worth approximately
For example, KW Plastics, the largest HDPE plastics (milk jugs and
detergent bottles) recovery plant in the world, is just across the state line
in Troy, Alabama. The amount of HDPE plastics currently collected and
delivered from the states of Alabama and Mississippi combined to the
plant for recycling only supply the plant for approximately 2 days. This
means that the plant must go outside of the Southeastern U.S. for its
recovered plastics supply. Despite the value of these recovered materials
to companies like KW Plastics, many residents of our state don’t have the
option of recycling; or as is the case in Rankin County, have very limited
options, making recycling difficult for busy families.
An estimated 60% of Mississippians have access to recycling services
(including both drop-off and curbside recycling programs). Comparing
this percentage with the national average of 96%, it shows that our
state has tremendous potential for growth in the recycling industry
through increased collection of materials. Recycling just 1% of the
4 million tons of residential solid waste disposed of each year in the
state can create 100 new jobs for Mississippians!
Sadly, many of us see the issue of recycling and the lack of access in
Mississippi and the Southeast as a problem too big for the average citizen
to solve. Perhaps we should look at the example set by Miss Becca
Blair and heed her advice: “Even though you’re small, you can
make a difference.” n
Hometown Rankin • 91
92 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 93
94 • June 2017
April 22nd • Richland Community Center
Hometown Rankin • 95
RANKIN COUNTY SCHOOLS
The preschoolers at Discovery Christian School had an exciting time finding eggs that
the 4th grade class hid for them. They also enjoyed the candy that they found inside!
How do you go from Great to Best? Brandon High School does
it by establishing a culture of excellence where “we” comes before
“me.” The mission is to cultivate a culture where all students, faculty,
and community can achieve greatness. DOGS – “Developing Our
Gifts to Serve” is not just a slogan – it is the foundation for
everything BHS does, both inside and outside of the classroom.
As the 8th largest high school in state, Brandon High prides itself
on growing leaders, growing stewards, and growing world changers.
This school year alone, 19 seniors scored a 30 or higher on the ACT.
Brandon High School also has two National Merit Finalists and a
Legion of Valor Award recipient for the 2016-2017 school year. The
news/media class was nominated for three Mississippi Scholastic
Press Association awards for their cutting-edge broadcasting
contributions. The majority of athletic teams made it to postregular
season play, and the student athletes are top contenders in
the state, both academically and athletically. 24 of 26 teams qualified
as All Academic teams for the year. BHS was also the winner of the
2016 Southern Elite Sports Spirit Award and is home of the award
winning show- choir, Brio.
Participation in the 7 career technical academies is growing
rapidly, and ACT preparation and PSAT courses offered have been
expanded and enhanced. In order to foster longitudinal
relationships and build cohesion, BHS is integrating the concept of
looping in some of our academic courses where a teacher remains
with the same group of students for more than one school year.
The 107 highly qualified teachers are fostering authentic
collaboration among their departments and across the curricular
disciplines in order to effectively prepare students to achieve their
college and career goals.
Growth and excitement at Brandon High School is never ending.
A spirit of community is felt by all who enter the doors! It is truly a
place like no other.
96 • June 2017
Highland Bluff Elementary
Each year in Mississippi, third grade
students, their parents, and their
teachers can’t help but get a little
nervous when it comes to the literacy
exam that, by law, all third graders have
to pass to be promoted to fourth grade.
At Highland Bluff Elementary School,
109 students took the exam this spring.
On May 10, the long anticipated score
reports were sent to the schools and
were ready to be sent home. Upon
realizing that 100% of all third graders at
Highland Bluff had met the promotion
requirements, a special reveal
celebration was in order!
For the reveal celebration, staff
members dressed like Star Wars
characters since, leading up to the test,
the third grade hall had been decorated
like a galaxy with each child’s name on a
star and light sabers at the entry to the
hallway near a blow up Yoda who’s sign
said, “May the force be with you.”
Following with the Star Wars theme,
the reveal celebration began with an
image of Star Wars visible on the
stage screen and Star Wars
soundtrack music was playing while
students entered the cafeteria for
what they thought was another book
club meeting. Green Yoda juice
(Sonic slushies) were set out for each
student. A letter with each student’s
name was folded and sealed for them
to open. Each student’s letter had
Yoda holding a green light saber and
had the following words written,
“Congratulations! The Force was with
YOU! You passed. HBE was 100%.”
Then, students were told
congratulations on behalf of Dr.
Townsend, RCSD Superintendent,
Dr. Crain, Asst. Superintendent, and
all of their HBE family! As expected,
there were cheers of joy, tears of relief,
and a special moment the staff and
students of HBE shared that will be a
cherished memory for years to come.
8th grade students were honored with a special
program, “The Tassel is Worth the Hassle”, which
recognizes the students for all of their hard work while
at the middle school. The program also portrayed the
importance of graduating from high school and
encouraged them to work hard towards graduation.
The students are provided a breakfast, a special t-shirt
with their graduation year, and a tassel. As the students
enjoyed breakfast, special guest speaker, Dr. Sue
Townsend, inspired them by sharing her personal
struggles and successes that she faced along her college
and career journey. As the students leave the program,
they carry their mock graduation certificate and a
brochure with information on how to be successful in
high school and thoughts to consider as they plan for
their future once graduating high school.
Submissions provided by local officials from each individual district and not to be considered editorial opinion.
Hometown Rankin • 97
RANKIN COUNTY SCHOOLS
McLaurin Elementary School is a PBIS model site. The PBIS
committee meets throughout the year to discuss ideas for fundraisers
and events. Everyone at the school is part of the PBIS team,
however, several small committees are set in place to handle the array
of duties that has to happen in order to be successful. For example, to
be able to have the appropriate activities scheduled for such a large
variety of ages, it takes a lot of people to volunteer and be involved.
All the different grades have incentives put in place to encourage the
best behavior throughout all grades. All students have the
opportunity to earn Tiger Tickets to purchase rewards from the
Tiger Cart. Also, each class can earn golden tickets to be used at the
end of the year for whole class rewards, such as class party or pizza
party. These all are efforts to help the maximum number of students
be successful and able to attend the Big Event and Big Big Event.
The Big Event at McLaurin Elementary happens at the end of
each nine weeks. The big event is for all the students that do not
receive discipline referrals for that nine weeks. It has various
activities every time such as blackout dances, popcorn or ice cream
It’s that time of the year, banquets, awards day, graduation, state
tests, field day, and final exams. On Saturday, May 13th, the Puckett
High School Football team held their annual Spring Fling. The
festivities began at 8:00 am with a 5K fun run/walk. Over 80
runners and walkers, from all over the State, participated in the 5K
race. There were winners in each age division. After the race
younger children participated in a half-mile fun run.
Later that morning we held an antique car show. Over 20 cars
were entered in the event. There were some really nice muscle cars
and trucks on display. The owners, of the cars, had a good time
sharing stories of how they rebuilt their vehicles from scratch.
Spectators took pictures and chatted with the owners for the
remainder of the day.
Next, the fun times began. We had a dunking booth where the
youth took turns dunking each other. There was a free jumping tent
for the smaller children. We had a silent auction; vendor tents and a
concession stand full of your favorite foods and drinks. There was a
hot dog eating contest, Mark Smith was crowned the champion in
this event. In the pet parade Natalie Brady and her black lab “super
Dog” captured the first prize. Later in the evening we had the Mess
Puckett Beauty Pageant. It was a real “Mess”. David Williams, was
crowned the Mess winner. The crowd was entertained and had a
parties, and even Tiger Rock Martial Arts, just to name a few. The
teachers and office keep a list of eligible students.
At the end of every year, the Big Big Event happens for the kids
that have not received any discipline referrals the entire year. It has
activities including water slides, bounce castle, and blow up obstacle
courses. These students are identified by wearing a special bracelet.
McLaurin Elementary feels that it is important to reward students
for their hard work and effort to be the best student and have the
best character possible.
At these events, the school can decide to sell bottled water, snow
cones, or other approved snacks or items. The money that is raised is
used by our school to fund the Big Event committee for the
Every year, every student has a fresh start and new opportunity to
work as hard as they can to be able to attend all their favorite Big
Event activities. Also, the students complete a survey each year to
help the committee plan activities that the students have suggested.
great time. The Spring Fling was a success and we hope to improve
on it next year. This annual fundraiser helps Puckett HS football
with their expenses.
98 • June 2017
Before we complete final exams, before we mail report cards,
before we say goodbye for the summer, we celebrate the recent
achievements and awards of our students and faculty.
Various teams and student athletes demonstrated athletic prowess
at the state level. The Pisgah Boys Track Team brought home both
the District 6-2A and 3-2A Region track titles along with winning
1st place in the Small School Division at the Rankin County Track
Meet. At the MS State Meet, Ken Story won 2nd in the 300 hurdles
and 3rd in the 110 hurdles. 9th grader Ben Arnold finished 7th in the
300 hurdles. In pole vault, Colton Pierce finished 7th, and Trevor
Hallett finished 5th. For the girls, Savannah Dillard placed 6th in the
long jump, and Kirby King placed 7th in the triple jump at the State
The Golf Team, District 6 / Region 3 Champions, placed 5th
at the state tournament. Kaleb Hayman was District 6 / Region 3
The Tennis Team, Region 5-2A Runner Up, sent four players to
state. Corey Jones and Paige Oster participated in singles while
Courtney Buffington and Madison Crapps, Girls Doubles District
Champs, advanced to the State Quarterfinals.
In academics, 12th grader Kameron Wilson and 11th grader Izzy
Woodford participated and placed in the Hinds Community
College Literary Festival. Kameron’s essay “Living a Quality Life”
won second place, and Izzy’s poem “Shape of Me” received first place
and won her a full tuition scholarship.
Behind successful students, you will find dedicated teachers. In his
first year at Pisgah, STEM teacher Joseph Oster received the Rankin
County School District Certified Staff Member of the Month
Award. Before joining the Pisgah faculty, Mr. Oster pastored a local
church, volunteered with FCA, and drove a school bus.
As the school year closes, we celebrate the successes of our
students and faculty and look forward to an even better 2017-2018.
Submissions provided by local officials from each individual district and not to be considered editorial opinion.
Hometown Rankin • 99
RANKIN COUNTY SCHOOLS
Richland High School and the Richland Fire Department have
developed a working partnership to give students an opportunity to
learn valuable lifesaving skills and to develop the ability to work as a
team.Participants will also be provided with leadership abilities and
the capability to become confident, productive outstanding citizens
in our community. This unique strategy enables high school students
to have the experience and preparation necessary for them to earn a
professional firefighter certification.
This program takes the student from cadet level through
certification at the NFPA 1001-firefighter II level. It covers all
aspects of firefighting including fire behavior, protective equipment,
forcible entry, ventilation, salvage/overhaul, and fire attack. It also
includes CPR and first aid, incident command, hazardous materials
operations, auto extrication, rescue the rescuer, and physical fitness
training. Successful students will be certified as Firefighter I and II
by the Richland Fire Department within their jurisdiction.
In addition, daily hands-on activities are conducted in order to build
skill and enhance the knowledge gained. Near the end of the course,
students participate in comprehensive activities which require team
and individual efforts to accomplish their assigned “mission.” The
top graduates are recommended for employment with the Richland
Fire Department once they reach the age of eighteen. The other
graduates are allowed to become reserves within the department.
The program helps in developing the attitudes and skills necessary to
establish satisfying relationships and sets and achieves personal goals
while producing self-esteem and confidence. The main purpose of
the cadet program is to change the lives of our students, so that they
may change the lives of others in times of need.
Richland High School serves nearly 850 students from grades
seven through twelve. We are a Title I school with free and reduced
lunch ratio of about 63%. Many of the students from Richland
graduate and immediately enter the workforce. To prepare students
for this transition, RHS has continually sought assistance from
members of the community to have our student’s career or college
ready. As a result the graduation rate has increased from 60% to
nearly 90%. A key factor was the development of career interest
surveys, which led to the growth of curriculum that made a pathway
for students to graduate in order to pursue the career of their choice.
The Richland Fire Department indicated that they were interested
in developing potential candidates for the fire department and
approached RHS with a plan to develop an internal pool of
applicant who would be trained and available after graduation.
For students who had expressed an interest in becoming a fire
fighter, the timing was impeccable. The initial program for juniors
and seniors and has grown from eight to fifteen participates
since its implementation.
100 • June 2017
Partnered with Get2College, Pelahatchie High School held their
first Academic Signing Day on May 5, 2017. With gracious donations
from sponsors, seniors received backpacks filled with useful items for
college. Signing with one of thirteen colleges represented, seniors
proudly revealed which college they would be heading to this fall. For
the finale, names were drawn for a limited selection of additional
gifts. As guest speaker, along with Representative John L. Moore,
Representative Tom Miles posted the following comment on
Facebook: “This is a great thing that the school and parents did to
encourage the students to continue their education by going to
college and stressing the importance of academics.” With the help of
parents, principals, teachers, counselors, guest speakers, and
especially Get2College, Academic Signing Day was a success.
A nonprofit organization, Get2College provides free services that
help students and their families plan, prepare, and pay for college.
Counselors of the Jackson Get2College Center have worked
throughout the year with the Pelahatchie High School seniors to
prepare them for the next step in their education. They assisted
students with applying to and visiting local colleges, completing
scholarships, and housing and state aid applications, including the
Federal Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The culmination of this school year was the Academic Signing Day,
which honored 43 students who made the commitment to attend a
college or military academy. Get2College, a program of the
Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF), helps
Mississippi students obtain post-secondary credentials, college
certifications, and degrees that lead to meaningful employment.
Learn more about Get2College and WHEF at get2college.org.
Eighty-two percent of Pelahatchie’s graduating seniors will attend
a post-secondary institution. The Chieftain community is thrilled to
celebrate the success of this year’s graduating Class of 2017.
Submissions provided by local officials from each individual district and not to be considered editorial opinion.
Hometown Rankin • 101
For ten weeks, Renasant Bank and Hometown Rankin Magazine honors school
personnel throughout Rankin County for outstanding work in their fields.
Nominations were accepted through Facebook each week and those receiving
the most nominations were awarded gift baskets from our sponsor. We are
pleased to have been able to celebrate with these amazing school employees
that were voted on by their peers. Thank you to all who participated and
congratulations to our last seven winners.
102 • June 2015
Hometown Rankin • 103
Come see why there are
Fall classes start Aug. 14
1.800.HINDSCC • www.hindscc.edu
In compliance with the following: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972 of the Higher Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and other applicable Federal and State Acts, Hinds Community College offers equal
education and employment opportunities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability or veteran status in its educational programs and activities. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Dr. Debra
Mays-Jackson, Vice President for Administrative Services, 34175 Hwy. 18, Utica, MS 39175, 601.885.7002. Dr. Tyrone Jackson, Associate Vice President for Student Services & Title IX Coordinator, Box 1100 Raymond Campus (Denton Hall 221), Raymond, MS 39154, 601.857.3232, titleIX@hindscc.edu
104 • June 2017
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Hometown Rankin • 105
14k White Gold
1 Carat Diamond Wedding Band
Orca Rocket $44.99 – Orca Chasers $49.99
Stihl BG 50 Handheld Blower
Picnic Plus Wine & Beverage Carrier
106 • June 2017
Great Selection of Leather Recliners
Ray Ban Sunglasses with Blue Mirrored Lenses
rankin county Co-op
Case Hand-Crafted Pocket Knife
Hometown Rankin • 107
108 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 109
Why did you decide to make Rankin
County your home?
I moved to Pearl 32-years ago with the intentions
of it being temporary. I enrolled my daughter in
first grade at Pearl, but still thinking that I would
probably move to Clinton or Madison. In the
meantime I became very involved in the Pearl
Jaycees, a fun close-knit bunko group, and a
wonderful local church. Within no time, my
daughter was fully immersed in Girl Scouts,
Sunday school, pee-wee cheerleading, softball, and
dance. It quickly became home and in a few years I
met the love of my life and we got married and
joined our families. The rest is history. God worked
every detail of it out for me.
Tell us about your family.
I am married to Kirby Deer who is an SAP
manager at Ergon. Together we have three
daughters: Jennifer, who is married to Ethan
Mayeu and they have one beautiful daughter Cavie
that we call “The Princess”; Kelsey, who is married
to Justin Lancaster and they have one son, Shaw;
and Emily, who is married to Brian McGairty and
they have one son, Jon Davis who is almost three,
and identical twin boys, Tatum and Tucker, who
will be two in August. We are members of
Crossgates United Methodist Church and we love
sports, hunting and fishing and just spending time
with our family.
What is your favorite memory of living
in Rankin County?
Living here as long as I have I really struggle with
naming just one memory a favorite. My mind is
flooded with memories of family, friends and
Where are your 3 favorite places to eat
in Rankin County?
We have so many great restaurants in Rankin
County that it would be hard to only pick three, so
I will narrow it down to Pearl, and give you a few
of my favorites: Moss Creek Fish House, Little
Willie’s BBQ, Jose’s Mexican Restaurant, Darwell’s
To Go, and Frisco Deli.
What are some fun things to do in Rankin
County on the weekends?
Attend a Mississippi Braves baseball game, go to a
movie at Tinseltown Theatre, play a round of golf
at Patrick Farms Golf Club or, the best kept secret
in town, the Pearl Municipal Golf Course. The city
of Pearl has three city parks that have playground
equipment, walking trails, pavilions, picnic tables
and big gorgeous oak trees that shade the parks.
We have a lot of family-friendly events in Rankin
County such as festivals, car shows and concerts.
Share some things you enjoy doing in your
With five grandchildren that live close, spare time
is not always available. They are my heart and
doing things with them is what I treasure the most.
Outside of family gatherings, sports is my
passion—primarily football, basketball and
baseball. We attend our grandson’s games and we
also love high school and college level sports as well
as minor and major league games.
What are three things on your bucket list?
When I think of a bucket list I think of places that
would like to go, like Washington State, New York
City, and Hawaii. But I would mainly like to watch
our grandchildren grow up and be happy and
Who is someone you admire and why?
I admire all of the people that work with shelters
like the Center for Violence Prevention. Sandy
Middleton and Paula Vaughn and their staff work
tirelessly for those that need help the most. I
personally could not deal with the violence and
tragedy that they see on a daily basis. God has truly
called them to their profession.
Where do you see yourself ten years
I would like to be retired or semi-retired and
working on my bucket list!
What is your favorite childhood memory?
My parents gave me the opportunity to do all kinds
of things like Girl Scouts, piano lessons, art lessons,
sports, summer camps, and other fun things.
My favorite memory is just playing outside, riding
my bike and climbing trees.
If you could give us one encouraging
quote, what would it be?
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord,
plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give
you hope and a future.” Jer. 29:11
What is your favorite thing about
I’ve never seen a magazine that I will grab up as
soon as they are delivered and read from cover to
cover. It is always full of interesting articles and I
love all of the pictures of events that are held in
110 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 111
American Legion, Brandon Post 68
Boys & Girls State
May 11 • Brandon municipal Center
112 • June 2017
Hometown Rankin • 113
The Time Coin
The church grounds were still
shaded by the giant oaks decked
in Spanish moss. The peaceful
bay still rippled along the street that circled
the property, but the newly constructed
worship center dwarfed the original
building that Dan and Evelyn had called
their church home so many years ago.
This day was their yearly visit with the Kratts. Evelyn could hardly
contain her excitement.
The visiting couple pulled into a crowded parking lot and found a
single, vacant visitor’s spot. They waited in the welcome center for
familiar faces and saw a large-framed gentleman, slightly stooped,
walk through the corridor. The years had etched into his frame and
face, but they remembered his servant heart when he worked with
the youth. Dan greeted him and their old friend sorted through the
hundreds of former military families he had known, and he recalled
Dan and Evelyn’s friendships. His broad, contagious smile was the same
that the couple remembered almost forty years ago.
In the midst of their conversation, Mr. Kratt’s kind face caught their
attention as he made his way toward the visitors. Their dear friend
who had provided affordable rent along with godly mentoring in the
couple’s first year of marriage was still smiling and involved in his
church ministry. His ninety-two years weren’t a crutch or excuse but
a reason to give thanks to God.
His eyes still twinkled when he smiled,
and his gentle voice brought back a tidal wave
of wonderful, loving memories. The foyer
traffic was picking up as the first service
emptied through the large doors, but their
reunion wasn’t hampered. They talked about
their families and listened as he shared about
his and the new church facilities.
Mrs. Kratt soon joined them, and their fellowship was sweet
and amazingly close to where Dan and Evelyn had left off a year ago.
As the sanctuary music reminded them of the worship hour, they
followed the elderly couple into the worship center. Mr. Kratt’s steps
were slower, and time was attacking his body, but it hadn’t made a dent
in his spirit. Evelyn’s heart hurt to see how the years were aging his
once-strong frame, but she rejoiced that his faithfulness and servant
heart were continuing to flourish.
As they stood to sing hymns of praise, Evelyn looked to her left at
this ninety-two-year-old friend and his sweet wife. She looked in front
to see a young couple – military looking – a lot like she and Dan were
almost four decades ago. Now, Dan and Evelyn were close to the age
of the Kratts when they first met.
Time is fleeting, “like a snowflake on a river.” It marches on
– sometimes runs, seldom crawls, but it’s always moving. As the hymn
of praise made heavenly background music, Evelyn whispered a prayer
from Psalms: “Lord, teach us to number our days that we may gain a
heart of wisdom.” n
114 • June 2017
We are ready to hit the new year with
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DIRECT DIGITAL GREEN CROSS MEDIA DESIGN
OUR NEW LOCATION
247 Industrial Drive N
Madison, MS 39110
601.853.7300 • 1.800.844.7301
2016 by the
Hometown Rankin • 115
More than 30 practices.
One number: 844-MSMERIT.
Because there’s Merit in convenient care.
With more than 30 primary care and specialty practices in four counties across the Jackson and Vicksburg metropolitan
areas, Merit Health Medical Group providers offer quality care for your family with your schedule in mind. From sore
throats and fever to annual wellness visits and more specialized care, we’ve got you covered.
To see all locations and specialties, please visit MyMeritDoctor.com
Call 844-MSMERIT for a provider near you.
Walk-ins are welcome at all primary care practices,
or ask about same-day and next-day appointments.