Madison - January & February 2018


Volume 4 Number 1

Jan/feb 2018

The Early Valentine


Special Agent-Special Man


A Picture of Happiness

Hometown madison • 3

publisher & Editor

Tahya A. Dobbs


Kevin W. Dobbs

Consulting editor

Mary Ann Kirby

Account Executives

Dacia Durr Amis

Karla Johnson

Contributing Writers

Camille Anding

Dani Edmonson

Mary Ann Kirby

Leah Mitchener

staff Photographer

Othel Anding

Administrative Assistant

Alisha Floyd

Special Projects Manager

Brenda McCall

Project Assistant

Carrie Truhett

Layout Design

Daniel Thomas - 3dt

• • •

As soon as I figure out how 2017 zipped by so quickly, I’ll try and find time to give 2018 its deserving

welcome. I stand amazed at time’s fleet-footedness and make new resolve to initiate needed adjustments

to our fast-track lifestyle.

Recently, Kevin and I visited a dear friend who played a positive role in our “newly-married” years.

It was a heart-rending visit because our friend was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Her daughter,

who has taken on the role as major caretaker, has made major adjustments in her own life to assume this

mission. She shared how she had intentionally simplified her life in order to be near her mother and

enjoy the dwindling moments while her mother still knows her.

Life truly is fragile. Sometimes it takes a disease, accident, or lab report to

realize just how fragile. Who knows what 2018 will write into our lives? I’m

certainly not greeting the New Year with gloom or fear, but I do sense a great

need to prioritize my time so that busy-ness doesn’t dictate life or suffocate it.

Take time to read the great stories we have in this issue of Hometown Madison.

It’s our intention at Hometown Magazines to make that time well spent!

Happy New Year!


For subscription information


Contact us at


26 Eastgate Drive, Suite F

Brandon MS 39042

• • •

All rights reserved. No portion of Hometown Madison

may be reproduced without written permission from

the publisher. The management of Hometown Madison

is not responsible for opinions expressed by its

writers or editors. Hometown Madison maintains the

unrestricted right to edit or refuse all submitted

material. All advertisements are subject to approval by

the publisher. The production of Hometown Madison

is funded by advertising.

In this issue The Way We Were 8

The Early Valentine 16

I Love Us 26

Special Agent-

Special Man 30

A Picture of Happiness 38

Families First Canton 44

That One Thing 54

Hometown madison • 5

6 • Jan/Feb 2018

Hometown madison • 7

The way

WE were

Mary Lois & Gerald Rayburn

Leah Mitchener

There are many recipes for a

lot of things in this world. Ones

for pot roasts or chicken

casseroles, some for disaster or

success. But love? Oh yes–love is

probably the most desired yet

elusive one. Gerald and Mary Lois

Rayburn have done a great job of

throwing the ingredients of life

together to make their own love

story one worth sharing.

“Mother knows best” isn’t just a

platitude in the Rayburn household.

The couple was actually

introduced by Mary Lois’ mother,

lovingly known as ‘Little Momma’,

in early 1964 in Batesville,

Mississippi. They went out on a

double date with some of Gerald’s

friends, “and from then on it was

very nice,” said Mary Lois. “We

laugh about it even now,” she

added. It was a very short courtship

before they announced their

engagement and were married

on April 19th of that same year.

They lived in Canton, Mississippi,

for 45 years before they moved to

Madison where they currently


Gerald had spent some time

enlisted in the Navy and was

stationed in Hawaii working with

a flight crew before he met his

wife-to-be. The rest of his working

life was spent as a salesman of

some sort or another, mainly

dealing in farming equipment.

Mary Lois made a lifelong career

at bookkeeping–first for a car

dealership, then First National

Bank, and finally at Mississippi

State Extension Service in Madison

County for almost 20 years. She

retired in December of 2008,

excited to be able to spend more

time with her husband and their

grandchildren. Gerald continued

working in sales until he officially

retired “completely” in October

of 2016.

Family is the Rayburn’s main

ingredient in their happy marriage.

“We didn’t really even take any

pictures until the kids,” said Mary

Lois. When their sons were

younger, they would take family

trips every summer. “Probably

when we carried the kids to the

Grand Canyon would be my

favorite memory,” said Gerald.

“That was a beautiful, beautiful

trip,” added Mary Lois. Their

oldest son, Billy, and his wife and

daughter, live in the Memphis

area, while their younger son,

Bobby, lives in Baton Rouge with

his wife and two children. The

Rayburns are sad that they are so

far away from their sons, but love

the fact that they are pretty

centrally located between the two

of them. “If they leave our house

at the same time, they both call

saying they got home at about the

same time,” laughed Mary Lois.

8 • Jan/Feb 2018

“Go to church.

Don’t fight.

When you have problems,

sit down and talk them out.”

Mary Lois’ Famous

Painted Cookies

Since their retirements, their

time has been spent relaxing at

home and enjoying the little things

life has to offer. Gerald laughingly

talked about how he “enjoys

fooling with the flowers” and his

Mary Lois has a local claim to

fame as the baker of some of the

best Christmas cookies you will

ever eat. These light, delicate,

beautiful cookies have been one of

the highlights of the Christmas

Gerald and Mary Lois know

that, in addition to all of the little

things like family trips and special

cookies, the key ingredients to a

successful marriage are as follows:

“Go to church. Don’t fight. When


• 1 cup Imperial Margarine

• 1 cup sugar

• 1-½ teaspoon vanilla

• 1 egg

• 1 teaspoon water

• 3 cups Gold Medal flour

• 1-½ teaspoon baking powder

• ¼ teaspoon salt

love of golf up until recent years.

Mary Lois can be found almost

every day enjoying coloring in

season for many years among their

family and friends. If you ask her

about them, she will surely hand

you have problems, sit down and

discuss them and talk them out.”

Mary Lois added that “young


• Confectioners’ sugar

• Milk

• Food coloring

adult coloring books. “I usually do

one page around the news time,

and if I’m not too sleepy, I’ll stay up

and color. They are very relaxing!”

she beamed. The pair of them also

greatly enjoy watching sports as

well, Mary Lois perhaps even more

than Gerald. The Pittsburgh Pirates

and the St. Louis Cardinals will

you a sheet of paper with the recipe

lovingly scribbled on it, glowing

with pride. “They are fun to make

and I hope I’ll be able to do it this

year,” she said. “Just a few weeks

ago, my nephew’s wife came by

one night and they made those

cookies for Halloween. We used

to make them for birthdays and

people are missing out on

conversations with their loved

ones because all of them have

these phones in their hands.”

So keep these tips in your box

of recipe cards, and know that

these little things have cooked up

a wonderful life and marriage

for people like Gerald and Mary

Thoroughly cream margarine, sugar, and

vanilla. Add egg and water. Beat until light

and fluffy. Combine flour, baking powder,

and salt. Blend into creamed mixture.

Divide dough in half. Chill for 1 hour.

On lightly floured surface, roll dough to

1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes

with cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased

cookie sheet at 375º for about 6-8 minutes.

Cool slightly and remove from pan.

always be held in prestige in the

Rayburn household.

everything,” Gerald reminisced.

Lois Rayburn. n

Mix confectioners’ sugar and milk.

Add food coloring for desired color,

then ice.

Hometown madison • 9



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Hometown madison • 11



Why did you decide to be a firefighter?

I think, like most firefighters, it’s for the

opportunity to help other people on a

daily basis. And it’s awesome to show up

to a job you love and work within a team

that’s all striving towards a common goal!

It’s just what I wanted to do since I was

a kid.

How long have you been with the Madison

Fire Department?

Six years.

Tell us about your family.

It’s just me. But I have two amazing

parents and beautiful twin sisters who

keep me in check.

What is the toughest thing you have

experienced in your job?

I feel like the answer to this question

would be the same among most people

I work with. Although we train and

develop certain skills and are eager to

use those skillsets when needed, whether

fire or medical, it’s still tough when you

have to explain to a family member they

just lost their loved one, or see the

aftermath of the memories and things

destroyed in a fire. And no matter who

you ask, it never gets easy to see a child

scared and in pain. But there are way

more positive aspects of the job that

balance those experiences out.

What are three things on your bucket list?

It’s a really long list! Three things I can

think of right off are that I want to fly in

a fighter jet, scuba dive the Barrier Reef

in Australia, and I want to watch a

baseball game in every major league



Ian O’Leary


fire department

Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

I love to travel! I get out of town at least

once a month and try to experience new

things. I’m big into anything health and

fitness related as well as instructing

martial arts. I’m an entrepreneur, so in

that “spare time” I usually enjoy creating

new opportunities and networking.

Who is someone you admire and why?

Definitely my dad! He is for sure my

hero! He has such a high level of

integrity and the way he spends his life

serving others is truly impressive to

witness. He’s overcome so many

obstacles in his life that have allowed

him and my mom to afford me so many

opportunities. It’s really remarkable. But

most important is his support and belief

in me to be happy in pursing my dreams.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young

person, what would it be?

If something seems too good to be true,

investigate it. People aren’t looking for

attention; they’re starving for connections.

Connect with people. Ask questions.

Never take advice from someone you’re

not willing to trade places with. Pursue

a life of significance, not success. If you

aren’t obsessed with your life then you

should be obsessed with changing it.

Find mentors who have what you want

and do what they’ve done to get it.

What is a favorite childhood memory?

I loved playing sports, so anytime I

was outside competing in a game I had

a smile on my face. I had the most fun

traveling with the family for summer

ball and competing against top teams

from other states.

What is the biggest mistake you think young

people make today?

Not seeing the big picture. Not thinking

for themselves and forming their own

ideas. Relying on social media and other

people’s opinions to develop their values

and self-worth. They allow others to tell

them what they “should” do, instead of

pursuing what is in their heart and what

they want to do. Trying to be perfect

instead of just being present in the


What is your favorite thing about the City

of Madison?

The people. We have a very supportive

community who show their appreciation

for the fire and police departments on a

regular basis. It’s nice to be appreciated

for a career that we chose.

12 • Jan/Feb 2018

Hometown madison • 13

14 • Jan/Feb 2018



Why did you decide to pursue law enforcement?

I enjoy helping others and I knew by

becoming a law enforcement officer, it

would put me in a position to do that.

How long have you been with the Madison

County Sheriff’s Office?

27 years

Tell us about your family.

I’ve been married for 23 years to Karen

Wilson and have three children, Olivia,

Macey, and Cody.

What is the toughest thing you have

experienced in your job?

Death investigations – whether it is an

accident or homicide (children especially).

Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

Spending time with my family, also

hunting and fishing.

Captain of


Todd Wilson

Madison County

Sheriff's department

What are three things on your bucket list?

Go on a cruise with my wife, kill a

trophy deer with my bow, and own a

piece of property in the country.

Who is someone you admire and why?

This is a tough one; I admire a lot of

people for a lot of different reasons so

instead of taking the risk of leaving

someone out, I will say that I admire

people that choose to do the right

thing–even when it’s not the most

popular choice.

Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

I really don’t expect much will change in

ten years. I hope to be still serving the

people of Madison County.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young

person, what would it be?

Be a leader not a follower.

What is a favorite childhood memory?

Going to my grandparents’ house on

Sunday afternoons. It was always the

highlight of the week.

What is the biggest mistake you think young

people make today?

Again, I think it goes back to being a

leader. Too many young people today are

basing their decisions on popular trends

instead of making informed decisions.

What is your favorite thing about the City of


The hometown atmosphere.

Hometown madison • 15

16 • Jan/Feb 2018

The Early


Leah Mitchener

Jason and Kisha Flanigan

were excited about Valentine’s

Day of 2016 more than they

had been any year previously.

They didn’t have special dinner

reservations, bouquets of

flowers, nor heart-shaped

boxes of chocolates in order.

They had much better plans than that; plans to meet

their newborn son – Karter.

The pregnancy was going well, and the anticipation

and excitement of welcoming a new family member

grew daily for the Flanigans. The chilly days of

November came, and Kisha went in for a routine

doctor’s appointment. Feeling great for being six months

pregnant, Kisha was blindsided by the news she was

about to receive. She was going to have to deliver baby

Karter three months prematurely because she had

developed walking pneumonia and her kidneys were

starting to fail.

When most people think of a baby being born

prematurely, they probably assume that it is due to

something being medically wrong with the child. But,

like Kisha herself found out that day, that is not always

the case. She had absolutely

zero symptoms – no warning

that something could be

wrong. But her blood pressure

had reached dangerous levels.

“On the outside I was fine,

but I was not doing well on

the inside,” explained Kisha.

Karter was rushed into this world through an

emergency cesarean on November 7, 2015 weighing

just 1 lb., 3 oz. He remained in the NICU for three

months until his actual due date so that his lungs

could fully develop, and Jason and Kisha were with

him every day, sometimes multiple times a day, to

watch over him and help him grow.

As an 11th grade English teacher for Madison

County School District, Kisha had participated in

fundraisers and walks for the March of Dimes Foundation

on several occasions because of the support the district

had always lent to the charity. She was always happy to

help and participate, but never expected that she would

later benefit from the work that March of Dimes does

for new mothers and their premature babies. “The

research and the encouragement has really helped me,”

Hometown madison • 17

18 • Jan/Feb 2018

she said. “I read positive stories every day. Hearing what they went through

and that it’s not going to last forever helped me get through each

day. Three months may not seem like a long time, but it feels like an

eternity when you’re there,” she recalled.

Through their research, March of Dimes has transitioned from

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s original goal of finding vaccinations

for polio to that of helping and preventing birth defects and

addressing the alarming rise in premature births in the United

States and around the world. They have created many vaccines for

preemie infants as well as many therapies to help them and their

families develop healthy lives.

Because of March of Dimes, the Flanigans learned so much

about caring for their strong little man. They learned how to do

‘Kangaroo Care’ (a technique of skin-to-skin contact between

child and parents), which helped Karter’s breathing and heartbeat

regulate as well as develop a bond between him and his loving

parents. “I swaddled him every day. He still does it. Sometimes

I wonder if he remembers doing that,” laughed Kisha.

Since Karter has been home from the hospital, Kisha and Jason

have dedicated a lot of their spare time to participating with and

supporting the March of Dimes Foundation. Friends and family walk

with ‘Team Karter’ each year to raise money for research through

donations. “I participated, but didn’t realize the importance until I

had my baby,” said Kisha of her involvement before Karter arrived.

“Your time is just as important as money,” she added. But one of the

most important things Kisha said that these families need is the

power of prayer.

We were all small once. We came into this world in tiny

packages, some smaller than others, but no less full of joy. This little

boy, who was expected in the season of love, instead arrived in the

season of thankfulness. The Flanigan family surely wants for neither

of those feelings now that they are healthy and happy together. ♥

Contribute to the work the March of Dimes is doing for premature babies and their

families by making a donation. Please visit Kisha Flanigan’s fundraising website at

Hometown madison • 19

Thanks to

our advertisers

and readers.

We appreciate you!

Follow us on Facebook

20 • Jan/Feb 2018

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Livestock Show &

22 • Jan/Feb 2018

It’s that time of year again!

Time when cowboys and cowgirls from all over the

nation descend upon Mississippi’s capital city for the

annual Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo. During

the month of February, The Dixie National brings with it

a variety of programs and activities that take place to

educate, entertain, and engage participants and onlookers,

alike. The 53rd annual livestock show kicks off February 1

and runs through February 18.

The Dixie National Rodeo is the largest professional

rodeo east of the Mississippi River. It is produced by

Smith, Harper, and Morgan Rodeo Company, hosted by

the Mississippi Fair Commission in Jackson, Mississippi

and has been nominated as one of the Top 5 Large Indoor

Rodeos of The Year for the past five years. This award is

voted on by the cowboys in the Professional Rodeo

Cowboy Association (PRCA).

The rodeo kicks off February 8 and goes through

February 14 at the Mississippi Coliseum. Special entertainers

are featured each day of the rodeo and include Josh Turner,

Frank Foster, The Bellamy Brothers, John Michael

Montgomery, Riley Green, Corey Smith, and Brett Young.

Tickets may be purchased through Ticketmaster at the

coliseum box office.

The Dixie National Quarter Horse Show, the Southern

Classic, is the premier event of the Mississippi Quarter

Horse Association. Also held in February on the state

fairgrounds, it is the largest quarter horse show held

during a stock show in the nation. The Dixie National

Quarter Horse Show is the largest in the South and the

third largest quarter horse show in the United States.

The national exposure the quarter horse show receives

makes it a gathering place for the top horses in the country

and a field day for spectators. With an average audience of

over 4,500, the Friday night free-style reining is the most

crowd pleasing class and demonstrates the great physical

ability of the American Quarter Horse. The Southern

Classic dates are February 13-18.

The Dixie National Equine Expo, the largest equine

related trade show in the south, runs in conjunction with

the quarter horse show. It features everything imaginable

for the equine enthusiast. With over 65,000 sq. ft. of

shopping, the Equine Expo is located inside the Mississippi

Trade Mart on the fairgrounds. With vendors from across

the nation, the latest fashions, trends and shopping will all

be under one roof. It is one of the largest equine tradeshows

in the Southeast. The Equine Expo is February 14-18.

Hometown madison • 23



Chicken Tamale Pie

• 3 cups diced cooked chicken

(about 12 ounces)

• 1-1/2 cups prepared salsa

• One 15-ounce can black beans,

drained and rinsed

• 1-1/2 cups chicken broth

• 1 tablespoon chili powder

• 2 scallions (white and green parts),


• 3/4 cup cornmeal

• 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

• Kosher salt and freshly ground

black pepper

• Sour cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat

chicken, salsa, beans, 1/2 cup of

broth and chili powder in a 10-inch

cast- iron skillet over medium heat,

stirring, until simmering. Stir in

scallions and remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, combine cornmeal

with the remaining 1 cup broth and

1 cup water in a medium pan. Bring

to a simmer over medium heat,

stirring, until very thick, 5 to 7

minutes. Remove from the heat and

stir in the cheese and butter. Season

with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4

teaspoon pepper.

Spread the cornmeal mixture over

the filling and bake until cooked

through, about 30 minutes. Let stand

for 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream.

Pizza Pot Pies

Tomato sauce

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary

• 2 ounces diced pancetta

• 1 can crushed tomatoes


• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground

black pepper


• 3 cups tomato sauce

• 2 cups diced roasted chicken

• 2 cups broccoli cut into small,

bite-sized pieces

• 1-1/2 cups diced mozzarella

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground

black pepper

• 1-1/2 pounds pizza dough

• 1/3 cup olive oil

• 6 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Special equipment:

6, 10-ounce ramekins

For the tomato sauce: Warm the

olive oil in a small saucepan over

medium heat. Add garlic, rosemary,

and pancetta. Sauté until crisp and

golden, about 5 minutes. Add the

tomatoes, stir to combine, simmer

over very low heat for 15 minutes.

Add salt and pepper. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl combine tomato

sauce, chicken, broccoli, mozzarella,

salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Divide chicken mixture evenly

between the ramekins. Roll out the

pizza dough and cut circles with a

paring knife that are 1-inch wider in

diameter than the ramekins. Place

the circles of dough over the filled

ramekins and press down to seal,

making sure to pull the dough over

the edge of the ramekin. Brush the

top of the dough with olive oil and

sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Cut a small slit in the top of the

dough with a paring knife. Bake until

crust is golden, about 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool

slightly before serving.

Pork Chops

with Wine & Garlic

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 3 tablespoons butter

• Kosher salt and freshly ground

black pepper

• 4 bone-in T-bone pork chops,

1 inch thick

• 16 cloves garlic, peeled

• 1-1/2 cups red wine

• 1 bay leaf

• 1/2 cup beef broth, plus more

if needed

• 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of

the butter in a heavy skillet over high

heat. Salt and pepper both sides of

the pork chops and sear until golden,

about 2 minutes per side. (No need

to completely cook the chops at this

point.) Remove from skillet and set


Reduce heat to medium high,

throw in the whole cloves of garlic.

Stir and cook until golden brown,

Add red wine, then bay leaf. Stir and

cook, raising the heat inecessary,

until the sauce is reduced and thick,

several minutes.

Stir in beef broth (add more if it

needs the liquid) and add the chops

back to the skillet, arranging them

so they’re swimming in the sauce.

Cook chops in the sauce for a few

minutes, then add the balsamic.

Shake the skillet to distribute, then

cook for a couple more minutes, or

until the chops are done.

Remove chops from the skillet,

let the sauce reduce a little more if

needed, until it’s very thick and rich

and the garlic is soft. Swirl in the

remaining tablespoon of butter and

sprinkle in a little salt and pepper.

Arrange the pork chops on a

platter, then pour the whole skillet

of sauce (including the garlic) over

the top.

24 • Jan/Feb 2018

Spicy Turkey &

Green Bean Stir-Fry


Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Cheesy Gnocchi Casserole

with Ham & Peas

• 1-1/2 cups basmati rice

• 1-1/2 pounds green beans,


• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

• 1/2 teaspoon sugar

• 3/4 pound 99 percent lean

ground turkey

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 1 small half-sour pickle,

finely chopped

• 2 teaspoons Asian chili paste,

such as sambal oelek

• 1 cup fat-free low-sodium

chicken broth

• 2 tablespoons low-sodium

soy sauce

• 1 tablespoon dry sherry or rice

vinegar (not seasoned)

• 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Stir in the rice, cover and boil until

tender, about 18 minutes; drain well

and keep warm.

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.

Toss the green beans, 1-1/2

tablespoons vegetable oil and sugar

on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil,

stirring once, until the beans are

tender and charred, about 8 minutes.

Heat the remaining 1-1/2

tablespoons vegetable oil in a large

skillet over high heat. Add the turkey

and cook, breaking it up with a

wooden spoon, until browned,

3 minutes. Add the garlic, pickle and

chili paste and cook until the garlic is

slightly golden, about 3 minutes.

Whisk the chicken broth, soy sauce,

sherry and cornstarch in a bowl. Add

the green beans to the skillet with the

turkey mixture and cook, stirring,

1 minute. Add the soy sauce mixture

and cook, stirring occasionally, until

the sauce thickens slightly, about

3 minutes. Serve with the rice.

• 3 tablespoons light brown sugar

• 2 teaspoons hot paprika

• 1 teaspoon mustard powder

• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

• Kosher salt and freshly ground


• 1 3-to-4-pound boneless pork

shoulder, trimmed of excess fat

• 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

• 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar,

plus more to taste

• 3 tablespoons tomato paste

• 6 potato buns

• Barbecue sauce and prepared

coleslaw, for serving

Combine 1 tablespoon brown

sugar, paprika, mustard powder,

cumin, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2

teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Rub

the spice mixture over the pork.

Heat oil in a large skillet; add pork

and cook, turning, until browned on

all sides, 5 minutes. Remove the pork

and transfer to a plate; whisk 3/4 cup

water into the drippings in the skillet.

Transfer the liquid to a 5-to-6-quart

slow cooker.

Add vinegar, tomato paste,

remaining 2 tablespoons brown

sugar and 2 cups water and whisk

to combine. Add pork, cover and

cook on low, 8 hours.

Remove the pork and transfer to

a cutting board. Strain the liquid into

a saucepan, bring to a boil and cook

until reduced by half, about 10

minutes. Season with salt. Roughly

chop the pork and mix in a bowl with

1 cup of the reduced cooking liquid,

and salt and vinegar to taste. Serve

on buns with barbecue sauce and


• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

• 1 onion, chopped

• One 8-ounce piece deli ham, diced

• 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

• 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

• One 17.5-ounce package potato


• 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

• 1/4 cup heavy cream

• Kosher salt and freshly ground

black pepper

• 1 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyere


Preheat the broiler to high heat.

Melt the butter in a large ovenproof

skillet over medium heat. Add onions

and cook until softened, about 3

minutes. Add ham and thyme and

continue to cook until ham is lightly


Add chicken broth and 3/4 cup

water and bring to a simmer. Add

gnocchi, stir well, cover and cook

until gnocchi is slightly tender, about

5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Uncover and stir in peas, cream, 1/4

teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon

pepper. Sprinkle cheese over the top

and broil until golden and bubbly,

about 3 minutes.

Barbecue Mac & Cheese

• Kosher salt

• 1 pound large shell pasta noodles

• 4 cups stemmed and chopped

collard greens (about 1 large


• 5 ounces beer

• 5 ounces half-and-half

• 2/3 cup your favorite spicy

barbecue sauce

• 6 ounces American cheese,

chopped or shredded

• 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar,

shredded (about 1 cup)

• 4 ounces Havarti, shredded

(about 1 cup)

• Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a

boil. Cook the pasta and collards until

the pasta is al dente, according to

package directions. Drain and reserve.

Combine the beer, half-and-half

and barbecue sauce in a large

saucepan over medium-low heat and

cook, whisking, until it simmers.

Stir in the cheddar and Havarti and

cook over low heat, stirring, until all

the cheese is melted. Add the pasta

and collards and toss to combine.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve


Hometown madison • 25

26 • Jan/Feb 2018

Mary Ann Kirby

alentine’s Day. My earliest

thoughts of the beloved celebration

date back to the third grade and are

of tiny die-cut cards stating such simple

messages like, “Some-bunny loves you”

and, “Will you be mine?” I can remember

the importance of finding just the right

cards to give out, too. No way did I want

anything too mushy or anything. Picking

out the card was serious business.

They would eventually be placed in

individually decorated brown paper

sacks that were taped to the back of

everyone’s little-person sized desk.

Love was so easy.

Years later, flowers and gigantic

helium balloons were the must-have

order of the day, often delivered to the

workplace. I was never the recipient of

such over-the-top deliveries and was

even admittedly a bit jealous of those

who were. I mean, had they somehow

figured out a secret code to love that I

hadn’t? And how were you supposed to

get those big ol’ things home anyway?

I eventually married in my early

thirties. Prior to that time, while I managed

a couple of fairly decent relationships,

I was mostly single–a lot. I mean, there

were easier things in life than trying to

find a nice guy, you know. Like nailing

jelly to a tree. But it was worth the wait.

I would eventually find my perfect

match and we will celebrate 19 years

of marriage this year. Yay!

So as I look through the thousands

of cards at the store and contemplate

the message I want to convey, I’m

struck by a simple yet powerful thought.

I love us.

In reality, the card I’m looking for

should say, “Happy Valentine’s Day.

Who, in a million years, would have

ever thought that I’d be standing here

for the umteenth time looking through

this sea of red and pink hearts? But,

despite the fact that I get grumpy and

have unpredictable mood swings, you

keep coming home–and I thank you

for that. And even though you’ve yet

to develop the ability to read my mind,

I continue to love you anyway. We’ve

made a pretty darn fabulous kid that,

with any luck, will think marriage is a

good thing after watching us. So, there’s

that. Happy Valentine’s Day! I love us.”

There need to be cards with those

types of “real” messages. Someone

could make a fortune.

Relationships are hard. All relationships.

And they take work. Anything worth

having, does. And while my husband

and I have certainly made a good run so

far, we’ve definitely had our moments–

but we always manage to work through

them. Eventually, we even laugh it off.

Laughter is about connection, and

laughter and love go hand-in-hand.

So while I might not be one of those

that gets $100 worth of helium delivered

to the front door, I will get a funny card

from my fella. It will likely still be in the

store bag from which it was bought

along with one of my favorite Hollywood

gossip-type magazines and a box of

little white powdered donuts. He knows

they’re my favorite and that means the

world to me.

The truth is that love isn’t always

perfect. It isn’t a fairytale or a storybook

and it doesn’t always come easy. Love is

overcoming obstacles, facing challenges,

fighting to be together, holding on, and

never letting go.

It’s a short word that’s easy to spell,

difficult to define, and impossible to live

without. Love is work, but most of all, love

is realizing that every hour, and every

minute, and every second of it was

worth it–because you did it together.

Maybe more marriages would

survive if people knew that sometimes

the “better” comes after the “worse.”

And that’s ok. A successful marriage

requires falling in love many times,

over and over, with the same person.

I’m thankful for my person. I really do

love us. ♥

Hometown madison • 27

Hometown Madison





Why did you decide to make Madison County

your home?

My mom’s family grew up in Canton, so I grew

up coming for holidays and spending time in the

summer with my cousin. My husband is from

Canton, so we eventually moved back “home,”

and I am so happy here.

Tell us about your family.

My husband Shan and I have been married for 19

years (20 in May!) and we have three boys: Lane

(16), Carter (13), and Sam (10). Both sets of their

grandparents live in Madison County, so we get to

spend lots of time together.

What is your favorite memory of living in


Since my boys were born, we spend every day of

the summer at the pool at the Country Club of

Canton. The boys can now all ride their bikes

there, have become good golfers, and Lane wants

to be a lifeguard this summer.

Where are your three favorite places to eat

in Madison?

Chick-fil-A (of course), Santa Fe Grill is new to

Canton and is delicious, and Culinary Cowboy

Amish bread.

What are some fun things to do in Madison

on the weekends?

At this stage in our lives, we go to Canton

Academy ballgames of all sorts all the time!!

Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

I used to scrapbook with some friends once a month,

and we decided when our kids all get bigger, we are

going to try to start back. We all miss it!

What are three things on your bucket list?

Oooh. That’s a tough one. I’d love to visit somewhere

tropical, see the Grand Canyon, and visit the set of

the TV show The Goldbergs – my family loves that


What is your favorite childhood memory?

When I was in elementary school, for summer

vacation a couple of years, my mom would let my

sister Ashley and me pick any place we’d like to visit

in the Rankin/Madison/Hinds area, and that’s what

we would do for her vacation week. We’d always

pick places we’d been on field trips like Vicksburg,

the Zoo, the Natural Science Museum or the

Petrified Forest. Ashley and I thought we were big

stuff when we went to see two movies IN A ROW!

Who is someone you admire and why?

Pam Moore teaches science at Canton Academy

and was our teacher of the year last year. She is

amazing – always prepared, covers so much

material, has tests graded the same day, and loves

her students. She does all this AND works at

UMC, too. She is definitely someone I admire.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I have thought at times that when my youngest son

graduated from high school that I’d like to go back

to school to become a nurse. We will see...

If you could give us one encouraging quote,

what would it be?

“If you don’t want someone to find out, don’t do

it.” I have a poster of that in my classroom because

I think that advice could save some teenagers

(and adults, too) lots of heartache.

What is your favorite thing about

Hometown Magazines?

I love seeing the good things people are doing where

I live. The news is filled with so much negative that

it’s great to see people who love their hometown

and are willing to invest time and money into making

it somewhere other people can enjoy, too.

Amy Edwards


1716 Highway 51, Ste. I



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Illinois © 2010 Allstate Insurance Co.


28 • Jan/Feb 2018

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Hometown madison • 29

30 • Jan/Feb 2018

Special Agent-

Special Man

Dani Edmonson

“In order to adequately serve our communities,

we need to know our community members,”

says Jeffery Artis, FBI Special Agent from Madison.

He adds that you have to respect someone before you know them—

words that resonate heavily in these times of national cultural confusion.

Artis, who specializes in investigating civil

rights violations within the law enforcement

and public official agencies, believes healing

communities can be as simple as following the

Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would

have them do unto you.”

“As law enforcement, we don’t disrespect

individuals intentionally,” Artis said. “It is complicated

because we are trained to take control and eliminate

the threat. But to what extent an incident is perceived a threat is

subject to human interpretation.” And with all manner of incidents

being posted on social media almost immediately without the benefit

of any context, often the public receives a version of the event that,

at the very least, needs to be vetted for clarity.

One moment of an officer’s interaction with a citizen is seen now

thousands of times before any law enforcement leaders have a chance

to sort things out. Sadly, often the officer is publicly condemned before

all the facts are disseminated. Artis added that for every officer that

actually does something wrong, at least ten of them do something

noble that rarely gets publicized. “But they don’t do

it for the recognition,” he added.

Born and raised in York, Alabama, his goals in

life were, “…not to live in York, Alabama, and not

be poor.” Although the statement was made in

jest, his work ethic along the way has enabled

him to achieve those two goals and much more.

He joined the Bureau in January of 1988 in

Birmingham, Alabama, working the lowliest of positions

available at the time. The initial pay was not enough to support

himself, so taking on a second job was necessary.

“While I was getting ready to attend grad school, my former

department chair at Miles College asked me if I could help him run

his pizza store,” he said. A “soft” job for the soon-to-be federal agent.

But the department chair appealed to Artis’ natural public-service

nature when he went on to say, “Right now I need to hire someone

who won’t steal from me!” Artis needed the additional income, and

the owner needed a trustworthy employee, so he juggled two jobs

learning extensively from both for one year.

Hometown madison • 31

“Over the next six and a half years, I was able to learn exactly what

the FBI was about, and it gave me the opportunity to be sure that was

the career I wanted,” he said. “Although this is an honorable profession

in which to serve, it is not for everyone when you consider the fact that

we investigate over 300 federal violations to include cyber-attacks,

homicides, child crimes, public corruption and terrorism, oftentimes

having to confront well-known individuals.”

The FBI places agents within specialties that best suit each

individual’s background. “If a science major is hired, but that person is

tired of the whole ‘chemistry thing,’ he/she can be assigned to other

violations, such as national security threats,” Artis said. He entered

undergraduate school with the idea that he would become a politician

who would help bridge ethnic divides. “Jim Crow laws were still being

observed in some places in the South,” he said. “I wanted to be at the

table that brought about change in our community.”

Fate smiled upon his youthful aspirations, not through public office,

but through public service.

Artis is a special agent assigned to investigate civil rights violations.

“This includes hate crimes, human trafficking, and individuals using

their powers to take advantage of others,” he explained. “We may be

assigned to a case involving a 30-year veteran of the police force who

has a sterling reputation,” he began. “Then one day, the officer just has a

bad day maybe due to professional and/or personal issues. That cop

responds to a call, the suspect reacts negatively, and next thing you

know, we have an alleged violation.” If there are repeated complaints on

an individual or office, Artis checks that out as well.

But he is just one man.

In an effort to smooth the ethnic wrinkles that still raise their ugly

heads, Artis and his department provide satellite training to any law

enforcement personnel and public officials willing to undergo a

rigorous course in cultural diversity management. The training has

proven invaluable, and it is provided at no cost to the participants.

“We teach law enforcement to minimize their mistakes,” he said.

“For example, one can have good intentions when making a routine

stop, and a justified search. However, how will that officer respond

once they notice the individual stopped is wearing a turban or kippah?

We have to understand that each person has certain beliefs regarding

how his property and his person should be handled and treated,

especially in front of other people.” Artis said that even the tensest

situations can be diffused using basic human dignity.

“You must establish rapport. Be honest, clear, empathetic,” he

explained. “It cannot be made personal. We have to understand that

experiences are different, but emotions are universal.”

This extension of basic respect does not just apply to black and

white as is assumed in Mississippi. “Take a look around at the various

types of restaurants you will find in virtually every community,” Artis

said. “You will normally find Asian, Mexican, Greek and others.” These

businesses are representative of our communities at large, and bridging

cultural differences is key to healing diversity wounds. Being in touch

with all manner of citizens includes being able to manage sensitive and

even dangerous situations.

Crisis negotiation is the other area Artis specializes in. Although he

is based in Mississippi, he travels internationally responding to those

types of situations. “Using techniques largely developed by former crisis

negotiators, we help individuals manage their crisis,” he said. “We don’t

fix things, but we help that individual handle whatever it is resolving

things positively,” – a skill that would lend itself to a myriad other


“The five-day interactive training is not a seminar,” he said. “We

task them with one crisis experience after another to challenge them

emotionally. We need to be confident they can handle it.” This

intensive training is also provided at no cost, but is invaluable to those

who attend – although they do not know it at first. “Participants

oftentimes come in looking bored at having to attend more training,”

32 • Jan/Feb 2018

Although this

is an honorable

profession in

which to serve,

it is not for


Hometown madison • 33

34 • Jan/Feb 2018

he explained. By the end of the training session, their minds are

blown and the typical response is, “This was the best training I’ve

ever received!”

Corporal Alan Chavers of the Tupelo Police Department

attended (and later assisted) a crisis negotiations training session

in 2010 where he first met Artis. “Jeff was able to keep the classes’

attention with knowledge and humor mixed in,” he said. Although

the comic relief element was emotionally necessary to handle this

type of intense training, Chavers said the primary content was life

changing. “I believe this training is the most important thing I have

ever been involved in,” he said. “When different cultures, races,

and religions begin to communicate, listen, and respect each other,

that’s when we see resentment, misunderstanding, and hatred

soften and subside.”

From talking a jumper down off the top of a building to

teaching others how to respect and handle diverse cultures and

lethal situations, we assume that spending quality time with the

family must be impossible. “No. I love the chaos and confusion,”

“...I am married

to a woman

who not only

understands my

working situation,

but is also strong

enough to tell me

to calm down

when I need it!

Artis responded. “We see it as opportunity or challenge, and I am

married to a woman who not only understands my working

situation, but is also strong enough to tell me to calm down when

I need it!” He admits he was in love the first day he met her.

“We met in Birmingham because we happened to be keeping

the scorebooks for our college basketball teams. I started pursuing

her that day.” Her name is Monica, and she admits Artis was

memorable but, “I can’t say that it was love at first sight.” Her sense

of humor is evident as she continued. “As a matter of fact, he made

me a little nervous at first because he wouldn’t stop talking and

was doing a pretty good job of distracting me from my assignment.

I would inch a little away from him, and he would in turn inch a

little closer to me,” she recalled. She was drawn to his sense of

humor and careless approach to life, “and it didn’t hurt that he

was pretty cute.”

How does the FBI agent and his professional forensics wife

manage a “normal” life outside of work? “As far as being normal,

I’m not quite sure that we are,” she quipped. She does understand,

though, that Artis often cannot afford to be distracted by personal

problems, “so, I try to make sure that when he is called upon to help

resolve hostile or touchy situations, he can do so without worrying

about me and the things that need to be taken care of at home.”

She said that she is thankful that he’s a great listener – most of

time. “Sometimes I stop him when his is agreeing with every word

and regurgitating my sentences and say, ‘Don’t forget that I have

seen your negotiations training material. Stop handling me.’”

Monica said she and the kids try to keep things light at home.

“Laughter is a big part of our gatherings, whenever they come

home from school.” And she stated she and Jeff spend plenty of

quality time together where she has his undivided attention,

“unless there is an Alabama game being televised!”

This sophisticatedly trained federal agent clearly infuses

humor in every aspect of his life. He said he is handy around his

home making nearly all home repairs himself, and has extended

his God-given handiness to family and friends. Upon explaining

that he has installed toilets for friends, he looked up seriously and

said, “There is nothing like messing with other people’s crap.”

A jest that could ironically apply to his difficult profession. n

Hometown madison • 35



As soon as I stepped beyond the gated

entrance, I knew St. Catherine’s Village was where I

wanted to retire. Everything…from the wooded, rolling

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Made me feel welcome. You know what else I found?

Living here is unexpectedly within reach.

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36 • Jan/Feb 2018

Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce

Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast

December 19, 2017

Colonial Heights Baptist Church

Dr. Roger Parrott, President of Belhaven University,

keynoted the breakfast with an inspirational and moving message,

“Peace I Leave With You; My Peace I Give You” – John 14:2-7.

The breakfast included area pastors and clergy giving scripture readings

as well as vocalist Michelle Johnston of Broadmoor Baptist Church.

Diamond Sponsor

C Spire

Gold Sponsors

BankPlus, MS Baptist Medical Center, Butler Snow, LLP,

CenterPoint Energy, Community Bank, Entergy Mississippi,

John Dorsa - State Farm Insurance, John Hancock-Southeastern Financial,

Madison County Journal, Neel-Schaffer, Inc., Origin Bank, PriorityOne Bank,

Regions Bank, Renasant Bank, Stewart Sneed Hewes/BancorpSouth Insurance,

Trustmark National Bank, Waggoner Engineering, Inc., Wells, Marble & Hurst, PLLC,

Young Wells Williams , P.A. and The Township at Colony Park

- a Kerioth Corporation Development

Hometown madison • 37

38 • Jan/Feb 2018

A Picture


Leah Mitchener

If you want to know the real me, a stroll around my

home is a good way to find out. On my shelves you will

find books about Europe, architectural history, humor,

stories about good winning over evil, trinkets from my

travels, and mementos from friends scattered amongst

them. There are baskets and chests full of cozy blankets,

and two fuzzy cats that sit on the couch waiting to be

scratched under their chins. But the things you will

find the most of are a plethora of old cameras and

photographs that cover the living room walls and fill

countless boxes and albums in almost every closet and

bookcase. These are my treasures. Photography has been

a major component of my entire life. From the chunky

blue Fisher Price camera I wore around my neck as a

tiny child to the DSLR that travels with me and captures

life’s important and beautiful moments; photography

has and always will be my most fulfilling hobby.

It’s important for people to have a hobby to call

their own: something that takes their mind off of

their daily stresses and brings them joy in some way or

another. January just so happens to be National Hobby

Month, so I wanted to take this opportunity to talk to

people about what they love to do to enrich their lives

on a personal level.

Like my love for photography, some people’s

passions start very young. The students at Drama Kids

International have invested a lot of time and devotion

into their interests in the theatrical arts. Participants

Camille Toles (9), Sarah Carney (11), and Ellie Smith

(12), have all enjoyed taking part in dramatic

productions since the age of five. Camille especially

loves exploring what it’s like to step into a character’s

shoes and imagining being that person. Sarah shares

those sentiments saying, “When you act out a character,

it feels almost real, like you’re becoming something

different than yourself.” Ellie has realized that she has

not only received personal and social satisfaction from

acting, but confidence as well! “It’s nice to know I’m

better at conversations because of skills I’ve developed

[while at Drama Kids],” she said.

Social hobbies are a great way for people to meet

like-minded friends that they might not have otherwise

Hometown madison • 39

known. Jackson Area Gamers, a club formed through Meetup

(an online interest-based group organizer), has brought together

dozens of people to do what they enjoy most: play games! Adam

Chance, a married father of four, has been enjoying playing video

and board games for the majority of his life. He started out playing

video games in the heyday of the 1980s, but soon discovered that

he enjoyed board games even more because of the social aspect.

Adam’s main interest is in historical games, and he takes

advantage of the availability of game nights with Jackson

Area Gamers whenever he can—which is about once

every other week.

Fellow JAG member Jay Ouzts is also a fan of board

games—Pax Brittanica and Terraforming Mars being his

favorite. “I enjoy the games and the strategy,” he said.

“The social aspect is secondary for me, though

it is important.” Jackson Area Gamers has

many events throughout the week

covering different gaming interests and

encourages people to come out and have

a great time together.

While some enjoy the comforts of indoor activities,

others love to get out into the fresh air and onto the water

like Robert Muller, the incoming rear commodore for the

Jackson Yacht Club. Robert has been an avid sailor since

the age of 12 when his father purchased a Catalina 22-foot

sailboat. Upon moving to the Jackson area in 1975, his

parents joined the Jackson Yacht Club and he has been an

active member ever since. “I am at the club 3-6 days a

week,” he said. There is almost always something going on

like youth swim team meets, Picking and Grinning on

Tuesday nights for some great food and local music, blue plate

dinners on Wednesdays, bingo games once a month, Commodore

Steak Night on Fridays, beer can racing on Saturday afternoons,

after-church brunches and racing on Sundays, and year-round

pool access with a view of the reservoir.

Some hobbyists focus less on social activities and more on

creating something tangible. Artists like BJ Weeks have become so

passionate about their creative endeavor that they’ve built their

professions around it. She has worked as a painter and multi-media

artist for nearly 10 years, and her pieces are available in over 50

retail and gallery spaces across the southeast including Texas,

Oklahoma, and Kansas. “I am blessed, truly blessed,” she said, “to

use my gift to create and ‘color’ someone else’s space.” Thankful

for all of God’s blessings in her life, BJ has dedicated herself to the

pursuit of creating beautiful art full-time.

Other crafty people have taken to the internet to sell their

wares on websites like Etsy, which celebrate hand-crafted work.

Jennifer Wigginton, owner of Deep South Handmade, has

found a great way to put her hobby of embroidering to

good use as a source of extra income for her household.

“I’ve always enjoyed seeing ‘plain’ things transformed into

beautiful things,” she said. After helping her mom run an

Etsy shop selling clothing for American Girl dolls, Jennifer

decided that it would be a great way to share her work and

hobby with others. In addition to her shop,

she has partnered with the Madison

Marketplace gift shop and “loves to

work with the wonderful ladies there!”

Like Jennifer, Maggie Owen has also

opened a successful Etsy shop called The Gold

Magnolia, which has turned into her full-time career.

Maggie has honed her life-long hobby of sewing into a

home-grown clothing design empire. “I love to plan,

pick out fabrics, select designs, and then create!” she

exclaimed. Her repertoire includes modest and stylish

clothes for girls. Shops like these are great not only for

the crafters themselves, but also for consumers who

want to support artists and find the perfect gift for their

hard-to-buy-for loved ones.

The celebrated ‘French Chef’ Julia Child encouraged

us to “find something you’re passionate about and keep

tremendously interested in it.” Her words have stayed with me and

fueled my desire to be in the constant pursuit of happiness by

indulging in interests and curiosities whenever possible. Our

hobbies help us connect to people and find ways to express our

identity to the world.

So what will you be passionate about? Cooking? Reading? Bird

watching? As for me, my camera will never be far away. n

40 • Jan/Feb 2018

Hometown madison • 41

42 • Jan/Feb 2018




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Hometown madison • 43





Leah Mitchener

Families First for Mississippi has become a staple in

communities across the state because of their resources

for youth development, parenting and life skills, employment

aide, and a myriad of other positive life assistance topics.

Their newest location in Canton is sure to be a treasured

gift to those in the community who could use a helping

hand. They opened their doors on November 7th, 2017,

and have hit the ground running. This month they are

hosting a health expo to help locals make sure they start

out the new year happy and healthy!

44 • Jan/Feb 2018

Hometown madison • 45

Families First is always looking for

donations and volunteers willing to help.

Their clothing closet offers people in

need a place to come and find suitable

clothing for interviews and work attire

once they have procured employment.

Gently used, work-appropriate clothing,

shoes and accessories in a variety of

sizes are always well received.

Children’s clothing and books for all

ages are also always accepted.

Every service offered by Families

First is available to everyone free of

charge. “Our goal is to connect the

dots and strengthen entire families

through a generational approach

called Gen+,” said Community Liaison

Betsy Nicholson. Classes like Workforce

Development, Life Skills, Parenting,

Child Care Classes, and Anger

Management are offered as well as a

program called Read and Reap. “Our

Read and Reap class takes place on

Friday mornings from 9:30-11am. This is

an opportunity for parents with young

children to come in and spend quality

time with their children reading and

doing fun activities that promote school

readiness and literacy,” said Betsy.

46 • Jan/Feb 2018

“Many of our participants come in needing help

with employability skills,” explained Betsy. Families

First offers people assistance in creating resumes

and provides resources to aid in finding suitable

jobs. They even have a place for job-seekers to

come and practice interview skills and learn tips to

handle stress and conflict in the workplace. “We also

have a lot of parents interested in our parenting

classes,” she continued. “These classes are designed

to enhance and support parents in their

mission to raise healthy and

school-ready children.”

Executive Director of Mississippi Community

Education Center, Dr. Nancy New and Executive

Director of Family Resource Center, Christi Webb

explain, “Our main goal for Families First for

Mississippi is to impact the entire family by

connecting the dots between all of the Mississippi

family services. We are serving people in all areas

of life. We believe that everyone deserves an

opportunity to become a success.”


If you are in need of assistance or would like to

make a donation of time, money, or clothing,

the new Canton location of Families First

will be happy to see you.

Hometown madison • 47

48 • Jan/Feb 2018

A Hot Night Out for a Cool Cause

September 19, 2017 • Renaissance at Colony Park

Hometown madison • 49

The Price

Of Fame

movie Premiere

The Story of


“Million Dollar Man”


November 6, 2017

malco grandview


50 • Jan/Feb 2018

Hometown madison • 51


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54 • Jan/Feb 2018

That One Thing

Mary Ann Kirby

In light of the recent flooding in Houston and wildfires in California,

where people were literally forced from their homes with only what

they could carry, and no time to spare, I considered the daunting task

of having to decide, what does one take in that situation knowing

that a complete loss was imminent? What is that one thing you

couldn’t leave behind?

Asked that question in two different decades and my answer might

be drastically different.

In my 20s, I would have been most concerned with my shoes and

clothes. My purse collection, makeup, and favorite leather bomber

jacket with fur trim would have all made the list, too. To this twentysomething

year old, “stuff” was important.

At fifty, my priorities have dramatically shifted. But when faced

with the question about choosing what to take, I still can’t come up

with a definitive answer.

It’s a given that people and animals come first, so we’re going to

assume that my family and dog are safely evacuated in our little pretend

scenario. We’re also going to assume that we all have our phones,

laptops, purses and wallets, driver’s licenses, and important documents

and papers.

But now comes the tough part. What non-essentials do you take?

What is that one thing that you absolutely would not want to part with?

I recently posed this question on social media and the responses

were varied . . . and fascinating. Many of them were, understandably,

about precious family photos – boxes of pictures and photo albums

that have been curated, inherited, or passed along from one generation

to the next, which could never be recreated. Ironically, it has been

during my lifetime that many people have actually stopped printing

pictures. I pause for a moment and wonder how future generations

will remember us without printed evidence of our existence.

Bibles ranked as a top item along with jewelry, treasured artwork,

children’s blankets and hand-made family quilts. Guns and ammunition

were surprisingly important to many, as well. I’d never considered the

need for weapons in an evacuation-type situation, but anyone that’s

ever misplaced a child’s cherished binky knows that it is worthy of

being heavily guarded.

So as I continued to contemplate the question at hand, my inability

to easily identify what “things” I would take was becoming a source of

frustration for me. I began to realize that I’m not particularly attached

to anything! And don’t get me wrong, I have a safe-box and fully

understand the importance of protecting certain legal documents, but

it was very revealing to me that not one material possession in particular

stood out as being of paramount significance.

Things don’t wear matching pajamas on Christmas Eve and watch

Christmas movies seen so many times that every line can practically

be quoted by heart. Things didn’t cheer on our favorite kicker on the

football field or feel the excitement of watching him make his first-ever

field goal.

Things can’t get all dressed up and take you to dinner on your

birthday or celebrate when you achieve an important milestone.

Things can’t reassure you when someone’s hurt your feelings.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my most

prized possessions are my memories–of the life experiences and

adventures shared with the people I adore most–and no box or album is

big enough to contain them. They’re the people and places and feelings

and moments. They’re the hugs and the smiles. And the laughter.

It’s not about what we’ve bought, but what we’ve built–and no

fire or flood can destroy it. And it is in that moment, the moment

I was forced to articulate what it was that I actually treasured most,

that I had a breakthrough and it was an amazing feeling.

While it is not likely that my son can tell me a single thing he

received last year for Christmas without having to really stop and think

about it–he can sing every word to the family vacation song we made

up while driving through the mountains six years ago. We hiked to a

waterfall hidden deep in the elevations and got caught in a rainstorm

on our way out. It was freezing and we were soaked to the bone . . . yet

it will go down as one of the single greatest family experiences that we

ever had. We were with each other, where we’re truly the most happy,

and we wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Experiences make for the greatest treasures. And memories.

So while this exercise has come full circle and prompted some

much-needed soul-searching on my part, I come away with a single,

glorious realization. When the waters rise, and the flames grow near,

I’m already packed. And while I’d never want to be faced with having

to part with the material things that have played such an important

role in creating our comforts of home and have helped to define our past,

I know that as long as we have each other, everything will be alright. n

Hometown madison • 55






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247 Industrial Drive N Madison, Mississippi 39110

601-853-7300 1-800-844-7301

Hometown madison • 57


madison county Schools

Madison Central

Madison Central High School broke its own record for the

2016-2017 school year with a total of 80 AP Scholars. AP Scholars

were awarded for scoring a three or higher on three AP exams.

AP Scholars with Honor were awarded for scoring at least a 3.25

on all AP exams taken and scores of three or higher on four or

more exams. AP Scholars with Distinction were awarded for

having an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken and

scores of three or higher on five or more exams.

Emily Zhang, a 2017 graduate, was awarded State AP Scholar,

which goes to one male and one female in each state with scores

of three or higher on the greatest number of AP exams and the

highest average score of at least 3.5 on all AP exams taken. Zhang

took a total of 14 exams. National AP Scholars were awarded for

having an average of at least four on all AP exams taken and scores

of four or higher on eight or more exams. The following 2017

graduates were the National AP Scholars for Madison Central:

Reyna Dixit, Kurk Harris, Jesse Li, Harrison McKinnis and

Emily Zhang.

Front row L-R: Current students AP Scholars Anna Bonvillain,

Zoe Bush, Hannah Weaver and Kaylee Ricchetti. Second row left

to right are AP Scholars with Distinction Parth Malaviya and David

McDonald, AP Scholar with Honor Daniel Ramsey, AP Scholar

Michael Zhang and AP Scholar with Distinction Rimika Banerjee.

Third row L-R: AP Scholars Eli Howland, Chanu Cherukuri and

Abigail Barton, AP Scholar with Honor John Michels and AP

Scholar with Distinction James Michels. Fourth row left to right

are AP Scholar with Distinction Jake Dellinger, AP Scholars

with Honor Trey McMullan and Will Humphreys, AP Scholar

Stroud Tolleson, AP Scholar with Honor Maddie Gall and AP

Scholar with Distinction Alex Nguyen. Back row L-R: AP

Scholars with Honor Luke Little, John Bethea, Logan Scott and

John Walker Webb, AP Scholar with Distinction Noah Grovich.

AP Scholars not pictured are Martha Brinson, Anna Brock, Alida

Leroux, Bailey Magee, John Martin Paczak, Erin Patton, Advait

Praveen and Aditya Surakanti. AP Scholars with Honor not

pictured are Alexa Aubrey and Case Draughn. AP Scholars with

Distinction not pictured are Mary Ranie Miller, Maeve Rigney

and Claire Smith.

Senior Nelson Washington represented his class at the Beyond

Horizons–A Recognition of Scholarship and Achievement on

December 8. This event was hosted by the University of Mississippi

Medical Center. Students were chosen based on academics

and plans to major in a STEM discipline in college. Pictured with

Washington are parents Tiffiney and Curtis Washington.

Seniors John Martin Paczak and Mary Ranie Miller are the

Wendy’s Heisman winners for the Madison Central Class of

2018. This award is based on academics and athletics.

58 • Jan/Feb 2018

Homecoming court, Front row L-R: Nora Bennett, Stone Finley,

Harper Yowell. Second row L-R: sophomores Diamond Bracey,

Chloe Livingston; juniors Hannah Brady, Vertreace Sanders;

seniors Laquintiana Kidd, Catherine Whitten, Brooke Thomas,

Julia Bhansali, Brookleigh Johnson, Isabella Wade; juniors Bonnie

Hill, Sydney Storm; sophomores Anna Cate Strong, Allison Hill;

freshmen Lana Evans, Lexie Sanders, Anna Kay Bumgarner.

Back row L-R: sophomores Reggie Black, Graham Quarles;

juniors Myles Hopson, Peyton Wilbanks; seniors Bailey Magee,

Will Stanard, Adam McDonal, Cedric Beal, Kobe Cole, Brooks

Parker; juniors Xeric Watson, Michael Zhang; sophomores

Brooks Stewart, Logan Landis; freshmen Creek Robertson,

Daniel Zhang, Duke Arnold.

Madison Central High School senior Brooke Thomas was

crowned homecoming queen. Pictured with Thomas is her

father, Dave Thomas.

Journalism students attended the Mississippi Scholastic Press

Association fall conference at the University of Southern Mississippi

on October 30. Madison Central’s yearbook staff brought home

awards for: best yearbook copy, illustration/graphic package, sports

writing/reporting, state finalist for best yearbook of the year, overall

design, senior advertising design, photography, feature spread, two

awards for sports spreads, two awards for academic photos, sports

writing/reporting, and two awards in feature writing/reporting.

Pictured are members of the broadcast crew, yearbook and

newspaper staffs. Front row: broadcast adviser Josh Stanford and

yearbook/newspaper adviser Vicky Williams. Second row L-R:

Emma Stone, Emma Gibbs, Alex Ricketts, Reagan Leeper, Caroline

Riley. Third row L-R: Porter Herrington, Jillian Russell, Kaylee

Ricchetti. Fourth row L-R: Carter Slater, Cameron Rogillio, Adele

Russell, Phoebe Waters, Maeve Rigney, Ashton Giesecke. Fifth row

L-R: Cameron Broadway, Gene Crunk, Sara Cavicchi, Mary Grace

Nelson, Jordan Carter, Katie King, Kaitlyn Sills, Hayden Ray,

Bradlea James and Bezal Jupiter. Sixth row L-R: Ryan Ricchetti,

Ella Ward, Katherine Pudish, Elizabeth Barton, Vanessa Anguiano,

Jordan Williams.

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

Hometown madison • 59


madison county Schools

Canton Academy

The newly formed Outreach Club at Canton Academy organized

the upper school students who collected 595 boxes for Operation

Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse. Pictured are CA

Outreach Club officers Shelby Johnson, Prestley Smith, Sloan

Powell, Emerald Ravenstein, Annaleigh Sandridge, and Betsy Pace

during their packing party.

The student council organizes Santa visiting elementary

students. He listens to the wishes of Ava & Will Hughes.

After reading “Same Kind of Different as Me” and having heard

about the movie’s creation from Executive Producer Stephen

Johnston (Jackson, MS), Canton Academy’s upper school took

a trip to Malco to see the movie.

The Canton Academy student council spent the morning at

MADCAAP packing food boxes and helping organizing

supplies. Pictured are Front: Sydney Thomason, Jenson

Williams, Allie Parkinson, Taylor Rosamond, Macy Gordy;

Middle: Ava Dickerson, Betsy Pace, Leah Brooke Irby, Virginia

Grace Lavender, Lyric Stewart, Edi Craft; Back: Andrew

Hankins, Brayden Brumfield, Hayden Vaughn, Chris Clanton,

Tony Handy, Lane Martin, Jacob Lott, Mrs. Lucy Johnson,

Colson Lambert, Case Lambert

60 • Jan/Feb 2018

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


Academy Talent Show Contestants

The following students at Madison-Ridgeland Academy auditioned

for and were selected as 2017 Talent Show contestants.

Congratulations on this honor! These MRA Patriots did a

wonderful job during last week’s talent show:

L-R: James Hutcheson, Kat Nurse, Davis Moody, Parker Anderson,

Sara Carson Hailey, Noelle Gee, Audrey Harper, Lilly Cobb, Sarah

Powell, Caroline Redman, Skylar Jacobs, Drew Douglas, Sydney

Holladay, Abby Sheffield, Lucy Allen, and Kate Hendry

Fall signing day was held on Tuesday, November 28, . MRA had the following seniors commit/sign to play collegiately:

Davis Ferguson



Community College

Bryson Jones


Copiah Lincoln

Community College

McAuley Ross


University of

Tennessee at Martin

Grace Self


University of

West Alabama

Breckon Young

Track & Field

Mississippi State


Congratulations to Aubree Dillon for being named

Madison-Ridgeland Academy’s 2017 Homecoming Queen!

Back Row: Blake Baldwin, Aubree Dillon, Caroline Cobb/2016

Homecoming Queen, and MRA Board President Alan Hart

Front Row: Hattie Hedglin and Harrison Rich

Hometown madison • 61


madison county Schools

Madison Avenue

Over the summer, French drains were placed in front of MAUE.

While the construction workers were digging they made some

amazing discoveries. The crew found a tooth from a Megaladon,

an arrowhead, a map with riddles, keys, a piece of train track and

plow parts. Mayor Mary expressed her excitement when keys

were found because she had a treasure chest at City Hall and

didn’t know where the keys were. Most of these exciting finds

were sent to museums for further analysis.

The teachers began studying the history of Madison with

their classes. Students learned about the Native Americans

who lived in the area and the railroad that passed through town.

Students also learned about the fire of 1900.

On Thursday, October 26th, students and parents were

invited to Adventure Night at MAUE. Students and their

parents learned about the different time periods of Madison

and read a clue by the Madison Fire Department, the Madison

Police Department, and Mayor Mary. The students had to work

their way through STEM activities to earn a portion of the key.

After completing all three challenges, students were able to earn

a key. One student from each grade pulled a key to open the

treasure chest Mayor Mary had at City Hall. The third key

worked! When Mayor Mary opened the treasure chest, she

found a golden caboose!

62 • Jan/Feb 2018

Ann Smith

Principal Melissa Wise Philley traveled to Washington, D.C.

to be recognized by NAESP as a National Distinguished


During the month of December, we celebrated our students

and taught them about generosity. We had three different

stations for the children to attend during the event. At one

station, the students were celebrated for their positive behavior

and the counselor discussed the importance of generosity.

At another station, students made cards to be donated to local

nursing homes and organizations. At the third station, students

packed blessings bags for individuals in need at local organizations.

We celebrated students and taught them a lesson to encourage

their personal character growth.

Rosa Scott

Three students won first place in the Madison County District

Reading Fair. High School Fiction Storyboard- Emily O’Reilly

High School Fiction Digital- Marshuna Pippin

High School Non-fiction Digital- Christian Gines

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

Hometown madison • 63


madison county Schools


Connor Carter, a senior at Germantown High, signed his letter

of intent to play baseball at Hinds Community College. Pictured

with Connor (front row) are parents, Christian & Lesley Carter.

Back Row: Drew Crowell (Assistant GHS Baseball Coach),

Wesley Bolden (Assistant GHS Baseball Coach), Brian Hardy

(Head GHS Baseball Coach), TJ Grissom (Assistant GHS

Baseball Coach), Presley Hill (Assistant GHS Baseball Coach).

Harrison Haley, a senior at Germantown High, signed his letter

of intent to play baseball at Hinds Community College. Pictured

with Harrison (front row) are parents, Chris & Leianne Haley.

Back Row: Drew Crowell (Assistant GHS Baseball Coach),

Wesley Bolden (Assistant GHS Baseball Coach), Brian Hardy

(Head GHS Baseball Coach), TJ Grissom (Assistant GHS

Baseball Coach), Presley Hill (Assistant GHS Baseball Coach).

McKenzie Nichols, a senior at Germantown High School, signed

her letter of intent to play softball at Mississippi Gulf Coast

Community College. Pictured with Kenzie (front row) are

parents Jason & Courtney Nichols. Back Row: Assistant GHS

Softball Coaches, Karen McCullouch and Kenny Perry, and Head

GHS Softball Coach, Lindsey McMullen.

Laura Peyton Trammell, a senior at Germantown High School,

signed her letter of intent to play softball at Jones Community

College. Pictured with Laura Peyton (front row) are parents

Shane & Paige Trammell. Back Row: Stella Melton (grandmother),

Assistant GHS Softball Coaches, Karen McCullouch

and Kenny Perry, and Head GHS Softball Coach, Lindsey


64 • Jan/Feb 2018

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

Hometown madison • 65




Camille Anding

Ole Man Winter is in the

process of wrapping us in

his gray cloak.

Just when I need to have visions of

spring-green and flowers, the arctic winds

pop the tree limbs and chase the little birds

into hiding. New Year seems to come at a

poor meteorological time.

January days usually mean times of

looking through the flower and seed

catalogs to select plants for the new flower

bed that I’m always preparing for spring.

With temps in the up and down, cold and

warm, I can’t concentrate on blooming

plants! In fact, I’m concerned that the bulbs

I planted in the fall have enough antifreeze.

The only things that seem to flourish

in these wintry conditions are flu and virus

bugs. The winds speed their arrival and

energize them as they travel. Grocery lists go

from the party ingredients of December

celebrations to fever and cough reliefs and

remedies for chapped lips and skin.

And the nights come quickly! They

pounce on 5:00, and their darkness

magnifies the chilling howls of the winds.

Even the sun seems to have run for cover.

It’s a brand new year – 2018 – a mere

infant in the first days of January, but the

bleak landscape and the constant hum of

the heating unit are attempting to give a

dismal outlook for the coming year.

Suddenly I have a mental picture of

our children when they were toddlers.

They had no fears as little ones close to

their parents. They would climb onto the

kitchen chair, scramble to the kitchen

island and squeal for their daddy to catch

them. And he would, and they had every

assurance that in their mid-air flight,

Daddy’s strong arms would secure them.

The night is still dark, the winds are

whistling, but there’s a special warmth

about me, and I know it’s not related to

the thermostat. That mental picture has

reminded me that my Heavenly Father

stands within arms’ reach, and He says,

“Launch out into the New Year. I’m here –

always – and I know the way.”

It’s a small Voice, but it muffles the

winds and my fears. n

66 • Jan/Feb 2018

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Hometown madison • 67

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