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V 7 #1


Hometown Clinton • 3

4 • MARCH 2020


Regardless of the up and down temps,

sporadic balmy and chilly winds along

with DAYS of rain, I see the stacks of soil

compost and fertilizers growing in yard

and garden businesses. For some, that

stirs that green thumb syndrome of

which a lot of people were endowed.

I didn’t receive that endowment.

I do remember watching my granddaddy

work with soil - the tilling, plowing

and planting. I never had to ask him if

he enjoyed his work in that garden plot.

It was obvious because of the time he

spent and the sweat that confirmed

his hard work.

For me, the preparation of the garden’s

produce was my contribution. I would

sit near my grandmother with a dishpan

of peas in my lap while we watched

episodes of The Price is Right. This was

before pea-shelling automation - that

contraption that ended purple thumbs

and fond memories of pea-shelling.

Yes, I’m thankful for air-conditioned

offices, and a job where I meet and deal

with people in the business world. Even

though I didn’t take after my granddaddy’s

love-of-the-soil dedication, I am grateful

for his tireless and loving example of

hard work and optimistic outlook on

reaping what he sowed.

No matter what your religious

position, “reaping what you sow” is

actually a bona fide concept. It’s one

I would advocate, whether you’re

pounding the pavement or turning

over topsoil. Spring is coming; time

for planting. However, it’s always time

to sow seeds of kindness and respect

and help make our hometown the

place where its people love to live

and do business! l


Tahya A. Dobbs



Kevin W. Dobbs


Mary Ann Kirby


The Way We Were 8

More Than Just A Job 12

What The Kids Have To Say 18

Clinton Past & Present 20

Spring Thing Spring Fling 22

Retiring A Legend 26

Hometown Family 34

The Sky’s the Limit 40

Clinton Chamber 46

The Chalkboard 50

The Time Coin 58



Brenda McCall


Lindsey Dees


Jenna Nottingham



Alisha Floyd


Daniel Thomas




Meagan Pitts



Caroline Hodges


Othel Anding

...see you around town.

facebook.com/hometownclintonmagazine. For subscription information visit www.htmags.com or contact us at info@HTMags.com / 601.706.4059 / 26 Eastgate Drive, Suite F / Brandon, MS 39042

All rights reserved. No portion of Hometown Clinton be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. The management of Hometown Clinton is not responsible for opinions expressed by its writers or editors.

Hometown Clinton maintains the unrestricted right to edit or refuse all submitted material. All advertisements are subject to approval by the publisher. The production of Hometown Clinton is funded by advertising.

Hometown CLINTON • 5

6 • MARCH 2020

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Hometown CLINTON • 7

The way

WE were

Aline & Virgil Belue

Andy Kanengiser

High school sweethearts more

than six decades ago, Virgil and

Aline Belue are celebrating marital

bliss in their hometown of Clinton.

This wonderful couple marks

their 69th wedding anniversary

in late June. Growing up in rural

Northeast Mississippi farm

communities, the Holcut High

grads are very much in love

today. It’s always Valentine’s

Day for the Belues.

“Aline is the wind beneath

my wings,’’ Dr. Belue recently

told hundreds of Mississippians

in the audience as the recipient

of the Clinton Chamber of

Commerce Lifetime Achievement

Award. The first superintendent

of the Clinton Public School

District, Dr. Belue served

22 splendid years and set the

standard of excellence for

thousands of students.

As one of the South’s

premier districts trumpeting its

50th anniversary, Clinton public

schools give a great deal of the

credit to Dr. Belue. Learning the

basics in a one-room Mississippi

schoolhouse and later earning

degrees at Mississippi State

University, Dr. Belue led a new

Clinton district with three

community schools. With a

passion for hard work, he

succeeded. Following his

retirement in 1992, four

superintendents built on his

legacy through 2020.

Clinton’s Attaché Choir keeps

gaining national honors. From

solid Arrows athletics teams to

stellar achievements in the

classroom with plenty of star

teachers, Clinton public schools

rank as one of the state’s elite


That winning formula for

Clinton’s excellent schools for a

half-century is just as evident in

the Belue household. It goes back

to before their 1951 marriage in

Booneville when Harry Truman

was President, and actor Marlon

Brando starred in movie classics

like “A Streetcar Named Desire.’’

In early 2020, the Clinton

couple celebrates their marriage

in the stories they share, reflecting

back to when they were

Mississippi teens in love.

Nearly 70 years ago, Virgil

Belue played point guard on the

Holcut High basketball team.

“I was at every game,’’ Aline

chimed in. The couple often

rode the school bus together and

8 • MARCH 2020

“Most anything

I wanted to do,

she supported it.”

saw one another on Sundays at

What’s one of the secrets to

grandchildren who all call her

Brad Belue is in the marketing

Lebanon Baptist Church on the

their success as a couple? “Most

Mamaw. She’s helped with the

business in Birmingham.

Prentiss County-Tishomingo

anything I wanted to do, she

pastor’s children and with

“What they instilled in me is

County line. Virgil was one

supported it,’’ Dr. Belue said.

church members who can’t

that integrity is everything,’’

grade ahead of Aline.

Today, they enjoy their retire-

afford sitters.’’

Karen Rogers said of her

While dating, they made a

ment years spending time with

The Belue’s children include

precious parents. With more

profession of faith together.

their four children and remain

three in Mississippi: Barry,

than 32 years in Mississippi

Early in their marriage, Aline

devoted to their six grandkids.

Sheila, and Karen, while Brad

public schools, Karen followed

worked at the college laundry,

What are some of Aline’s most

lives in Alabama. Barry Belue is

in her dad’s footsteps. “My father

while Virgil took classes at MSU

admirable traits? “She’s very

a counselor with the youth

has a passion for education.’’

and held a part-time job at the

compassionate. She’s cooked

court system. Sheila Grogan

Staying in touch with Clinton

Borden Milk Plant. And, as they

hundreds of meals for people

works as a vice president with

schools, the Belues always find

say, the rest is history. “We will

in hospitals and at home,’’

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of

their joy serving others in their

be married for 69 years on June

Virgil Belue said.

Mississippi. Karen Rogers is the

community and are faithful

30th,’’ Virgil said. “I think we will

Raising four kids wasn’t

administrative assistant to

servants at First Baptist Church

make it,’’ he added, with a smile.

enough for the retiree over the

Mississippi College School of

Clinton. l

years. “She’s been keeping

Education Dean Cindy Melton.

Hometown CLINTON • 9




• • •

70+ CAREER &



• • •



My Best Decision!

hub.hindscc.edu/best | 1-800-HINDSCC

JACKSON-Academic-Technical Center | JACKSON-Nursing/Allied Health Center | RANKIN | RAYMOND | UTICA | VICKSBURG

In compliance with 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 have been designated to handle inquiries regarding these policies: EEOC Compliance: Sherry

Franklin, Vice President for Utica Campus and Administrative Services, Box 1003, Utica, MS 39175; Phone: 601.885.7002 or Email: EEOC@hindscc.edu. Title IX: Randall Harris, Vice President for Advancement and Student Services, Title IX Coordinator, Box 1100 Raymond MS 39154; Phone: 601.857.3889

or Email: TitleIX@hindscc.edu.

10 • MARCH 2020

Hometown CLINTON • 11


________________ Just a Job

Lindsey Lenoir

McGuire’s Taxidermy started out as

a hobby that shop owner James

“Jimmy” McGuire began in his youth.

Jimmy moved to Mississippi from

Kentucky when he was a teenager,

and would often hunt with his father.

After a few early attempts at mounting

the occasional squirrel or duck, Jimmy

quickly realized he actually had a

knack for the art of taxidermy.

In the years to come, Jimmy would

dedicate 20 years of his life working as

a mechanic while doing taxidermy on

the side. However, the demand for

what he deemed a part-time hobby

increased so much that, according to

Jimmy, he had a decision to make,

“The taxidermy just took off and it got

to the point where I could no longer do

it part-time. I had to decide if I was

going to continue being a mechanic or

if I was going to do taxidermy full-time.”

Jimmy came to a conclusion, and 15

years ago, built McGuire’s Taxidermy

on Cynthia Road in Clinton. From the

moment he opened his doors to the

community, God began to open a

ministry opportunity that he had not


If you know Jimmy McGuire

personally, you know that he has a

heart for service, and an unwavering

resolve for helping others. “I enjoy

what I do. But I don’t do it for the

money, I do it because if there is

someone I know that needs help, I

want to be able to say, ‘Here, let me

help!’ and do whatever I can.” He and

his wife Robin have raised five of their

own children, employing their help

with the business at times, but eventually

ushering all but one into lives and

careers of their own (they still have a

son at home who will graduate high

school this spring.)

Jimmy makes no qualms about who

he has dedicated his life to, and to

whom he has entrusted the lives of his

own children and grandchildren. Little

did he know, but God had a few more

children in mind for Jimmy to shepherd,

and those children would come

in the form of his employees.

Over the past 15 years McGuire’s

has seen many employees come and

go, as many businesses do. However,

in 2009, Jimmy McGuire would hire a

young man by the name of Tripp

Dowdy. Tripp and his family had been

through a very difficult time, and “Mr.

Jimmy,” as they all refer to him, was

there to offer support, loving guidance,

and to blur the line between family and

employee. It’s a dynamic he has

continued with all of the Dowdy


Tripp was the older brother to Alli

and Riley Dowdy. The girls came on

board almost three years ago, and are

currently the bright, determined, and

hard-working “family” members

presently employed there. Alli and

Riley Dowdy are two of six siblings;

both were hired when Tripp and their

sister Kelsey were still working at

McGuire’s. “I really enjoyed working

there when Tripp and my older sister

were still there. I learned a lot from

12 • MARCH 2020

Hometown CLINTON • 13

them both,” says Alli. The girls both

expressed that they admire their older

brother Tripp and use his determination as

a pattern for their own work ethic. “Tripp

just really took on that father role for us

growing up. He stepped up and showed us

what it meant to be a hard worker. He

always pushed us to be a better version of

ourselves, like, in the little things when it

came to helping customers.”

Jimmy has employed almost every

single one of the Dowdy kids at one time or

another, and even an uncle. He chuckles,

“Yes, we have seen a few Dowdys through

mounts.” Alli says, “It just isn’t my thing, but

I love the business part. I enjoy the customer

relations aspect of it all!”

While certainly grateful for the job, the

girls both agree that working at McGuire’s

has given them substantially more than just

employment. According to Riley, “Mr. Jimmy

has been a father-figure to my siblings and

me. He has taught us how to hunt and do

everything here. He has fixed our cars, he

listens to us when we need to talk, and

he’s always there for us.” Alli adds, “Looking

past the aspect of taxidermy, he has helped

us with our relationship with the Lord, and

When describing Jimmy, the girls both

used the word integrity a lot. “The way

that Mr. Jimmy runs his business shows

that he is a man of integrity. Without him

really realizing it, it’s the main reason that

McGuire’s Taxidermy is what it is. It’s

because Mr. Jimmy chooses to glorify

the Lord through his business, in helping

people, and because he is so generous,”

beams Alli.

The girls say it’s Jimmy’s desire to fulfill

his greater purpose; to glorify the Lord in

all that he does, that makes up who they

are as a company.

the doors of this business. In fact I probably

could change the name to Dowdy Taxidermy,

we’ve had so many of them employed here!”

Alli and Riley are the two youngest

Dowdy children. They were homeschooled

through elementary and high school, and

are currently attending college. 19-year-old

Alli attends Mississippi College, and 17-yearold

Riley is at Holmes Community College.

While customers interact with Alli on orders,

Riley is typically in the back, getting her

hands dirty, skinning and mounting. Riley

is the die-hard, wake-up-at-4am, hunting

sister, where Alli is the rather-stay-in-bedand-sleep-a-little-longer,


sister. For Riley, “I can’t get

enough of hunting, skinning, and game

14 • MARCH 2020

we can always come to him for advice. Yes,

it is a good work environment, but it is also

so much more than that. He is so much

more to us than just a boss. I don’t think

either of us would be who we are without

him and his influence.”

Ultimately, the blueprint for creating a

work environment like this was a choice

that Jimmy McGuire made, but there is more

at play here than taxidermy and running a

great business. “I’m not a business person.

I don’t really know how to run a business,

but it’s a ministry to the people that come

in here, and to the people that work here.

I like to be able to use this talent and the

resources that God has provided to help

others. I’m just trying to figure out a way to

use it for His glory!”

Even if hunting and fishing is not your thing,

McGuire’s Taxidermy is definitely worth a visit.

The experience is more like a natural science

museum than a family taxidermist. Adorning

the walls is a menagerie of waterfowl, mounted

alligators, fish mounts, trophy bucks, a baboon,

even a massive African Lion.

The success of McGuire’s Taxidermy has been

cultivated by James McGuire over 15 years as

a family business–rooted in the desire to touch

the lives entrusted to them through kindness

and generosity. l

Hometown CLINTON • 15

16 • MARCH 2020

Thanks to our readers and advertisers.

We appreciate you!

Vintage Market Days ® is more

than a flea market. It is an upscale

vintage-inspired indoor/outdoor

open-air market featuring original

art, antiques, clothing, jewelry,

handmade treasures and more.

“We first discovered

Vintage Market Days® when

I helped my mother- in-law,

Betty Fuss, with her booth

at the event in Mobile,”

says Jana Fuss.

In her role as marketing director with Merit Health, Jana is

no stranger to coordinating events, big or small, down to the last

detail. She’s also an avid shopper who loves helping others find

the perfect gift or home décor item. Jana’s husband, Chris Fuss,

has been in sales since his early days peddling produce from his

parents’ garden, and currently serves as regional manager of

Sunrise Fresh Produce.

Having promoted other events in the Southeast for years,

including the Murfreesboro Antiques Show in Tennessee, when

the opportunity presented itself to acquire the Vintage Market

Days ® franchise, the Fuss family knew it was the right move.

Currently the events are held in Jackson twice a year, and the

couple plans to expand into other areas of the state in the future.

The next event will be held in the Mississippi Trademart in

Jackson April 24 and 25.

Giving back is a major part of the Fuss’s mission with

Vintage Market Days ® . “We are thrilled to partner with the

Metropolitan YMCAs of Mississippi,” says Jana. “They are a

powerful association of men, women and children committed

to bringing about lasting personal and social change.” Chris

explains that the YMCA is so much more than a fitness facility

with kids sports programs. “The YMCA is special to our family.

Our children were cared for through afterschool programs and

participated in summer camp for several years. But so many do

not know about their other ministries for children and senior

adults, including the Feed the Hungry program.” Chris says Jana

has been fortunate to work with the YMCA through her job

and involvement in the community, and immediately thought

of the YMCA as a community partner when the family took

over Vintage Market Days® of Mississippi. “We are happy to

give back to an organization that supports neighbors, enables

youth, adults, families and communities to be healthy, confident,

connected and secure.” l

For more information on Vintage Market Days® of Mississippi,

visit https://vintagemarketdays.com/market/mississippi/index.php

Hometown CLINTON • 17


Kelly Keith’s Class

Sumner Hill

What are your

hopes and plans

for Spring Break?

Aidan Rushing

My plans for spring break are

to go to the beach and sleep.

Kelly Keith

I am planning to spend time

with my friends and family!

Blake Little

I will have my first opportunity

to snow ski. I hope I am a

quick learner and that I will

be able to ski a black run.

Celie Dixon

I am going camping

with my family and

a bunch of our friends!

Gracie Tucker

I hope to get well rested and

spend time with my family.

Jack Collins

I’m planning to win some

baseball games in Biloxi with

the Clinton baseball team.

Toby Gilbert

I hope to upgrade my

computer over the break.

Emmy Heard

I plan to go to Disney World

and spend time there

with my family.

Molly Lenow

I plan to serve families

at Soul City in

downtown Jackson.

Ella Goolsby

My plans for spring break

are to go to Chattanooga

to whitewater raft.

18 • MARCH 2020


the best

thing about

high school

so far?

Danielle Woodruff

My favorite part has been

the block schedule, because

we have more time

to complete work.

Gavin Jiang

The best part has been

all the classes, and

so many choices.

Ashlyn Welch

The best part has been

the experience, for sure!

Caeley Melton

I enjoy being able to

have more flexibility with

my schedule and

choosing my classes. Jazmyn Perritt

So far, the best part is

the staff and the pep rallies.

Sam Connelly

The best thing is that

I have been able to prove

myself and my abilities.

Ritika Shah

The best thing has been

picking higher-level classes

that challenge us and also

help us explore our

interests as we begin

to choose a career.

Cayden Whipple


Tejveer Thind

So far, high school is

a lot more relaxed than

elementary and middle

school, and is more fun.

Jalecia Bronson

I have gotten to meet

a lot of cool new people!

Hometown CLINTON • 19

City of Clinton


The city of Clinton is poised for the future

while respecting its historic past. With the

newly built Continental Tire plant on the

outskirts of town, the city is already seeing the

economic benefits, according to Gabriel Prado,

the city’s first full time director of economic

development. “New residential investment has

piqued the interest of national developers who

are now eyeing Clinton as an important retail

anchor in central Mississippi.”

The mantra often heard by developers is

“retail follows rooftops.” If that’s the case,

Clinton could see a big increase in its retail

offerings over the next few years.

In the February 2020 board of alderman

meeting, Clinton’s mayor, Phil Fisher, along

with the board of aldermen, opened the door

for new neighborhoods and mixed development

by approving a request to rezone several parcels

of land along the Clinton Parkway. That move

will allow for a multi-million-dollar mixed use

development with approximately sixteen single

family homes and commercial buildings with

residential units. The area will match the

adjacent properties along Monroe Street to

the west of the development. The investment

in the area will bring redevelopment of the older

neighborhood along Monroe Street, with the

design of the new residences to reflect the

character of the neighborhood. The result will

be a walkable, livable neighborhood to the north

end of the historic Olde Towne District.

Clinton has been designated as a Mississippi

Main Street City, a Mississippi Most Livable

City and a Certified Retirement City. Officials

tout the new development as an important step

in providing new houses for both retirees and

millennials seeking the benefits of single family

residential in the heart of a mixed-use area.

Currently under construction in Olde Towne is

the $12.5 million Hillman Commons lofts and

mixed-use development that will bring 90 one,

20 • MARCH 2020

two and three bedroom lofts to the heart of the

city in Olde Towne Clinton, across from the

new Lion’s Club Park.

For sixty years, the property was leased by

the Lions Club as the Hillman-Berry Lions

Club Park. The property was sold by Mississippi

College to make way for the new Hillman

Commons development.

The new Lion’s Club Park, located on E.

Leake Street, is a labor of love by Clinton’s

Lion’s Club. The groundbreaking on the new

park was last August. The park will be

handicap-accessible, and will feature restrooms,

a pavilion and an amphitheater.

The Hillman name is being retained for the

mixed-used development as a nod to Hillman

College, the all-female college in Clinton that

was subsumed by Mississippi College in 1942.

“We are excited about the Hillman

Commons/Lions Club Park revitalization and

construction in Olde Towne,” says Mark Jones,

communications director for the City of

Clinton. “Over time, the area has developed

organically, with a deep appreciation for the

historical nature of the area. All the new

construction designs will blend beautifully

with the older structures to create a place that

looks like it’s been there a long time. We are

thrilled with how the projects will work

together to bring life to the City core. Between

the park and Hillman Commons, we will see

a $14.5 million investment. That will make a

significant impact in Clinton.”

In addition to the residences in Hillman

Commons, a plat has been approved for 167

homes in Brookfield subdivision, and plats

are pending approval for approximately 300

additional homes in Horseshoe Bend, plus

ongoing development at Windsor Plantation,

and Cedar Hill Place. “Clinton is primed to

welcome hundreds of new families to the City,”

says Jones. Expansion of residential inventory is

an important part of recruiting young families to

Clinton, according to Prado. “Young families are

already attracted to Clinton’s award-winning

schools, historic charm and the walkable

entertainment and shopping area of Olde

Towne. The addition of residential units

benefits our continued efforts to recruit new

retail developments around the City.” l

Hometown CLINTON • 21

22 • MARCH 2020




Spring Fling

Here in the Deep South, spring means many

things. The flowers are starting to bloom, the temps

are steadily warming, and the Smith County

watermelons will be ripe for the picking. Neighbors

and friends will soon hold get-togethers where they’ll

talk of summer plans, look back on the events of the

past year, and comment on how they will not miss all

of the rain that January and February brought.

Of course, it can’t be a true southern gathering if

it’s not centered on good food and fellowship. That is

exactly the stage the Junior Auxiliary of Clinton has

dedicated countless hours to setting for the past 12


On March 28th, the non-profit will hold its

largest fundraising event of the year, Spring Thing.

According to JA President Jana Chao, “We wanted it

to be a fun, almost backyard, feel to it. You can have

your crawfish or barbecue plate, there’s music and

games, and a kid zone where your kids can enjoy

themselves. It’s just a really fun, family event. This

fundraiser allows us to serve families and children in

the Clinton area all in one place.”

The Junior Auxiliary serves the Clinton

community through many different projects. They are

a non-profit organization who seeks to benefit the

children and families who call Clinton home. Projects

such as Impact, Jumpstart, Eyespy, and Angel Tree,

exist to provide educational classes to the children of

the Methodist Children’sHome, to encourage rising

kindergarteners to get used to the “big school” setting,

to assist Clinton Public Schools and Clinton Christian

Academy with required vision screenings, and

supplement aid for families in need during the

Christmas season. JA works alongside local business

owners and healthcare professionals like Dr. Tonya

Stewart, who donate their time, money, and services

for things like silent auction items, sponsorship

donations, and even eye exam vouchers for children

and families that otherwise could not afford eye care.

The JA also works with the Crown Club of

Clinton which is comprised of girls, grades 9-12, who

are trying to affect their community for the better

through service projects. The Angel Tree project

allows Crown Club girls to host Milk and Cookies

with Santa for the Angel Tree recipients.

JA also utilizes their platform to educate these

families on finances, healthy eating habits, and other

life skills classes, in an effort to break a cycle.

Fundraising Chair Jordan Osborn adds, “Our goal is

to serve the community, but we also want to foster

relationships with local businesses and other people in

the community and to recognize their support. Local

restaurants and food vendors like T’Beaux’s Crawfish,

Coley’s Catering, The Bank, 303 Jefferson, Grumpy

Dave’s, and Brick Street Pops are all donating their

time and proceeds to JA at Spring Thing. Other small

businesses and individuals have donated silent auction

items, like a 14k rose gold 1.5 CT diamond ring from

CKarats, a cooking class at the Farmer’s Table Cooking

School in Livingston, and a one-night stay at the

Hotel Monteleone to name a few.”

The JA of Clinton would also like to recognize a

few of their top-level sponsors: The Radio People,

Heritage Properties, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of

MS, and Clinton Oral Surgery.

Patrons can purchase tickets through any Junior

Auxiliary member before the event for $20, tickets for

children 10 and under are $10; 3 and under are free

(with no meal included). Your ticket purchase allows

you entry into Spring Thing where you will enjoy live

music from the likes of Shelly Fairchild, Phillip

Yarbrough, John Mark Coon, Chasin’ Dixie, and the

Hinds Faculty Jazz Collective. You will also enjoy a

plate dinner with your choice of two pounds of

crawfish, corn on the cob, potato, and a non-alcoholic

beverage or barbeque sandwich, potato salad, and

baked beans. The Bank and 303 Jefferson will have

alcoholic beverages for purchase.

Tickets will also be sold at the door for $25 per

adult and $15 per child. All proceeds go to aiding the

Junior Auxiliary’s many service projects, like Hands and

Feet which has recently helped two Clinton families

whose lives were devastated by house fires this year.

Make sure to mark your calendars for the JA of

Clinton and Crown Club’s, “Eggstra” Special Easter

Egg Hunt that will be held on April 5th at Traceway

Park! l

Hometown CLINTON • 23

24 • MARCH 2020

...see you around town



Erin ________ Kate GOODE

Why did you decide to make Clinton

your home?

I’m from another small town in Mississippi

with a vibrant arts community and a beautiful

historic district. When I transferred to the

Jackson area with my job, I guess Clinton just

felt like home.

How long have you lived in Clinton?

15 years.

Tell us about your family.

My husband Jim and I have 2 kids, Chase (11)

and Chloe (9). We have 2 cats, Sprinkles and

Gumball and 2 dogs, Ginger and Lulu.

What is your favorite memory of living

in Clinton?

I remember the first Christmas we took our

kids to Deck the Trails at the Nature Center,

seeing Santa and Olaf and watching the light

show. It was magical to them and simple and

not overwhelming for the parents! It is a

favorite Christmas tradition to this day.

Where are your three favorite places to eat

in Clinton?

The Bank, Dutch’s Oven, and El Sombrero.

What are some fun things to do in Clinton

on the weekends?

Walking through the Nature Center, visiting

the parks, shopping at Burkes, eating downtown

at The Bank.

Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

I love doing anything outside – floating in the

pool, walking dogs, planting flowers and just

sitting on the patio visiting with friends.

What are three things on your bucket list?

I like taking things one day at a time, so I don’t

actually have a bucket list. I think it would be

fun to go to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade,

participate in the March for Life in D.C. and I’d

like to take my family to Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Who is someone you admire and why?

Growing up in Mississippi, I’ve heard all the

negatives and all the reasons not to stay here,

and I have seen many people leave for better

opportunities. I don’t believe everyone has to

stay here, but I do think there are many good

reasons to live here. I admire people who are

tackling some of our state’s biggest issues and

dedicating their lives to making a better future

for my home state.

Where do you see yourself ten years from


Good question! I really haven’t given that much

thought. I find life to be most exciting when it’s

not all mapped out, so I try to leave my future


What is your favorite childhood memory?

When I was little I drew a picture for

Mr. Rogers and held it up to the TV for him

to see. My mom mailed it to him with a letter

explaining what I had done. I got a letter back

from Mr. Rogers explaining that he cannot see

his viewers through the TV but telling me that

we would always be special TV friends.

If you could give us one encouraging quote,

what would it be?

My life has been impacted by people who do

not fit into what our culture deems as valuable.

Our value does not lie in our physical or mental

ability, our size, our age, our things, our

appearance, or our usefulness. But we still get

caught up in all this. Our value simply lies in

this: “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

I think that’s pretty encouraging.

What is your favorite thing about

Hometown Magazines?

I enjoy finding out new things about Clinton

and my neighbors who live here. l

Hometown CLINTON • 25

26 • MARCH 2020


a Legend

Camille Anding

As Dr. Muse entered the grand hall of the Clyde Muse

Center at Hinds Community College, his robust frame,

fitted with a black business suit, walked with the gait of a

much younger man. His gracious stature, firm handshake, and

embracing smile gave a first impression that assured me our

interview would be auspicious for the one taking notes. I was

on target with my impression.

We sat down around a conference room in the building

named in his honor–an appropriate recognition for this

educator and college president of five campuses at six locations

in five counties of Mississippi. Forty-one years of leadership

have designated him the longest serving president at the college.

“I’ve never wanted to do anything else but teach and

coach–I even knew that when I was in high school,” he said as

he began retracing his career. “My daddy wanted me to be a

preacher because he hadn’t gotten a preacher out of his six

boys. Then he wanted me to marry a girl that could play the

piano so we could be a ministry team.”

Dr. Muse remembered a day while he was a principal at

Starkville High School when his dad “got off on preaching

again.” Clyde respectfully shared with his dad how preaching

wasn’t the only means of having a positive influence on others.

He explained how teachers can direct and impact students in

the classroom that can last a lifetime.

The senior Muse listened and was satisfied with his son’s

dedication and bent toward the classroom. “My dad never

brought it up again,” Dr. Muse said.

Originally from Hickory Flat in Benton County, Muse

graduated from Sebastopol High School, believing he had the

ability to do one thing well–play basketball. His principal took

him to East Central Community College and told the president,

“Dr. Todd, this is a good boy and he wants to go to school.”

Young Muse explained to the president that he didn’t have

any tuition money but was hopeful for a job to pay his way.

The president said there was just one job...milking cows, 4 a.m.

and 4 p.m., seven days a week.

The relieved and grateful freshman said, “Dr. Todd, that’s

nothing new to me; I’ve been doing that all my life.”

While he milked cows for tuition money, he, along with 85

other young men, signed up for the basketball team. Coach

Arno Vincent, Muse’s greatest life-mentor, began scrimmaging

all the hopefuls. At the end of each practice, he would have a

chalkboard listing the names of players he wanted to return.

The list got smaller and smaller, but Clyde’s name stayed.

He got a uniform, “but it wasn’t the same color as the others,”

Muse said with laughter.

Hometown CLINTON • 27

When their team played East Mississippi College, Clyde met Pap Presley on

that team and described him as the best player he ever saw. In the middle of the

third quarter, Coach Vincent asked Clyde if he thought he could stop Presley from

scoring, an assignment none of Clyde’s teammates had been able to accomplish.

Clyde said, “Just give me a chance. I’ve been watching him and have figured it out–

keep the ball out of his hands.” Clyde did just that and never sat on the bench again.

And, the coach gave him another uniform to match the starters.

The acclaimed educator paused at the end of his basketball story and stepped into

his teacher role. “I always teach my students to prepare yourself for the opportunity

that comes your way.”

He chose Delta State University after graduating from ECCC. His basketball playing

continued to improve, but his greatest joy came during his senior year when he met

his future bride, Vashti Underwood. Dr. Muse described her as a little towheaded

freshman beauty that captured his heart. On their second date she informed

him, “I’m gonna marry you.”

Dr. Muse laughed as he shared his shock over her prophetic statement and

remembered his own private response, “Good Lord, I’ve got to hang around and

see what happens!”

After Muse graduated in March, he married his freshman sweetheart and carried

her with him to his first job at Canton High School. His first year’s assignment was

teaching five science classes and coaching high school girls’ and boys’ track and

basketball plus coaching junior high football. Muse said, I had a fulltime job, but I

didn’t know it. I was just having fun!”

His starting salary was $2,400 a year. Muse emphasized, “I knew I’d never have a lot of

money teaching and coaching, but I never was in the business of education to make money.”

The newlyweds continued to work together and Vashti earned her degree in education,

going on to teach all ages from kindergarten to college. She was known for never giving up

on her students. During one of the numerous opportunities her gift of teaching

afforded her, she was asked the difference between teaching the very young and

the college level. Her answer: “None. Just bigger bodies.”

Vashti and Clyde teamed their education-centered lives to touch and improve

schools and colleges throughout our state and beyond while raising their family

of two daughters and a son. On July 9, 2010, Vashti died in a car accident and left

a legacy of accomplishments few could match.

Dr. Muse recalls his doctors advising him to go back to work after losing his

soulmate. It was good advice, but the void is still there. “How long were you

married?” I asked. “Fifty-eight years and two weeks. It seemed short,” he replied.

His daily routine now is waking up at 4:00 a.m. Monday through Friday,

exercising at the Wellness Center from five to six, back home to eat breakfast and in

the office by 7:15 or 7:30. An average of three nights a week is taken for college-related events.

His eight grands and thirteen great-grandchildren get “Granddaddy time,” too.

28 • MARCH 2020

Dr. Muse has earned a wealth of experiences in his field and

recalled one eye-opening experience with his first 8th grade

science class. “I noticed that a few of the students would walk

to the pencil trimmer next to the door, trim their pencils and

just walk out the door. The other students would laugh. I

knew I was losing control of the class, so I went to the Ag

teacher and asked him to make me a paddle. I slipped it in the

drawer of my desk and waited for the first student to do the

pencil routine. He did, and I grabbed the paddle and followed

him out the door. I wore his rear end out! When we walked

back in the room, you could have heard a pin drop.”

That led to Dr. Muse sharing a major issue in today’s education.

“We’ve lost discipline in the home, and it’s transitioned to

the classroom. When I was a principal, a student didn’t want

his mama to know he got a spanking because it automatically

meant he would get a second one at home. Today, teachers don’t

get support from the courts or homes. We must have discipline

that creates an atmosphere that’s conducive to learning.”

The educator wizard’s advice to college students is basic: Go

to class, get your work done, behave yourself, and take advantage

of the opportunities to grow and develop.

In his 68 years in education, he’s witnessed rapid changes,

and the electronic-age is more than he wants to engage. He is

learning to communicate through texting but knows nothing

about computers. He explains, “I don’t need one as long as I

have two people in my office.”

Renee Cotton, district director of marketing and community

relations at Hinds CC, listened to the interview and interjected

her respect and awe of Dr. Muse’s wisdom and contribution to

the education of the 30,000 students that attend Hinds and

those that have graduated. She also suggested we research his

contribution as the T-Ball inventor. Muse laughed and said, “I

didn’t have enough sense to have the game patented.”

In response to his masterful career, Dr. Muse asserted, “It’s my

great joy to help students be all they can be.” He sees educators

as having the wonderful opportunity to serve others. “You

know the Bible tells us that to be the best, be a servant.”

I asked the gifted educator why or how he was able to stay at

Hinds for over forty years. Had there been other offers? He

nodded yes and said, “I’ve had a few opportunities to go other

places. But let me tell you, Hinds fits me. There’re a lot of people

that need an education. They are just like ole Muse was when

he walked in that president’s office and couldn’t afford an

education. There’re still a lot of people out there that without

a community college that won’t get an education. That keeps

me going.”

On Christmas day, Dr. Muse celebrated his 90th birthday.

He said he often heard his mama tell him, “You’re the best

Christmas present I ever had.” She was right because an

inestimable number of lives have been touched by that very

special gift that’s been one of education’s perfect blessings.

And on June 30, 2020, Dr. Clyde Muse will retire a legend

among men. l

Hometown CLINTON • 29

Among the people who have profoundly influenced the

course of my academic and professional life, Dr. Clyde Muse

may stand the tallest. It cannot be overstated that my time as

a student at Hinds Community College and the advice and

counsel shared by Dr. Muse came at a critical point in my life.

The kindness, patience, and guidance that Dr. Muse demonstrated

to me made a deep and lasting impact that continues

to this day. I am astounded when I consider how many other

students share in my experience and share in my abiding

appreciation to Dr. Muse for his decades-long service to

our community and to our young people. I am proud to say

that I love Dr. Muse like a father.


Dr. Muse and I worked together for over 30 years and I

have been serving on his advisory board. I have never found

anyone that was more persistent and caring about the

children of Rankin County. He worked very diligently to

ensure that the children had everything that they needed

at Hinds Community College. He is a great guy that will be

missed very dearly. We are going to have a tough job trying

to fill his shoes.

Ira Singleton

Dr. Muse is a remarkable individual. He has done a super

job at Hinds for 42 years and is known as The Godfather of

the state community colleges. I call him my Moses.

Irl Dean Rhodes

Dr. Muse is one of the most creative visionaries I’ve

known in my lifetime. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and

working with this great man over 40 years. A man whose

handshake was his word. Not only has HCC grown to be

the very best, but his actions, such as his legislative accomplishments,

have given all community colleges recognition

and resources for the betterment of their students. Another

strong side of Dr. Muse, which I love, was his efforts to focus

on the vo-tech side of education and make sure everyone

had a chance to learn what they wanted to do in life. His collaboration

with workforce opportunities in the communities

will be a lasting legacy. On a personal note, the generosity of

his heart matches his physical stature. He has been very supportive

of our family, and we are blessed to call him a friend.


Dr. Muse didn’t restrict himself to reaching higher education,

he had an impact on most younger people by inventing the

“tee ball” we know today.


30 • MARCH 2020

As a lifelong educator and Mississippian, I have always

heard about Dr. Clyde Muse and the many accomplishments

that he had achieved. All of my friends who knew

him had good things to say about him as a person, and

many shared personal stories about how Dr. Muse

impacted their lives in a most positive way.

Shortly after being appointed as a trustee at Hinds CC,

I had the opportunity to observe Dr. Muse, who is affectionately

called the “Godfather of Education” in Mississippi.

At our first meeting, I observed the man in action and

was most impressed at how well-organized, prepared,

and knowledgeable he was about everything on our

agenda. When questions were asked, he gave clear and

concise answers.

At a Hinds Community College Christmas celebration

for faculty and students, I remember Dr. Muse excusing

himself from our table to go to a chair where he could sit

and give people an opportunity to speak one on one with

him. A short time later, a line of at least fifty people were

waiting. As I watched him, he seemed to know each person

by name, knew something about each of them as they

shared a common bond, and a genuine admiration for

one another was clearly evident. All I could say was “wow!”

I have never witnessed that much respect and admiration

for a man in his position.

Over the years I have observed him working with state

leaders, businessmen and women, educators, and students.

No matter who Dr. Muse came in contact with, the clear

message was always to find the best way to serve not only

the Hinds Community College district but also the entire

state of Mississippi.

Dr. Muse is a good listener, a pragmatic problem solver,

and an effective communicator who knows who to contact

for help. He also lets everyone involved feel as though

they were a part of the solution. I believe that no one in

Mississippi has had a more positive impact on education

over the last sixty-seven years than Dr. Clyde Muse, and it

has been my honor to serve with him.

Homer Burns, Ph.D.

Muse became president of then-Hinds Junior College

on July 1, 1978. He is the longest serving community

college president in Mississippi history and among the

longest serving college presidents in the nation. He is

often called the “godfather” of Mississippi community

colleges for his committed vision in moving all the colleges

forward and his ability to assemble diverse groups of

stakeholders to bring a project to fruition for the benefit

of all.

Most of all, however, he is known for his love for and

dedication to the students the college serves, and its

employees. Early in his presidency, he coined the term

“The College for All People” while working to ensure all

Mississippians have the opportunity for a quality, affordable

and accessible higher education.

“A great deal of appreciation is owed Dr. Muse for his

vision and leadership over the past four decades. It is

extremely rare for someone to hold a tenure of this

magnitude. Through these years, Dr. Muse has led the

college through a myriad of economic and social changes.

Amidst these changes, he has always demonstrated

strength, grace, dignity and 100 percent commitment to

putting students first. We all know that he is an exceptional

man with a servant’s heart.

Paul Breazeale



Hometown CLINTON • 31

Educate Your Child For Life,

Not Just Graduation.

K3-12th Grade




32 • MARCH 2020

Hometown CLINTON • 33

34 • MARCH 2020

Living Out Their Faith

Lindsey Lenoir

John O’Leary,

his wife Ashley,

and their three children

Jeremiah, McKenzie

and John-Mark, have all made

great additions to the Clinton community.

Having moved to Clinton during the

summer of 2018, the O’Leary family

quickly dove right in. According to Ashley,

“One of the things that stood out to me

was the level of community involvement

and the desire to connect by practically

everyone we met. We immediately felt a

part of something bigger. It was almost

like going back in time for me, having

grown up in a small town very similar

to Clinton.”

John was called to be the campus

pastor for Pinelake Clinton in early 2018.

He had previously served as the discipleship

pastor at Fellowship Bible Church

in Little Rock, Ark. Prior to that, John

served at Fellowships’ Cabot campus

as the associate campus pastor. John’s

familiarity with having served a church

with a multi-site model has allowed for

him to serve in a capacity that he feels God

had been preparing him for along the way.

“I felt God was calling me to pastor a

church, but not to necessarily preach.

With Pinelake’s multi-site model, I have

been able to shepherd this congregation

through guidance and leadership.”

Ministering to the congregation on a

more personal level is at the core of John’s

heart. And the desire to lead the church by

reaching the community on that personal

level is crucial in John’s opinion–“to show

that we serve a personal God,” he adds.

John didn’t always have that personal

relationship though. In spite of having

grown up in a devout Catholic home with

the knowledge that he needed to do right

and be right, it wasn’t until college that

John met Jesus Christ and experienced

that personal relationship for the first time.

“I had grown up in church doing the right

thing and fearing God. But I realized, in

college, that Jesus wanted to have a

relationship with me and it wasn’t just

about doing the right thing anymore.”

John had discovered what it truly meant to

‘do right’ by God according to his purposes

and it all started because someone invited

him to a Bible study. “We hung out, drank

coffee, and came face to face with Jesus,”

John remembers.

His faith would continue to grow in

the coming years and John would go on

to serve in many ministerial capacities.

John served as a student minister with

Student Mobile at the University of

Arkansas before heading to the Dallas

Theological Seminary. He then moved

to Ruston, Louisiana, or “the middle of

nowhere” as he calls it.

It was during his time there that he

would meet his future wife, Ashley.

Ashley McKenzie had lived in Ruston her

whole life. She was the granddaughter of a

Hometown CLINTON • 35

36 • MARCH 2020

Methodist minister and was brought up in

the Methodist church where she was a very

involved and active member. Ashley

graduated with her Master of Education

from Louisiana Tech in 2000 and would

go on to teach for two years before going

into full-time college ministry at the Wesley

Foundation at Tech.

Meanwhile, John was working as a

youth pastor at a local church. The couple

met and began dating for about a year

before they got married in 2003. A few

years later, they would begin their family,

starting with their son Jeremiah. The next

year they welcomed their daughter McKenzie

into the world, and the family would pack

up and move to Arkansas a few short

months after their youngest son, John-Mark,

was born. The O’Leary’s remained in

Little Rock until John was called to Clinton,

Mississippi, to be the campus pastor for the

Clinton campus of Pinelake’s multi-site


Since the O’Learys have been in Clinton,

they have experienced an outpouring of

what community really means. “We really

wanted to model that example of community

connection–so it only made sense for us to

move in town, go to the public schools, and

live out our faith as we went,” noted John.

The community has been blessed by

their intentionality, not only through John’s

ministry, but also through Ashley’s

involvement within our school system.

After having children, Ashley stayed home

for a while, but decided to go back to

teaching once the kids were of school age.

She had been back in the classroom for a

number of years when she decided to take

a job teaching at Eastside Elementary in

the fall of 2018. Ashley explains, “In Little

Rock, our kids went to private school.

When we moved here we chose to place

them in the public school and I took a job

working for the Clinton Public School

District. To be here in a small town, where

the whole community gets behind the

public school, is just really neat and we were

really excited for the kids to experience it.

Clinton is a very unique place, because

Clinton prides itself on quality education

and we have no doubt that our kids will be

100% ready for college.”

And working at CPSD helped Ashley

personally, as well. “Teaching here meant

instant community, and that was huge for

me. Family is what we do in Clinton. The

sense that the whole town is behind the

school when you are a Clinton Arrow allows

you to feel like you are a part of the community.

I can walk into anywhere and anyone

will just strike up a conversation. It’s slower

paced, and people aren’t too busy to just stop

and talk, and that is very endearing to me.”

Moving forward with outreach in the

community, John’s prayer is to see the veil

of ‘religion’ being torn. “There is a strong

religious feel in the community. With mere

religion, the focus is on following rules and

regulations, and we need to break it down.

We need more of the heart of Jesus, putting

others first, loving God and loving others.

I feel like we just get set in our ways

oftentimes and set in our traditions. We

need to meet people where they are and

show them kindness and mercy like Christ

shows us kindness and mercy. We need to

step into other peoples’ messes and meet

them where they are.”

Pinelake currently serves five communities

to include; Starkville, Oxford, the

Reservoir, Madison, and Clinton. They are

set to open a Florence campus in 2020.

John emphasizes, “Around 68% of people

living in Mississippi don’t have a church

home. What we’re here to do is reach the

city. Our vision is to see lives changed in

Mississippi, one life-change story at a time.

We have a goal of pouring into and reaching

the city through the schools and the college.

We have a large student and college ministry.

But a huge emphasis at Pinelake is small

groups. We want people to get connected–

to connect and to remind each other on a

weekly basis of the promises of God.”

John, Ashley, and their Pinelake family,

want to be a church known for living out

their faith and they want to see their

community desiring the same. “Living out

your faith means making a choice about

who you are following. Your faith should

define who you follow and where you go,

how you act, and what you do as a follower

of Christ,” John says. “What we want to

be about is helping people get to know the

Savior of the world. We have a saying about

grace at Pinelake: ‘It’s ok to not be ok, but

we love you too much to let you stay there.’”

John invites you to go to the Pinelake

website to find resources like online sermons,

and to discover the L3 app, and to also

check out the L3 journal – a tool used to

bring value to the Word in your life.

“We want to make this a part of who

you are and what you do in your life, to be

someone who learns from Christ, lives in

Christ, and leads others to Christ,”

he concluded.


Visit www.pinelake.org/clinton for

more information about service times,

outreach ministries, and online sermons.

Hometown CLINTON • 37

38 • MARCH 2020

Thanks to our readers and advertisers.

We appreciate you!

Hometown CLINTON • 39


Sky ’s



A New Look

at the Mississippi

State Fairgrounds

Erin Williams / Photos by Jason Jones

40 • MARCH 2020

As an integral part of Mississippi’s capital city,

the Mississippi State Fairgrounds plays a huge role

in economic development for the area and state as a whole

– larger, perhaps, than most realize. >>>>>>>>>>>>

Hometown CLINTON • 41

In fact,

the 105-acre campus that consists of

27 buildings, including the Mississippi

Coliseum, the Mississippi Trade Mart, and the

Kirk Fordice Equine Center, welcomes over

1.2 million visitors and hosts over 550 events

each year. The Mississippi State Fair and

Dixie National Livestock Show and Rodeo

are two of the top events, among many more.

After the appointment of Andy Gipson as

commissioner of agriculture and commerce,

and the resulting immediate hire of Steve

Hutton as executive director of the fair

commission, the fairgrounds have become

a major priority of revitalization and modernization.

While both residents and tourists,

alike, have surely noticed the construction

surrounding the campus, many don’t know

about all the intricate improvements taking

place that will contribute to an overall

improved, beautiful, and updated campus.

In March of 2018, after our state legislature

approved construction of a new trade mart,

then-Commissioner of Agriculture and

Commerce Cindy Hyde Smith broke ground

on the new facility. The very next month,

Hyde-Smith was appointed to the U.S.

Senate and Andy Gipson became the new

commissioner of agriculture and commerce,

inheriting quite a large new project.

“Beginning April 2, 2018, just a few days

after I came in office, I spent three days

walking around in every building on the

fairgrounds,” said Commissioner Gipson.

“I went in basements, the livestock barns,

the equine center, the armory, etc., because

I wanted to see, for myself, what needed to

be done. It was very noticeable to me during

those three days just how much these

buildings were in need of repair.”

Although construction of the new $30 million

trade mart (which will include three giant bays,

a brand new entryway and foyer that will be

finished with Mississippi-made lumber, three

café areas, and a brand new commercial

kitchen) had already been approved and

began in 2018, Commissioner Gipson, Steve

Hutton, and the rest of their team didn’t

want to neglect the other improvements that

needed to be made around the rest of the

campus, as well.

“We knew with the new trade mart we’d

also need improvements to the coliseum since

the new trade mart will be connected to the

coliseum. After all, the coliseum was built in

1962, so it was time for improvements,” said

Gipson. “One of the first improvements we

made was repairing all 44 white, exterior

columns on the coliseum. Many don’t realize

that these columns are actually water drains

that drain underground and they were

leaking and causing structural challenges

so we repaired the concrete and added

new epoxy coating.”

While the columns were being repaired,

they also cleaned and shined up all of the

windows, leading many to believe that new

windows had been installed. Another needed

and much welcomed improvement to the

coliseum will come in the form of new seating.

“The chairs in the coliseum are actually so

antiquated that no one makes them anymore.

In fact, you can’t even buy the parts to replace

them now. Throughout the years, we’ve had

to tear out chairs from the top to replace

seating down low because we don’t have

the ability to buy replacement parts. Because

of that, the legislature approved for all new

seating in the coliseum which is a very great

thing. We are very excited about that and

hope to have the seating fully complete

next year.”

42 • MARCH 2020

The livestock barns have also seen

improvements. New signage was added to

the barns for the first time in 20 years. Air

conditioning, which will also serve as heating

during the winter months, was added and

provided in the bathrooms for the first time

ever. All of the drains were cleaned out and

repaired, as well.

“One major thing we did to the livestock

barns was update the wiring. The barns were

built in the 1950s and the wiring was due for

an overhaul,” said Commissioner Gipson. “We

hired an in-house certified electrician who

rewired the entire livestock barn, completely

bringing all the electrical wiring and plugs to

current code. He also rewired all of the RV

connections outside, which resulted in over

500 outlets and breakers being repaired and

165 new RV slots being added.”

According to Commissioner Gipson, the

improvements made in the livestock barns

and RV park, alone, will allow for new

opportunities for the coliseum to host much

larger livestock shows and events than ever

before, which will generate additional

revenue throughout the years.

“While I’m passionate and excited about

the new trade mart and the improvements

we’ve been able to make to the coliseum

and fairgrounds as a whole, I’m most excited

about the agricultural and livestock improvements,”

said Commissioner Gipson. “Agriculture

and livestock is why we even have the

fairgrounds, these year-round events, and the

fair. It’s how it all started, and it needs to

remain the focus.”

In addition to these improvements, new

LED, energy-efficient lighting has been

installed throughout the coliseum, new security

cameras and lighting are in the process of

being installed throughout the property, and

over 1,000 horse stalls are being renovated

along with their corresponding barns.

Even though these improvements to the

fairgrounds campus will positively affect the

state in terms of more, larger events, that bring

in additional revenue, as well as provide an

overall better experience for existing events,

the effects of these improvements will go

even further than that.

“Not a lot of people know that the

Mississippi fairgrounds is the primary staging

ground of natural disaster response in

Mississippi,” said Brian Perry, chief of staff for

the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and

Commerce. “There have been times where

the Coliseum has opened up as a Red Cross

shelter, like during Hurricane Katrina years

ago, and we may have to feed and house

people in need. These repairs directly impact

that as well. These repairs are for everybody.”

Looking forward, future improvement

goals would be to repave and concrete the

parking lot, transform the old, vacant amory

building, and continue to add additional

parking spaces. > > > > > > > > > > > > > > > >

Hometown CLINTON • 43

“It’s hard for me to talk about these repairs without mentioning

how vital Steve Hutton has been in every aspect. I’ve got to give

him a lot of credit; he executes and implements the vision

for all of this, impeccably,” said Commissioner Gipson.

“He is someone that gets something done if he sees

it needs to be done and this is just as much a

part of his success story as it is for the state

of Mississippi. When all of this is finished,

I truly believe this will be a brand new

beginning for the Mississippi

Fairgrounds, and I’m excited

to witness it all.” l

44 • MARCH 2020

Hometown CLINTON • 45

46 • MARCH 2020


Hometown CLINTON • 47

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Hometown CLINTON • 49

The CHALKBOARD Clinton Schools

Clinton High

Clinton High School took three academic teams to Ole Miss for their

Fall Brain Brawl. The A Team made it all the way to the quarter finals.

A Team: Front - Abigail Vargheese, Catilin Carter (captain), Joshua Collins.

Back Row - Aaron Graves, Jacob Potter, Noah Prather.

B Team: Erin Bynum, Ann Olivia Radicioni (captain), Javian Ervin

Teacher Charlotte Walker is an inaugural member of the Mississippi

National Board Certified Teacher Network Executive Board. The Mississippi

NBCT Network held its first Learn and Lead Conference recently at Hinds

Community College’s Muse Center in Pearl. Among the day’s activities, the

NBCT Network members elected the inaugural members of the executive


“We are thrilled to have Mrs. Walker on the committee,” said Kelly Riley,

executive director of Mississippi Professional Educators, the organization that

sponsors the Mississippi NBCT Network. “She is a firm believer in National

Board Certification’s impact on an educator’s professional growth and student


Walker earned NBCT in Social Studies-History/Adolescence and Young

Adulthood in 2005 and renewed in 2015.

The Mississippi NBCT Network promotes professional learning

opportunities for and advocacy by Mississippians who are National Board

Certified Teachers. The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards

approves networks in individual states to identify opportunities to broaden the

influence of NBCTs and expand their influence to reform education.

As a member of the executive board, Walker will help develop the

Network’s priorities and program activities for the coming years. She is one of

six teachers elected from across the state and will serve a two-year term.

“We are proud to have Mrs. Walker representing Mississippi teachers,

and we are proud to call her an Arrow,” said Clinton High School Principal

Brett Robinson.

C Team: Abhay Cheruku, Jonathan Beard, Logan Salassi (captain), Shelby Kane

50 • MARCH 2020

Hundreds of children, parents and visitors come to the Clinton High front

office on any given week, where they are greeted by Amy Emerson with a

smile and a kind word.“She is always respectful to anyone who enters the

front office,” said CHS media specialist Loran Taylor. “She compiles the

Arrowhead, our online announcements, promptly every day.”

Her words and actions have not gone unnoticed; Emerson was the

recipient of the Clinton Public School District’s Dedication of Our Valued

Employees –or DOVE – customer service award for the month of November.

She was nominated by Taylor who praised her professionalism and

demeanor.“She is a great example of the customer service the district

offers to students, parents, teachers and the community,” Taylor said.

“One of our top priorities as a school district is customer service, and we

appreciate employees like Mrs. Emerson who are making a difference in the

lives of the students we serve,” said Dr. Tim Martin, superintendent of schools.

CHS teacher Mina Darnell is the Clinton Public School District’s 2019-20 Teacher of the Year.

Presenting her award are (from left) Assistant Superintendent Anthony Goins,

Superintendent Dr. Tim Martin and CHS Principal Brett Robinson.

Clinton High School teacher Mina Darnell actively encourages her students to engage in their

lessons and ask questions. “Some of my best teaching moments came from students asking questions,

and no question is a bad question,” she said. “Student questions provide a great opportunity for

me to understand where the student is confused. Questions also promote classroom discussion.”

Her ability to encourage students and keep them engaged has not gone unnoticed; on

Thursday, Darnell was named the Clinton Public School District’s 2019-20 Teacher of the Year.

She received the award in a surprise presentation at CHS.

“Never a dull moment, that’s how I would describe Mrs. Darnell’s honors level Algebra III and

Humanities classes,” said CHS Principal Brett Robinson. “From the moment students enter her room,

she is pushing them to be successful. Whether working independently or collaboratively, I can

always count on seeing the teacher and students busy at work no matter the day or time.”

Darnell has taught at Clinton High School since 1989, with courses including Algebra I, Geometry,

Algebra II, Honors Trigonometry, ACT prep, Humanities (ACT/PSAT prep), Honors Pre-Calculus, and

Honors Algebra III. She has served as the CHS math department chair since 2012.

In addition to her teaching duties, Darnell has also coached several athletic teams including

girls’ basketball, fastpitch softball, and slow pitch softball. She holds an associate degree from

Hinds Community College and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Mississippi College.

As CPSD’s Teacher of the Year, she will go on to represent Clinton in the Mississippi Teacher of

the Year program this spring hosted by the Mississippi Department of Education.

Students in the Clinton High Career Complex culinary arts program recently

held a Dessert Garnish Challenge. Students had to temper chocolate and use

it to design a dessert plate. The winner was Samira Wakem.

Attache’ Show Choir’s alumni dinner theatre was held on January 25th. The fundraising event

combines delicious cuisine, a silent auction and amazing talent on stage. This year’s performing

alumni included: Jordan Carmean, Casey Collier, Jill Duckworth Comfort, Kendall Sparks, and David

Zhu. Special emcees for the dinner were ‘96 Attache’ alumni: Tiffany Thornton Kopfinger, Brandi

Nation Myers, Nicole Walker Register, and Brittany Wagner. Guests also got to see the Attache’

2020 competition set.

Hometown CLINTON • 51

The CHALKBOARD Clinton Schools

Lovett Elementary

Congratulations to Lovett Elementary School students who won

the character trait award for Gratefulness.

Front: Shruti Singh, Ethan Dodson, Carlos Barrientos, Jhayla Bradley, Nga Nguyen

Middle: Jenna Ward, Ava Grace Oswalt, Harmonii Forbes,

Murphy Schoggen, John Mark O’Leary, Hayden Hunt

Back: Mason Meeks, Edgerrin Washington, Jaiden Jefferson,

Davon Merchant, Aiden McGloster

Eastside Elementary

Eastside Elementary School student Aashrita Cheruku participated in the

Sacred Heart Mississippi Chess Tournament in Southaven. She earned second place

in the K-6 division. Aashrita is the daughter of Raja and Sravanthi Cheruku of Clinton.

Assistant Hinds County district attorney Gwen Agho visited Lovett

to speak to gifted classes and Mrs. Jennifer Smith’s class about choosing

a career in law and her life as a prosecutor. Agho is a former student of

Mrs. Smith and Dr. Mike Pope, Lovett principal.

Gifted teacher Ellen Brunson, Gwen Agho, gifted teacher Felicia Hudson.

Clinton Junior High

7th Grade Character Trait Award for Responsibility

Back: Brittan Wall, Kara Campbell, Pyper Finch, Isabella Blandon, Ted Klopman

Front: Abigail Thomas, Grayson Fortenberry, Sarah Blake Thompson,

J’Lee Lindsey, Ashton Davis

Christ Covenant

The 2020 Christ Covenant School Board of Trustees.

Matt Grenfell, Kathy Beard, Catherine Stradinger, Mary Shelton Gamblin,

Phil Wilson (Chairman), Jonathan Werne, Kap Primos, Mark Brown,

Rod Russ, Mark Kosko, and Bill Creel.

52 • MARCH 2020

8th Grade Character Trait Award for Responsibility

Front: Taleya Horton, James Mabry, Braydon Walsh, Thomas Martin,

Leslie Brunson, CHrisitan Wilker, Abtsum Abdulla, Alexa Duncan, Ashley Duke,

Mina Jiang, Akeylah Harris, Christian Downsing, Zaccheaus Laury

Back: Macie Burgess, Reaghan Miller, Claire Roberts, Zoie Zumbro,

Sarah Polk, Kennedy Neal, Sofia Pamudji

Sumner Hill

The following students received a character trait award for Gratefulness.

They will receive a Chick-fil-A lunch courtesy of the Clinton Chick-fil-A.

Row 1: Ava Kendall, Kylie Silverman, Noelle Nasekos, Zoie Chambers, Kristine Van,

Ella Goolsby, Tyler Latham, Rosel Ramos

Row 2: Amber Baugh, Cautious Catchings, Simone Pippins, Tiara Smith, Tamari Dowell

Row 3: Griffin Berch, Patrick Hayman, Preston Davis, Sebastian Pettry

Row 4: Kenneth Andrews, Avuntaye Hargrove, Blake Wiginton, Savion Townsend

Not Pictured: Ray Freeman

Sumner Hill recognized 25 students for demonstrating the character trait of

Attentiveness. They will receive a lunch courtesy of Chick -fil-A of Clinton.

First Row: Elizabeth Ledford, Ke’Undrea Gibson, Quade Ramsay,

Kristine Van, Sabrina Strasser

Second Row: Erin Wilson, Serenity Ybarra, Isaac Morgan, Qhy’Jaivyian Carter

Third Row: Rosel Ramos, Kealy Wilson, Layton Horne, Rinnah Long;

Fourth Row: Victor Robinson, Amber Baugh, Skyla Berry, Makayla Dotson,

Ashley Hernandez, Jacob McElroy;

Fifth Row: Landon Parker, Stone Braley, William Stavely, Adit Patel

Not Pictured: Olivia Newman, Cornelius Taylor

Clinton High School graduate and assistant director of Outreach for Get2College,

Tori Langworthy, spoke to Sumner Hill Junior High students regarding the

importance of working hard academically, getting involved,

and making good decisions as high school students.

Congratulations to this year’s BOSS (Business Opportunities for Student Success)

Challenge business team at Sumner Hill Junior High: Zoie Chambers, Katie Tracy,

Trace Arthur, and Blake Little. For eight weeks, these students managed a business

and competed against juniors and seniors from several schools in Arkansas. Sumner Hill

placed second overall in total profits and also placed second in their presentation to

the board of directors. These are the only Mississippi students who had the

opportunity to compete in this challenge.

Sumner Hill is celebrated National School Counselor Week February 3-6.

The purpose is to educate others about the job description of school counselors

and advocate for this outstanding profession which makes a positive difference

for students’ academic, social, emotional and career success.

Sean Rogers, Mississippi College School counseling intern, Heather Norton,

school counselor at Sumner Hill, Colby Poag, Simone Pippins, Robert Perry,

Christian Patton, Michael Odie, and Nathan Nguyen

Earlier this year, Sumner Hill teacher and social studies department chair

Roxanna Arcement was asked to become one of two lesson plan contributors for the

Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s online publication, MS History Now.

Her first lesson plan on the Citizens’ Council during the Civil Rights Movement

is featured in its latest issue.

Hometown CLINTON • 53

The CHALKBOARD Clinton Schools

Northside Elementary

ACCENT Students had the pleasure of learning about weather forecasting,

green screening, collecting weather data, and creating computer graphics

from local WJTV meteorologist, John Conway. The students will use this

knowledge to research, write, create, and report on a natural disaster of

their choosing.

Hudson Burnside & Teyanna Smith Addison Rosado & Lily Williams Addie Threadgill & Lillian Brown Braley Montgomery & James Pope

Second-graders at Northside Elementary in Clinton are reading the book Stellaluna and learning about bats and owls.

To incorporate science into their language arts lesson, students also dissected owl pellets.

54 • MARCH 2020

More than 100 veterans visited Northside Elementary for the school’s annual Veterans

Day program. “We always invite veterans in our community to join us for this special event

so we can thank them for their service,” said Northside Principal Mandy Ambrose.

The day began with a breakfast for veterans hosted by the Northside PTO. During the

Veterans Day program, LTC Marcos Rogers spoke to students about what it means to

sacrifice for others and how it is our duty to help those who can’t help themselves. Music

teacher Nancy Leigh Strum led students in several patriotic songs. Students involved in

Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts were encouraged to wear their scouting uniforms.

The Clinton High School band began the program with the national anthem and ended

with the “Armed Forces Medley.”

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to honor the men and women who have

sacrificed on our behalf,” Ambrose said.

Students wrote essays thanking current and former members of the military.

Essay contest winners pictured with Principal Mandy Ambrose include (from left)

Colton Cox, Suzanne Hoffman, Diego Matta-O’Dwyer and Brooklyn Evans.

As the Clinton High School band played the “Armed Forces Medley,”

students waved American flags.

LTC Marcos Rogers spoke to students about what it means to sacrifice for others

and how it is our duty to help those who can’t help themselves.

Students involved in Boy Scouts or

Girl Scouts were encouraged

to wear their scouting uniform.

L-R: David and William Howell

with their mother Lindsay Howell.

Principal Mandy Ambrose and

Assistant Principal Leslie Alexander.

Alicia Scott is the kind of teacher who

works with all students and looks for ways

to help others in the classroom. “She is an

example of someone who makes our

school a better place,” said her co-worker,

Tammy Miller. “She is a terrific role model

due to her dedication, hard work, positive

attitude, dependability and showing

kindness to others.”Her co-worker Julie

Meeks agreed, praising her work with a

sight-impaired student.“She displays the

patience of Job and always has a smile

on her face,” Meeks said. “We are a big

family at Northside and Alicia Scott is a

loved and respected member.”

Scott is the recipient of the Clinton

Public School District’s Dedication of Our

Valued Employees – or DOVE – customer

service award for the month of January.

She was nominated by multiple teachers

at Northside.

“She is always willing to lend a

helping hand to any child who needs it,”

said Kim Price. “She always goes above

and beyond her duties as an assistant.

She does anything that is asked of her

and always with a smile.”

Hometown CLINTON • 55

The CHALKBOARD Clinton Schools


At its January meeting, the Clinton School Board honored 2019-20

Teachers of the Year.

Front L-R: CPSD Teacher of the Year Mina Darnell, Clinton High; Teachers of the

Year Teresa DeLaughter, Lovett Elementary; Kristen Mullins, Eastside Elementary;

Judy Adkisson, Northside Elementary; Stephanie Morgan, Clinton Park Elementary

Back L-R: Don Collins, Clinton Success Center; Col. Tim Prater, CHS Career Complex;

Dr. Veressa Coyt, Sumner Hill Junior High; and Garrett Rushing, Clinton Junior High.

CPSD board secretary Princess Barber swears in Bernard Kines as the newest

member of the Clinton Public School District Board of Trustees. Kines replaces

Kenny Lewis, who left the board after being elected a Justice Court Judge in

Hinds County.

The Clinton Public School District Board of Trustees recently added a new member.

Board members include (from left) Derek Holmes, Dr. Matt Thomas, Paula DeYoung,

Dr. Felicia Gavin and Bernard Kines.

The Clinton Public School District Administrator of the Year is Tamikia Billings,

principal of Clinton Junior High (left). Presenting her award is Clinton School

Board President Paula DeYoung.

Melanie Clyatt, speech-language

pathologist in the Clinton Public

School District, was appointed state

education advocacy leader for the

Mississippi Speech-Language-

Hearing Association for 2020.

This position works to enhance and

maintain the advocacy, leadership,

and clinical management skills of

school-based speech-language

pathologists and audiologists at

the state and local level in order

to influence administrative and

public policy decisions that affect

the delivery of speech and hearing

services in schools.

Joe Ricketts, right, founder and former CEO of TD Ameritrade, visited the Clinton

Public School District to learn more about its grade structure, equity in education,

and the high standards CPSD sets for all students. During his visit he met with

CPSD’s first Superintendent Dr. Virgil Belue (left) and current Superintendent

Dr. Tim Martin. Rickett is planning to found a school in the Chicago area and is

researching successful models for equity in education.

56 • MARCH 2020

100 Mt. Salus Drive • www.firstmethodistclinton.org • 601-924-6671

TheTime COIN

Camille Anding

The spacious living room with its

full-length picture window was

the gathering place for all special

company in my childhood home.

I own two of her craftsman quilts. I keep one high

on a safe shelf and the other on our bed. Each time

I turn back the covers or make our bed, I view the

However, there were approximately two months

of exceptions – Mother’s quilting months, January

and February.

It was largely during Daddy’s retirement days

when he could push back the large sectional couch

and coffee tables to set up Mother’s queen-size quilting

frame. The sprawling wooden apparatus held the fabric

canvas where she would fashion artistry with swatches

of bright fabrics and countless stitches. She created

them mainly for colorful warmth, but they were more

than that to me.

Daddy kept her company in a nearby chair where

he would read or discuss family matters with her

while she sat fastened to her soft canvas. Together

they would reminisce about younger days and glean

happy thoughts from family accomplishments.

Stitch after stitch would slowly move to the

completion of my mother’s quilts. Some she

would personalize with the recipient’s name,

but all were masterfully stitched in threads

of affection – a gift of at least one

for each child and grandchild.

patterned covering with a fondness that only mothers

understand. I sometimes pause to run my fingertips

over the tiny, straight, handmade stitches that place the

elite quilters into a class of their own. The time, patience

and skill are sewn into every inch of her warming

“tapestries,” and feeling her stitches has a way of keeping

her close even though she and Daddy were transplanted

to their heavenly home years ago.

Some family members believe Mother would want

her quilts to go on family picnics and make quilt tents

in the playroom. “We need to enjoy them,” they say.

As for me, I could never stand or step on Mother’s cloth

canvases any more than I would choose to step on a

Rembrandt painting.

With every quilt, she was stitching in her last years

of earthly time and increasing love for her family. I was

confident of that love and am assured that every quilt

showcased not just her craftsmanship but also her

unwavering love of family.

The grave may rob us of our loved one’s physical

touch, but I will always be able to feel my mother’s

loving touch every time I trace the stitches in

her quilts. ●

58 • MARCH 2020

Hometown CLINTON • 59


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