Create successful ePaper yourself

Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.



V 7 #6



Providing Strength,

Hope and Guidance for

Your Divorce.

Mel Coxwell P.A.

A Family Law Firm


20 Eastgate Dr. Suite E

Brandon, MS 39042


Experience that Matters for a Brighter Tomorrow

memories are made at

drive thru safari park

safari rides - birthday parties - weddings

class field trips - hundreds of animals

special events - catering - observation deck

steakhouse - tavern - buffet

retail shopping - mississippi artisans

meat market - bakery

-and so much more-

Visit our website today!



every day!


WWW.MCCLAIN.MS | 601-829-1101

6 • JUNE 2020




It has been since early spring that it’s more difficult to

hear good news than bad. That’s why I’m excited about

this issue. Its full of good news!

We have Rankin County students that have excelled in

their young years and we are thrilled to focus attention on

them and their achievements. Only God knows why the

class of 2020 missed out on the traditional celebrations,

but good always shines—even in dark times.

Achieving doesn’t stop with high school graduates—

it extends to the business world of hard workers and

leaders in their professions. What a delight and pleasure

it is to highlight perseverance and contributions to our

county through the recognition of our “Top 40 Under 40”


Today I woke up to the sun rising. We would have dark

days without its expected appearance. I breathed clean

air and never once thought about the next heart beat that

would sustain my life. We do take so much for granted.

There’s no other country I would wish to call home, and

certainly this place I call my hometown. Stay positive!

There’s always good news! l



Tahya A. Dobbs


Kevin W. Dobbs


Mary Ann Kirby


The Way We Were 8

Top 40 Under 40 16

Putting Your Best Foot Forward 37

The Attitude of Gratitude 49

Flags of Honor 50

Standout Seniors 57

Where Are They Now? 89

Hometown Family 96

Salute to First Responders 104

Rankin Greets Lesotho 108

The Chalkboard 114

The Time Coin 122



Brenda McCall


Lindsey Dees



Alisha Floyd

...see you around town.


Daniel Thomas - 3dt



Caroline Hodges


Othel Anding

www.facebook.com/hometownrankinmagazine. 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 Rankin may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. The management of Hometown Rankin is not responsible for opinions expressed by its writers or editors.

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

Hometown RANKIN • 7

The way

WE were

Ruth & John Lowe Smith

Camille Anding

There are stockpiles of negative

experiences surrounding blind

dates, but the blind date that the

school secretary arranged between

Ruth Miller of Yazoo City and

John Lowe Smith of Jackson was

a slam dunk in permanent

relationships. They celebrated

their 51st wedding anniversary on

February 8th of 2020.

It wasn’t a love-at-first-sight

experience for either on that first

September date. Ruth was a

fifth-grade teacher at Annie Ellis

Elementary School in Yazoo City

out of her first year of college, and

John Lowe was at Yazoo City Junior

High employed as a P.E. coach,

history teacher, and assistant to the

high school football coach. Ruth

assumed he wasn’t interested

because a month passed before she

heard from him again.

When he did arrange another

date and presented her with

birthday flowers, he was quick to

see there were other bouquets

from other suitors. That was an

enlightening moment for John

Lowe who was already attracted to

her “stunning good looks.” Another

enlightening moment came when

Ruth prepared a date night meal.

Now her culinary talents were an

added quality to his true love.

After that second date, John

Lowe admits, “She had me from

the go!” During their continued

dating through October and

November, they both knew they

had found their forever love. Ruth

said about their flourishing romance,

“This is the one! I just knew.”

Thanksgiving celebrations came

with a surprise – an engagement

ring. They planned a June wedding

and then moved it to an earlier

date in March. Then February 8th

was the big date when they were

joined as husband and wife at

First Presbyterian Church in

Yazoo City, Mississippi.

The years that followed were

years deeply involved in coaching

and classrooms. John Lowe took

the position of high school football

coach in Belzoni, Mississippi, their

first year of marriage, and Ruth

taught first grade. The principal’s

son was one of her students, so

when the son advanced to second

grade, the principal moved Ruth to

that grade. That move by her first

principal was an early indication of

her teaching skills that would touch

lives over the next forty-nine years.

In four years, the couple moved

to Edwards, Mississippi, the home

base for Ruth’s teaching position

in Vicksburg and John Lowe’s high

school football coaching at Rebul

Academy in Learned. That move

was marked with sadness in the

early days. Both their moms passed

away within two weeks of each

other. Ruth says of those years,

“In our losses, friends in our

schools and new hometown

adopted us into their families.”

John Lowe’s coaching talents

showed up on the scoreboards.

As coach at Rebul, he won thirty

games and lost one. After being

honored to coach at the Mississippi

All Stars for Mississippi Private

Schools Association, he was asked

to go to Jackson Prep as assistant

football coach and head track

coach. In the five years there, he

won five state track meets with the

boys and one with the girls. Some

of the Prep moms insisted Ruth

interview for a sixth grade teaching

position at First Presbyterian Day

School. That hire made them a

8 • JUNE 2020

“We lose and

we win together,

but we stay


part of a new family which the

couple described as a school that

was “very supportive.”

John Lowe’s next offer came

from Woodland Hills Baptist

Academy where his role advanced

to high school principal, head

football coach and athletic

director. This meant Ruth would

also assume more responsibilities

in raising their two children, Kim

and John David. With John Lowe

being away from home so much,

Ruth became the main disciplinarian

and the “grounds keeper”

when John Lowe wasn’t available.

She recalls a birthday party she

was hosting which included

mowing their lawn as part of the

necessary preparation.

Coach John Lowe realized the

loser mentality the school had

soon after he took on his multiple

duties. They had never had a

winning season. He immediately

began to treat that negative state

of mind. His record shows a win

over Jackson Prep for Conference

Championship, the AAA Win in

South Mississippi and his being

selected The Clarion-Ledger

Jackson Metro Coach of the

Year for 1982.

Ruth never missed a game

during his coaching days and still

recalls the challenging weekends

of Friday night high school games

and then onto Ole Miss games on

Saturdays (they are staunch Ole

Miss Fans.) Family life definitely

revolved around football.

John Lowe remembers a sweet

moment when young son John

David got to be on the sidelines

with his dad and team. On a

nail-biter third down and short

yardage, John David tore down

the sideline and ran back with his

small hands extended, showing

the needed distance, “We only

need this much, Daddy!”

After eighteen years of

coaching, John Lowe retired.

When the desire to be on the

field left, he knew it was time,

but family and marriage growth

continued. As for family life they

are grateful they did everything

together. Their nine grandchildren

continue to embrace their strong

family circle.

John Lowe’s coaching

philosophy blended into their

marriage success.“We were and

are a team; we lose and we win

together, but we stay together.”

Ruth encourages young married

couples to recognize Jesus as the

rock you must have. From early

on, God and church were, and

remain, a priority for the two.

The interview couldn’t end

without an explanation of how a

quiet, laid-back personality like

John Lowe could coach like a

typical “fired-up” coach. He said,

“I told my players I would never

cuss them – I might scream

during practice, but it was always

to help make them a better player.

If I stop shouting at you, you

better worry because I’ve forgotten

about you!” This mild-mannered

coach even admitted that he

would have to “fabricate” a mad

mood during halftime.

Ruth still admits that John

Lowe’s “cute calves in his coaching

shorts” always were an attraction

to her, but his eternal optimism

and positive attitude are his

enduring qualities. John Lowe

describes Ruth as a gifted

friend-maker, because she is a


In their retired, senior years,

it’s not unusual for them to run

into former team members and

students. I’m certain all those

former students agree that a

combination of this couple’s virtues

would be an attainment for a

lifetime of winning seasons. l

Hometown RANKIN • 9

10 • JUNE 2020

CALL NOW: 601-401-3299

Hometown RANKIN • 11

12 • JUNE 2020



Kathy MANGUM ________

Why did you decide to make Rankin County

your home?

My family has lived in Star for many years. My

grandfather moved here from the Greenfield

community to open Mangum’s Store. When

my parents married, they made the decision to

build their life here running the rural grocery

store. Star is a tight-knit community where

everybody knows your name and you are always

surrounded by people who love and support you.

How long have you lived in Rankin County?

I have lived here all my life and love it. I attended

kindergarten through twelfth grade in the

Florence school system. It was the only school

in the area at that time. I attended Belhaven

University receiving a bachelor’s degree in

education and made the easy decision to teach in

the Rankin County School System. After a few

years, I continued my education at Mississippi

College to become a school counselor. Helping

students and watching them succeed made for

such a rewarding career. I am proud of all Rankin

County schools and proud to have served at

both Northwest Rankin and McLaurin.

Tell us about your family.

My husband Zac and I have a home on the farm

my parents bought when they first married. He

served in the U. S. Navy and is a currently a pilot

in corporate aviation. I now enjoy working for

the Mississippi Department of Education in the

counseling department. My mom lives just across

the road that now divides the farm. She is now

and has always been very involved in our local

community and civic organizations, and served

this community for 40 years as the postmaster.

I have one son, Cass Brister, a high school

baseball coach, a wonderful daughter-in-law

Katie, an orthodontic tech, and two of the most

amazing grandson’s on the planet, Reece and


What is your favorite memory of living in

Rankin County?

My memories all center around growing up in

this small town, riding my bike down the middle

of the road, dragging my feet off the back of the

pick up truck, swimming in the lake, summertime

community softball, watching baseball

games, the Star Country Club, time spent in

youth activities at Wesleyanna United Methodist

Church (where I’m still a member), spending

time with friends and always finding ways to

have fun. These memories might seem small

but they are a significant part of who I am


Where are your three favorite places to eat

in Rankin County?

My family loves to eat at Jerry’s Catfish and my

husband and I enjoy date nights at Table 100.

My new favorite is Bangkok Thai!

What are some fun things to do in Rankin

County on the weekends?

We enjoy time at our cabin on my husband’s

family farm. Cooking steak in the outdoor

fireplace, watching ducks on the lake, napping

in the hammock, and just taking it easy makes

for some pretty special times. And of course,

weekends are always fun when we have the


Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

In my spare time I love taking walks, working

in the yard, swimming, spending time with

friends, family gatherings, and traveling to just

about anywhere!

What are three things on your bucket list?

I love the adventure of travel and have been

able check a few bucket list places off. But those

remaining are New Zealand, Australia, South

Africa, Scotland, Greece, and the Scandinavian

countries. It is so exciting to visit new places–

but no matter where I go, I’m always glad to

come home. I would love own a vacation home

in the mountains and go on an African photo


Who is someone you admire and why?

I most admire my mama, Dora Jean Mangum

Whatley. She is strong, sweet, kind, thoughtful,

talented, smart, and a truly amazing person.

She gives of her time to her church, her family

and her community. I’ve always wanted to be

just like her! She is such a strong woman and

the greatest role model in my life. I can’t say

enough good things about her. She is everything

I aspire to be.

Where do you see yourself ten years from


I’ll still live in Star in the same house but

occasionally visiting that vacation home in

the mountains, likely during the hot summer

months. I’ll still be taking a nice trip at least

once a year. As mentioned above, I have lots

of places to go. I’ll still be enjoying those sweet

grand boys and I’ll still love time spent with

my family and friends.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

Gathering at my Mamaw’s house here in Star

with all my aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was

always a big event with tables full of good

country food followed by watermelon and

homemade ice cream outside under the big

pecan tree.

If you could give us one encouraging quote,

what would it be?

“Home is where love resides, memories are

created, friends always belong, and laughter

never ends.”

What is your favorite thing about Hometown


I love Hometown Rankin Magazine! It’s both classy

and fun. It keeps me connected with people,

businesses and events happening in our

awesome county.

Hometown RANKIN • 13

When Care at Home is Not Enough…

We’re Here For You!

(601) – 664 - 1966


14 • JUNE 2020

Are we more

accessible than ever?

Bank on it.

With the myTrustmark ® app — plus an

extensive network of drive-thrus and

ATMs — it’s easy to connect with us. So you

can bank your way, anytime, anywhere.

Visit trustmark.com to learn more.


Hometown RANKIN • 15




Rankin’s Best of the Best Top 40 Under 40 recognizes the very best young professionals

that Rankin County has to offer. They are industry disruptors and innovators of all types.

They are the best in their fields and will be instrumental in leading us through the new

wave of technology and ways of doing business that have resulted from changes

in the workplace over the last few months.

Criteria for consideration required that candidates must be under the age of 40 at

the time of selection and both live and work in Rankin County. Nominations were

solicited from the public—with the top 40 being selected by committee.

Winners will be celebrated with an awards luncheon on

June 23rd at the Brandon Municipal Complex.

16 • JUNE 2020

Hometown RANKIN • 17

Timothy R. Alexander II

Tameika LaDanya Cooper Bennett

Brook Burt

Back Porch Realty

Moore-Page Insurance Agency

Heart of the South Homes, LLC

Timothy R. Alexander II, more commonly

known as “Alex,” is a jack of all trades, serving

simultaneously as a realtor, insurance agent,

and contractor. He is involved in the Flowood

Chamber of Commerce and serves on the

deacon team at Pinelake Church’s Reservoir

campus. Alex’s hobbies include hunting,

fishing, and playing tennis, and he is a proud

graduate of Mississippi College in Clinton.

“I would have to say that building my first

house is my greatest career achievement to

date. I was put in a management role very early

on in my career, and I quickly learned that while

you cannot know it all, as long as you know

where to find the answer, you will be just fine.

Surrounding myself with mentors and listening/

reaching out to them helped me to overcome

the difficulties that naturally arise in the

business world.”

“My grandfather instilled in me early on that

success is earned. If he told me one time, he

told me a thousand times, ‘Success is the

product of when opportunity and preparation

intersect!’ This statement has had a great

impact on my career!”

Bennett Law Office, PLLC

Tameika Bennett is an attorney with Bennett

Law Office, of which she is also the owner and

managing partner. She received her bachelor’s

degree from Mississippi State University in 2005

and went on to gain her juris doctor from the

University of Mississippi School of Law in 2008.

In the community, Tameika serves as a troop

leader in the Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi, as

a board member for Project Impact Mississippi,

she’s treasurer for The Salvation Army Echelon

group, and is a member of Madison County

Mississippi Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma

Theta Sorority. In her free time, Tameika enjoys

singing, writing, mentoring, and debating.

“In 2019, I was selected as a Leader in Law

for the Mississippi Business Journal. Practicing

law is often competitive and can sometimes be

fairly combative. It was quite an honor to be

recognized as a leader in my field, and I

consider this to be one of my highest

achievements in my career.”

“True success is not determined by money

– a good name is more valuable. This piece of

advice resonates with me, as I always operate

from a place of integrity. I believe that honesty

is vital and I would rather be hated for telling

the truth than loved for lying.”

Insurance Protection Specialists

Brook Burt gained her Bachelor of Business

Administration from Mississippi College and

now serves as an insurance agent. Brook is a

part of the Pearl Police Women’s Auxiliary,

serves as the team recruitment chair at

Mississippi Alzheimer’s Foundation, and is a

member of Reservoir Career Women as well

as The Network Connection. She is also a

member of the Rankin, Flowood, and Pearl

Chambers. Brook’s hobbies include cooking,

travelling, and spending time with her family.

She enjoys being outdoors with her dogs, pigs,

and chickens, and tending to her little orchard

of fruit trees.

“My proudest moment in my career thus

far was being nominated as Rankin’s Top 5

Insurance Agents after my first year of being

an agent. ”

“My dad is a retired law enforcement officer

and I have learned so much from him over the

years on being a compassionate person who

has a heart for service. Since I was a little girl, I

watched my dad treat everyone the same from

a corporate CEO to a maintenance worker.

That really resonated with me, to treat

everyone and my community with respect.

That is why I view each customer not just as a

policy but as a person worthy of my respect.”

18 • JUNE 2020

top 40 under 40

Christine Elaine Cody

Andrew A. Comans

Lynsey Cumberland

Makeup by Cody, LLC

Christine Cody of Pearl is a proud member

of Greater Jackson’s Art Council, as well as Mad

Genius Studios. Christine has the unique talent

of performing hula hoop tricks as a dance form

and fitness technique! She is also a self-taught

guitarist and vocal performer, and has traveled

from New Orleans to the West Coast singing at

open mics at various bars throughout.

“My success and accomplishments are by

far more than I ever expected, but what makes

me most proud is being in the moment with

each person. It gives me great confidence and

a sense of accomplishment knowing that I can

bring satisfaction, confidence, and self-love to

every person I service! I am also very proud of

my makeup formula - I call it The Makeup by

Cody Glam Program! I have narrowed down

the makeup process into an easy step by step

process that I show and teach my clients

struggling in their routine. They leave with a list

of products and step by step instructions on how

to apply makeup and take care of their skin.”

“The best business advice I’ve ever been

given is ‘don’t chase people!’ Do your best and

you’ll attract the people who are meant to be in

your life.”

Trustmark Financial Services

Andrew Comans is a financial consultant

and assistant vice president with Trustmark. He

currently serves as the president of Leadership

Rankin 2020-21, board treasurer for Southern

Christian Services for Children and Youth, and

is a member of First Baptist Church in Brandon.

Andrew’s hobbies include playing with his

daughter, Ella, hunting, being outdoors, and


“Though this may be prior to my career,

graduating summa cum laude from Mississippi

College is what I consider my greatest

achievement–not because of the honor, but

because my grandfather always believed I

could. He would often talk with me about it.

My grandfather passed away during my college

years, and I was glad to be able to honor his

memory by achieving this goal of ours that he

was so passionate about.”

“This information was passed to me after

my mother passed away: she always told her

commission-based employees to ‘never worry

about the commission a product would pay.

Do right and treat others well, and God will

take care of you.’ I have found this to be true,

and carry it with me as some of the best advice

I’ve ever received.”

Cumberland Family Dentistry

Dr. Lynsey Cumberland is a dentist with

Cumberland Family Dentistry and a graduate

of Mississippi College and UMMC School of

Dentistry. She completed her advanced

education in general dentistry residency at

UMMC and now serves as a member of the

American Dental Association, the Academy of

General Dentistry, and the Mississippi Dental

Association. In her free time, Lynsey enjoys

baking desserts, planting flowers, and playing

with her micro mini goldendoodle, Cooper.

“I am most proud of bringing new procedures

and the latest technology to our office. The

high-quality treatment options and services

that I am now able to provide to patients

include implants, cone beam CT imaging,

braces, and even Botox!”

“The best business advice I have received

was given to me as a young child. ‘Treat others

as you would like to be treated’ provides

valuable insight into not just business but all

facets of life. Treating patients involves so

much more than just their smile. Personal

connections and authentic relationships are

crucial to build the trust necessary to treat

someone effectively. You never know what

someone is dealing with outside of our office

walls, so showing kindness, compassion and

mutual respect goes a long way to showing

someone you truly care not just for their oral

health but their overall well-being.”

Hometown RANKIN • 19

Thomas Eastland

Misty Rachell Edwards

Emily Sistrunk Fisher

Community Bank

Thomas Eastland is currently a vice president

with Community Bank, works as a lender and

branch manager of the Dogwood Branch, and

is very involved in our community. He is a board

member in the Rankin County Chamber of

Commerce, is the chairman of Youth Leadership

Committee, is a trustee for the Adult Leadership

Program, and coaches a six-year-old baseball

team called the Community Bank White

Lightning. Thomas enjoys spending quality

time with his wife and two children, deer and

turkey hunting, grilling, cooking, and going to

the beach.

“The career achievement that makes me

the most proud is the opportunity to assist

customers through the process of starting their

own businesses. I have had the opportunity to

help customers get their businesses from just

an idea to now a successful business that is

truly impacting our community, and that makes

all the hard work and challenges worthwhile.”

“Work to be as efficient as possible while on

the job so you can turn your phone off when

you get home and have efficient quality time

with your family. True success is balancing

both. This advice is something I have taken to

heart, and has resonated with me throughout

my career journey.”

Trustmark National Bank

Misty Edwards is a commercial relationship

manager and vice president with Trustmark

National Bank. Misty is a lifetime member of the

Junior Auxiliary of Rankin County, ambassador

for the Rankin County Chamber of Commerce,

and she serves as a junior high school Sunday

school teacher at Crossroads Baptist Church.

Spending time with her family and pets, running,

gardening, reading, local missions, missions in

Reynosa Mexico, and volunteering at Stewpot

Ministries are some of the things Misty likes to

do in her spare time.

“I am most proud of being a part of making

dreams into realities for businesses as they put

their trust and confidence in my ability to guide

and direct them to help achieve their goals.

I love watching my customers find happiness

in their success!”

“‘Put your heart and soul into every activity

you do, as though you are doing it for the Lord

Himself and not merely for others.’

– Colossians 3:23. This verse pushes me to

work harder, be better, and show love to others.

It creates the drive that has allowed me to have

several professions in my career at Trustmark,

where I have made lifelong friends and

acquired invaluable knowledge.”

Renasant Bank – Pearl Branch

Emily Fisher is a Pearl High School graduate

and now serves as the lending branch manager

for the Pearl branch of Renasant Bank. Emily is

a member of Springfield Baptist Church and is

honored to be president of the Pearl Chamber

of Commerce board of directors. She prioritizes

spending time with her family and watching her

three children play sports, and she loves

shopping and binge-watching Hallmark movies!

“I started my banking career when I was

only eighteen years old as a drive thru teller.

I’ve worked very hard over the years to be

promoted to a loan officer and branch manager.

Being able to show others that if you work hard,

you can accomplish anything–that makes me

the most proud. My faith in Christ and having a

good family support system has allowed me to

persevere through the challenges over the

years and find the balance between work and

family life.”

“My mentor, Jalane Hall, taught me early in

my career to always treat our customers the

way I would want to be treated. In return, this

has allowed me to build long-lasting relationships

with both my clients and coworkers.”

20 • JUNE 2020

top 40 under 40

Shae McGowin Fuller

Donald Garrett

Josh Hall

Chicken Salad Chick

Shae Fuller is the owner of Chicken Salad

Chick in Flowood, and has her bachelor’s

degree in elementary education and biblical

theology. In the past, she has been on the

board at The Meridian Little Theatre Youth

Division, and she currently is a proud member

of both the Rankin and Flowood Chambers of

Commerce. Shae loves spending time with

her family, running, and acting onstage at

community theatres.

“My husband and I are a team, and my

marriage has never been stronger! In March

of 2018, we opened our store in Flowood and

broke all sales records for the entire brand of

Chicken Salad Chick. It was a lot of work, to be

sure, but it was so worth it! This adventure has

been the career achievement I am most proud

of thus far.”

“I’ve always been told to do what you love

and it will never feel like work. This advice has

rung true in my experience over the last several

years! When we found this brand and heard

its vision to ‘spread joy, enrich lives, and serve

others,’ we knew it aligned with our hearts and

passions. We love what we do…every day.”

Greenfield Family Healthcare

Donald Garrett is not only a family nurse

practitioner and the president/owner of

Greenfield Family Healthcare, but he is also an

active member of the Mississippi Association

of Nurse Practitioners and Mississippi Nurses

Association, a graduate of Leadership Rankin,

and a top five nominee for 2019 Rankin’s Red

Carpet Best of the Best. During his free time,

Donald enjoys fishing, hunting, grilling, and

anything that involves the outdoors.

“My proudest achievement has been going

out on my own and starting my own practice.

Opening my own business in my home county

of Rankin has always been a lifelong goal/

dream of mine. With opening the practice, I

was also able to hire my professional mentor

and give back for all he has done for me.”

“The best business advice I’ve ever

received, which is also some of the greatest life

advice many of us have received, is to ‘treat

everyone the same way you would like to be

treated.’ Applying this to my career has been

rewarding, because I often hear from patients

the thing they like most about my practice is

how they are treated like family. We are willing

to spend extra time with each patient and be

truly attentive to not only their reason for

visiting that day, but in their everyday life,

as well.

Anytime Fitness

Josh Hall graduated from Mississippi College

in 2006 and is now a managing partner with

the Anytime Fitness franchise. His involvement

in the community involves serving with the

young adults at Pinelake Church, being a

member of the Diabetes Coalition, as well as

serving on the CDC-MS Move your Way

Committee. Josh enjoys working in his yard

and spending time with his wife and kids.

A hidden talent of Josh’s is that he can write

and throw with both hands – a skill he taught

himself at a very young age!

“The career achievement that makes me

the most proud is having multiple Anytime

locations be honored with top customer service

awards. We have also had multiple locations

be ranked in the top ten percent out of 5,000

Anytime Fitness franchises, and that affirms to

me that what we’re doing is really making a


“Some of the best business advice I’ve

ever been given is to be sure everyone on

your team has a common goal. Having one

wildly important goal that every action in your

organization strives for is what takes companies

from good to great.”

Hometown RANKIN • 21

22 • JUNE 2020



Congratulations Top 40 Winners!

Hometown RANKIN • 23

Jeremy Harvey

Jason Brian Henry

April Elise Hunt

Performance Therapy

Jeremy Harvey of Pearl is a physical

therapist at Performance Therapy of Brandon.

In his spare time, Jeremy enjoys exercising and

all things sports-related. Jeremy is very involved

with his congregation at Truevine Missionary

Baptist Church where he serves with the

response ministry and is the vice president of

the usher ministry. He is also a member of the

American Physical Therapy Association, the

Mississippi Physical Therapy Association, and

Jackson State Alumni Association, and serves

with the Men Raising Men mentorship program.

“Being voted Rankin’s Red Carpet “Best

Physical Therapist’ in both 2018 and 2019

makes me especially proud, because anytime

the community that helped raise you recognizes

you for doing something that you love is an

awesome achievement.”

“‘Your priorities should be God, family, and

work, but a good employee is one who can

balance them all.’ This advice sticks with me as

I continue to move forward in my career as a

physical therapist. Oftentimes as a PT, your

work is constantly on your mind even when you

aren’t physically there. However, your work is

simply an enlargement of the territory that is

used to share God’s love, while also providing

and sharing an even greater love to your


Cross Country Grocery

Jason Henry graduated from Mississippi

State with a bachelor’s in marketing and went

on to become the co-owner of Cross Country

Grocery in Brandon. Jason enjoys golf and

dirt-track car racing in his spare time. Cross

Country store has given him a small platform to

give away meals, take donations, and coordinate

benefits to help some sick community members

with small contributions to aid with their medical

expenses. Sponsoring youth baseball gives

him an opportunity to be involved with young

kids. As his store continues to prosper, Jason

aspires to become even more involved and

deeply rooted in our community.

“Taking ownership of a store with a forty-year

tradition and whose core customer base was

not necessarily fond of change was quite a

challenge at first. However, having those same

customers compliment changes and improvements

I made, while telling me how pleasant

their daily store experience is, has by far been

my greatest career achievement.”

“Do not fear change, embrace it! Resisting

fear allowed me to exit a great job with a great

company to pursue an opportunity to better

myself. From there, lack of fear allowed me to

change the norm at Cross Country to appeal to

a new audience while also improving the

experience for our current customers.”

TrustCare Medical Express Clinic

April Hunt graduated from Hinds Community

College in 2003 with her associate’s degree in

nursing, went on to graduate from Mississippi

University for Women with her bachelor’s in

2010, and achieved her master’s degree from

Delta State University in 2012. April is now a

nurse practitioner at TrustCare Medical Express

Clinic and an active member of the American

Association of Nurse Practitioners. April’s

hobbies include traveling, working in the yard,

spending time with her family, drinking lots of

coffee, and playing wither her pack of dogs.

“I am most proud when patients ask me to

be their primary provider! Being in urgent care,

I don’t do much primary care, but I’m always so

grateful and honored that my patients trust me

enough to even ask. Although being an urgent

care provider has been a big learning curve,

I absolutely love taking care of my community

and building relationships with my neighbors.”

“My grandfather has always told me to make

time for fun in life! I think that way of thinking

has spilled over into my professional life, as

well. I absolutely have loved being a nurse,

and now a nurse practitioner. I definitely think

having a smile on your face improves your

interaction with patients day to day.”

24 • JUNE 2020

top 40 under 40

Patrick Carlton Jacobs

Jonathan Johnston

Sara Farris Leach

Trustmark National Bank

Patrick Jacobs is a banker/commercial

relationship manager with Trustmark National

Bank, with a master’s degree from Millsaps

College in Jackson. He serves as an ambassador

on the Chamber of Flowood and is an active

member of the Rotary Club of Flowood, as well

as the Rankin County Chamber of Commerce.

Patrick is a big Mississippi State sports fan, and

enjoys music, reading, and spending time with

his wife and son.

“When I am able to help someone realize

their dream by starting a new business, or help

a real estate investor make their portfolio more

profitable – that is when I feel the most

accomplished, and know I have truly achieved

something. The times where I have truly made

an impact on the direction of a person’s life and

helped grow their business really gives

meaning to what I do.

“Life is a marathon, not a sprint. In the

banking profession, this phrase helps you to

realize that you are building a lifelong career,

as well as a multitude of skills and relationships,

and it takes time to cultivate both. In the long

run, the ones who master both are the most

successful. I would consider this some of the

best advice I’ve ever been given in business.”

Jonathan Johnston

State Farm Agency

Jonathan Johnston is the proud owner of

the Jonathan Johnston State Farm Agency in

Florence and graduate of the University of

Southern Mississippi. He and his loving wife

Christian have three children, ages 8, 4, and 3,

and you can find his family most weekends

on a soccer or softball field, with him either

coaching them, or rooting them on in the

stands. Jonathan is an active member of our

community, and currently serves as the

president of South Rankin Rotary.

“My greatest career achievement thus far

has been being inducted into the President’s

Club in Banking for State Farm, where I was

ranked number 29 out of 19,000 agents. I’ve

worked very hard to reach this point and

receiving this honor makes me very proud to

have come this far.”

“’The greatest gift you can ever give

someone is to believe in them – don’t doubt

people, empower them.’ This is some of the

greatest business advice I’ve ever been given.

When you believe in your team, they respond

to your faith and it builds a great culture in

your office.”

Downtown Pilates Studio

Sara Leach is a proud mom of three young

children and strives daily to serve them and her

clients at Downtown Pilates Studio where she

is the owner and Pilates instructor. Sara is a

graduate of Delta State University and enjoys

planting flowers, when she has spare time.

“I’m proud of the business that has been

established with Downtown Pilates and I have

such talented teachers that have made this

venture possible. My clients also make me

proud, to say the least! I have met some of the

most wonderful people since DP’s doors

opened. I love that they have grown to love

Pilates, and knowing that these individuals are

getting healthier and stronger each day truly

brings me joy.”

“I’ll be the first to tell anyone – don’t bite off

more than you can chew!! I’d love to say I am

currently involved in tons of community

organizations, but I would be lying. In this chapter

of my life of raising three beautiful small children

and running a business, being involved with

extra community organizations is something

that will come later in my life. I’ve learned that a

simple life is a happy one!”

Hometown RANKIN • 25

Wendy Hawkins Lewis

Russell Marsalis

Joshua Darrell McCrory

The Winning Smile Dental Group

Dr. Wendy Lewis gained her bachelor’s

degree from Mississippi College and went on

to the University of Mississippi Medical Center

to receive her DMD. Wendy is now a dentist

and owner at The Winning Smile Dental Group

and is an active member of several professional

organizations, including the Mississippi Dental

Association, The American Dental Association,

Academy of General Dentistry, American

Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and The Junior

League of Jackson. She is also a member of

Pinelake church and a “room mom” at Madison

Ridgeland Academy. Wendy enjoys anything

outdoors in warm weather, playing with her

children, reading, and travelling.

“I am always humbled and find great joy in

any positive review from a patient. I take pride

in my work, so when it is making a difference,

I consider that my greatest success.”

“I was told by my mentor and childhood

dentist to ‘always leave the woodpile higher

than you find it.’ His advice has been at the

forefront of many decisions I’ve made

throughout my career. Maintaining a healthy

work-life balance and a positive attitude while

striving to continue to improve the business

and adapt to new policies in this time of crisis

has become my priority, to see that we are

better than ever.”

Richland High School

Russell Marsalis is a teacher at Richland

High School, as well as the athletic director and

head boys’ varsity basketball coach. Russell

graduated from the University of Southern

Mississippi in 2004, where he also acquired

his master’s degree in 2012. He is currently

enrolled at Arkansas State for his specialist in

education degree, and is an active member of

Eta Sigma Gamma, a national health honor

society. Russell’s hobbies include attending

any and all sporting events, as well as concerts.

“Last year I was humbled to be recognized

as Richland High School’s nominee for Metro

Teacher of the Year. I consider this one of my

proudest career achievements, as I work with

some outstanding people at Richland High.”

“The best piece of advice that I have been

given over the years is to treat everyone, no

matter their position, with the respect that they

deserve. Following this advice throughout my

career has allowed me to work effectively with

others toward a common goal for the good of

the whole.”

Ambiance Landscape, LLC

Joshua McCrory is a landscape designer

and estimator with Ambiance Landscape in

Brandon. His hobbies include camping,

mountain biking, and spending time with family.

Joshua actively strives to give back to our

community participating in the Home Builders

Association of Jackson and the Mississippi

State University Alumni Association.

“The specific career achievements that

make me the most proud involve our whole

company, because we are a team. We work

together very hard and take pride in what we

do, and have been rewarded by being voted

the “Best of Rankin County” for the past three

years. This acknowledgment is something that

is both humbling and inspiring.”

“The best piece of business advice I’ve ever

received is to follow a task from start to finish,

and to always be open-minded. I feel that this

mindset has helped me take pride in my work,

day to day, and to persevere through any


26 • JUNE 2020

top 40 under 40

Joseph Taylor Mcelhenney

Paul Vincent Muffuletto

Dustin Louis Pambianchi

Citizens National Bank

Taylor Mcelhenney is a bank manager with

Citizens National Bank in Flowood and an active

member of several professional organizations

including the Flowood Chamber, Rankin County

Chamber, Leadership Rankin Class of 2020,

and BNI Jackson Business Connections. Taylor

enjoys spending time with his family, golfing,

attending MSU sporting events, and outdoor

activities, especially hunting and fishing.

“I started my banking career as a personal

banker. With hard work and determination,

I was promoted to assistant bank manager,

and eventually promoted to bank manager of

our Flowood location. This was a hard-earned

goal of mine, and one that I consider my

greatest career achievement to date.”

“Don’t ever stop learning and growing – this

is the best piece of business advice I can think

to pass on. The more you learn and grow, the

better your life will become. If you continue to

grow your level of skill in your chosen field,

you will become a master at what you do.”

Jackson Jewelers

Paul Muffuletto is a graduate gemologist

from the Gemological Institute of America, and

the vice president and general manager at

Jackson Jewelers – a business built by his

father and John Winstead. He is also a graduate

of Pearl High School and Mississippi State

University. With any free time he has, Paul

dedicates it to spending time with his wife and

their two boys.

“I am most proud to be a part of a growing,

successful business built by my dad, Ron

Muffuletto, and his late business partner, John

Winstead. Also, being able to help celebrate all

the special occasions with families and couples

makes what I do worthwhile.”

“The best business advice I’ve ever been

given is to offer the best possible customer

service. Also, to do the best you can do in all the

things you can control, and have faith in God to

lead you through the things you cannot.”

The Winning Smile Dental Group

Dr. Dustin Pambianchi is actively involved in

the Jackson Dental Society, Academy of

General Dentistry, Mississippi Dental Association,

and American Dental Association. Dustin is

also a member of Saint Paul Catholic Church,

the Knights of Columbus, and was a 2019 Real

Men Wear Pink participant. He loves to spend

time with his family specifically his children,

Blaine and Catherine. Dustin also enjoys

working in the yard, cooking, and playing golf.

“I am so proud of the difference that I am

able to help make in the health of my patients.

Knowing that I am playing a role in improving

the life/health of Mississippians makes me

proud. Also, by having a strong presence in

the communities we serve, the Winning Smile

is able to give back through volunteer service

projects and donations to local charities.”

“The best business advice I’ve ever

received: set high standards. Your standards

will dictate the atmosphere of your practice,

employers’ opinions, employees’ attitudes,

patient relationships, and ultimately your

financial success. You have to know how to

change and how to adapt. A perfect example

is the Covid-19 crisis. We have a responsibility

and commitment to our patients and our staff

that we are practicing in the safest environment

and are staying up to date with the latest

research and guidelines.”

Hometown RANKIN • 27



“Exceptional Nurse Practitioner!”

“Very courteous, efficient and knowledgeable.”

“Excellent, thorough, and great bedside manner”

“She was very professional and compassionate.”

“He was very informative and did a great job of listening.”

Congrats to APRIL HUNT and

ANDREW SHARP on Top 40 Under 40

28 • JUNE 2020





Vice President


Vice President

Hometown RANKIN • 29

Timothy Pickett

Amy Ratcliff

William “Corey” Ruffin

Community Bank of Mississippi

Tim Pickett is a vice president and lender/

branch manager with Community Bank, and a

graduate of the University of Mississippi and

MS School of Banking. In his free time, he enjoys

hunting, fishing, playing tennis and golf. Tim is

a member of Kiwanis of Pearl, Rankin Chamber,

ABC Mississippi, and Jackson Referral Connection.

He is also actively involved with his church,

where he serves on the worship team and is a

security team leader.

“I have been with Community Bank now for

almost three years. I started as a management

trainee and less than three years later, was

promoted to vice president to grow and

manage our HQ office in Brandon. This is

what I consider to be my greatest career

achievement. My overall success in growth

and advancement makes me the most proud.”

“‘Do the right thing over and over again.

Don’t worry about the past – you can only

change the future. Don’t blame others for your

setbacks – take ownership.’ I try to live this

daily in my workplace and in my homelife.”

Precision Spine Inc.

Amy Ratcliff is the director of logistics and

customer relations for Precision Spine, and a

member of the Association for Supply Chain

Management. She is also a member of the

PTO at Highland Bluff Elementary where she

serves as a classroom “room mom.” In her

spare time, Amy enjoys reading books and all

things pertaining to food.

“In a male-dominated industry, I showed the

skill and perseverance to become the youngest

female director that our company has ever had.

Given that I worked hard to get to where I am,

building relationships with knowledgeable

people and reading company literature to

better familiarize myself with our product and

ERP system, I am proud of this achievement.”

“‘Have integrity in your dealings; do the right

thing and let the consequences follow.’ I’ve

tried to follow this advice to the best of my

ability because I believe that everyone who

comes to me should know that they will get a

straight answer, even if that answer is ‘I’ll find

out.’ When I have made mistakes, as all leaders

do, I own them, then seek to find a solution to

any issue. I believe this creates respect and

trust, which is essential in building a valuable


Castlewoods Country Club

Corey Ruffin serves the PGA Gulf States

Section by working as a rules official for the

Sanderson Farms Classic qualifier. Many

community and civic organizations come to

Corey for advice on fundraising through events

at Castlewoods, including The Salvation Army,

Foundation for Rankin County Schools,

Flowood Chamber of Commerce, the Sherard

Shaw Foundation, and the Renfroe Legacy

Foundation. His hobbies include golf, tennis,

bass fishing, duck hunting and live music.

“The moment in my career that makes me

the most proud is when a beginner golf student

hits that first great shot. The smile on their face

and knowledge that they’ve started a journey

that will allow them to foster friendships, business

relationships, and support local organizations

through golf for the rest of their lives is the

ultimate reward for me professionally.”

“As simple as it seems, the best business

advice I’ve ever received was to buy a stack

of legal pads. The first golf facility operator that

I worked under told me to always keep a

yellow legal pad and no matter how routine or

hectic the day, sit down and write what you

accomplished that day, what you failed to

accomplish, and a checklist for the next day’s

tasks. This simple list keeps gives you something

to be proud of, keeps you motivated, and

sets you on the right path for the next day.”

30 • JUNE 2020

top 40 under 40

Morgan Ashleigh Sessums

Samuel Andrew Sharp

Spencer Layton Shoemaker

Trustmark Bank

Morgan Sessums is the branch supervisor at

the Trustmark Bank at Crossgates and attended

Mississippi College where she obtained her

Bachelor of Business Administration. She’s

worked as a volunteer for both the Rankin

Chamber of Commerce and Brandon Adopta-School.

She enjoys spending time with family

and friends and has a passion for her fur baby.

She also prides herself in being very organized

and able to take on multiple tasks when


“I have faced many challenges in my career

that I have overcome. One that I take pride in

the most is working a full time job as head teller

with the bank while also being a full time student

at Mississippi College. My proudest achievement

is of being the branch supervisor of our

Crossgates Branch. I enjoy working with our

customers and staff.”

“Have a path but be flexible. I have a career

path in mind, I have built many relationships

along this path and I’m willing to accept

challenges even if it seems they may lead me

down a different path. You never know where

those may lead.”

TrustCare Express Medical Clinics

Andrew Sharp serves as a family nurse

practitioner with TrustCare and is a member of

the Pinelake medical response team. Andrew’s

hobbies include sports, hunting, and spending

time with his family.

“I recently received the TrustCare Health

Champion Award for my clinic in Flowood–

an award given in recognition of excellent

performance, exceptional customer service,

and teamwork. This award was special to me

because it was voted on by coworkers in my

clinic. Working with them allows me to perform

my job to the best of my ability and it makes

me feel good to know that we are able to

provide excellent care and customer service to

our patients, but also that we work well

together as a team.”

“The best piece of business/life advice I

have ever received is from Matthew 7:12, that

states: ‘So in everything, do to others what you

would have them do to you.’ This verse has

helped me keep my career in perspective and

in line with the mission of my job as well as our

mission on earth as Christians. I want every

patient I see to feel important and I want them

to feel like their provider took the time to listen

to their issues while providing them the best

available care I can provide.”

Performance Therapy

Spencer Shoemaker is a clinical director

and physical therapist with Performance

Therapy in Brandon. Spencer studied pre-med/

physical therapy at Mississippi College in Clinton

and went on to gain his doctorate in physical

therapy at the University of Mississippi Medical

Center. Spencer is a proud member of the

Rankin County Chamber of Commerce and

Crossgates Baptist Church, and enjoys hunting,

sports, and being a father to his two boys.

“My greatest career achievement to date

has definitely been running two very successful

clinics in Rankin County with faith-based values.

We are blessed to be surrounded by communitybased

individual, upon which we build our


“Take ownership of everything that you do,

even if you are not the owner. The owner will

see the value you bring as you treat it as your

own. Also, pray without ceasing in everything

that you do! These two pieces of advice are

some that I strive to live by every day.”

Hometown RANKIN • 31

Miriam Randolph Shufelt

Blake Stephens

Regina Regan Todd

32 • JUNE 2020

Miriam Shufelt Art

Miriam Shufelt is an artist and owner of

Miriam Shufelt Art and is a part-time family

nurse practicioner. She loves interior design

and coffee, specifically Cups Café. Miriam is

a provider at Richard Randolph, M.D. Family

Medical Clinic. When she is not painting or

seeing patients at the clinic, she considers

herself a full-time mom of two boys—with a

girl on the way!

“In 2019, I booked 19 live paintings, which

was a career high for me. I’ve been featured in

a few local publications and have been asked

to be a featured live painter for a nationwide

bridal expo.”

“Some of the best advice I’ve taken to heart

in my life is ‘your time and expertise has a price.’

Pricing is a difficult thing to master, especially

for artists. I’ve learned how valuable my time

and talents are. I’ve also been advised on the

importance of having an excellent booking/

communication tool. Having this has allowed

me to streamline my booking process, including

providing brochures and info, sending contracts,

and collecting payments. You have to be


Stephens Custom Renovations, LLC

Blake Stephens is the founder and owner

of Stephens Custom Renovations in Brandon,

where they proudly offer a wide range of

renovation and repair services – no job too big

or too small! Before starting his own business,

Blake obtained his plumbing and general

construction degree from Hinds Community

College. In his free time, Blake enjoys flying

drones, spending time with his wife, Bailey,

and playing with their two children.

“Hard workers are hard to come by, and

we take pride in having trustworthy people

representing us. Through a lot of hard work,

we have created repeat customers and lifelong

friendships by simply doing good business.

That is what I’m most proud of in my line of


“‘The customer is always right.’ This has

been the best business advice I’ve ever

received, and something I’ve repeated to

myself time and time again over the years.

Putting the customer’s needs and opinions

before your own may be difficult, but it always

proves to be the right decision.”

top 40 under 40

Rankin First

Economic Development Authority

Regina Todd is the assistant director of

Rankin First Economic Development Authority.

She is a member of the Greater Jackson

Alliance board, Southern Miss. Alumnae Assoc.,

Miss. Economic Development Council, Miss.

Manufacturer’s Assoc., Young Professionals in

Economic Development–Tenn. Valley Authority,

Southern Economic Development Council,

International Economic Development Council,

Rankin County Chamber, Flowood Chamber,

Pearl Chamber, City of Pearl Strategic Planning

Committee, Rankin County Rotary Club,

Women in Rotary, Jackson Alpha Delta Pi

Alumnae Assoc., Junior Auxiliary of Rankin

County, and Reservoir Career Women.

“Workforce development is a key component

in my role at Rankin First Economic Development

Authority. I serve as the coordinator of the ACT

Work Ready Community initiative and enjoy

working to connect school leaders with business

and industry partners in Rankin County. Our

school leaders are learning specific skills that

middle school and high school students need

for successful careers. This project will ensure

a pipeline of skilled workers are ready for

careers in Rankin County.”

“Treat others as you wish to be treated. That

is an important value that my parents instilled in

me. This has served me well in my professional

life. There is nothing that you cannot conquer

while also being kind.”

Johnanna Turner

David Graham Upshaw

Christina Hardin Wells

Rogers Dabbs Chevrolet

Johnanna Turner is a graduate of Northwest

Rankin High and Blue Mountain College and

she now works as a new car sales manager for

Rogers Dabbs Chevrolet. She played basketball

at both the high school and collegiate level

and enjoys swimming and water skiing in her

spare time. Johnanna is an active member in

the General Motors Mark of Excellence


“Advancing from the bottom (salesperson) to

the top (new car desk manager) has to be my

proudest career achievement thus far. This

took a great deal of hard work and dedication.”

“‘If it makes sense, do it.’ Desk managers are

required to make a lot of costly decisions. I

often find myself thinking, ‘Does this make

sense if I have to explain myself to upper

management?’ It helps with confidence in

making those decisions–and in return our

customers are confident that we have their

best interests in mind.”

Jonathan Johnston

State Farm Agency

Graham Upshaw is a graduate of Meridian

Community College and Belhaven University,

and he now works with Jonathan Johnston

State Farm Agency as an insurance and

banking account manager. Graham’s hobbies

include playing golf, baseball, softball, and

watching college football.

“In my previous field, having multiple

locations ranked in the top 10 and 20 percent

in their franchise is something I’d consider a

large success in my career. In my current field,

the career achievement that makes me most

proud is helping my agency achieve travel

during my first year here.”

“The best piece of business advice that I’ve

ever received was to simply treat others as

you would want to be treated. Whether it be

customers or coworkers, always strive to help

other people as you would want to be helped,

and speak to them like you would like to be

spoken to. This advice has been especially

helpful to me when helping customers during

some of the tougher times of their lives.

Whether it be through the loss of a vehicle,

their property, or their home, I do my best to

make sure that we can make them whole

again. I know I would desire the same support

if I were in their place.”

Havard Real Estate Group

Christina Wells is proud to serve our

community as a realtor with Havard Real Estate

Group. In her free time, she enjoys singing,

camping, shopping, and travelling to drag races

to cheer on her family. Christina is actively

involved at her church, where she serves on

the praise team and with the orphan care

ministry, and she loves to volunteer at her

daughters’ schools as much as possible.

“Being nominated for Rankin’s Best of the

Best and being the top producer for my

company several years in a row have been

my greatest career achievements thus far.

Also, I take pride in the fact that I always do

what is right, even if that means I lose a sale.

My slogan is ‘keeping it REAL in real estate.’”

“I once had a friend/colleague tell me to

always ask these questions when I am trying

to decide whether or not to do something:

‘Does it make me happy? Does it help my

career? Does it make me money? Will it

challenge my ethics/character?’ If you ask

these questions and pray about a decision,

it’s almost impossible to make a wrong one.

And if I still make a wrong/bad decision, I just

move on and learn from it – there’s really

nothing else you can do!”

Hometown RANKIN • 33

Marshall Tarver West

Jason Rush Witcher

Jordan Alexis Yamas

Crossgates Baptist Church

Marshall West is a native of Brandon and was

raised attending Crossgates Baptist Church.

He has served the congregation there as the

college ministry intern and middle school pastor,

and currently serves as the high school pastor

since 2015. Marshall received his bachelor’s

degree, as well as his master’s in theological

studies, from Liberty University. He enjoys

spending time with his family – his wife, two

daughters, and seven-month-old son. In his

free time, Marshall can be found working on

his lawn, grilling a steak, watching a movie, or

hanging out with his friends. Marshall also has

a specific knack for remembering any and

every story from growing up in his hometown.

“Being able to come on staff here at

Crossgates has been my greatest career

achievement. I grew up there, so it was special

and humbling for me to become a staff

member at my home church.”

“The best piece of advice I think I’ve been

given is to ‘always be with people.’ This wisdom

has been great for me to remember–that the

daily tasks can never be more important than

simply being with and serving the people God

has put in your path.”

Witcher CPA

CPAs & Business Advisors

Jason Witcher is a certified public accountant

with Witcher CPA, a practice he and his wife

started together. Jason received his Bachelor

of Accountancy and Master of Taxation from

Mississippi State University. His hobbies

include raising his three children (Andy, Cam,

and Lily Grace), serving his community as a

reserve police officer with the Brandon Police

Department, and serving God in all facets of

life. Jason is a ruling elder at Lakeland

Presbyterian Church and a member of both the

Mississippi Society of CPAs and the American

Institute of CPAs.

“My wife and I were blessed to be able to

start our CPA practice together in our twenties,

which I consider a great achievement in both

of our careers. This has allowed us some

flexibility with raising three children and not

bearing the typical demands common to the

CPA field.”

“The best advice I’ve ever been given is to

‘be quick to listen and slow to speak.’ Our

trusted clients look for us to provide customized

strategies specific to our needs. If we are too

busy putting some ‘cookie cutter approach’ to

their situation, we are missing the point of

being a trusted advisor.”

The Hungry Goat

Jordan Yamas is the chef and proud owner

of The Hungry Goat, a business based in

Brandon that prepares and sells family meals.

Combined, she and her husband, Paul, have

over thirty years of experience in the food

industry both cooking at and managing some

of the most well-known Jackson staples.

Jordan has her BSN-RN from Auburn University

at Montgomery and is a mother to four children.

In her spare time, Jordan loves to watch Dodger

baseball, go to her kids’ sporting events, and

watch movies with her family. Jordan’s hidden

talent is that she is a classically trained pianist,

and has received many accolades over the


“Opening up our flagship kitchen has got

to be the most proud I’ve been in all my career

– it’s gorgeous! Our aim at The Hungry Goat is

to help your family gather around the dinner

table, because that sacred family time is

something you can’t get back.”

“‘If you want it, go get it.’ This piece of advice

has led me to take leaps of faith that I wouldn’t

have taken otherwise, and our business is

better because of it!”

34 • JUNE 2020

top 40 under 40

Russell Young

Elite Physical Therapy

Russell Young is the clinic director and senior

physical therapist at Elite Physical Therapy’s

Reservoir Clinic. Russell received his bachelor’s

and master’s degrees from Mississippi State

University, and his Doctor of Physical Therapy

from UMC in Jackson. He is an active member

of Pinelake church, a clinician for the Free

Jackson Clinic with UMC, and a board member

of his homeowner’s association. Russell enjoys

spending time with his wife and two daughters,

as well as hunting, fishing, grilling, and playing


“Opening a physical therapy clinic at the

Reservoir in 2011 and growing it into a

successful practice has been my career’s

greatest achievement thus far. I am proud to

see that we are helping others, giving back to

the community, and giving advice for healing.

I have learned so much over the years from my

patients and I feel that this was the best

education I could have ever received.”

“Zig Ziglar once said: ‘If people like you, they

will listen to you. But if they trust you, they’ll do

business with you.’ I try to establish rapport and

trust quickly with my patients and educate them

on posture, injury prevention, and how to be

more independent with their exercise program

and injury/surgical recovery. I feel fortunate to

be doing something that I love for a career and

helping lead others to a better and healthier


Special thanks goes to Priority One Bank

for sponsoring this inaugural event.

And congratulations to all of the winners!

Hometown Rankin Magazine

looks forward to telling your stories

as your stars continue to shine.




Hometown RANKIN • 35

36 • JUNE 2020


Putting Their Best Foot Forward

Fun is not a word generally used to describe men’s socks, but over the last several years, the novelty sock trend has

offered men a way to express their personality through their footwear. It’s also given the women and children in their

lives expanded Father’s Day gift ideas for the dad who has everything and doesn’t need another tie or power tool.

Golf clubs, pizza, palm trees, and everything in between can be found on socks these days. There are even online

custom sock companies that offer personalized socks with your pet’s picture so Dad can take man’s best friend

with him wherever he goes. In honor of Father’s Day, Hometown is featuring local dads and sons sporting

their favorite fun socks and sharing insights into their special father/son relationship.

Hometown RANKIN • 37

38 • JUNE 2020

Bennon & Eli

Bennon Hodges is the middle school

pastor at Crossgates Baptist Church.

Son Eli will be three years old “on

June” as he says. Bennon and his

wife Caroline also have a daughter

named Lydia who is almost three

months old. The Hodges family has

made Rankin County their home

since 2013, the year they graduated

from Mississippi College and were



What is something you admire about

your son?

I admire that Eli wants to figure out how things

work, and how to do things the right way. He is

also affectionate and protective of his new baby

sister, and one day I desire for him to use these

traits to lead his own family.

What is something you really enjoy doing

with your son?

I really enjoy teaching him how to do new things.

As he grows into a man, my desire is that Eli will

be well-versed, courageous, and adventurous.

Is there anything your father said to

you growing up that you find yourself

repeating to your son?

“Don’t stop working until everyone is done

working.” One thing my dad has passed down to

me is a strong work ethic. I’ve found myself

already telling my three year old these words

when we’ve been working outside together.

Do you have a favorite or particularly

memorable Father’s Day gift?

I first became a father five days before Father’s

Day in 2017. I’d have to say, Eli’s birth has been

the best Father’s Day gift I’ve ever received,

for sure.

Is there a story or particular meaning

behind the “fun” socks you chose for the


As Eli has gotten older, he has begun to enjoy

superheroes almost as much as I did growing up.

Naturally, doing all things superheroes has been

something for us to bond over and a way to

spend time together. I also love being able to

use superheroes as teaching points. Though they

are fictional, the qualities that they represent are

elements that I believe build a great man, such as

sacrifice, humility, leadership, and courage.

Captain America is a favorite of both of ours

because he never gives up, he is the leader, and his

shield is pretty cool, too.

How are you and your son alike?

How are you different?

Eli tends to like repetitive work or play, and that

is certainly not a trait of mine. He also doesn’t

like being in front of people, whereas I thrive in

front of an audience. I think that Eli and I are

the same in the fact that we both like things to be

in order, are process-oriented, and we both like

sleeping a lot. Neither of us like being alone, and

we love having the most fun possible with the

people around us.


What is something you admire about

your dad?

His nose! And his ears. And his jokes!

What is something you really enjoy

doing with your dad?

I love when Daddy plays with me, when we build

towers. That makes me happy.

What’s the best advice your dad has

ever given you?

My daddy tells me to obey, because it’s right.

It makes God’s heart happy!

Is there a story or particular meaning

behind the “fun” socks you chose for the


We love Captain. Captain is real, real strong,

like my daddy! I like his suit and his shield, and

he fights to protect his friends. He throws his

shield if there’s a bad guy!

How are you and your dad alike?

How are you different?

We both like Alabama, shows, movies, and

superheroes. I play more than my daddy does.

He goes to work at the church.

Hometown RANKIN • 39

40 • JUNE 2020

Roscoe & Drew

Roscoe Greene is the guest

services director at Merit Health

Rankin. Son Drew, 24, is an

account representative for RJ

Young Company. Along with mom

Renee, and daughter Caroline,

26, a fifth-grade teacher in north

Mississippi, the Greene family

has made Rankin County their

home for 32 years.


What is something you admire about

your son?

Drew is very even-tempered and did not get that

from me. Regardless of how intense the situation

gets, he always keeps his cool. It’s very difficult to

make him angry. That attribute will no doubt

serve him well as he goes through life.

What is something you really enjoy doing

with your son?

Golf has always been an activity we’ve enjoyed

doing together since he was 10 years old. We

both enjoy being outside and engaging in some

friendly competition.

Is there anything your father said to

you growing up that you find yourself

repeating to your son?

If you start something, finish it. Winners never

quit and quitters never win. If you do your best,

win or lose, that’s all anyone can ask of you.

Do you have a particularly memorable

Father’s Day gift?

I have a baseball in a case sitting on the credenza

in my office. Drew and I went to see the

Mississippi Braves play on Father’s Day, June 19,

2005. We were seated down the 3rd base line in

the 5th inning when a foul ball came our way.

I instinctively caught it in my bare left hand and

immediately asked for ice from the concession

stand. That’s a painful but fond Father’s Day

memory for me.

Is there a story or particular meaning

behind the “fun” socks you chose for the

photo shoot?

We’ve always enjoyed golf and fishing together.

I’m probably a little better at golf, but he’s a much

better fisherman. There’s proof of this hanging

on the wall in his room at home—a

13.8-pound bass he caught when he was 15.

How are you and your son alike?

How are you different?

I’m wound a little tighter than Drew is. He’s able

to process and accept the way things are better

than I do. Like many dads I suppose I wanted

my son to be just like me. Frankly, this did cause

some issues. It took me a while to realize that he

was not going to be just like me, but that was ok.

From that point on we have been extremely



What is something you admire about

your dad?

I have always admired his love for our family.

He has always done everything that he can do

to ensure we are cared for. Ever since I was little,

he has always told me that if I ever need anything

from him, all I have to do is ask. He has always

put my mom, sister, and me before himself.

What is something you really enjoy doing

with your dad?

I have always loved playing golf with my dad.

Ever since I started playing when I was younger

it was a great way for us to spend time together

doing something that we both enjoy.

What’s the best advice your dad has

ever given you?

For me to do my absolute best. He has always

told me that if I know that I have done my best

in whatever it may be, there is nothing to worry


How are you and your dad alike?

How are you different?

We are alike in that we both try to be best in

whatever it is that we do. We are different in that

he is a little more determined than me and I am

a little more carefree.

Hometown RANKIN • 41

42 • JUNE 2020

Armaan & Chance

Armaan Anding is a systems

engineer and son Chance, 17,

is a 2020 graduate of Brandon

High School who plans to study

musical theatre in the fall.

The Anding family, which

also includes mom Yolanda

and daughter Kadence, 13,

moved to Rankin County from

Louisiana 10 ½ years ago.


What is something you admire about

your son?

I admire Chance’s ability to meet new people.

He is also very talented and has no fear of going

on stage and performing before a group of


What is something you really enjoy doing

with your son?

Between school, homework, friends, and

extracurricular activities, I just enjoy any quality

time I can spend with him alone in conversation.

We attended the Brandon High School football

games and, although he’s never actually sat with

me, I just enjoy the time driving to the game

with him.

Is there anything your father said to you

growing up that you find yourself repeating

to your son?

My father grew up in Mississippi during the days

of segregation. Even though times have changed,

he always reminds me to be mindful of my

surroundings, the people I hang out with and the

situations I place myself in. As Chance has

gotten older and has started to drive, I always

remind him to be on his best behavior and that

he will be judged differently and held to a higher


Do you have a favorite or particularly

memorable Father’s Day gift?

I’m not really big on presents, but there was one

summer that we were all busy with activities.

Father’s Day came so quickly that my family had

not prepared for it; however, they still made it

special for me. Chance wrote me a letter and

expressed that he recognizes all I do, how much

it means to him, and that he loves me.

Is there a story or particular meaning

behind the fun socks you chose for the


Other than my wife coordinating them for us,

my son has always liked crazy socks. I am just

happy to be able to share this with him.

How are you and your son alike? How

are you different?

Everyone says we look the same, and we both like

to draw, but that’s about the extent of our

similarities. Chance has the same personality that

I love about my wife as well as the same traits as

my father. I love the fact that he’s a combination

of both, inside and out.


What’s something you admire about

your dad?

He’s super handy when it comes to technology.

He really loves his family and steps up as the

leader of our household in a big way.

What is something you really enjoy doing

with your dad?

Talking about superheroes and comics...talking

with him in general. He is easy to talk to and


What’s the best advice your dad has ever

given you?

Don’t ever settle for less and always be the best

you can be. Stop worrying about what others are

doing...do what is best for you and be great at it.

Is there a story or particular meaning

behind the “fun” socks?

We’ve always worn wacky patterns. We both

have a style that dictates the need to incorporate


How are you and your dad alike?

How are you different?

We’re both huge nerds. We love Marvel and DC

comics. We are both creative and artistic. (I got

my drawing skills from him.) We also are a lot

alike in that we are both procrastinators, but we

get the job done. I definitely did not get my

singing and dancing ability from my dad. I also

do not have the work ethic my dad does.

Hometown RANKIN • 43

44 • JUNE 2020

Vince, Ethan & Caleb

try to be a buddy now and lose them later. If you


try really hard you can be buddies and a father,

What is something you admire about but the father role has to come first.

your sons?

I admire many things about my sons–for Ethan,

I admire his sense of humor, his intelligence, and

his gentle spirit. His compassion–his huge heart

and his concern for others–is probably the thing

that I admire most. For Caleb, I admire his

inquisitiveness and his absolute desire to please.

And I love that he is a little hero every day.

What is something you really enjoy doing

with your sons?

I love doing anything with them–we always have

fun. I particularly enjoy travelling with Ethan,

shooting the breeze and listening to music. We

really enjoy listening to music together, although

he likes to have control of the playlist. I enjoy

talking about almost any subject with him.

I especially enjoy reading, watching movies, and

playing games with Caleb. His take on things is

always so interesting and he’s very funny. I love

having both of them with me when I have projects

to do. It makes the time go faster having them


Is there anything your father said to you

growing up that you find yourself

repeating to your sons?

I’m sure there are lots of “dadisms” that I

borrowed from my dad. I personally think the

most meaningful thing my Dad used to tell me is

one I’ve definitely carried on. When I’ve had to

correct my kids–scold or punish them–it’s

always hard. But I tell them I’d rather be a father

to them now and a buddy to them later than to

Do you have a favorite or particularly

memorable Father’s Day gift?

I always just love getting to eat somewhere with

the family for Father’s Day. I’m easy to please.

The first Father’s Day present I ever got was a

recliner to sit in with my oldest child, my only

daughter. Probably the most memorable Father’s

Day gift was a rafting trip on the Ocoee. It was


Is there a story or particular meaning

behind the “fun” socks you chose for the

photo shoot?

Great question! The story is that Ethan borrowed

my favorite fun socks that have sharks on them

and we currently can’t find one of them so I took

his “chimpanzee in a suit” socks. I wear a tie to

work most days, so it’s appropriate.

How are you and your sons alike?

How are you different?

Ethan and I look a lot alike, our sense of humor is

sometimes similar and, as I mentioned, we both

love music. I think we both enjoy doing things

for other people. We particularly enjoyed a

mission trip we got to go on together. How are

we different? He is taller than I am and has been

calling me “little guy” for about three years now.

He is a better singer and can already grow a

better beard. He’s also more outgoing than I am.

Caleb and I both love maps, books, and getting

outdoors. We’re both pleasers. He is braver than

I am.

Vince Herrin is a physician specializing

in the fields of hematology and oncology.

Son Ethan, 18, is a 2020 graduate of

Jackson Prep and will be heading to

Mississippi State in the fall to study

psychology. Caleb, 8, just finished second

grade at First Presbyterian Day School.

The Herrin family also includes mom

Kristi and daughter Hannah, 22, a 2020

graduate of Kenyon College in Ohio.

Except for a five year period living in

Virginia, the Herrins have called Rankin

County home since 1996.


What is something you admire about

your dad?

His work ethic. I genuinely think there are very

few people on the earth that can work as hard

and consistently as my dad can.

What is something you really enjoy

doing with your dad?

I really enjoy riding in the car with my dad and

sharing our music with each other.

What’s the best advice your dad has

ever given you?

He was the first person to teach me about

viewing things from other people’s perspectives

and to not be so quick in drawing conclusions.

He has taught me empathy and it’s now one of

my strongest abilities.

Is there a story or particular meaning

behind the “fun” socks you chose for the

photo shoot?

I just know I got my dad into it. I’ve always had

cool socks and dad often laughs at them.

However, I think I’ve gotten him into some

pretty cool socks now.

How are you and your dad alike?

How are you different?

I really don’t think we’re very different and I’m

very thankful for that. I hope to keep growing in

my spirituality and become strong in it like him,

I hope to truly adopt his always positive attitude,

and I hope my quest for understanding people

never goes away.

Hometown RANKIN • 45


What is something you admire about your


I admire how he takes care of me and my family.

He makes sick people feel better.

What is something you really enjoy doing

with your dad?

We build train sets and work in the yard together.

We watch Tom and Jerry together. He also takes me

on fun vacations.

What’s the best advice your dad has

ever given you?

Use kind words.

How are you and your dad alike?

How are you different?

We both like to be outside, to read, and Ole Miss

football. My dad is quiet and I am definitely not. My

dad has green eyes and I have brown eyes.




46 • JUNE 2020

Hometown RANKIN • 47


Brighter Tomorrows


As we work toward a brighter tomorrow,

MECU is here to support all of your

financial needs – today and every day.

Contact us now.

We’re here to help!


(601) 922-3350 | (800) 748-9459

48 • JUNE 2020



of gratitude

Mary Ann Kirby

Staying positive in a negative

world will not only better your

life but will change it in more

ways than you can ever imagine.

I’m not sure I remember a time in my life that I’ve truly felt

the “weight” of the world like I have recently. I’ve literally gotten

to the point that I cannot bear to watch the news for the

constant barrage of negative behavior, terrible stories and

discouraging reports. Sometimes I think it would be best to

just squeeze both my eyes shut and stick my fingers in my

ears. La-la-la-la-la-la . . . .

It’s easy to see all that’s wrong in the world. It’s everywhere–

sickness, death, unemployment, a collapsed economy, and

civil unrest. And it’s certainly easy to get overwhelmed and

consumed with worry and dread, not to mention that all of us

have our own struggles. We all have mountains.

So how do we stay positive in such a negative world?

It has become my mission, particularly during these

unprecedented times, to focus on the things I’m thankful for.

I’m deliberately turning a blind eye and limiting my exposure

to all the things in this universe that can zap me of my joy.

And at the risk of sounding cliché, it’s an attitude of gratitude

that can move those pesky mountains that often seem to get

in our way.

I started thinking about my son and how important it is to

ensure that he understands the concept of being thankful in

what I consider to be a largely thankless world. I don’t know

about you, but I am keenly aware of the sense of entitlement

that young people seem to have today–and I believe it’s

purely generational. It’s not even their fault. They’ve just never

known what it is to do without. And we’re the ones that

worked ourselves to death to give them everything! Think

about it. Oh, the irony.

Teaching a child to look beyond their one-person

universe can be a challenge. But kids who aren’t taught to be

grateful end up with those feelings of self-entitlement and, even

worse, are constantly disappointed. And if that’s not reason

enough, grateful people report lower levels of depression and

stress, stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure,

feel less lonely and isolated and have more joy, optimism and

happiness. Who couldn’t use a good dose of optimism and

happiness these days?

So since they’re not born with it, how do you teach a child

to be appreciative? The most obvious answer I can think of is

to lead by example. We must live lives of gratitude if we want

our children to really learn to be grateful. We need to point out

the positives in people and in situations. We need to criticize

and complain less. I know I need to be more mindful of my

grumbles and let my child hear me being more overtly

thankful for things–often easier said than done when we’re so

inundated with outside noise.

We should also reward thankfulness. It may sound crazy,

but thanking our kids for thanking us may go a long way

toward teaching them that we appreciate them, too. If we

consistently delight in their gratitude, it will reinforce that

behavior and they will express it more often.

By using everyday moments to make gratitude and

thankfulness part of your family’s daily life, you’ll foster a

confidence and gratefulness in your child that will lead them

to become kinder and more appreciative people in general–

which leads us back to where we started. In a world with

countless negative forces, what if we all made it our mission

to overcome them with loving, positive affirmations of


The incredible thing about gratitude is that once we

realize all the things we have in our lives and all the things we

can do, we create feelings of contentment within ourselves.

And it’s with these feelings of contentment that we live happier

lives–because when we’re content, our thoughts are positive.

And based on the law of attraction, when we think “thankful”

thoughts, we bring more into our lives to be thankful for.

No matter what the current circumstances, there’s always

good to be found. Even when things aren’t at their best, count

your blessings anyway and let them buoy your sagging spirits.

Whatever you send out into the universe will come back to

you. So, find the good–and teach your children to find the

good as well. Surround yourself with encouraging, optimistic

and grateful people and see what happens.

And be happy about finding the positive and consciously

cultivate more gratitude–so much so that your heart explodes

with delight and contagiously stretches out to those around

you. The people that you love in life deserve your gratitude

the very most and they will respond in ways that are both

encouraging and fulfilling.

We are called to be a thankful people.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life– and turns

what we have into enough. If you want to feel

happy, try on an attitude of gratitude for a change

in your mood, your outlook and your life.

Hometown RANKIN • 49

50 • JUNE 2020

Flags of Honor

Mistie Desper

All across the USA, flags fly proudly to show support and love

for country. Affectionately called Old Glory, the American flag

represents freedom, dignity, and the true essence of what it

means to be a citizen of this great nation.

Hometown RANKIN • 51

“I am veryproud to have had

the opportunity to make it for

Congressman Michael Guest.”

Local firefighter, Captain Steven Dedmon

shares his own patriotism and sense of brotherhood

with a unique and beautiful dedication to

the flag. He repurposes old and out of service

firehoses into stunning works of art honoring

America and fellow firefighters and police


Currently serving as captain with the City of

Brandon Fire Department, Dedman has dedicated

the last 28 years of his life as a professional firefighter.

He and his wife of 34 years, Becky, proudly

call Pearl, Mississippi their home. There they

have raised their five children and have become

doting grandparents to seven grandchildren.

The Dedmons’ two sons have taken after their

father and chosen to serve the citizens of Brandon

as public servants themselves, one serving as a

police officer and the other a fire captain/


Dedmon said, “I was inspired by other

firefighters that had taken old firehose and made

American flags with it.” His stunning creations

have gained local attention among his fellow

public servants. Some of them can be seen

hanging in various fire departments and offices

of local law enforcement. One of his creations

hangs in the foyer of Mississippi Congressman

Michael Guest’s office. He added, “I am very

proud to have had the opportunity to make it

for him.”

Late last year, local Madison County Deputy

Brad Sullivan was injured in the line of duty.

Dedmon was inspired to make a “thin blue line”

flag to show support for Sullivan. The “thin blue

line” is a phrase that refers figuratively to the

position of police in society as the force which

hold back chaos. The blue refers to the color of

the police uniform itself. Pieces of hose were

donated by Pearl, Richland, Reservoir, Flowood,

Byram, Ridgeland, Jackson, Gluckstadt, Madison,

Clinton, and Canton fire departments along

with the Mississippi Fire Academy. Dedmon

stated, “This flag is very special to me because the

entire fire service in the surrounding area came

together to help an injured brother.”

To further show his support, he dedicated his

time and talent into creating two additional flags

which he eagerly donated to local fundraisers to

help raise money for Deputy Sullivan. Dedmon

takes such pride in his work and helping his

fellow brothers and is planning to construct

more flags for fundraisers for Sullivan for “as long

as he needs help.”

Flags take approximately 3-6 days to create.

The actual construction takes patience and

dedication, along with skill and precision. Once

a hose is found and decommissioned, or retired

from use, it must be cleaned and dried. Dedmon

explained, “Firehose comes in multiple colors so

the natural color is used when possible, but it can

be dyed or painted to get the desired color.”

Once the hose has been cut the desired length

and colored per the particular design or look to

be achieved, it is secured to a plywood backing.

Adding to the true labor of love that goes into

the flag’s construction, Dedmon carefully hand

cuts each of the 50 stars. He said, “I refer to my

stars as snowflakes, no two are the same.” Each

flag is a hand-crafted, stunning piece of artwork

that holds a special meaning for everyone lucky

enough to have one.

Dedmon’s dedication, loyalty, and honor to

the citizens of Brandon and local law enforcement

and firefighters can be seen in each of these truly

unique, one of a kind pieces. l

52 • JUNE 2020

We do great work,

so you can guarantee

you will have

the prettiest roof

in the neighborhood.


INNOVATIVE roofing systems



Hometown RANKIN • 53

Serving the Southeast

SINCE 1905

54 • JUNE 2020

Here’s Our Plan

We’d like to find a family that’s truly in need of a new heating and cooling system. Do you

know an elderly person on a fixed income, a family with a sick child or parent in the home, or a

disabled veteran? Maybe it’s an existing system not operational or it’s very old and inefficient

and the family cannot afford to replace it. The recipient’s home must be in Hinds, Madison, or

Rankin County.

What They Get

The recipient chosen from online applications/nominations will receive the following: One (1)

new 14 SEER (efficiency rating- current standard) Rheem heating and cooling system, installed.

This is a complete system, providing new equipment both inside and outside, for a home that

has existing central heating and cooling. Pure Air Consultants will also provide a new pad

for the outdoor unit and a new digital thermostat. (Note: Replacement system must be of the

same size/tonnage as winner’s existing system, and have the same heat source (gas, electric,

or heat pump) as the existing system.)


Gives Back!

Pure Air Consultants wants to give back to the community that has so graciously supported us.

We have been blessed with continued growth and want to give back. We recognize and appreciate

the fact that we would not be who we are or where we are without the continued patronage

of our customers and the support of the metro Jackson area.


How To Enter

Log onto surveymonkey.com/r/pacgivesback or

MyPureAirConsultants.com and nominate someone in

need. People interested in submitting may enter themselves

or nominate another person or family. All entries

are completely confidential. Before and after photos

of the job will be taken, and winner will be announced

through social media. Media release required.


We will accept submissions through August 31, 2020.

The winner will be selected and announced on

October 1, 2020.


Enter today



601-939-7420 • www.MyPureAirConsultants.com

55 • February 2017

Hometown RANKIN • 55



• Daily Headaches? It Is A Big Deal.

• Difficulty Reading? It Is A Big Deal.

• Dry Eyes? It Is A Big Deal.

When was your last eye exam? Make an appointment for

a comprehensive eye exam with JEA or visit JEA Optical

Boutique today, because It Is A Big Deal!








©2020 JEA

56 • JUNE 2020



What event in the life of a teenager is more epic than

high school graduation

(unless, of course, you are a member of the Class of 2020)

This year’s graduating class has decidedly had less pomp and more

circumstance. Traditional rites of passage have morphed into innovative

celebrations. Live-streamed ceremonies, virtual walking, and pre-recorded

commencement speakers replaced the usual fanfare. Neighborhoods and

communities stepped in with signs, banners, and drive-by parades.

But you’ve made it!

Whatever you decide to do in life, do it with confidence. Crisis builds character. Let what’s

happening around you serve as your wake-up call! It’s time to not only think about what kind of

career you want to build, but what kind of person you want to be. Congratulations graduates.

The whole world is rooting for you!

Hometown RANKIN • 57

58 • JUNE 2020




Describe your senior year in three words.

Fun, Supportive, Rewarding

If you could create one mandatory course for seniors

to take, what would it be?

It would be ACT Prep. A lot of students do not realize how

serious the ACT is. I was one of those students. If students

would have this class and their scores increase, then that is

thousands of dollars in their pocket if they decide to go to


“I will always remember…”

My four years of high school football. Each year taught me a

different lesson that I will always carry with me. The most

important thing is hard work, dedication, and leadership.

It’s definitely pushed my limits on and off the field, but it

helped build me as a person.

If you could change one school rule what would it be?

Well this is not a very big rule and I don’t know if any other

school does this but the only rule I would change is not being

able to have on headphones in the halls. To me this is a rule

that shouldn’t be a big deal. Not everyone is a social person, so

when transitioning from class to class some people want to put

their headphones in and keep to themselves. I have no

problems with any other rules.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I see myself graduating from medical school and on my way to

fulfilling my dreams of becoming a pediatrician. I see myself

being surrounded by loved ones and getting ready to start a

little family of my own. I see myself on the verge of success.

Who was your favorite teacher throughout all of high school

and why?

I honestly do not have a favorite teacher. If I said just one

teacher, it wouldn’t be very fair because each teacher was very

nice and supportive. I had teachers who were strict, I had

teachers who were laid back, and I had teaches who were both.

Overall, they all were great.

What has been the highlight of your senior year?

Definitely football. I had so much fun this last season playing

beside my brothers. It brought us closer together. Even though

we didn’t win it all, this season was still very fun and rewarding.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Not to worry about what another person is doing. When I

was a sophomore, I use to be so caught up in other peoples’

accomplishments and success that I lost focus on what I can

do to be a better student and a better person.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

As a 9th grader I would go back and take my grades and the

ACT a little bit more seriously. As a senior it would’ve helped

if I had focused on them earlier.

What advice would you give incoming freshman?

I would tell the freshmen to take their grades seriously, early.

Most freshmen do not realize that it all starts your first year of

high school and will go with you until your senior year. I would

tell the freshmen to learn how to balance school and social life

at an early age because it will surely help once you become a

senior. Once they do that, then as a senior, school will be

extremely fun and easy.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will attend Northwest Community College where I will

continue my education and will still be playing football. The

goal is to go there for a year and get another football offer to a

university and then finish off my education at that university.

From there I will apply to medical school.

Hometown RANKIN • 59

60 • JUNE 2020




Describe your senior year in three words.

Crazy, unforgettable, and bittersweet.

If you could create one mandatory course for future seniors,

what would it be?

It would have to be a life course where they teach everyone

how to do their taxes, change a tire, apply for financial aid,

and other important basic life skills.

“I will always remember…”

I will always remember sitting in math class talking and

laughing for hours on end with my teacher and other


If you could change one school rule, what would it be?

If I could, I would change our school’s shoe rule. My outfit

may be ordinary, but my shoes will not be, even though I wear

my Crocs every day.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In ten years, I will hopefully have my bachelor’s degree in

criminology, be working for the FBI as a profiler, and be

following the path God has for me.

What has been the highlight of your senior year?

The highlight of my senior year was definitely teaching my

history teacher how to do the Cupid Shuffle, and sitting in

my math teacher’s class laughing at each other all period.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Patience is a virtue, and be kind to everyone you meet,

because you never know what someone else is going through.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

If I could go back and change one thing, I would stop wanting

to be like other girls, because I am fearfully and wonderfully

made the way that I am.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen?

Give respect if you want to get respect from your teachers and

fellow classmates.

What are your plans after graduation?

After high school graduation, I plan to go to Hinds

Community College, finish out my pre-requisites, then go

to MSU to get my bachelor’s degree in criminology.

Who was your favorite teacher throughout all of high school

and why?

Mrs. Theresa Raymond Coumbe has been my favorite teacher

throughout high school because she cares for her students and

wants nothing but to better them as people. She is a huge

advocate for tough love.

Hometown RANKIN • 61

62 • JUNE 2020




Describe your senior year in three words.

Surprising, short, and memorable.

If you could create one mandatory course for seniors,

what would it be?

I would create a course for seniors that taught everyday skills

...budgeting, credit building, cooking…similar to home

economics but skills that are needed to live on my own.

Economics covers part of it, but it doesn’t cover everything.

“I will always remember…”

Winning the state championship my sophomore year.

If you could change one school rule, what would it be?

No uniforms.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Graduating veterinary school at Mississippi State.

What has been the highlight of your senior year?

Senior privileges.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

If you ride with a bank robber you are a bank robber.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

I would have focused on making memories with my friends as

much as I focused on my studies–because I didn’t realize how

little time I would have with them.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen?

Cherish every moment because it goes way too fast!

What are your plans after graduation?

Attend Mississippi State University majoring in biological


Who was your favorite teacher throughout all of high school

and why?

Mrs. Renee Tullos because she’s honest, and I feel like I can

relate to her personality.

Hometown RANKIN • 63

64 • JUNE 2020




Describe your senior year in three words.

Exciting, fast, and stressful

If you could create one mandatory course for future seniors,

what would it be?

College 411. This class would give seniors an opportunity to

explore a variety of post-secondary options, allowing them to

make informed decisions on what’s best for them. Students

would engage in conversations on the transition from high

school to college, college life, possible challenges that college

freshmen face, etc.

“I will always remember…”

The moment my name was announced for the Hall of Fame.

Right before they started to announce recipients of this award,

I was numb. I was nervous and anxious. My heart was pumping

ten times faster than normal. I knew only the best would be

honored. Ms. Clark stood at the podium. “#7 Makenzie


If you could change one school rule, what would it be?

Honestly, I would not change any of the school rules. They are

strict enough to make sure students thrive in the classroom,

but fair enough to make school fun and manageable.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In ten years, I see myself in an accounting firm with my own

apartment and a puppy to keep me company.

Who was your favorite teacher throughout

all of high school and why?

My favorite teacher is Mrs. Angel Reed. She is a wonderful

person and she always makes me feel good about myself. She

motivates me and I am always able to talk to her. I am so glad

we were able to connect. She will be truly missed.

What has been the highlight of your senior year?

Being selected for this opportunity. Out of all seniors, Florence

High School recognized me. I will forever be grateful for this


What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This shows how

important it is to network with people. You never know, these

connections may be the reason you get the job you apply for.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

During my four years of high school, I enjoyed being a part of

the Lady Eagles basketball team. Before I knew it, my senior

year was here and I was the team captain. However, my playing

time was cut short after I suffered two back-to-back knee injuries

and I missed out on the rest of my senior year. If I could go

back and change one thing, I would definitely not get injured.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen?

I would tell them to get involved in the different clubs and

activities Florence High School has to offer. I would also tell

them to engage in community service projects and activities to

not only develop leadership skills but also to build up their

transcript. This will greatly improve their chances to gain

college acceptance.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to attend Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia,

to pursue a career in accounting with hopes of studying abroad

to continue my studies in the future.

Hometown RANKIN • 65

66 • JUNE 2020




Describe your senior year in three words.

Exciting, Spontaneous, and Fruitful.

If you could create one mandatory course for future seniors,

what would it be?

I would create a life skills course for seniors because many

seniors graduate without knowing skills needed to succeed

in life.

“I will always remember…”

I will always remember when the girls’ basketball team won

the state championship for the first time in Hartfield history

and the entire student section stormed the court to celebrate

alongside the team!

If you could change one school rule, what would it be?

I would change the rule that we are only allowed to have water

in the classrooms.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope to own my own design business and be happily married

with a family.

Who was your favorite teacher throughout all of high school

and why?

Although I have so many favorite teachers and they have all

touched my life in many different ways, I would have to say

Mr. DeLaughter is my all-time favorite teacher. He encourages

me daily and never fails to make my class laugh.

What has been the highlight of your senior year?

Taking pictures of the school’s events and being a part of all the

various activities. I get to see the excitement and joy on

everyone’s face from behind the camera!

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I was ever given was from my mom. She

told me to allow God to lead me in all areas and in all times

throughout my life, not just when it is convenient for me

to let God be in control.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

I would not want to change a thing. I have learned from

everything I have gone through and each experience has given

me the continual opportunity to grow into the person I am


What advice would you give incoming freshmen?

Talk to everyone and enjoy the differences in everyone around

you. Don’t limit yourself and flock to the people who are just

like you – you can learn so much from those you don’t

necessarily have things in common with.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to attend Mississippi College and

persue a degree in graphic design and marketing.

Hometown RANKIN • 67

68 • JUNE 2020




Describe your senior year in three words.

Lessons, fun, memorable.

If you could create one mandatory course for future seniors,

what would it be?

I think that every senior should take life strategies.

“I will always remember…”

My last day of football weights. I arrived at Prep at 3:00 am

in order to beat Coach Burke, who normally gets to school

around 3:30 am.

If you could change one school rule, what would it be?

I would change the rule of only Jackson Prep outerwear.

As cold as it got this year, sometimes the school sweatshirts

didn’t cut it.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

If I chose to go to medical school, I would be in my residency;

but regardless of my career, I plan to be married to the love of

my life in ten years.

Who was your favorite teacher throughout high school

and why?

I would say that Mrs. Byrd was my favorite teacher in high

school. Her honors chemistry course was the hardest class

I took at Prep, but the relationship I developed with her

throughout the year, and since then, is something that

I wouldn’t trade for anything.

What has been the highlight of your senior year and why?

The highlight of my senior year has been my final seasons in

sports. The work that was put in with my teammates and

coaches will stay with me forever.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I have ever received is from my father. He has

always been persistent in telling me to meet my potential every

single day, in every endeavor I pursue.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

Not one thing. If I had been asked this question earlier in the

year, I would have had a number of events that I would have

changed; but looking back, the lessons I have learned only

come through those experiences.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen?

It’s ok to not be cool. It’s ok to not be the norm. When you see

an opportunity, take it without hesitation. If you go on your

own path and give your best, confidence and joy will follow.

What are your plans after graduation?

I will be attending the University of Mississippi next fall.

I plan to take my own advice and make the most of the years

to come.

Hometown RANKIN • 69

70 • JUNE 2020




Describe your senior year in three words.

Eventful, Exciting, and Unforgettable.

If you could create one mandatory course for future seniors,

what would it be?

It would be a type of course that helps seniors research the

many college options and help them narrow down to their

top three choices.

“I will always remember…”

I will never forget walking onto the football field every

Friday night and seeing a whole town supporting me and

my teammates.

If you could change one school rule, what would it be?

I think we should be able to wear hats in school.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, I see myself at a college or professional athletic

team, assisting with a strength program.

What has been the highlight of your senior year?

The highlight of my senior year was breaking the school

lifting records.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Always work hard and never give up on something you want

to accomplish.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

If I could go back in my school career, I would start lifting

weights earlier so that I could be even stronger than I am now.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen?

To the freshmen coming up: enjoy every second of high school,

because one day you will wake up and everything will be gone.

What are your plans after graduation?

My plans after graduation are to attend Belhaven University

to continue playing football, and to get a degree in exercise


Who was your favorite teacher throughout all of high school

and why?

My favorite teacher throughout high school has definitely been

Mrs. Harrison. She has helped me become the student I am

today by always helping me with whatever I needed. Whether

it be extra help or just someone to talk to, Mrs. Harrison was

always there. Also, she has always supported me in every

sporting event I have been involved in.

Hometown RANKIN • 71

72 • JUNE 2020




Describe your senior year in three words.

Busy but fun!

If you could create one mandatory course for future seniors,

what would it be?

It would be a course designed around creating a business or a

product that they could sell or test. Almost like a contestant on

the television show Shark Tank. I feel that this would help

students to use their creativity and ingenuity to see what they

could do if they take the chance and are given the opportunity.

“I will always remember…”

I will always remember the lessons I learned both inside and

outside of the classroom, and I will remember the people

around me who taught me those lessons and helped me grow

into the young adult I am today.

If you could change one school rule, what would it be?

I’d change the policy about giving homework over breaks.

I think everyone needs a vacation or full break from

instruction and that includes homework.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, I see myself working in the communications field

in some way, such as being a writer for television, running a

campaign for a politician, or being an influencer and marketing.

What has been the highlight of your senior year?

The highlight of my senior year has been being a leader in the

clubs and sports I participate in.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

To read and develop a love for reading. Not only has this

increased my academic growth throughout high school but it

has given me a great hobby and allowed me to stretch my

creativity and imagination.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

I’d change all sports to be after school so that I would have

more chances to take classes such as Art 2 and Spanish 3.

This would potentially allow me to try an even wider variety

of clubs and activities, as well.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen?

The advice I would give to freshmen would be to get involved

in as much as you can, give your best effort in everything, make

new friends, don’t be lazy, and just have fun.

What are your plans after graduation?

My plan after graduation is to continue my education at a

4-year university and start a career that I am passionate about.

Who was your favorite teacher throughout all of high school

and why?

My favorite teacher was Mr. White because he made Art I very

fun and understandable for all students regardless of their level

of interest in art, and I still talk to him regularly.

Hometown RANKIN • 73

74 • JUNE 2020




Describe your senior year in three words.

Fun, fast-paced, unforgettable.

If you could create one mandatory course for future seniors,

what would it be?

Home economics. It’s already an existing class but my school

doesn’t offer it. I feel like home economics teaches basic skills

that many students should know before being sent into the

world on their own.

“I will always remember…”

I will always remember the time my friend hosted our class

party at her house in fifth grade. She had an antique landline

on her nightstand, and one of the other girls thought it was

fake. The girl dialed 9-1-1 and an operator answered. She

wasn’t expecting anyone to answer so she freaked out and

hung up the phone immediately. A few minutes later, a police

officer showed up to the house and fussed at the girls for

playing on the phone. This all happened a few minutes before

I got to the party though, so I missed the best part of the party.

If you could change one school rule, what would it be?

We are required to wear outerwear with our school’s logo on

it. Most of the time it’s colder inside than outside, so I’d prefer

to be allowed to wear warmer clothes..

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I see myself with a great job as a pharmacist. Hopefully, I’ll

either be married or getting married soon. If I’m married by

then, I might be expecting my first child.

Who was your favorite teacher throughout all of high school

and why?

Mr. Clendinning, one of the English teachers, was my favorite

by far. He’s helpful, funny, and very patient. Also, he deeply

cares for his students. He’s kind of like the school grandfather.

Soli Deo Gloria

What has been the highlight of your senior year?

Definitely the first day of school. We had policemen escort us

seniors to school. Also, our families, friends, and other students

were waiting for us to arrive at school and begin our senior

walkthrough. Once the walkthrough started, everyone lined

up from one end of the campus to the other just to celebrate

us. I felt like I was in a miniature parade.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

There is an elderly woman in my church named Miss Daisy.

She’s a sweet lady. Every time she sees me, she gives me a hug

and says, “Make sure you learn all you can while you have the


If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

I’d change my attitude towards playing soccer. I became a

nonchalant player in the last few years. Many of my coaches

told me I had so much potential, but I just dismissed them and

went through the motions. I’ve recently finished my last season

of soccer, and I regret not doing all I could have. I should have

worked harder and given more effort.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen?

Don’t wish your time away. It doesn’t matter what stage of life

you’re, don’t wish it away. I remember being a freshman wishing

I could be done with school or wishing I could be close to

graduation. All that time I wished I could have been done with,

I wish I could experience one last time. Time is precious; it’s

the one thing we can’t get back after we’ve lost it. Make the

most of the here and now with the people around you.

What are your plans after graduation?

During the summer I’ll be working toward obtaining my

pharmacy technician certification. Afterwards, I’ll be immediately

pursuing my Doctor of Pharmacy. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do

some traveling here and there.

Hometown RANKIN • 75

76 • JUNE 2020




Describe your senior year in three words.

Unique, exciting, and unforgettable.

If you could create one mandatory course for future seniors,

what would it be?

I believe personal finance should be a mandatory course for

all students. It is so important for students to leave high school

knowing how to manage their money.

“I will always remember…”

I will always remember the unconditional love and support

the staff and administrators showed me throughout my time

at Pearl High School.

If you could change one school rule, what would it be?

I wish restaurants were allowed to deliver food to the high

school for lunch.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

In ten years, I plan to have my master’s degree in education,

a steady job, and a family including many dogs.

Who was your favorite teacher throughout all of high school

and why?

My favorite teacher in high school was one of my choral

directors, Mr. Andy Beasley. He was someone I could go to

with any problem or project, and he would do everything in his

power to help me. He also inspired me to become a teacher

through his passion for his job.

What has been the highlight of your senior year?

The highlight of my senior year was being selected as part of

the Pearl High School Hall of Fame. My family and I, along

with my other Hall of Fame classmates and their families, were

honored with an amazing luncheon sponsored by our school.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I’ve ever been given is to let go of things that

are out of my control. I am very much a perfectionist and try

to control everything in my life. I have to remind myself that is

impossible. I am learning that once I have done all I can do,

I must simply trust that the Lord has it all under control.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

If I could change one thing, I would go to every football game.

I regret not being in the student section at every home game,

but look forward to coming home to support the future Pirates

as much as possible.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen?

I would tell the incoming freshmen to go to every fundraiser,

dance, pep rally, and home game, and DRESS UP FOR

SPIRIT WEEK! Be involved! Take pictures and soak up every

moment with your classmates. These are moments you will

look back on and for which you will be extremely thankful.

What are your plans after graduation?

My plans after graduation are to attend the University of

Southern Mississippi, and major in elementary education

while also becoming certified K - 12 in math and English.

Hometown RANKIN • 77

78 • JUNE 2020





Describe your senior year in three words.

My senior year was full of adventures, new beginnings, and

new friendships that made me happier and confident as a

person. It taught me to be more open and confident to speak

up. It’s something I’ll look back at and truly miss because

I enjoyed it so much.

If you could create one mandatory course for future seniors,

what would it be?

I would create is a course where students could learn more

about scholarships, how to apply for college, and FAFSA.

It would prepare them to begin the next chapter of their lives

as some students, like me, are first-generation high school

graduates. It would help seniors in creating resumes, be

informed, have time to apply for scholarships, and learn more

on how to prepare for college and what to expect from it.

“I will always remember…”

I will always remember the bond I had in JROTC with cadets,

friends, and our instructors. It was a class I shared with my two

brothers and we felt like we were a part of a team and family.

I gained a lot of confidence and motivation.

If you could change one school rule, what would it be?

Having assigned cafeteria tables during lunch. I think students

should have the opportunity to interact with other students

and their friends during lunch and to sit anywhere they want.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Possibly still being a part of the National Guard and being

graduated from college. I would like to have my dream truck

and possibly a house.

Who was your favorite teacher throughout all of the high

school and why?

I had three teachers that stood out to me. Mrs. Kelsey Nobles

and Mrs. Heather Greene were my teachers during my

sophomore year that would always check up on me and

encouraged me to follow my dreams. My English teacher,

Mrs. Laura Grice, taught me all four years of high school and

took extra time to tutor me and keep me motivated through

English class, which was my hardest subject.

What has been the highlight of your senior year?

Being JROTC Color Guard commander. I had the chance to

command color guard, participate in a drill competition and

gain the battalion’s golden star back during my senior year.

Another senior highlight would be being the first in my family

to graduate high school and attend college.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can

get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and

keep moving forward,” by Rocky Balboa. This quote has given

me motivation when struggling to give up, to push myself to

limits I thought I never could in order to achieve my goals in


If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

I would have taken dual credit classes sooner. It would have

allowed me to achieve my dreams quicker.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen?

Take risks, make new friends, and make the best memories.

Don’t let others get to you. Focus on yourself, the moment,

and your dreams. It’s not about drama and giving up. It’s is

about taking chances—and taking advantage of the time and

making the very best of it.

What are your plans after graduation?

To join the National Guard then attend Mississippi State

University. I will most likely be majoring in business possibly

accounting or international business. I hope to be a part of the

ROTC program while attending MSU.

Hometown RANKIN • 79

80 • JUNE 2020




Describe your senior year in three words.

Jubilant, powerful, treasured.

If you could create one mandatory course for future seniors,

what would it be?

​It would simply be called “Life After This.” It would be about

how to handle taxes, bills, how to get a mortgage, etc. Basically

just how to transition into “adulthood” smoother than most

who do not know this information prior to graduating.

“I will always remember...” ​

The district championship football game my sophomore year

when we played St. Joe. We had to beat them by ten points in

order to win the title. The odds and predictions were stacked

against us. But even through the freezing rain we prevailed and

ended up beating them 69-17. I will never forget the feeling

that lit up the stands throughout that whole game.

If you could change one school rule, what would it be? ​

If I could change one school rule, it would be the lunch

schedules we have. Being a senior, the time I get with my

friends is so important to me. It would be really cool if there

was a way to organize lunch so that all classes could eat

together at one time.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

​It is really hard for me to say where I see myself in ten years

because I simply have no idea where I will be led to by the

time 2030 rolls around. All I know is that I hope to be out of

college with some kind of degree, pursuing a career in a field

where I can help people each day, and working toward

planting a seed to begin to grow my life somewhere with

someone I love.

Who was your favorite teacher throughout all of high school

and why? ​

My favorite teacher throughout all of high school would have

to be my English teacher, Mrs. Treadwell, who was also my

cheer coach. She has taught me how to commit to something

with my whole heart and be a true leader.

What has been the highlight of your senior year?

​The appreciation I have experienced for every single moment.

I am very proud to say that I have not lived in sorrow over

little things all throughout this final year. I have woken up each

day with a goal to find joy in everything I am given. Looking

back now, I can truly say I do not regret one single thing about

my senior year.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? ​

The best advice I have ever been given would have to be the

simple quote: “Never let anyone steal your joy.” I was given this

advice by a lady that worked in the front office of my old

school when I was in the 8th grade, and with my move to

Pisgah it has really been the staple of my high school years.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be? ​

I would have been at Pisgah my whole life.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen? ​

Never be ashamed to be the “picture person.” When you are

sitting down as a senior, looking back through your Snapchat

memories, you are going to wish you would have gotten certain

moments on film or snapped a picture. Take endless amounts

of pictures and videos. When it’s all over, that is the only thing

you’ll have to remember.

Hometown RANKIN • 81

82 • JUNE 2020




Describe your senior year in three words.

Challenging, rewarding, and eye-opening.

If you could create one mandatory course for future seniors,

what would it be?

A course in common world skills; such as creating a family

budget, effectively searching for a job, how to file taxes,

purchasing a vehicle, and so on. Teaching these skills while

preparing for college or the workforce could heavily benefit


“I will always remember…”

I will always remember the relationships with my instructors.

Not only do these individuals do what their titles imply, but

they also inspire. Those I have had the pleasure of learning

under saw my drive for writing and have given me all the tools

and backing needed to be successful. Never will I forget their

selflessness no matter where I might go in the world.

If you could change one school rule, what would it be?

I would change the policies on dress code. I do believe and

understand that the policies are in place for good reason and

that violations could create distractions in the classroom,

however I feel some go too far.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope to see myself either teaching and/or coaching a writing

class at the high school or collegiate level. It has been my dream

for a long time to write and help allocate that talent in others.

Who was your favorite teacher throughout all of high school

and why?

That would be Mrs. Amy Smith who has taught me business

fundamentals I & II. Mrs. Smith has taught me not only

academically, but also morally. She has gone above and beyond

in being a supportive friend and leader. It is my belief that I

will never encounter as great and strong a woman and educator.

What has been the highlight of your senior year?

The highlight of my senior year has definitely been looking

back and reflecting upon the memories made in grades

kindergarten thru 12th. Until senior year, one does not

typically ponder on the memories made in school, and being

able to reminisce on these memories has definitely been my

favorite part of senior year.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

It was by my grandfather when he said to be nice to everyone

no matter how they act to you. Over the course of my high

school studies, I have seen the positive impact that being kind

to others has, and therefore, I find that advice given to me at a

young age to be the best I’ve ever gotten.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

As lackluster as this answer is, I would not change anything

about my time at Puckett High School. The memories I’ve

made here have shaped me into the person I am today, and

I would not wish to alter them in any way.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen?

I would tell incoming freshmen to learn two things above all

else; learn time management and do not procrastinate! Both

these things are vastly important in high school.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to attend Mississippi State University and major in

English with a minor in creative writing.

Hometown RANKIN • 83

84 • JUNE 2020





Describe your senior year in three words.

Challenging. Rewarding. Unforgettable.

If you could create one mandatory course for future seniors,

what would it be?

I would create a nap class for seniors. Sometimes these senior

classes can get stressful and overwhelming, and we all could

use a nice little stress-reliever to get us through the year.

“I will always remember…”

I will always remember being in my school’s show choir.

The group is so tight-knit. We have a great time singing and

dancing with each other, but we also know that we have each

other to lean on when life gets rough.

If you could change one school rule, what would it be?

We have to sit in assigned sections at lunch. I would get rid of

that rule, so everybody could sit and talk with their friends.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope to be working in a hospital as a pediatric occupational

therapist. I will also most likely have a few dogs and a small

house. I may be married and have kids in 10 years, but who


Who was your favorite teacher throughout all of high school

and why?

My absolute favorite teacher is my science teacher, Mrs.

Elizabeth Knight. We both share a love for science, and she

always lets me ask her all the many questions I have about it.

I always know I can talk to her if I ever need anybody to give

me advice or make me laugh. She never fails to brighten my

day and strengthen my passion for science.

What has been the highlight of your senior year?

My last few show choir competitions. The show choir girls

would get together and spend the night because we always had

to wake up at like two or three in the morning to do hair and

makeup. I also loved performing the show. There is nothing

like the rush of performing a show in front of an audience.

Show choir competitions have given me some of the best

memories that I will continue to cherish in years to come.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Definitely to be myself–because those who mind don’t matter,

and those who matter don’t mind. This has been so helpful to

me because I have struggled with trying to change myself to

please others throughout my life, but this only wears you down

and keeps you from being the best version of yourself.

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?

I would change my perfectionist ways. There have been many

times in my life when I have chosen to stay home and do work,

so I could get a perfect grade. By doing this, I feel like I have

missed out on so many valuable high school memories that I

won’t get back.

What advice would you give incoming freshmen?

I would tell them to not worry about being the most popular

or the best looking person ever, but to strive to be the best

versions of themselves. Popularity and looks only bring

temporary happiness, but having good character will bring

a lifetime of joy and success.

What are your plans after graduation?

I plan to attend Mississippi College to major in biology and

minor in psychology. I then plan to go to occupational therapy

school to become a pediatric occupational therapist.

Hometown RANKIN • 85

86 • JUNE 2020



Like Us!

Hometown RANKIN • 87

88 • JUNE 2020

??????????? WHERE ARE THEY NOW ???????????

Courtside Adventures


It is the perfect scene from any heartwarming

movie about growing up in the south. A young

boy and his friends ride their bikes to meet up for

a fun day of fishing. The barefoot children spend

their daylight hours outside, usually ending the

day at the baseball fields. As teenagers, they

jump in their unlocked cars and turn the keys

that were already hanging from the ignition.

The friends drive down the road, only stopping

to swipe a piece of sugar cane from a field. Once

they arrive at their destination, the teens sit on

the swinging bridge, eating sugar cane and

hiding from the cars that pass underneath.

Except this is not a movie scene, it is a glimpse

into the childhood of Hal Lusk, who grew up in

Florence, Mississippi. “I could go on for days

about growing up in Florence. I wouldn’t trade it

for anything. It was the simple life, and a great

place to grow up.” Mr. Lusk continued to recall

his childhood memories, telling stories about how

the town had no police, only a town marshal.

The doctor, who lived across the street from him,

would make house calls if someone was sick. Hal

Lusk’s family absolutely loved their quaint town.

Hal’s mother, Velma, was born and raised in

Florence. His father, Harold Lusk Sr., moved

there in 1948. They got married and had two

children, Sandy, and Harold Lusk Jr. (Hal).

Harold Lusk Sr. owned C&H Steel. In his free

time, he coached his son’s little league teams. A

ballpark in Florence was named after him, to

honor him for years of service. Hal’s mom, Velma,

served Florence as well. She owned several

businesses in the Florence area, and served for 28

years as either mayor or alderman of Florence.

Velma Lusk was once awarded for being the

longest serving female in municipal government.

Sandy Tabor, the daughter of Harold Sr. and

Velma Lusk, continued the family tradition of

serving Florence. Sandy served in the Florence

school district, first as a teacher, then counselor,

assistant principal, and she eventually became

principal. Though she has now retired, she still

serves the school, part-time, and lives in the

house she built next to her childhood home.

Hal Lusk Jr. learned to love sports from a

very early age. Whether he was playing a

spontaneous game of baseball with his buddies,

or being coached by his father, his childhood was

filled with baseball memories. When he entered

high school, he played every sport that was

offered. Mr. Lusk went to Belhaven on a baseball

scholarship. He is in the baseball Hall of Fame

for his achievements during that time.

While attending Belhaven, someone suggested

he start refereeing basketball games. He loved

the idea. After joining the association, he began

officiating junior high and high school games.

He then began refereeing for junior colleges and

small colleges. He attended some referee camps

and was hired for division one conferences. This

gave him the opportunity to travel the country

and he got to officiate fourteen NCAA

tournaments, one of which was the Sweet 16.

In 2017, Mr. Lusk came off the floor from

refereeing. He became the assistant coordinator

over officiating for numerous division one

conferences, including the SEC. He is also the

coordinator over officiating for Mississippi

junior colleges, Alabama junior colleges, and

two NAIA conferences.

Hal Lusk Jr. has experienced all of this while

also working for Jackson Public Schools. In

1986, he became assistant athletic director for

the schools, and in 1990, he became athletic

director. He has since retired from that position.

He will be celebrating his 34th anniversary with

his wife, Jennifer, in July. They have three sons,

Chad, Noah and Hal Lusk III. He also is proud

of his five grandchildren, Isaac, Camille, Elena,

Mia, and James Harold Lusk IV.

Mr. Lusk shared how thankful he is that

refereeing has offered him so many unique

opportunities. He has met interesting people,

like Coach Bobby Knight, and has traveled to

exciting places all over the United States and

beyond. He humbly shared, “To say that an ole

boy from Florence, Mississippi, has gotten to go

to all of those places is pretty interesting, to say

the least.”

Hometown RANKIN • 89



Director of Rehab & Doctor of Physical Therapy

Chris is our new, full-time Director of Rehab at 360 Total Rehab

in Flowood, an outpatient clinic offering physical, occupational, and

speech therapy.

Chris received his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from UMMC.

During and after his education, Chris worked in a variety of health

care settings including swing bed, nursing home, acute care,

outpatient, and home health.

Personally, Chris enjoys walking alongside patients as they achieve

new outcomes and truly make a change for themselves. Chris is

currently undergoing training to become certified in Functional Dry

Needling by the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy. He is

undergoing training to become certified to conduct work screens and

Functional Capacity Evaluations through WorkWell. Chris and his

wife, who is also a physical therapist, live in Brandon.

Contact Us: 601-932-8555 | 360totalrehab.com


4215 Lakeland Drive Flowood, MS 39232 | facebook: 360 Total Rehab

90 • JUNE 2020

Help us help


© Copyright 2019 BankPlus.

Member FDIC.

Friends of Children’s Hospital

supports Batson Children’s Hospital,

part of University of Mississippi

Health Care, Mississippi’s

ONLY hospital designed for the care

and treatment of sick or injured children.

*NOTE: All donations subject

to change on an annual basis.

Friends of Children’s

Hospital CheckCard

The Friends Card cost $12 per year, 100% of which is

donated to Friends

BankPlus makes a donation to Friends each

time the card is used

Available via instant issue

Since inception, the Friends CheckCard has raised

almost $2,000,000


Hometown RANKIN • 91



Heart-healthy recipes

from the American

Heart Association


Beef Sliders

with Avocado, Roasted Poblano

Pepper, & Cotija Cheese

These mini burgers offer a taste of

southwestern cuisine.

• 2 large poblano peppers

• ¾ pound extra-lean ground beef

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• 8 whole-wheat slider buns

(lowest sodium available)

• 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. crumbled

cotija cheese

• 1 large Italian plum (Roma)

tomato (about 3 inches),

cut crosswise into 8 slices

• 1 medium avocado (mashed

with a fork)

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Line a

baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put peppers on baking sheet. Place

on the middle rack of the oven. Roast

for 10 minutes. Flip and roast for

10 minutes, or until the skins are

charred and blistered. Remove from

the oven and place in a bowl. Cover

with plastic wrap. Set aside for 10


Using your hands or a spoon, shape

beef into eight thin patties, about

three inches in diameter. (uncooked

patties will be larger than the buns

and will shrink as they cook.)

Sprinkle patties with the salt.

Preheat a large nonstick skillet or

griddle pan over medium-high heat.

Cook patties for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip

and cook for two minutes, or until

the beef is no longer pink.

Peel the skin off the peppers by

gently rubbing them with a dry

towel. Remove the seeds and ribs.

Cut each pepper into four long


Place each patty on a bottom bun.

Sprinkle with the cotija cheese.

Top with 1 pepper slice folded

in half and 1 tomato slice.

Spread the avocado over the

tomato. Put the tops of the buns

on the sliders. Using four short

skewers, pierce two sliders with

each skewer. Serve immediately.

(serves 8 mini-burgers)


Frozen Yogurt Bark

This frozen yogurt bark studded

with fruit is a fun treat for kids and

adults alike. But be sure to eat it as

soon as pieces are removed from

the freezer as it melts in about

15 minutes.

• 1 ½ cups 2% low-fat plain Greek


• 2 tablespoons honey

• 2 tablespoons chopped,

unsalted almonds

• ½ cup chopped mango

• ¼ cup blackberries or

raspberries, chopped if large

• ½ cup blueberries

In a medium bowl, add yogurt and

honey. Mix together to combine.

Line a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish

with parchment paper. Use a spatula

or knife to spread the yogurt as thin

as possible over the entire bottom

of the dish.

Add the chopped nuts over the top

of the yogurt. Use your fingers to

slightly press them into the yogurt.

Peel the mango, cutting the slices

around the pit. Finely chop the

mango, along with the berries, if

they are larger than bite-sized and

need chopping. Top the yogurt

with the fruit–add as much fruit as

will fit over the top. Again, slightly

press fruit into the yogurt.

Cover with plastic wrap or foil and

place in the freezer overnight. When

ready to serve, lift the parchment

paper from the baking dish onto a

cutting board. Break bark apart into

pieces and serve. Keep remaining

pieces wrapped in parchment paper

and sealed in a Ziploc bag in the

freezer for up to 1 month.

(serves 8)


Overnight No-Cook

Banana Oatmeal

• 2 ½ cups skim milk

• 1 Tbsp. honey

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• 3 ½ cups rolled oats (not instant

or quick-cooking)

• 2 bananas, halved lengthwise

and sliced

• ¼ cup chopped, unsalted pecans

or walnuts

In a large, re-sealable container or

bowl, add milk, honey, and extract.

Stir to combine, adding oats and

stirring to combine. Seal or cover;

place in the refrigerator and let sit


The next day, peel each banana.

Halve each one lengthwise and slice.

Divide sliced bananas and nuts over

each oatmeal portion. Serve.

(serves 4)

92 • JUNE 2020


Guacamole Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs always bring a crowdpleasing

touch to start a meal or small

party. Using guacamole as the base is

a heart-healthy way to indulge in

deviled eggs, as avocado subs for the

majority of egg yolk in this recipe.

• 9 large eggs

• 1 medium avocado (halved, pitted)

• 2 tablespoon fat-free sour cream

• 1 ½ teaspoons lime juice

• ⅓ cup seeded and finely chopped

Roma tomato (1 to 2 tomatoes)

• ¼ cup finely chopped scallions

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

• 1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped


• Dried or fresh cilantro, to garnish



Fill a large pot with water, add the

eggs, and bring to a boil over high

heat. As soon as water begins to boil,

cover with a lid, remove pot from the

heat, and let eggs sit for 10 minutes.

Drain water and transfer eggs to a

bowl of cold water to cool. When

eggs are cool enough to handle,

remove the shells. Slice in half

lengthwise. Remove the yolks. Put

two whole egg yolks into a medium

bowl and discarding the remaining

egg yolks. Place the egg white halves

onto a platter.

Slice the avocado in half and remove

the pit. Use a spoon to scoop the

avocado’s flesh into a bowl. Use a fork

to mash the egg yolks and the

avocado together. Stir in the sour

cream and lime juice.

Remove the seeds from the tomatoes

with a spoon and discard; finely chop

the tomato, along with finely chopping

the scallions. Add both to the mashed

avocado, along with salt, pepper, and

optional jalapeno. Stir together to


Spoon the guacamole into each egg

white half, dividing the mixture

between all 18. Garnish with a

sprinkle of dried or fresh chopped

cilantro, if desired. Serve.

(serves 18 deviled eggs)


Berry Nuts Granola Bars

Granola bars aren’t just easy to make,

they can also be sculpted based on

your tastes. Add anything from

sunflower seeds to flaked unsweetened

coconut to a variety of nuts and

nut butters. Even a tablespoon or two

of chocolate chips can be thrown into

the mix to entice kids.

• 1 cup dried, unsweetened


• 2 cups old-fashioned oats, divided

• ½ cup sliced, unsalted almonds

• ¼ cup flax seeds

• pinch salt

• 2 tablespoon canola oil

• ¼ cup maple syrup

• ⅓ cup reduced-fat peanut butter

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line an 8x8

baking dish with parchment paper.

In a food processor, add cranberries;

process until chopped a bit, about

30 seconds to 1 minute. Add 1 cup

of oats; continue to puree until oats

are a flour-like consistency. Transfer

to a large bowl. Add remaining 1 cup

oats, almonds, flax seeds, and salt. Stir

together to combine.

In a heatproof container, add oil,

maple syrup, and nut butter. Warm

in microwave until soft and pliable,

around 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir

mixture until smooth. Pour nut butter

mixture over oat mixture. Use a spatula

to thoroughly combine. Transfer to

the prepared baking dish. Wet your

hands and press down on the mixture

to help it stick together.

Cook in the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove and let cool slightly. Press

down on mixture again to stick

together. Cover the top with plastic

wrap and place in the refrigerator at

least a few hours (or preferably

overnight) to harden. Lift parchment

paper from baking dish. Use a serrated

knife and cut the granola bars into

12 pieces. Serve or transfer to an

airtight container for 1 week.

(serves 12)


Turkey & Bean Tostadas

with Avocado-Tomato Salsa

Baked tortillas hold the same appeal

as their fried counterparts in this

tostada recipe – they’re crunchy

and delicious!


• 2 cups chopped tomatoes

(about 2 medium tomatoes)

• 1 medium avocado (halved,

pitted, diced)

• 1 large ear of corn, husks and silk

discarded, and kernels removed

from the cob OR 1 cup frozen

whole kernel corn (thawed, drained)

• 1-2 medium fresh jalapeño peppers

(seeds and ribs discarded, finely


• 2 tablespoons red onion,

finely chopped

• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

In a small bowl, stir together all

ingredients. Set aside.


• Cooking spray

• 5 6-inch corn tortillas

• 8 ounces skinless turkey breast,


• 1 can no-salt-added black beans

(rinsed, drained)

• 2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking

sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly

spray foil with cooking spray. Place

tortillas on the baking sheet. Lightly

spray tortillas with cooking spray.

Using a fork, pierce tortillas a few

times to prevent them from filling

with air. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes on

each side, or until golden brown.

In a medium nonstick saucepan, cook

the turkey, chili powder, cumin, and

coriander over medium-high heat for

5 to 6 minutes, or until the turkey is

no longer pink, stirring occasionally

to turn and break up the turkey.

Add the beans and water to turkey.

Cook five minutes, or until the beans

are heated through. Using a potato

masher, coarsely mash the beans and

turkey together. Remove from heat.

To assemble the tostadas, spread the

bean and turkey mixture over each

tortilla. Spoon the salsa overall.

(serves 5 tostadas)


Bluey Smoothie

• 1 cup frozen blueberries

• 2 cups frozen peach slices

• 2 cups packed, fresh spinach

• 1 cup fat-free milk

• 1 teaspoon honey

Into a blender, add all ingredients and

blend until smooth, about 1 to 2

minutes, stopping to scrape down

mixture if needed. Pour into two

glasses and serve.

Hometown RANKIN • 93

94 • JUNE 2020

Hometown RANKIN • 95

96 • JUNE 2020


Tell us about your family

and your hobbies.

Warren I teach Algebra I, college algebra,

and trigonometry at Pisgah High School.

This is my 13th year at Pisgah. I am also

an assistant football coach, assistant track

coach, and head tennis coach. My hobby

is playing tennis.

Beth My parents are Rankin County

natives, so I’ve lived in Rankin County

for most of my life. My dad and mom

(Jay and Hilda White) are retired

Rankin County teachers, so becoming a

teacher seemed only natural to me. When

I graduated from Millsaps in 2006 with

a degree in English, I started teaching at

Pisgah High School. After teaching for

a year, I began a master’s program at

Mississippi College. Upon graduating,

I started teaching as an adjunct instructor

for Hinds Community College. Currently,

I teach several online classes for Hinds in

addition to my English position at Pisgah

High School. I enjoy reading, writing,

traveling, swimming, and playing tennis.

John Warren is nine years old. He enjoys

playing tennis and reading. Although it is

hard for him to choose his favorite book,

he believes Harry Potter and the Order of the

Phoenix is his favorite.

Boyd is six years old. He enjoys arts and

crafts, playing tennis, learning math, and

playing video games.

Elis is three years old and enjoys painting,

coloring, and eating pickles.

Hometown RANKIN • 97

Tell us how met, and how long you’ve been married.

Beth Warren and I met when we were in the 8th grade. My mom

became the librarian at Pisgah, so I transferred from Florence

Middle School to Pisgah High School. Warren and I shared a

few classes in 8th grade, and it wasn’t very long before we were

competing for the highest grades on our tests. In 9th grade,

Warren asked me to be his girlfriend on September 4, 1998, after

a football game, and we have been together ever since. We are

celebrating 18 years of marriage this May.

Do you allow time to be with your spouse for a date night?

Beth When one of the grandmothers can keep all three children,

we enjoy going out to eat and/or to a movie. Oh, and grocery

shopping alone. This is the best.

Warren Our parents are great about helping us out with the boys.

Watching all three boys can be tough, so we appreciate them.

What brings you the greatest joy as a parent?

Beth The greatest joy has been seeing our oldest be saved and

baptized. All of our children bring us joy in their own ways.

Each day, we see their personalities develop, and we love seeing

how different they are. Each one has his own strengths, and we

hope to foster those.

Warren Also, watching your child succeed in something he has

struggled with is a great feeling.

Who is the financial manager in your home?

Beth Warren saves money. I spend money. When I’ve spent too

much, he tells me, and I try to be good until payday!

Warren We have had our share of disagreements about money

over the years. I hate to see all the online purchases she makes, but

if it was not for my wife buying all the stuff she does, we probably

would not have clothes or shoes or anything. I don’t ever think

about that kind of thing, she just takes care of it. So when I get

angry about all the money she spends, she reminds of the birthday

gifts and school necessities that she has purchased, and I calm

down but not before I remind her to have limits.

What is your discipline philosophy with your children?

Beth We use positive discipline, for the most part. Our children

have never been spanked. We use “calm down” time when the

youngest needs to learn from a mistake. The early years are intense

and rather difficult; however, perseverance pays off, and in the

long run, our children are better for the choices that we’ve made.

Warren It is so important to be proactive, to re-direct. Try to

recognize a problem before it starts and find some way to prevent it.

What do you see in your role as the greatest benefit to

your family?

Beth I’m the comforter. In addition, all three of our children were

breastfed for an extended amount of time, and I will always feel

like this was the greatest physical gift and the most sacrificial of


Warren I am the leader. I keep things running and gets things done.

What’s a quick go to meal that isn’t fast food? And who does

the cooking?

Beth Warren and I share cooking responsibilities. He likes to cook

meat, and I do not like to cook meat. Generally, he will cook meat

on the grill, and I will provide the sides. The kids love to eat burgers

from the grill. I guess that would be our quick “go-to” meal.

How long has Pisgah/Sandhill been your home?

Warren My mother’s family, the Boyds, have been in Sandhill for

many years. My grandmother, Pauline Boyd, taught at Pisgah, my

mother, Susan McKay, graduated from Pisgah and later taught at

Pisgah Elementary for over 30 years, and I attended Pisgah,

kindergarten through 12th grade and have taught there for

thirteen years. Beth and I built our house on family land in

Sandhill near our school, and we love it here. It is our home, and

we will never live anywhere else.

What are some of your favorite things about Rankin County?

Warren Since we are both teachers at Pisgah, we have seen,

first-hand, how great the Rankin County School District is. There

are amazing teachers, principals, and administration all over the

county and we are so proud to be a part of it. Our two oldest

children attend Pisgah Elementary, and we love our little school.

Pisgah High School is a great place for Beth and me to work, and

we are blessed to teach some of the best children you will ever meet.

Beth There are so many great things about Rankin County.

I agree with Warren–I love our school district, but our school

district would not be what it is without the great people of Rankin

County. I am so honored to serve my community as a teacher. The

people of Rankin County feel like a family, and Rankin County is

my home. This is my favorite thing about Rankin County; it’s the

feeling of home that I love so much. It is hard to find words to

describe the feeling of home, but I’ll try. It’s this sweet smell like

freshly cut grass, driving down the road and seeing the past before

your eyes—trees where stores now stand. Roads where once there

were trees. It’s coming to that place on Hwy 25 where you can see

the tops of the buildings in Jackson, and you know exactly what is

ahead even if your eyes are closed. It’s feeling safe and warm and

content. It’s in your bones. It’s who you are. It’s home.

98 • JUNE 2020

How do you spend your summer breaks?

Beth We enjoy swimming and visiting museums and parks

during the summer.

Warren We stay outside playing tennis or walking the woods

searching for blackberries.

What accomplishments make you proud during your time

living in Pisgah?

Beth As teachers, our pride is very much related to our school

and our students. When our students accomplish great things,

we accomplish great things. Being chosen as STAR teacher for

the 2019-2020 school year is the greatest honor that I’ve

received as a teacher. In addition, becoming a published writer

has been my greatest professional accomplishment.

Warren I have been involved in some great moments at Pisgah

in the classroom and in sports. Being named Teacher of the

Year twice was special because I had such great students who

tried so hard on their state tests. I was part of the coaching

staff on the first football team to be district champions and on

the boys’ track team that was state champions. I also coached

the tennis team to their first district championship. All this

was possible due to hard working athletes that believed in what

we coaches were trying to do at Pisgah.

What drives you to have the job that you have?

Beth Our motivators are both personal and social. On a

personal level, we are motivated by our passions. We have a

desire to share our passions with others and to help foster

those passions in our students. On a social level, we want to

help create a better society by positively impacting today’s

youth, tomorrow’s future. This is our contribution to society

and the legacy that we will leave.


What’s your favorite thing to do as a family?

John Warren Go on family vacations.

Boyd I like walking in the woods with my family.

Elis I like to jump on the trampoline with my family.

What your favorite restaurant?

John Warren Buffalo Wild Wings

Boyd China Café beside Target

Elis Chick-fil-A

What’s your favorite TV show?

John Warren The Last Kids on Earth

Boyd Ninjago

Elis PJ Masks

Hometown RANKIN • 99

100 • JUNE 2020



Dwayne Blaylock, CEO of Merit Health River

Oaks, and Heather Sistrunk, CEO of Merit

Health Rankin and Merit Health Woman’s,

recently spoke with Hometown Magazine to

give an update on COVID-19 and its impact

on our Rankin County hospitals.

What policies and/or procedures have

your facilities adopted to keep staff and

patients safe?

Heather Sistrunk We are taking extraordinary

measures, going above and beyond our normal efforts

to keep our hospitals clean and safe so that you will

feel confident and know you are protected. We are

screening everyone who comes into the hospitals,

providing facemasks and other personal protective

equipment to staff and patients, and rearranging our

environments to enable social distancing. Also, our

cleaning staff is disinfecting frequently touched

surfaces and doing a terrific job of keeping the

hospitals clean.

Are your ERs safe for the community to visit?

Heather Sistrunk Yes, our ERs are safe. If you have

sudden symptoms that may indicate an emergency

health situation you can and should seek immediate

medical attention. Tragically, people with serious

emergencies, such as a heart attack or stroke, are

waiting too long for medical care. Getting fast medical

treatment could be the difference between life and

death so please don’t ignore the signs of a health

emergency. Call 911, come to the ER, and get the help

you need.

Is it ok for people to have surgery or an

elective procedure?

Dwayne Blaylock Yes it is safe for anyone to have

surgery or any other procedure that is recommended

by their doctor. Each surgery patient is pre-screened

for COVID-19 several days prior to their appointment

and they are also screened upon their arrival, along

with the person that accompanies them.

If, for whatever reason, a patient’s loved one

is unable to be with the patient for the

duration of the stay, how can the family be

updated on the patient’s progress?

Dwayne Blaylock If a family member or care team

member is unavailable to stay with the patient, we will

accommodate daily phone updates regarding the

status of the patient. We can also make arrangements

to receive personal toiletries and other belongings to

make the patient’s stay as comfortable as possible.

What about the areas in your hospital other

than the ER and the surgery department?

Heather Sistrunk We have implemented the same

COVID safety precautions in our outpatient diagnostic

testing areas as well as the lab, radiology, sleep lab

and all other areas of our hospitals.

Is there a special unit at your hospital for

COVID-19 patients?

Heather Sistrunk We have red, yellow and green

zones within the hospital. A red zone is a COVID zone

in which only appropriate personnel with appropriate

PPE can enter. A yellow zone indicates a COVID test

result is pending for patients in those areas. A green

zone is our COVID safe zone.

What is your visitor policy?

Dwayne Blaylock As the COVID-19 situation

evolves, so does our visitor policy. You can find the

current policy by visiting our website: MyMeritHealth.com.

Does Merit Health offer COVID-19 testing?

Heather Sistrunk We have the ability to test

inpatients at all three of our Rankin County hospitals,

as well as patients who visit either of our two Rankin

County emergency rooms.

What about your clinics? Are they open

and safe?

Dwayne Blaylock Our clinics are taking the same

safety precautions as our hospitals. They are open,

safe, and ready to see you if you are experiencing any

symptoms of illness. In addition, many of our doctors

offer telehealth visits for those who prefer not to come

into the office.

What is a telehealth visit?

Dwayne Blaylock Telehealth is a video call or

phone call appointment. In some instances this works

well for the patient but in most situations, the provider

needs to see the patient in person. All of our providers

are happy to speak with their patients to determine

which type of visit is best for them.

Hometown RANKIN • 101








One-on-One Mentoring

for all students!

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.

102 • JUNE 2020

Hometown RANKIN • 103


to First Responders

104 • JUNE 2020


The Pelahatchie Volunteer Fire Department is an all volunteer fire department and was founded in 1952.

We pride ourselves on being public servants in our community. During the last 14 years we have managed

to obtain two fire trucks through the Assistance to FireFighters grant program and we have also lowered the

fire insurance rating to a Class 6 which means lower insurance premiums for our businesses and homeowners.

We not only provide fire response but emergency medical care as well.





Why did you decide to be

a fireman?

I’ve been around the fire service since I was a

kid growing up in Richland. My oldest brother

was the first full time firefighter for the City of

Richland and my dad and other two brothers

were volunteer firefighters for the City of

Richland. I have always wanted to follow in

my dad’s footsteps and this seemed to have

been my calling.

How long have you been with the

Pelahatchie Fire Department?

Almost 14 years.

Tell us about your family.

I’m married and have a 23-year-old daughter

that works as a dispatcher for another agency.

What is the toughest thing you

have experienced in your job?

One of the toughest things that I have had to

do was make the death notification to a family

that had just lost one of their loved ones.

Share some things you enjoy doing

in your spare time.

I like the mountains and just getting away and

relaxing. I try to do a little woodworking when

I have some free time.

What are three things on your

bucket list?

I really haven’t had a bucket list because I

usually set out to accomplish whatever it is

that I set my mind to.

Who is someone you admire

and why?

I have several. But when it comes to the fire

department, Chief Alan Brunacini of the

Phoenix Fire Department, who has since

passed away, is at the top. He was a simple

person but he always said that outstanding

customer service must be a priority throughout

the fire service. He believed civilians

would always remember their interactions

with firefighters and therefore every firefighter

must follow the ‘Golden Rule’ and treat others

as they would want to be treated. That’s what

I ask every member to do—to treat every

person that they come in contact with that way.

If you could give one piece

of advice to a young person,

what would it be?

Get involved in your community. It all goes

back to helping your neighbor in a time of


What is your favorite thing about


The teamwork that we have with the police

department and the public works department.

When something needs to be accomplished

and we need a few extra hands, we can rely

on each other to get it done. Sometimes you

don’t see that in other communities.

What is your favorite thing

about Rankin County?

That you can do all your business in Rankin

County and feel safe. Our fire departments,

police departments and sheriff’s department,

and Pafford EMS is, hands down, the best in

the business. I contribute the success of these

departments to the leadership they have in

place. Everyone in Rankin County has made

a commitment to public safety and it shows

when you see these men and women working

side by side, regardless if it’s their job or not.

That’s what makes a great county to live in.

Hometown RANKIN • 105




Steven Wallace



106 • JUNE 2020

Hometown RANKIN • 107




Chatham Kennedy

108 • JUNE 2020

The sounds of the African wind

and bearded falcon are muffled

by the rumbling generator and the

music of Garth Brooks, which keeps

the seventeen Mississippi State

University Kappa Sigmas entertained

as they labor under the blistering sun.

Hometown RANKIN • 109

An annual spring break trip for the fraternity, Kappa Sigma

partners with Reclaimed Project, a community development

faith-based organization out of Fondren, for a week of manual

labor in Lesotho, a small African country known as “The Kingdom

in the Sky” due to the mountainous region where it rests. This year

six Kappa Sigmas from Brandon flew 8,000 miles to spend their

break serving the people of Lesotho by building a retaining wall

and irrigation system for a new ministry site, which will serve as a

skills training center for high school students who are a part of

Reclaimed’s orphan care ministry.

Kennedy Guest, John William Ables, and John David West,

all graduates of Brandon High School, Alex Gibbs, a graduate of

Jackson Prep, Troy Stokes, a graduate of East Rankin Academy,

and Brandon Bergold, a graduate of Northwest Rankin, dedicated

their spring break to work alongside their fraternity’s philanthropic

partner. Two other Rankin County natives accompanied the Kappa

Sigmas on this trip: Marianna Myrick, who serves as Reclaimed

Project’s director of communications, and Ti Garner, who sits as

the board’s president. When asked about the relationship between

Reclaimed Project and Kappa Sigma, Kennedy Guest said,

“Looking at different fraternities and what they supported, there are

a lot of great causes out there. But I don’t think there is anything

more noble than putting a roof over someone’s head. As far as

lasting impact goes, being able to come here with Reclaimed and

seeing the work that Kappa Sigs have done four and five years prior,

seeing the playground and church that Kappa Sig built, seeing

those being used, is a huge deal. It makes me proud to be with

Reclaimed and proud to be a Kappa Sig.”

The pride of Kappa Sigma is evident in the water well that

bears the Greek letters of Kappa Sigma. However, what shines even

brighter is their work ethic, which is present in the willingness of

the young men to continue working, even through the dark of night

and rain of day. Ti Garner harps upon the work of the Kappa

Sigmas saying, “I really think that they, as much as us, benefit...

what they learn out of serving is really gonna impact and change

their lives. I’m really encouraged to see these guys, Kappa Sigs,

continue to do it, year after year.”

In-between hauling rocks and shoveling dirt, there were

moments of stomach churning laughter shared with the Kappa

Sigmas and Basotho workers. One of the most impactful things

John William Ables took away from the trip was working with the

Basotho people, the proper name for the kingdom’s locals.

Reflecting on his time with the Basotho people, Ables says,

“Working alongside the Basotho people and forming genuine

relationships with them was a priceless experience. It showed me

just how important and appreciated Reclaimed Project’s work is.”

Nevertheless, the work of Reclaimed Project and Kappa Sigma

is not done. Throughout the school year, Kappa Sigma hosts a

number of fundraising events to support Reclaimed. In February,

the fraternity hosted Charity Classic, an annual football and

cheerleading competition between members of the Greek community,

which raised $207,000 for Reclaimed Project. Without

the support of Kappa Sigma and the willing hands and feet of the

young men who serve, life would look different for the people of

Lesotho. The African wind wouldn’t be the same. l

110 • JUNE 2020

Hometown RANKIN • 111

112 • JUNE 2020



Hometown RANKIN • 113


McLaurin Destined for Greatness / Susan Bryant

The senior class of 2020 at McLaurin High School is special. In this class, there are athletes, scholars, wallflowers, and an array of other personalities that paint a perfect

picture of grace, diversity, and strength. This class WILL persevere. This class WILL overcome. This class WILL take the hand they have been dealt and they WILL go on to

do great things. In this class, there are future lawyers, doctors, teachers, welders, and a wide variety of other jobs that will be filled by this amazing class. The 2020 class

of McLaurin High School can handle anything that is thrown at them. They have faced an unprecedented ending to their high school days. We are certain that they will

be able to handle whatever life brings and they will do so with amazing grace and strength. We are proud of them, but most of all, we believe in them! This McLaurin

High School Class of 2020 WILL do great things.

Marice Graham

If nothing else, this year has shown

me the principle behind certain things.

For instance, to have a normal

graduation ceremony is fine. That is

what everyone is used to and what

everyone expects. However, not being

able to have one has shown me to

appreciate the principle behind

graduation. It’s not so much about

walking across the stage, all the cords

and medals, it’s about what you’re

graduating to. Whether that is a new

place to live, a new work place, a new

state, or even a new country, you’re

graduating to better and bigger things.

And frankly whether a ceremony occurs

or not, the new stages in our life will

take place regardless.

Lily Kaczkowski

Covid-19 has had a big impact on my

senior year. From graduation to end

of year hangouts with friends, it all

looks completely different that what

I had expected. But I’m so thankful

for the internet and improvisation.

I’m still finding a way to make the

end of my senior year a great one!

Kenning Bridges

As a senior, I assumed there’d be

certain things about high school I’d miss

most: pep rallies, football games, club

trips, and annual traditions. However,

because of this unexpected situation,

I now know that, while I will certainly

miss the bigger events of high school,

what I’ll miss most are the small things,

everyday things: hallway hugs,

lunchroom conversations, seeming cool

to underclassmen, a routine, laughing

with friends, club meetings, and even

just the familiar faces of the people I’ve

spent the last 12 years with! My high

school story has been a wonderful one,

from it’s beginning to it’s quite unique

ending! This wasn’t an ending anyone

expected, but it’s surely an ending

no one will ever forget!

Jakub McLean

As a senior in high school I was really

looking forward to this year. Until the

coronavirus completely shut down

anything school related. I have had to

change the way I learn, and be okay

with losing some major parts in my

final year of high school. I have lost the

chance to finish my varsity baseball

season, go to senior prom, and have a

traditional graduation with all of my

classmates. This year was so critical for

me due to this being my last year to

play baseball at McLaurin. I played one

game with my team, and then Covid-19

completely ruined the rest of my senior

year along with every other senior in

this class. Even after everything has

been cancelled, I would not change

one thing. These hard times have

shown me more about the people in my

community and how much they truly

care for everyone around them.

Brooke Musgrove

I started off the school year with many

expectations. I knew that I was going to

have all of these things that cemented a

person’s senior year. I looked forward to

pep rallies, a senior walk, prom, awards

day, graduation, and plenty of time to

hang out with friends before we all go

our separate ways after graduation.

However, after spring break things took

a turn for the worst. All of these things

that would close my senior year started

getting cancelled or changed. I will not

be having a senior awards night or

prom. My graduation will be vastly

different than the years before me.

A piece of my senior year feels like

an unfinished book. However, all of us

will be part of history books because

of the bizarre way that we are ending

our senior year.

Sam Atarji

This dramatic turn in the school year

has really been a shock for me. The

highly anticipated senior events

towards the final stretch of high school

seemed to vanish into thin air. If

anything, this experience has made me

realize how much I really do love school

and question if I took high school for

granted. It’s upsetting to not have prom,

a traditional graduation ceremony or

senior signing day, but some people

lost more than a dance, they lost their

own life or a loved one and I’m thankful

to still be here.

114 • JUNE 2020

Northwest Rankin

Congratulations to the Northwest Rankin High School Class of 2020 for all of your achievements! Your hard work and dedication in the classrooms and throughout the

community is what makes NWRHS a very special place. We would like to thank you for all your contributions to this school, and wish you nothing but success and good

fortune as you continue your journey on whatever path you choose. As always, GO COUGARS!

Hometown RANKIN • 115


Florence High

While this is not the celebration originally intended for the Florence High School Class of 2020, it has been a school year we will all remember for a lifetime! Even

though COVID-19 has deviated our original plans for celebrating our seniors, the FHS Class of 2020 will always be remembered as a special, talented, and intelligent

group of young people. They are already armed with resilience, flexibility, hard work, and other skills that are necessary for success. Congratulations, FHS Class of 2020,

and thank you for letting us be a part of your journey with you!

Florence High School is proud to announce the Class of 2020 inductees into the FHS Hall of Fame

Front, L-R: Ian Vaughn, Will Lingold, Sam Courtney, Lauren Barnett, Layla Green, Jessie Millette

Back, L-R: Melinda Slay, Maggie Hunter, Makenzie Cotton, Sarah Lindsey Goodin, and Kyle Michel

An FHS tradition, the senior class decorates the school to welcome

everyone back for the first day of the 2019-20 school year.

A drone’s eye view of the FHS Class of 2020

on the first day of the 2019-20 school year.

FHS seniors celebrate

Spirit Day of homecoming

week in their senior togas.

116 • JUNE 2020

Florence Elementary

On June 2, 2020, Pack 85 of Florence held their crossover ceremony, where members of the Rising Phoenix patrol

were awarded with the Arrow of Light award and became new members of Troop 85.

Front L-R: Nic Guthrie, Rob Short, Jessie Rico, Ezekial Chancellor, Ethan Miller, Peyton Rideout, Cameron Sones, Cade Sills, Payton Smith, Jake Dear

Back L-R: Jason Rideout, Robert Short, Kevin Sills, Heidi Sills, Jimbo Dear

On June 2, 2020, Payton Smith of Florence became the

first girl in Pack 85 history to earn the Arrow of Light

award. The Arrow of Light is the highest achievement

to be earned in Cub Scouts. She now joins Troop 85G to

continue working toward the achievement of Eagle Scout.

Pictured with Payton are Heidi Sills, her Cub Scout leader,

and Christy Bridges, her Troop 85G leader.

Hometown RANKIN • 117



On Friday, May 1, Pearl Public School District showed their appreciation for their school nutrition staff as part of National School Lunch

Hero Day. Administrators participated in a parade for the school lunch heroes who have been serving the grab-and-go meals at Pearl

Lower Elementary during the school closure. In addition to the parade, Pearl Junior High School student Jacob LaFontaine concluded his

end-of-the-year project by distributing gifts of appreciation to the nutrition staff.

118 • JUNE 2020

Hometown RANKIN • 119

202 North College Street • Brandon, MS

To schedule a tour or to make reservations,

call 601.260.9277

TheTime COIN

Camille Anding

The Lord continues to add branches

to our family tree, and I’m so grateful.

Baby Shepherd Anding Dobbs arrived on April 30,

2020 – all 6 pounds, 3 ounces of his tiny frame. He

seemed very relieved to extend his arms and legs from

his cramped, fetal position.

Someday when he’s older, family will tell him about

the strange state of the world he was birthed into. I

would have chosen a more normal time when family

could have kept sentinel in the waiting room and gotten

first glimpses through the nursery windows. Instead,

we jumped at every phone ping to view pictures and

discuss family resemblances. The sinister COVID-19

even cut short his hospital stay from three days to two.

Under normal times, we would have been grouped

around his driveway, waiting to welcome him and take

turns holding him. Shepherd’s doctor nixed all of those

ideas and insisted he didn’t have any visitors for several

days. Our phones were our only means of viewing our

new addition, but God is good in all circumstances in

dealing with His children.

Someday I hope to share with Shepherd

how God can turn bad times into good

times. I will explain that love is always

stronger than anything the enemy can

send against us, including threatening

hearts for Shepherd, didn’t decline or diminish just

because we couldn’t touch him physically. Love had

already securely planted him in our hearts and minds.

We could deal with the temporary separation, too,

because we knew it was temporary. It just amplified

our anticipation of seeing him face to face.

Families are irreplaceable, but there are times when

a herd of inquisitive relatives can add some anxiety

and discomfort to delicate situations. Newborns are

definitely swamped in delicate moments and experiences

as well as their rookie parents. The quarantine

took care of those concerns which allowed the

threesome bonding time they will never forget.

This entire Corona deal has given us loads of details

that Shepherd will find hard to believe when he’s old

enough to understand. That’s assuming and trusting

that the days of masks and social distancing are things

of the past by then.

However, we will always be able to rejoice in

knowing God is sovereign over all, and there is never

separation and social distancing with Him. We

also will assure Shepherd that he arrived in God’s

perfect timing, bringing us just the kind of joy

we needed in strange and difficult times. ●

viruses. Our love, already growing in our

122 • JUNE 2020

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!