FLOWOOD • BRANDON • PELAHATCHIE • PUCKETT • FLORENCE • RICHLAND • PEARL • STAR • PISGAH• RESERVOIR
Time to Grow
2 • MARCH 2021
FROM OUR PUBLISHER
Do you remember
Hakuna Matata from
the Disney movie
“The Lion King”?
The unlikely friendship of two of the
characters' look at life with one philosophy:
“No worries, be happy, or Hakuna Matata.”
In reality, it’s not the “band-aid” for a lot
of what humans face, but coming alongside
those who are hurting can certainly brighten
some dark days. Read about Miracle Maddy
and how our Rankin community of friends
did just that.
Word must be spreading about the great
citizens of Rankin County because we are on
the list for top six fastest growing counties in
Mississippi. That means there is a rise in
housing needs. In this issue, you’ll see the
addition of a Hometown Homes insert listing
houses for sale and tips on buying and
selling. This is another way we at Hometown
Magazines want to enhance the buying
market for our new neighbors.
In a world with a lot of complex issues,
we continue to highlight the positives and
encourage our readers to be a part of
solutions instead of majoring on the negative.
“Hakuna Matata” isn’t a cure-all for a lot of
life’s circumstances. However, a verse in
Romans 12 is a much more suitable
philosophy: "Be happy with those who
are happy, and weep with those who weep."
Let’s strive to encourage those around us,
support local businesses, and help those
in need. That is what will make this the
best place to live!
PUBLISHER & EDITOR
Mary Ann Kirby
IN THIS ISSUE
The Way We Were 6
Reader Spotlight 9
Time to Grow 11
Neighborhood Eats 24
Hometown Family 36
Random Acts of Kindness 40
Meet Miracle Maddy 46
Bully Prevention Awareness 54
Employee Appreciation 60
Time Coin 74
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 • 3
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Health Care, Mississippi’s
ONLY hospital designed for the care
and treatment of sick or injured children.
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4 • MARCH 2021
Hometown RANKIN • 5
Tina & Robert Craft
There was four years
difference in Tina Rester’s age
and the older Robert Craft when
they grew up playing together as
children in Richland. When
Tina entered the ninth grade at
Richland High School, Robert
had already graduated and gone
to work at Southern Pipe and
Supply. Yet in all their years of
growing up in the same town
Robert admits, “We were never
interested in each other.”
Then the beginning of a
God-ordained relationship was
instigated by a chaperone, Wilma
McMillan, at a church college/
career New Year’s Eve party in
1983. This cupid chaperone tied
Tina and Robert’s shoe laces
together! Two weeks later the
couple had their first official date
on January 14th.
The Crafts interspersed
laughter while sharing those
memories of their budding
relationship. Robert felt certain
that Tina was his perfect match
for life, but Tina wasn’t that
confident. She had good reason.
On Valentine’s Day, Robert had
a friend deliver roses – three to
Robert’s mom, eight to other
“girlfriends,” and one to Tina.
Recalling the incongruity of
such a decision, Robert said, “I
was so dumb!” Tina continued
to date others but by middle
March, all other relationships
were broken off, and Tina and
Robert were a “forever” twosome.
After two years at Hinds and
a semester at Mississippi College,
Tina’s pursuit and dreams of a
teaching career were halted. She
heeded a friend’s advice to forget
the teaching career because,
“she wouldn’t like it.”
Due to confusion over a career
choice, Tina decided she needed
a break from college. Robert
believed it would be the perfect
time to begin their life together.
Tina said, “Yes,” and on May 18,
1985, they promised their love “til
death do we part” in front of family
and friends at FBC Richland.
Looking back can be difficult
for some couples but not for Tina
and Robert. It wasn’t easy, as a
young mother, leaving her position
in the business world to return to
college via night school for her
business education degree, but
Robert convinced her that she was
a born teacher. At age thirty-nine,
she stepped into the high school
classroom and has been a
life-molder for seventeen years.
Some of the Crafts’ happiest
years were parenting Kaylee and
Isaac. Kaylee, now Mrs. Colby
Mitchell, is a teacher in Pearl, and
they have two children. Isaac and
wife Ali are missionary teachers in
an international Christian school
6 • MARCH 2021
“Make sure your
values are the
same before you
in South Korea. They have five
children and have called South
Korea home for five years.
The Crafts could also be
educators in How-to-Parent.
They are grateful that they had
“two really good kids,” but it’s
obvious that their parenting skills
weigh heavily in that assessment.
Being good role models, like
their own parents, has been
important to Tina and Robert in
child-rearing. “We were involved
– always there,” Robert says about
their intentional parenting. “We
made sure that we stayed involved
with their youth group, church,
and activities, and all their friends
seemed to gather at our home.”
Tina added, “I would buy
groceries one day and after a
group of the kids’ friends came
over, those groceries would be
gone.” However, she never
complained, “I just went and
bought more groceries.”
Their carport, which they
converted to a playroom, grew
with the kids’ changing growth
patterns and interests. “It was a
fun place, but we had expectations
of our kids,” Robert said.
Tina finished his sentence,
“If we knew they were capable
of an A, a C wasn’t acceptable.
After a while they learned to hold
themselves to that standard.”
Marriage success appears to
be another course they could
teach. Robert remembers a bit
of wisdom their pastor shared at
their wedding: “If two people
had the same opinions about
everything all the time, one of
them wouldn’t be needed.”
“We are definitely opposites
in a lot of ways,” Robert asserted.
“Tina is on the go, never stops
and I enjoy my recliner and
duties as an alderman. However,
we make a point to find things
we enjoy doing together – like
bike riding. Away from school
and her bus route, she stays busy
selling and buying items on eBay,
Etsy and Amazon. I help her pack
and ship items.” On Sundays
(pre-COVID) they serve as
coordinators over the preschool
department at FBC Richland
and sing in the choir.
Tina isn’t hesitant to add her
philosophy: “We are IN love,
and we also LIKE each other.
We see to it that other things
don’t get in the way of our being
together. And NEVER talk
negatively about your spouse in
front of others!”
Robert added, “Make sure
your values are the same before
you think about marriage.” He
also stressed the fact that the
married couples who love each
other stay IN love. “I get excited
every time I see her,” he said
glancing with glistening eyes
toward his bride. “She’s my best
friend, and I’d rather spend time
with her than anyone!”
It’s a real bonus to be able to
reflect fondly on “the way we
were” and model for others
“the way we are.”
Hometown RANKIN • 7
Home is where you are loved, cared for,
and life is being lived. Home is HERE.
(601) – 664 – 1966
8 • MARCH 2021
Why did you decide to make Rankin County
My parents moved to Rankin County from
Scott County in 1970.
How long have you lived in Rankin County?
I have lived in Rankin County 50 years.
Tell us about your family.
I am married to lifelong Rankin County
resident, Pastor Scottie Irvin. Our union
began June 10, 1995, and God has blessed
us with two boys. We welcomed our firstborn,
Sheldon Denard Irvin, January 27, 1998.
We were blessed yet again with the birth of
our second son, Devin Jarrod Irvin, February 6,
2002. His 4-year-old brother named him
Devin months before he made his arrival!
Our family also includes two very protective
and rambunctious German Shepherds,
Maxey and Champ.
What is your favorite memory of living in
I have several happy memories of living and
growing up in Rankin County over the past
five decades. The most memorable moments
would have to be the election and swearing in
of small-town Pelahatchie’s first Black mayor,
Mayor Ryshonda Harper-Beechem.
Where are your three favorite places to eat
in Rankin County?
Georgia Blue is our go-to place for shrimp and
grits dishes. Tahanna Griffin’s Sweet Tee’s
Treats & Design satisfies our sweet cravings.
And Austin Banks’ Pelahatchie Grill serves up
our good ole homestyle southern dishes.
What are some fun things to do in Rankin
County on the weekends?
Supporting Rankin County school district
Share some things you enjoy doing in your
Being the wife of a pastor, reading and
preparing for Sunday church services are my
therapeutic spare-time moments.
What’s something on your bucket list?
My one bucket list request would be to visit the
grotto of Massabielle in Lourdes, France.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
One of my favorite childhood memories would
have to be my daddy’s pick-up rides to Ross
Barnett Reservoir with all neighborhood
children, friends, and cousins in tow.
Who is someone you admire and why?
I would have to say, 38 years later, I admire
and appreciate my parents, the late Dock and
Allie Rhodes, for their steadfastness and
determination to rear their young family and
godson to live and be a part of this world
without them. With both parents being
diagnosed with lung and breast cancer in their
early forties, I am most thankful for the love,
strength, courage, and work ethic they
imparted on each of us. I applaud their love,
bond, and the sweet compassion they had for
each other’s diagnoses, final wishes, and
Where do you see in ten years?
Prayerfully fulfilling God’s great commission
founded in Matthew 28:19-20.
If you could give us one encouraging quote,
what would it be?
Just because you are a hammer does not mean
every person, every situation, or life challenge
will be a nail.
What is your favorite thing about
It features Rankin County and it’s people!
Hometown RANKIN • 9
Heartwood sells only
NHLA inspected &
Quality wood will
result in a superior
firstname.lastname@example.org 601.845.8600 335 Mangum Drive, Star, MS
10 • MARCH 2021
Time to Grow
For some, gardening
can feel like a mysterious skill
bestowed upon a chosen few.
But with the right information
and the right supplies, you can
be on your way to growing your
own flowers, fruits, or vegetables,
in no time.
Gardening is a fun and relaxing way
to get in touch with nature–but being
outside in the fresh air and sunshine
is a wonderful way to boost your
mood and de-stress, too.
The following pages contain useful
tips and tricks to make the most of
your gardening experience. So grab
your tools and get in the dirt.
Hometown RANKIN • 11
---------- in the garden -------------
Plants that need at least
6 hours of direct sun
This type of light is found in bright,
open areas. Many species of plants
actually thrive under a full day of sunlight,
although they do not necessarily need
to be in direct sunlight for all the hours
of the day. A site is considered “full sun”
if it gets at least 6 full hours of direct
sunlight on a typical day. Grow sunloving
plants away from bushes, trees,
or buildings that will cast long shadows
for most of the day, but also keep in
mind that some plants (even those
labeled “full sun”) cannot handle the
intense heat that often comes from
a full day of sun in the south. Place these
more sensitive plants where they will get
more of their sun in the morning when it
is cool. They should grow well as long as
the plant gets at least 6 hours of direct
FULL SUN VEGETABLES
cucumbers, eggplant, peppers,
squash, tomatoes, melons, corn,
Plants that only need about
1.5 and 4 hours of direct
sun per day, and may need
protection from the harsh
Plants that thrive in partial sun
or partial shade typically need
between an hour and a half and
four hours of direct sunlight each day.
These plants would typically do well in
filtered light for most of the day, or direct
sun during the morning. Keep in mind that
the afternoon sun is the most sweltering,
and these plants will need shade during
the hottest parts of the day.
That being said, partial sun plants do
well in east-facing yards or garden beds
- they’ll still get enough sun during the
morning hours, but they’ll spend
afternoons in the shade.
PARTIAL SUN VEGETABLES
potatoes, carrots, beans, squash,
broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower,
onions, peas, radishes, turnips
than 3 hours
of direct sun
Clearly all plants need sunlight, but
some require less than others. “Light
shade” plants require three or less hours
of direct sun per day. Filtered/indirect
light such as that found under a tree
canopy, porch, or the north side of the
house is a good setting for these plants.
Also referred to as “dappled shade”
plants, you can grow these indoors as
houseplants, or outside in the shadiest
parts of your yard. Light shade plants
are typically low maintenance once
LIGHT SHADE VEGETABLES
Brussels sprouts, asparagus, lettuce,
12 • MARCH 2021
Exposure to sunlight is essential for all plants to survive,
but different plants require different amounts of sunlight to thrive.
Plant labels will categorize the amount of sun each plant requires.
Hometown RANKIN • 13
14 • MARCH 2021
1500 Lakeland Dr. Jackson, MS 39216 601-432-4500 @msagmuseum
Hometown RANKIN • 15
ESSENTIAL Gardening Tools
A Visual Checklist
These are portable water containers
that are effective for watering plants
(particularly indoors), with a long spout
and a detachable
One of the most
tools, leaf rakes
are used for raking
A spade has a narrower,
square head that makes
it great for digging holes
or trenches in confined
areas of a planted bed.
A garden hoe is a longhandled
tool used to
shape/clear the soil,
Hand pruners are
used mostly to cut
branches and stems
that are less than ¾ of
an inch thick.
Watering wands provide plants a gentle
shower of water, and because of their
length, are particularly helpful in reaching
out-of-the-way containers and plants.
Helpful in hauling
large amounts of
such as soil, leaves,
16 • MARCH 2021
Hoses are used to water larger amounts of plants
at one time. Store hoses coiled (storing with
kinks in them can result in weak spots) and
out of direct sunlight.
This earthmoving tool
is used for digging holes
to plant large greenery
and moving loose
These long-handled tools
are used to manipulate the
soil below the surface -
loosening, lifting, and
turning over soil.
Loppers will help
cut larger branches
Your basic tool for soil
manipulation, gently removing
debris/weeds, or turning,
smoothing, or tilling soil.
A bow rake is used
soil manipulation –
The long handle of a hand
weeder lets you reach
far into beds as the thin,
sharp blade removes
When doing heavy
gardening work, be
sure you are wearing
a comfortable pair of
work boots that provide
A quality gardening hat with
neck protection is essential,
as gardening often exposes
parts of the body that aren’t
accustomed to excessive sun.
Gardening gloves should
be durable, well fitted, and not
too bulky. Longer cuffs keep soil
from getting in, and help protect
wrists and forearms from
Hometown RANKIN • 17
18 • MARCH 2021
Gardening Through the Seasons
prune trees and
shed, or greenhouse,
and peppers indoors; plant
carrots, turnips, spinach,
cabbage, peas, Brussels
sprouts, parsley, onions,
okra, melons, squash,
set up trellises
English peas, beans,
pot basil, chives,
for a sunny
and store, freeze,
or gift any excess
Hometown RANKIN • 19
So Jelly of
Johnathan Simon & Lindsey Murphy Simon
Brandon have owned Birdsong’s Pantry since 2013.
Step 1 Bring boiling-water canner, half full
with water, to simmer. Wash jars and turns
bands in hot soapy water. Pour boiling
water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat.
Let stand in hot water until ready to use.
Drain well before filling.
Step 2 Specific to each recipe.
Step 3 Ladle immediately into prepared
jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops.
Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with
two-piece lids. Place jars on elevated rack
in canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2
inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.)
Cover; bring water to a boil. Process 10
minutes. Remove jars and place upright
on a towel to cool completely. After jars
cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids
with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not
sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)
• 1¼ qt. (5 cups) prepared juice (buy about
3½ lb. fully ripe muscadines any variety)
• 1½ cups water
• 1 box powered fruit pectin
• ½ tsp. butter or margarine
• 7 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
Step 2 Stem and crush fruit thoroughly, one
layer at a time. Place in large pot; add water to
cover. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover
and simmer. Turn off heat and let steep a few
hours. Place a few layers of damp cheesecloth or
jelly bag in a large bowl. Pour prepared fruit into
cheesecloth. Measure exactly 5 cups prepared
juice into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot and stir in pectin.
Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to
full rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling
when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.
Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil exactly
1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
• 4 cups prepared fruit
(buy about 1½ qt. fully ripe blueberries)
• 1 box SURE-JELL fruit pectin
• ½ tsp. butter or margarine
• 4 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
Step 2 Stem and crush blueberries thoroughly,
one layer at a time. Measure exactly 4 cups
prepared fruit into large pot. Stir pectin into
prepared fruit in saucepot. Add butter to reduce
foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil
that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred on high
heat), stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to
a full rolling boil exactly 1 minute, stirring
constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any
foam with metal spoon.
20 • MARCH 2021
Birdsong’s Pantry offers over 80 varieties of jellies, jams, pepper jellies, sugar free jams and pepper jellies,
and savories. Birdsong’s products can be found at Vintiques and The Legacy Co-Op in Brandon, and at
The Stompin’ Grounds in Pearl. Custom gift baskets, and specialty and large orders for weddings and
other events are available. Johnathan and Lindsey live in Brandon with their little boy Raymond and
dog Max. Email email@example.com or find them on Facebook @BirdsongsPantry
• 1 cup each prepared ripe strawberries,
raspberries and blueberries (blackberries
can replace raspberries if they are more
readily available. Buy about 1 pt. of each)
• ¾ cup water
• 1 box powered SURE-JELL for Less
or No Sugar Needed Recipes
• ½ cup granular no-calorie sweetener or
12 no-calorie sweetener packets.
Step 2 Stem and crush strawberries; place
exactly 1 cup in a 6- or 8-quart saucepot.
Repeat with raspberries and blueberries.
Stir in water. Gradually add pectin, stirring until
well blended. Bring mixture to full rolling boil
(a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred)
on high heat. Boil exactly 1 minute, stirring
constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in granulated
sweetener or no-calorie sweetener packets.
Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
Dill Red Onion
• 4 lbs. red onion (about 5 medium onions)
• 3 cups apple cider vinegar
• 4 cups water
• ¼ cup pickling salt
• 2 Tbsp. sugar (or honey)
• ½ tsp. dried dill - per jar
(can use fresh if available)
• 1 garlic clove per jar
• ½ tsp. of dill seed per jar
• 5 black peppercorns per jar
• chili flakes - a few shakes per jar
Step 2 Slice red onions as thin as possible
(wear goggles if you are sensitive to onions)
and place in a large bowl for later. Add vinegar,
water, salt and sugar to large pot and bring to
a boil. In the bottom of each jar add dill weed,
dill seed, garlic, peppercorns, and chili flakes.
Fill jars with red onions. Ladle hot vinegar
mixture into jar.
Step 3 *Process 20 minutes
• 4 cups prepared fruit
(buy about 1½ qt. fully ripe strawberries)
• 1 cup finely diced jalapeños
• 1 box powered fruit pectin
• ½ tsp. butter or margarine
• 6½ cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
Step 2 Stem and crush strawberries thoroughly,
one layer at a time. Measure exactly 4 cups
prepared fruit into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot. Stir pectin
into prepared fruit in saucepot. Add butter to
reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil
(a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred
on high heat), stirring constantly. Stir in sugar.
Return to a full rolling boil and boil exactly
1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
Hometown RANKIN • 21
22 • MARCH 2021
Hometown RANKIN • 23
As the pandemic continues to leave
its mark on businesses all across the nation,
no one has been bumped and bruised more
than local restaurants. With lots of indoor
dining offerings being closed for much
of the last ten months, many restaurants
rely solely on takeout and delivery
orders–and even when they are
open to a limited capacity, it’s very
challenging to make a profit.
In today’s on-the-go lifestyle, Mike Dickson
has brought the country’s tastiest burger to Pearl
in a vintage-themed restaurant reminiscent of
a simpler time. Steak ‘n Shake’s vintage décor
transports its patrons back a few decades to
days gone by.
Most restaurants in our area are
open and ready to see you! But if you’re
not ready to venture back out into the
restaurant scene, order takeout. One local
restaurant owner told us that, aside from
coming in, that’s the absolute best thing
you can do to help. But never underestimate
their need for our support. It not only
exhibits compassion, it, most
importantly, exhibits hope.
In the coming months, Hometown Rankin
will highlight locally owned restaurants in
a new feature we call Neighborhood Eats.
Please support this community of businesses.
It will take all of us doing our part to make
sure we all not only survive–but thrive.
24 • MARCH 2021
he retro vibe includes the classic
red, black, and white theme of
traditional diners. However, you
don’t have to don poodle skirts and leather
jackets to enjoy the restaurant’s exceptional
quality burgers and milkshakes today. Mike
prides himself on serving his community a
quality product with a unique atmosphere.
Mike and Nanette, his wife of 10 years,
have loved to travel and take cruises together
over the years. During their travels they
always looked for a little piece of home to
enjoy during their adventures. Mike joked,
“We always seemed to seek out the nearest
Steak ‘n Shake restaurant, sometimes driving
up to two hours in search of one.” They both
love the consistent quality of the product,
the nostalgia it provides and the overall
concept of the chain. He added, “Nothing
can compete with the quality and value of
what we offer.” Together with partners,
Yong Kim and Javier Tanaka, Steak ‘n
Shake opened its doors in 2017 to Rankin
County at 300 Riverwind Drive in Pearl.
Mike is proud to offer the community
a dining experience that is unlike most in
the area. The restaurant chain was founded
in 1934 in Normal, Illinois. The original
founder, Gus Belt, pioneered the concept
of premium steak burgers and hand-dipped
milk shakes that still make it famous today.
and value of
what we offer.”
Hometown RANKIN • 25
Growing up in Flowood, graduating from
Northwest Rankin High School and Hinds
Community College, Mike has a love for the
county he is able to call home.
Working for the state of Mississippi and as
a veteran police officer for the City of Flowood
from 1989-1998, Mike has a deep sense of pride
for the community and a heart for serving others.
This pride is something he has exuded in his
various business ventures over the years, along
with his desire to “give back.”
Mike explained, “The Pearl community has
received the restaurant extremely well and it has
been an honor to not only provide quality food but
to be able to put back into to the community.”
The restaurant provides employment to
local citizens and gives back to the community
whenever the opportunity arises. He added,
“We have had some really great kids come and
work for us. We have watched these kids grow
and develop from high school and beyond.”
As avid concert goers and community
supporters, Mike and Nanette give back to the
local Brandon amphitheater and to area schools
as well, such as Park Place Christian Academy.
Mike’s love of giving back and helping his
community is evident when he speaks of being
blessed to be in a position to partner with local
activities and groups. Community and family
mean so much to Mike and Nanette.
Due to the unprecedented Covid-19
pandemic, Mike has admitted the struggles it
has placed on many local small businesses,
including his. Businesses can only succeed with
local support. No one could predict the outcome
of such a global crisis. In an effort to combat the
pandemic, Steak ‘n Shake is providing a safe
in-person dining experience to all its customers
that will limit exposure. Keeping everyone safe
and enjoying the great food and atmosphere you
won’t find just anywhere continues to be their
top goal. For those who are still unsure
about visiting in person, Steak ‘n
Shake offers a dynamic
mobile food delivery through services such
as Doordash, GrubHub, and Uber Eats.
In his spare time, Mike is an avid duck
hunter and golfer but more importantly, he is
a loyal husband, devoted father and now proud
grandfather. Together with his daughter and
Nanette’s daughter who are both 26 years old,
his life behind the scenes is full of love and
excitement with his ever-growing family.
Mike gushed, “We have three
grandchildren right now and
one more due next month.”
You could hear the excitement
in his voice as he anxiously
awaits another blessing to be
added to their family.
26 • MARCH 2021
Mike’s future plans and
dreams are to break ground
on additional Steak ‘n Shake
locations in Flowood, Clinton,
and Madison. He strives to
keep bringing high quality
food and truly classic dining
experiences to the area.
Mike and Nanette personally
invite you to visit, enjoy the
wonderful, classic American
food, and become part of
the Steak ‘n Shake family.
“The Pearl community has received the
restaurant extremely well and it has been an
honor to not only provide quality food but to
be able to put back into to the community.”
Hometown RANKIN • 27
28 • MARCH 2021
INVEST. GROW. BUILD.
WITH A BANK THAT
MEMBER FDIC • EQUAL HOUSING LENDER
Hometown RANKIN • 29
30 • MARCH 2021
Hometown RANKIN • 31
• 1 chicken breast per person
(plus about 6 more)
• 1 pkg. chicken gravy mix
Cook chicken breasts in plenty of
water; remove bones. Chop chicken
into bite size pieces. Add gravy mix
to enhance flavor. Keep hot until
GRAVY FOR CHICKEN
• 3 cans cream of chicken soup
• 3 cans chicken broth
• 1 tsp. ginger
• 1 tsp. turmeric
• Pineapple juice (from
drained pineapple, plus
enough more to make a cup)
• 1 tsp. onion salt
Cook together, but after
adding chopped chicken,
don’t stir too much as
chicken will shred.
• 3 cans cream of
• 2 qt. chicken broth
and pineapple juice
Dissolve corn starch in
pineapple juice before
adding to gravy. Simmer and
stir until thickened to proper
consistency. Season to taste.
• 2 cans Chinese noodles
• 1 box Minute rice (to serve 12)
• 5 tomatoes, chopped
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 4 stalks celery, chopped
• 1 (13 ½ oz.) can crushed
pineapple, drained some
• 1 lb. cheddar cheese, grated
• Nuts (walnuts or almonds)
Make sure that all refrigerated items
are brought to room temperature
before serving. Put each ingredient
in a separate serving bowls. Arrange
around serving table with a card
placed at each item of food with
Noodles: Take a large handful to
make a nest
Rice: 1 heaping spoon to fill the nest
Chicken: Take 3 spoons, please
Gravy: 1 ladle this time
Tomatoes: 2 spoons, please
Onions: 1 spoon will be enough
Celery: 1 spoon will do it
Gravy: 3 ladles this time
Pineapple: 1 spoon, please
Cheese: 2 spoons for that added zest
Nuts: 1 spoon
Coconut: 1 spoon to top it all
Chunky Vegetable Soup
• 2 lb. ground chuck
• 1 small sweet onion, chopped
• 1 tsp. salt
• ½ tsp. pepper
• 3 (14 oz.) cans low-sodium
• 3 (29 oz.) cans mixed vegetables
with potatoes, rinsed and drained
• 3 (14½ oz.) cans diced new
potatoes, rinsed and drained
• 1 (15 oz.) can sweet peas with
mushrooms and pearl onions,
rinsed and drained
• 2 (26 oz.) jars tomato, herbs,
and spices pasta sauce
• 1 (14½ oz.) can diced tomatoes
with sweet onion
Cook ground chuck and onion, in
batches, in a large Dutch oven over
medium-high heat, stirring until
meat crumbles and is no longer
pink. Drain well, and return to
Dutch oven. Stir in salt, pepper, and
beef broth; bring to a boil. Stir in
mixed vegetables and remaining
ingredients . Bring to a boil; cover,
reduce heat, and simmer at least 20
minutes or until thoroughly heated.
32 • MARCH 2021
• 8 c. Crispix cereal
• 2 c. pecan halves
• ½ c. brown sugar, packed
• ½ c. corn syrup
• ½ c. butter
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• ½ tsp. baking soda
• 1 c. Bugles
• Handful of pretzels
Preheat oven to 250 F. In a large bowl,
combine cereal and pecans. In a large
saucepan over medium high heat,
combine brown sugar, corn syrup,
and butter. Bring to a boil, stirring
occasionally. Remove from heat and
stir in vanilla and baking soda. Pour
over cereal mixture, tossing to coat
evenly. Pour into 9x13 inch pan. Bake
for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
Pour onto wax or parchment paper to
cool. Break into pieces.
• 16 slices white bread, cut up
• 3 eggs, beaten
• 1 stick butter/margarine, melted
• 2 c. sugar
• 1 qt. whole milk
Press bread into greased 9x13 pan.
Mix ingredients and pour over bread
Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 1 hour
at 350 F.
• 1 stick butter/margarine, melted
• 1 c. white chocolate chips
• 1 c. powdered sugar
• ½ tsp. vanilla
• 6 tsp. water
Heat sauce for two minutes and pour
over pudding while hot. Serve warm.
Pear Honey Cake
• 1 large can crushed pineapple
• 3 eggs, beaten
• 1½ c. sugar
• 1 stick oleo
• 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
• 1½ c. coconut
Mix all, except coconut, and
cook over low heat until thick.
Add coconut, cool and beat.
• 1 box powdered sugar
• 8 oz. cream cheese
• 1 stick oleo
• 1 c. pecans
Blend and spread on cake.
• 1 butter cake in 3 layers
Cover each layer with pear honey
and then with the filling. Stack layers,
• 4 servings grits, cooked according
to package directions
• 1 lb. Velveeta cheese, cubed
• 1 stick butter
• 1 egg, beaten
• 4 jalapeno peppers
(or to taste)
• Garlic Powder (to taste)
Remove grits from heat
and stir in Velveeta cheese.
Once cheese is melted, add butter.
When butter melts, add eggs,
jalapenos, salt, pepper, and garlic
powder. Pour into a greased 8-inch
pan and bake at 300 F for 30 minutes.
Easy Tomato Pie
• 1 can Grand biscuits, cooked
• 4 medium tomatoes, good and ripe
• 1 c. mayonnaise
• ½ c. “real” bacon bits
• 2 c. Swiss or Cheddar cheese
• 1 tsp. dried basil
• Parmesan cheese
Slice cooked biscuitsand arrange,
crust down, in a large casserole dish.
Top each biscuit with a tomato slice
Mix all the ingredients together
except Parmesan cheese. Spread
about 1 tablespoon mixture on each
tomato slice. Sprinkle on Parmesan
cheese, as much as you like. Bake at
350 F about 20 to 25 minutes.
Aunt Lola’s Spice Tea
• 6 individual tea bags
• 2 sticks cinnamon
• 2 c. sugar
• 1 6 oz. can frozen orange juice,
• 1 tsp. whole cloves
• 4 qt. boiling water
• 2 c. pineapple juice
• ¾ c. lemon juice
Pour boiling water over tea bags,
cloves, and cinnamon. Steep for
10-15 minutes. Add remaining
ingredients. Heat and serve.
Having been married for over 55 years,
my cooking has changed throughout
our lives. At one time I was cooking for
seven people–our daughter and four
teenage boys. The most important thing
was just preparing enough food for them
to eat at each meal! But today when I cook
or bake, I’m usually taking it to someone
for their enjoyment. Sharing a dish with
someone cannot only brighten their day,
but yours as well. While I’m certainly not
a gourmet cook, I do enjoy trying new
recipes. I enjoy watching cooking shows
that use simple recipes but add a little
something different to each one. These shows remind me of my mother, Nettie Ponder,
and her love for baking. And the ladies at Puckett Baptist Church! This past year
I have so missed sampling the food from their kitchens. I can’t wait to rejoin
these dear friends who have all shared their tried-and-true recipes with me.
Hometown RANKIN • 33
34 • MARCH 2021
Hometown RANKIN • 35
36 • MARCH 2021
Tell us about your family.
TAYLOR 40 years old, owner of Best Lawn.
TIFFANY 37 years old, administrator for The Children’s Clinic.
AUDREY 13 years old, hobbies include volleyball and softball
(plays at Pisgah), attends Pisgah High School.
ADELYN 10 years old, plays softball for Rampage 2010, attends
CARTER 6 years old, baseball, hunting, fishing, basketball,
attends Pisgah Elementary.
Tell us how you met and how long you’ve been married.
Taylor and I met and started dating my sophomore year of high
school, 1998. We both went to and graduated from Pisgah
High School. We were married in 2006. This August we will
celebrate our 15th year of marriage.
Do you allow time to be with your spouse
for a date night?
We juggle three very active children, rarely do we get time for
a date night. Most days we are running them around to pitching
lessons, hitting lessons, or some type of practice.
What brings you the greatest joy as a parent?
I love seeing my children excel in their academics and hobbies.
All three of our children are very different in personality. But
one thing they share is wanting to do their absolute best. They
are all so competitive and anytime they do anything well, the
joy on their faces, knowing they accomplished all on their own,
Hometown RANKIN • 37
Who is the financial manager at home?
We both share the financial management. With Taylor owning
a business and me managing a pediatric business as well as his
business, we both have the desire to be involved. It works in our
home, both are always in the know about all the financials and
one person doesn’t carry the burden alone.
When your children were younger, what was your
Honestly this changed for each child. We figured out very quickly
that what worked for the oldest child most definitely didn’t work
with the second or third. Our first child we could easily talk to
and work through things. With the second child, a timeout
approach worked because once she set her mind to it there was
no talking about anything until she was calm, or we would all
lose our tempers quickly. The third child…well he can be a mix,
it just depends on the situation.
What do you see in your role as the greatest benefit
to your family?
Most days I would say the planner/organizer. With two working
parents and multiple children/activities, there is typically a daily
discussion with one or more person (husband included) telling
them where we need to be, what time to be there.
What’s a quick go-to meal that isn’t fast food?
And who does the cooking?
Hamburger steak, mashed potatoes, green beans. This is a family
favorite for us and so quick to make. Taylor definitely does the
majority of the cooking, in the winter, when we are actually home
a lot. He has a pretty relaxed schedule and almost always beats me
home. I am typically running kids to a practice so he cooks while
we are gone. He enjoys it. In the spring/summer we are never
home. There is always a practice or game so eating at home is rare.
How do you spend your summer breaks?
Adelyn plays travel softball. April through June our weekends are
always spent on a softball field. We also own a camper, so in July
and August we try to camp every weekend we can. Finding new
places within our own state we didn’t know existed has been
What accomplishments make you proud during your
time living in Pisgah?
My family, hands down, is my greatest accomplishment. Next to
family would be building our home on our family land. We all
love living in Pisgah. I can’t imagine raising our family anywhere
else. Taylor and I both agree that coming home every day is the
best part of our day. Sitting outside at dusk and just unwinding,
hearing nothing but nature is an instant relief. Once we got
married, where we would live was never even a question. We’ve
built our home on family land next to my brother and his family.
Seeing our three children and three nephews/nieces grow up
together is exactly how we hoped it would be.
What drives you to have the job that you have?
I started working at the Children’s Clinic in 2005. After high
school, I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do. When I first
started it was just a job. But I have been there going on 16 years.
It’s more than a job—now it’s a family. I love to see the clinic do
well. It’s in my heart to make sure they succeed and everyone is
taken care of.
How long has Pisgah been your home?
I was born and raised in Pisgah. Taylor moved to Pisgah in 1996.
When we married, we established our home here and our children
have been raised here as well.
What are some of your favorite things about Rankin County?
One of the best things about Rankin County would be our school
district. I think we have an amazing administration, educators,
and staff. Law enforcement would be another. I don’t think there
is anywhere I’ve been in Rankin County that feels “unsafe.” Our
law enforcement is always present and quick to respond.
38 • MARCH 2021
What is your favorite thing
to do as a family?
Traveling/Going on trips
What is your favorite
What is your favorite
Lab Rats on Disney Channel
Hometown RANKIN • 39
“A single act of kindness
throws out roots in all
directions, and the roots
spring up and make
Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty.
First penned on a restaurant placemat over 40 years
ago by author Anne Herbert, this simple but powerful
phrase eventually sparked a worldwide movement.
An internet search of the phrase “Random Acts of
Kindness” yields literally millions of results, from
non-profit organizations to books, and even a designated
week of the year, with page after page of ideas for how
40 • MARCH 2021
–––––––––– ♥ ––––––––––
Random Acts of Kindness
Some random acts of kindness are
grand gestures that require great personal
sacrifice, such as the police officer who
shared his lottery winnings with a waitress,
inspiring the 1994 movie It Could Happen to
You, or living kidney donors who give
strangers a second chance at life. Such stories
inspire us, and most of us would love to be
in a position to do “big” things. We may
even question whether something as simple
as taking someone a meal or mowing a
neighbor’s yard really matters, but when the
meal is long gone and the grass has grown
back, it’s the kindness that remains.
Long before the internet or social media,
and certainly before “random acts of kindness”
was a household phrase, my family
and I had an experience that we still talk
about to this day. Although we’re a bit fuzzy
on the year and where we were traveling
to, the sequence of events that day are as
clear as if they’d happened yesterday. It was
mid-summer and we were on a long road
trip when the car began to slow and eventually
died as my dad pulled to the shoulder.
No, it wasn’t mechanical trouble. It was
fuel trouble. We had none.
In the days before cell phones, there was
only one option. Dad got out of the car and
began to walk to the nearest exit, where he
hoped he would be able to purchase a gas
can and gas and make it back to us without
incident. The southern summer heat quickly
overpowered what little cold air remained
in the car as we sat impatiently with our
mom. As we watched Dad walk down the
highway, a car pulled over and stopped right
in front of him. After a brief exchange with
the occupants of the car, Dad climbed
inside. For what seemed like an eternity, we
waited. The heat and worry increased with
every passing minute until finally Dad and
his rescuers returned, gas can and cold
drinks in hand. We witnessed a true act of
kindness that day, and it doesn’t get much
more random than coming up on a family
stranded on the interstate.
In the forty years since that incident, technology
has dramatically altered the way in
which we relate to each other. The instant
access to news and information that computers
and smartphones afford can make us
feel qualified to quickly judge situations that
we really know nothing about. Navigating
social media wisely can be a challenge, and
there are negatives to be sure, but there’s
also never been an easier way to connect
quickly with those who need help. With
one post, communities can learn of needs
and rally to provide physical, emotional,
and financial support for their neighbors.
Throughout the difficult past year, we have
learned the importance of the relationships
in our lives, and realized that faith, family
and friendships are the things in life that
truly matter. Rankin Countians are always
ready to help families in need, and as the
holidays approached and 2020 came to a
close, the desire to reach out to others was
stronger than ever, and community members
came together via social media to do what
they could to help each other.
Brandon resident Greg Davis is the search
and rescue program manager for the
Mississippi Office of Homeland Security.
Often seen picking up roadside trash in his
spare time, Greg believes strongly in doing
whatever he can to make his state and community
a better place. “My family is rooted
Hometown MADISON • 41
in public service,” he says. “My dad was a
minister, my mom is a nurse, my sister is a
school teacher, and my wife works in public
safety. I’m confident that’s why I’m wired
the way I am.”
On November 30th, Greg shared a post on
a Facebook community group page. It was a
simple but powerful idea to connect people
who had items or services to give away with
those who had need of them. The response
was overwhelming, with over 1,000 comments
as people shared what they had.
Clothes, furniture, toys, even help with
overdue bills and transportation, were just
a few of the things that community
members provided for each other. “I had
observed a few posts online stating people
were in need of certain things,” Greg says.
“I was inspired to write that post after
seeing a similar post online where other
communities were helping each other. It
was close to Christmas and so many people
were struggling financially due to COVID.
One of the most amazing things I noticed
was those willing to donate a kidney to
someone in need.” Greg adds, “I believe
everyone in the community has an obligation
to help one another when possible and not
just financially. You don’t realize how much
you have until you get a true understanding
of those in need in your own community.
Simple acts of kindness will lighten the
burdens of someone else as seen in the
Braxton resident Donovan Hulett, a
mechanic for Gray-Daniels Ford, and his
wife Kayla, marketing director for Adult
and Teen Challenge of the Greater South,
also believe in investing in others however
they can. Inspired to rally community
members to help each other, Donovan took
to social media to help families in a slightly
different way. “I love Christmas and seeing
the joy on my children’s faces when they
open their gifts.” Donovan says. “Growing
up, like most kids, I had a Christmas wish
list with the latest ‘cool’ toys, but it wasn’t
always possible for my parents to buy us
what we wanted,” Donovan says. “I would
never have shown disappointment because
I knew my parents worked hard and I didn’t
want to add to their burden.” Knowing the
financial struggles that many families were
going through as Christmas approached,
Donovan wanted to provide a way to help
fulfill some wish lists for those in need.
“My wife and I were very fortunate that
COVID did not impact us financially as it
did for so many others,” Donovan says.
“We wanted to share what we have and
bring some joy after such a difficult year.”
He decided to create a post inviting community
members to share their Amazon or
other wish lists so that others could fulfill
them. “I know 2020 has been rough to
some in our community,” his post read,
“People that have a little extra, let’s help
take some uncertainty away from others in
our community during these difficult times.”
Because of the kindness of generous
Facebook neighbors, parents were able to
experience the joy on their children’s faces at
Christmas, and Donovan hopes it can become
an annual event that grows each year.
The great thing about a “random act of
kindness” is that whether the act is big or
small, for the giver it’s intentional. He or
she intends to interject in someone’s life to
make it better, and the randomness of it
may be life changing for the receiver, like
the small child who forty years later still
remembers the intentional act of strangers
who stopped to help. l
42 • MARCH 2021
Hometown MADISON • 43
44 • MARCH 2021
Share your Mississippi Moments.
Hometown RANKIN • 45
At the young age of two-months old, Maddy Pitman
was diagnosed with a rare form of infant leukemia
called Mixed Phenotype B Lymphoblastic/Myeloid
Leukemia. If the name alone sounds like a complicated
diagnosis, it’s because that’s exactly what it is. Maddy’s
diagnosis is a mixture of two different types of leukemia,
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) and Acute Myeloid
Leukemia (AML). At nine-months old, which is the time
of this writing, Maddy, even without her diagnosis,
is nothing short of a living, breathing, miracle, each
and every day.
She is Miracle Maddy.
Maddy’s battle with leukemia began at 11-weeks old
when her mother Amanda Pitman said that Maddy
began screaming in pain when
she was held by her shoulders,
which was out of character.
Amanda made an appointment with
Maddy’s pediatrician for the next day.
But by the next morning, when they
arrived at the appointment, Maddy
had become very lethargic. Initially,
her pediatrician sent them to Blair E.
Batson under the guise of a suspected
intestinal blockage. But after further
evaluation and several tests, the
Pitmans discovered that Maddy
had leukemia. According to Amanda,
Maddy had been a “normal, happy
baby just a day or two before.”
Because she was only 11-weeks old
at the time of her rare diagnosis,
Maddy was already very high risk.
In fact, at the time of her diagnosis,
her white blood cells were at
890,000, which is 89 times more
than the “normal” range.
46 • MARCH 2021
Hometown RANKIN • 47
“Because of all these factors against her, I
knew she needed to be somewhere that
had a lot of experience with not only infant
leukemia, but high-risk cases,” said
Amanda. “I researched all night after we got
her diagnosis until I found a trial at St. Jude
that fit her perfectly. I talked with our
oncologist at Blair E. Batson and she
agreed. After six days of being in the PICU
at Blair E. Batson, St. Jude sent a flight over
to pick up Maddy and she was flown
straight to St. Jude’s PICU.”
Maddy’s condition had severely
worsened upon her arrival at St. Jude, so
much so that the medical staff there didn’t
expect her to make it through the next
24-48 hours. However, this would only be
the beginning of the many times that
Miracle Maddy would prove them wrong.
After a month on the ventilator, a week
on the dialysis machine, two months in
ICU, organ failures, fungal and bacterial
infections, countless procedures and
surgeries, withdrawals from medications,
chemo, countless diagnostic imaging,
blood clots, and more lines coming out of
her body than one could count, the odds
had been stacked against Maddy, medically,
numerous times. It would have been a
lot for anybody to handle, especially an
infant. Yet, Maddy came out fighting each
and every day—each and every second.
“No matter what was thrown at her,
Maddy never stopped amazing us,” said
Amanda. “She’s beaten each obstacle so
far, and done it with a smile. After nearly
200 days in the hospital and four rounds of
chemo treatment, our Miracle Maddy
Though Maddy is currently in remission,
her type of leukemia is incredibly aggressive
and the best chance at beating it once
and for all comes with a bone marrow
transplant. Yet another miracle in Miracle
Maddy’s arsenal is that she has been
blessed with a perfectly 10/10-matched
unrelated bone marrow donor, and her
bone marrow transplant, as of this writing,
is scheduled for February 7, 2021.
“We don’t know Maddy’s donor. All we
know is that he is someone who signed up
with the bone marrow donor registry with
the hopes of saving a complete stranger’s
life,” said Amanda. “Now he has the
opportunity to save our Maddy! I want
everyone to be aware of this opportunity to
save a stranger’s life. To join the registry, go
to BeTheMatch.org and they will send you
a cheek swabbing kit upon signing up.”
Though the news for Maddy right now
is very hopeful, especially with a bone
marrow transplant on the horizon, the
journey that the entire Pitman family has
been through in the past almost 7+ months
– especially during a worldwide pandemic
– has been harrowing, to say the very least.
“COVID alone is scary and having a
baby with leukemia is terrifying. Dealing
with both at the same time is a crippling
terror, and it is high anxiety 24/7,” said
Amanda. “I am constantly in fight or flight
mode and I keep saying that when this is all
‘over’ my body is just going to shut down
from pure exhaustion. On top of this,
COVID has turned even places like St. Jude
(known before COVID as the Disney World
of hospitals) into a cold, quiet place. But the
hardest part has been the caregiver
Because of COVID, only one caregiver
is allowed; however, because Maddy is an
infant, two caregivers are allowed but they
cannot be in the room with Maddy at the
same time. They must swap out in the
lobby downstairs. This allows for Amanda
to have a break for a few hours a day by
letting her mother and mother-in-law take
turns being the 2nd caregiver for 2-3 weeks
at a time. This also allows her husband to
continue working. All caregivers and Maddy
are swabbed for COVID once a week.
According to Amanda, “Because of COVID,
this journey has been even more difficult
because it’s put increased strain and
separation on our family.”
Another equally beautiful and equally
important part of the equation is the
Pitman’s oldest daughter, 2-year-old Emma
Kate. Since Amanda has had to spend so
much time at St. Jude away with Maddy to
help her get well, it’s caused her to
simultaneously miss important moments
with Emma Kate, which has been equally
“My heart breaks for Emma Kate daily.
At two years old, she’s witnessed a
worldwide pandemic, gained a baby sister,
and then shortly after, had her mom and
sister leave for the doctors and never
return. I can’t begin to imagine all the
thoughts and emotions she’s had throughout
all of this,” said Amanda. “Mom-guilt is
one of my hardest battles. Emma Kate and
I have always been so close and being
away from her breaks my heart. I pray that
she never doubts how much she is loved
and on my heart constantly, and that she
also understands why I have to be here
with Maddy right now. We just tell her that
Maddy is sick and that the doctors are
making her feel better and that Mommy
has to help the doctors.”
One way that they have helped to
make the load more manageable is through
their amazing family and community.
The Pitmans will be the first to say what a
48 • MARCH 2021
blessing it has been to have such a
close-knit family, especially in times like
this. Both sets of grandparents have stepped
in and helped with both girls, with one set
keeping Emma Kate while the grandma
from the other set stays in Memphis to
help me with Maddy and then they rotate.
“They have been integral and they’ve been
the glue helping hold our family together,
even while apart,” said Amanda.
Amanda went on to talk about how
their communities instantly came running
to their side and helped get them through
their darkest hours. From personal and
church fundraisers, to prayers, calls,
dinners, care packages, Amazon wish lists,
a Domino’s fundraiser, a Dunkin’ Donuts
fundraiser, etc..., the list is miles long.
And the support hasn’t slowed down once
during the seven months they’ve been
battling. At the time of this writing, they’re
even preparing for the Miracle Maddy 5k,
which will take place on February 6, a day
before Maddy’s bone marrow transplant
and will include live music, a 5k run/walk,
kids’ fun run, a silent auction, food trucks,
and much more.
As the Pitmans are hoping and praying
to soon close the chapter of leukemia in
Miracle Maddy’s life, they can’t help but
thank God each and every day for how
far she, and they, have come.
“Throughout this journey, we have
heard ‘very rare,’ ‘high risk,’ and other
negative statistics, but I have always said
that I don’t care to know all the statistics
because Maddy isn’t a statistic to me,” said
Amanda. “She has proved that many times.
And I have faith that God has a plan for her
that will be carried out no matter what
science or statistics say.”
At the end of the day, all they can
continue to do is pray—and fight. Fight for
a future, fight for healing, and fight to keep
God at the center of a constant chaotic
“Who would’ve thought that this
journey would’ve brought our entire family
closer to God? I would’ve expected the
opposite. But I can say I’ve never felt closer
to Him,” said Amanda. “I have learned to be
present and truly cherish every moment,
and I have learned how much one person
can change the world. Especially a baby.”
As of the date we went to press, Maddy
appears to be stable after her bone marrow
transplant on the 9th of February. According
to Amanda’s Facebook page, Maddy
suffered hemorrhagic shock and a spike
in fever that sent them back to ICU on
the 14th. But as has become the norm for
Miracle Maddy, she powered through it.
The even better news is that, according to
her lab work, it appears that she is starting
to engraft—which means the bone marrow
is producing new cells and working to
create its own white blood cells, red blood
cells, and platelets! Please pray specifically
for successful engraftment, no complications,
and no infections.
Hometown RANKIN • 49
5K January 6
Clyde Muse Center
50 • MARCH 2021
Hometown RANKIN • 51
52 • MARCH 2021
Be part of the winning
team at The Blake
Call to hear our SLAM DUNK special!
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Hometown RANKIN • 53
For the past several years,
the Rankin County School District
has hosted a Bully Prevention
Awareness poster contest.
Students from grades pre-K to 12th
are encouraged to submit original
artwork addressing positive
friendships, peer pressure,
peer conflict, as well as physical
bullying, emotional bullying, social
bullying, and cyber-bullying.
The winning posters and poems
in each category are placed in all
28 of the schools in the
Rankin County School District.
PreK – 2nd
Anna Allen Estridge
2ND GRADE StoneBridge Elementary
John Parker Chance
2ND GRADE Richland Elementary
Emma Jane Harbour
1ST GRADE Rouse Elementary
Posters were submitted for judging
at the school level and each school
submitted three posters and three
poems to go on to the district level
competition. Each of the six
categories had district-level first,
second, and third place winners.
The Foundation for Rankin County
Public Schools provided checks in
the amount of $100 for first place
winners, $50 for second place
winners, and $25 for
third place winners.
54 • MARCH 2021
CATEGORY 2 • 3rd - 5th
Tucker Jones 4TH GRADE Brandon Elementary School $100
Maycee Fallin 3RD GRADE Richland Upper Elementary School $50
Lilly Sarrett 5TH GRADE - Brandon Elementary School $25
6th - 8th Poster
Hometown RANKIN • 55
I should’ve, could’ve, would’ve;
Done something about that day,
If only I had known it ended this way.
I am not proud to tell you
How I stood there and watched;
He was so big and scary
Was all that I thought.
I couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t,
Get involved at all.
I say to myself,
It’s none of my business;
As I turn and walk down the hall.
I hear on the news;
‘bout this kid who had died
It tells of his woe;
The day of his suicide
They talk about how he locked himself
Inside his room
All to have shot himself to forget all his pain.
Now as I walk through my school
I hear his laughter
But I see the fear
In their eyes plainly after
And I know what their thought could easily be
They think to themselves “what if it was me.”
I could’ve done something,
I could’ve told someone,
I would’ve, if I hadn’t been so afraid.
Tomorrow I Graduate
You broke me down you may me cry,
But now it’s time to say goodbye.
For all my sorrows all my pain,
Will soon be dull and fade away.
Because tomorrow is the day,
That I will finally move on and graduate.
We’ve been together every year,
But now I’ll never have to wipe another tear.
You have pushed, shoved, and even kicked me,
But starting tomorrow you’ll never get me.
You’ve messed with me since we were young,
You’ve made me feel like such a bum.
But starting tomorrow I finally escape,
Because tomorrow is the day I graduate.
Be aware of the bullies they aren’t always seen
They will tell you that you aren’t good enough and
try to intervene
Don’t worry or stress, don’t let it get you depressed
Tell someone about it and get it off your chest
They can offer their help and show you what is right
Don’t worry they are nice and will you some ice
They will listen to you and give you advice
They will help you see the light even when it isn’t
Don’t continue to be silent about all the strife in
Just let it out it will be alright
Don’t let them continue to shove you around and
tell you that you aren’t right
Let someone know where you have been in life
Now I stand here promising
If I ever see,
This scary and sad sight again
I will change my should’ve, could’ve, would’ve
Into have, done, and did.
CATEGORY 3 • 6th-8th Poetry
8TH GRADE Florence Middle $100
“Tomorrow I Graduate”
6THGRADE McLaurin Elementary $50
8TH Florence Middle $25
Oh to gain a grain of courage!
Come out come out wherever you may be
The public’s eye gone blind
For it is not silence who is hindering me
Curse this timid spirit
Cast it into he great pits below!
Lips aid my reputation
For hopelessly it awaits death row
Teased, taunted, and tormented
Yet dismayed and viewed as weak
Understand they resume they do
Yet it’s attention they seek
Proven blind the are
And ignorant they be
For this is not a hunt for approval
Rather a search for bravery
But herded up like cattle
The same category we all go
“Oh poor, defenseless one”
“She just simply can’t say no”
“Sticks and Stones may break my bones”
Perhaps to your perception
“But words will never hurt me”
An irrefutable misconception
Although ignored may be your pain,
Take your time in finding courage
For even the smallest seeds
Will one day take root and flourish
CATEGORY 4 • 9th-12th Poetry
10TH GRADE Brandon High - $100
56 • MARCH 2021
All of us are circles, not exactly the same.
We all have imperfections, in which we are not to blame.
Some circles have problems, and build up so much sorrow
They hurt other circles, so maybe they will borrow
A bit of their pain, and relieve them from the hurt.
In the end, it turns out, it just makes everything worse.
Now two circles are hating themselves and how they look.
Thinking they are unworthy and write in a book.
How many things are wrong with them, and the faults they see
Magnifying things, that are actually quite tiny.
Two circles in hurt, two circles in sorrow
Neither relieved, only pain borrowed.
None get help, they just sit and hurt
Allowing pain to build up, to where they are about to burst.
They continue the cycle, and keep playing the game
All of us are circles, not exactly the same.
9TH GRADE McLaurin High $50
Dear Bully, you hurt because you’ve been hurt first.
Is that what happened to all yourself worth?
Those lonely nights you cried yourself to sleep;
No one ever see the endless tears you weep.
The pain that came with every word said.
The text and tweets you wish you never read.
But you know somewhere deep inside,
Words have an impact of death or life.
You know how much harm can be done,
You’ve been there, you’ve been that one,
But with positive words you can change lives!
You don’t want someone to end their lift, right?
Words can change someone from deep inside;
You’ll never know by looking on the outside,
But eventually there will be that one night,
The night one decides to commit suicide.
That my friend is what you don’t want on your hands,
So instead of making enemies, make long lasting friends.
I know you bully because that’s what you’re used to,
But you can change, stop letting people define you!
You were made in the image of Christ;
With Him, you’ll never be denied.
To him you are worth even more,
More than the animals He created and adored.
More than the stars and moon you see at night.
More than the sunset in the daytime.
More than the tree that sway every day.
More than the clouds that produce the rain.
More than all the things you see.
He loves you more than infinity.
People will always let you down,
But do you want to know what is so profound?
Jesus went through the same thing!
He got spat on, and people mocked his name,
But through all that He still had compassion,
He still put love into action.
So, don’t put others down
Because just like you,
Jesus loves them too!
12TH GRADE Florence High $25
CATEGORY 4 • 9th-12th Poster
10TH GRADE Northwest Rankin $100
11TH GRADE Brandon $50
11TH GRADE Northwest Rankin $25
Hometown RANKIN • 57
58 • MARCH 2021
FIND YOUR WHY
(601) 992-5333 hartfield.org
TURN YOUR HOPES OF HOMEOWNERSHIP
into a reality
MORTGAGE LOAN ORIGINATOR
EQUAL HOUSING LENDER
Hometown RANKIN • 59
In Celebration of
Day March 5th
Employee relations can make or break an
organization – and a good employer knows that!
Excellent employees are vital to businesses
because they enable those businesses to operate
smoothly on the inside, therefore projecting a
positive energy to the outside. A staff is loyal to
a company when they’re treated well and those
positive relationships between employers and
employees lead to higher motivation in the
workplace and better morale. And it’s been
proven that the better the culture is in the
workplace, the better the customer experience
is—which leads to greater success for everyone.
What do you most appreciate
about your employees?
“We most appreciate our employees’ dedication to
putting our customers first. Their compassion and
empathy are unrivaled. Despite challenging circumstances,
our employees provide exceptional service without fail.
I am beyond grateful for the people I work with each
and every day.” – Scottie Byrd
60 • MARCH 2021
What do you most appreciate
about your employees?
“Brandon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center would
like to say “Thank You” for the sacrifices you make, every
day and especially during this pandemic. Your dedication,
commitment, and courage deserve our deepest gratitude
and admiration.” – Raymond Burgett
What do you most appreciate about
“We understand that without our faithful and dedicated
team, we couldn’t accomplish the goals we have established
for our shop. With this in mind, we strive daily to create an
environment where teammates feel supported and have
opportunities to grow. In the end, their success equals our
success. Our team includes four women, Melissa Jackson,
Kirby Cloer, Shelia Hicks, and Sydni Cloer. These
professionals keep the office running like a well-oiled
machine. In the repair shop, we have five exceptional
technicians. Assistant Manager Tony Murillo runs the
R/R shop with Bobby White and Blaine Wilkens. In the
build room are our veteran builders Johnnie Adams and
Aaron Crandell who together have nearly 45 years of
transmissions experience. Working together, this team
regularly exceeds customer service expectations. And
I’m proud to call them my teammates.” – Flynt Cloer
Hometown RANKIN • 61
THE GREAT SEAL OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
What do you most appreciate
about your employees?
“Life is richer at Crossroads because of working
alongside wonderful colleagues each week. Their diverse
uniqueness, sacrificial dedication to serving others,
and loyalty to family and one another challenges me
as a leader to be a better person. In short...life is fuller
and the mental health services provided at Crossroads
are excellent because of the quality of our staff.”
– Dr. Perry Sanderford
What do you most appreciate
about your employees?
“Having a great team is the heart of providing services to
the public sector. The Rankin County Chancery Clerk staff
works diligently to provide prompt, accurate, and courteous
customer service. With the many challenges presented by
the pandemic, I have been impressed by their creative and
careful adaptations to ensure our provided services are done
safely. Rankin County is blessed to
have these dedicated employees
working on their behalf.
– Larry Swales
IN GOD WE TRUST
62 • MARCH 2021
Oakdale Animal Hospital
What do you most appreciate
about your employees?
“The doctors at Oakdale Animal Hospital want to
show appreciation to our incredible staff of licensed and
certified veterinary nurses. Oakdale currently employs
seven veterinary nurses with 90 years of combined
experience. They have a staff of 23 assistants that help
them each day. Our veterinary nurses are compassionate,
hardworking employees who all love people and have
a special love for pets and the human-animal bond.
Our nurses are educated team members of the veterinary
profession that provide attention to detail in all the
treatments and procedures performed here at the
hospital. Special thanks and recognition to our team.”
– Drs. Jennifer and Bill Sullivan, Dr. Robert Jason Gray,
and Dr. Gina Blackwell
Brandon Discount Drugs
What do you most appreciate about
“The employees at Brandon Discount Drugs are dedicated
to serving our customers with professional mannerisms
and smiling faces. Being polite, well-spoken, patient,
and presentable are just a few adjectives we would use to
describe the employees here. They have a determination
that allows them to go above and beyond to aid the
customers and their fellow employees. We are honored
to have them work for us.”
– Dawn Dozier and Ryan Harper
Hometown RANKIN • 63
What do you most appreciate about
“What I appreciate most about the people I work with
is the spirit of cooperation that we all share. We have a
mutual understanding of what it takes to meet the needs
of our customers and will band together if need be to
achieve customer satisfaction. The support that I receive
from my team is invaluable.” – David Frederick
Pure Air Consultants
“You are only as good as your employees, so in my eyes,
we are pretty fantastic! Pure Air Consultants’ employees
truly care about our customers and strive to make every
experience a great one. Our technicians, as well as our
entire staff, go above and beyond and take your comfort
seriously. Because of this, we have been chosen as
“Rankin County’s Best HVAC Company” several times.
Our employees are the best of the best!” - Tony Groover
64 • MARCH 2021
Hometown RANKIN • 65
66 • MARCH 2021
Hope and Guidance for
Mel Coxwell P.A.
A Family Law Firm
20 Eastgate Dr. Suite E
Brandon, MS 39042
Experience that Matters for a Brighter Tomorrow
Hometown RANKIN • 67
68 • MARCH 2021
Hometown RANKIN • 69
Highland Bluff students and staff began this year on a mission! We wanted to surround our students with the idea that
‘Life is an Adventure!’ in everything we do this year. Despite the challenges of Covid-19, we have put together a fantastic
year of learning and growth.
100 Days of School
Yearly, elementary schools worldwide celebrate the 100th Day of School!
On this day, many HBE students dress up like 100-year-old people
and have a fun day of learning opportunities involving the number 100
and celebrating all that we have learned thus far!
RCSD You Matter Recognition
The Rankin County School District celebrates the You Matter Recognition
monthly at each school in the district. These students are selected by the
school counselor, and they represent the sort of resiliency, effort,
and determination we strive to create in our students.
The Great Kindness Challenge
This is a worldwide celebration of the importance of kindness!
HBE students and staff believe that kindness matters in our interactions,
and we celebrated during this week with our students.
HBE celebrates staff too! HBE certified staff, classified staff, and parent volunteers
are celebrated monthly in an effort to shine a spotlight on their efforts and
ingenuity. Our HBE Teacher of the Year is Mandy Bryant, our New Teacher of
the Year is Emma Brown, and our Parent Volunteer of the Year is Alana Bush.
National School Counseling Week
HBE School Counselor Diana Momberg has been at HBE since it opened its doors
nearly 15 years ago! Ms. Momberg creates unique connections with our students.
She teaches classes in all grades K-6th, she teaches many small groups of
students, and she provides counseling resources to parents and students during
the school year.
70 • MARCH 2021
Pearl Public School District
Pearl Public School District elementary students
are 100 days smarter! Early Childhood Education
students dressed in superhero gear; while Pearl
Lower, Northside, and Pearl Upper students
dressed as if they were one hundred years old.
Hometown RANKIN • 71
Across the country, proms and other social activities have been cancelled and
students have adapted to a new classroom environment following the Coronavirus
outbreak. As schools everywhere adapt to new guidelines and make changes to
keep students safe, students across the nation have expressed a sense of loss for a
simpler time when high fives were the norm and face masks were Halloween
costumes. However, amid such changes, students at Puckett High School are finding
a sense of normalcy again in their beloved school activities. Students are excited to
celebrate their achievements in a year that can sometimes feel devoid of revelry.
Schools are more committed than ever to meeting the academic challenges
that this year has presented, but the administration at Puckett is mindful not
to ignore the impact that the loss of socialization can have on students. The
Wolfpack is committed to teaching the whole child – celebrating academic,
athletic, and community achievements in a way that celebrates the social
health of students during a pandemic.
The Puckett Archery team has grown in this tough year and the Wolves are celebrating winning numbers as their own numbers rise. Junior archer Anna Swain says,
“It feels really good to be able to do something with my friends again.” Swain’s same relief is evident in other students as participation in sports and clubs grows.
72 • MARCH 2021
In January alone, the athletic department celebrated senior night for eight senior
basketball players and National Signing Day for four senior football players who
have made commitments to continue playing the sport in college. “Because of
college athletes being offered another year of eligibility after Covid, college
rosters are packed. That makes these offers that much more impressive,” says
Jason Goodwin, PHS head football coach. Three powerlifters have also qualified
for the South State Powerlifting meet.
Although this year has been a year like no other, that has not stopped the learning and growth of our
students here at Steen’s Creek. As a school, we have created a safe learning environment so that our
students can learn and succeed even through a pandemic. With our access to iPads this year, students
have been able to take learning to a new level through different activities and assignments offered.
In January, we participated in The Great Kindness Challenge! Each day students dressed up to promote
kindness such as “Never Too Old for Kindness” on our 100th day of school and “Crazy for Kindness” wearing
crazy hair or socks. Our school also made cards for those in our community. Kindergarten kids made cards for
Villa South, our local nursing home. First graders made cards for the Florence Police Department, and 2nd
graders made cards for the Florence Fire Department. Throughout the week, teachers gave out certificates to
one boy and one girl each day that showed kindness.
In February, our 2nd grade students
celebrated the achievements of African
Americans by creating a Hall of Fame.
Each class focused on a different theme
to highlight contributions by African
Americans to our country. Students used
their new iPads to meet different research
standards of famous African Americans
through interactive writing activities,
student presentations, and biographies.
The hallways were interactive so any
student could bring their device for a
more surreal experience.
Hometown RANKIN • 73
The short, inspirational quote
of anonymous origin spoke to me
Its value has become more treasured over the years,
but my inherent sinful nature continues to wrestle with
I have no excuses. It’s not wordy and certainly not
beyond average comprehension – “The mouth should
have three gatekeepers:
1. Is it true?
2. Is it kind?
3. Is it necessary?”
The human race talks – a lot! Conversations fill the
air waves daily, and information goes wide and near.
Yet, if we applied these three “gatekeepers” to our
conversations, how would the content and length of
our chatting be affected?
“Is it true?” That’s an easy one. A comment rides
through our lips with ease. Good or bad,
damaging or not, we certainly feel no
restraint from sharing items we know
to be true.
“Is it kind?” This one throws up a red flag for me –
if I hesitate long enough to consider the test. Yes, I may
know it’s factual but to share it with others? How kind
would that be? Would I want the one whose “truth”
is being shared to be in my company when sharing it?
Suddenly, if I heed the obvious answer, my conversation
is in reduction mode.
Sometimes imparting a “truth” can slink past my
conscience and the second gatekeeper, but how can it
ever pass the third post: “Is it necessary?” Any excuses,
words of compromise or distorted explanations can’t
wrangle a way past this last question. “Is it necessary?”...
Obviously the gatekeeper’s test wasn’t offered in
connections with topics like the weather, COVID, and
our talented kids and grandkids – or what if they, too,
were meant to be included?
The writer of Ecclesiastes said that there’s a time to
be silent and a time to speak. The “times” in our
world would be arrested with a striking silence
if we listened to that wisdom and heeded
the mouth’s gatekeepers
74 • MARCH 2021
Hometown RANKIN • 75
To our communities and neighbors,
patients, families and visitors, and to
the generations of people who have
entrusted their healthcare to us –