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Time to Grow

2 • MARCH 2021


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!



Tahya Dobbs



Brenda McCall


Daniel Thomas


Kevin Dobbs



Caroline Hodges


Othel Anding


Mary Ann Kirby



Alisha Floyd



Jodi Jackson


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

...see you

around town.

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

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


4 • MARCH 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 5

The way

WE were

Tina & Robert Craft

Camille Anding

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

think about


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

your home?

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

Rankin County?

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

sporting events!

Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

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

Hometown Magazines?

It features Rankin County and it’s people!

Hometown RANKIN • 9

Heartwood sells only

NHLA inspected &


kiln-dried products.

Quality wood will

result in a superior

finished product.


sales@eheartwood.com 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

each day.

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



cucumbers, eggplant, peppers,

squash, tomatoes, melons, corn,

okra, pumpkins


Plants that only need about

1.5 and 4 hours of direct

sun per day, and may need

protection from the harsh

mid-day sun.

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.


potatoes, carrots, beans, squash,

broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower,

onions, peas, radishes, turnips


Plants that

require less

than 3 hours

of direct sun

per day

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



Brussels sprouts, asparagus, lettuce,

spinach, beets

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



Greet Spring

in the


Visit the

high tunnel

1500 Lakeland Dr. Jackson, MS 39216 601-432-4500 @msagmuseum

Hometown RANKIN • 15

ESSENTIAL Gardening Tools

A Visual Checklist

Watering can

These are portable water containers

that are effective for watering plants

(particularly indoors), with a long spout

and a detachable

perforated cap.

Leaf rake

One of the most

basic gardening

tools, leaf rakes

are used for raking

leaves, twigs,

grass clippings,

and other

light debris.


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,

remove weeds,

and harvest

root crops.

Hand pruner

Hand pruners are

used mostly to cut

branches and stems

that are less than ¾ of

an inch thick.

Watering wand

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.


A versatile,


tool used

for digging,


and weeding.


Helpful in hauling

large amounts of

heavy materials,

such as soil, leaves,


or mulch.

16 • MARCH 2021

Garden hose

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.

Round head


This earthmoving tool

is used for digging holes

to plant large greenery

and moving loose


Garden fork

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

in hard-to-reach


Hand rake

Your basic tool for soil

manipulation, gently removing

debris/weeds, or turning,

smoothing, or tilling soil.

Bow rake

A bow rake is used

for surface-level

soil manipulation –

planting, spreading

mulch/gravel, and

removing large


Hand weeder

The long handle of a hand

weeder lets you reach

far into beds as the thin,

sharp blade removes

shallow weeds.

Work shoes

When doing heavy

gardening work, be

sure you are wearing

a comfortable pair of

work boots that provide

good support.

Gardening hat

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

getting scratched.

Hometown RANKIN • 17

18 • MARCH 2021

Gardening Through the Seasons

shop for

supplies, tools,

and seeds

prune trees and

shrubs,add trellises

and arbors,

reorganize garage,

shed, or greenhouse,

fill birdfeeders

start planting

tomatoes, lettuce,

broccoli, cauliflower

and peppers indoors; plant

carrots, turnips, spinach,

cabbage, peas, Brussels

sprouts, parsley, onions,

and potatoes

plant strawberries,

okra, melons, squash,

beets, beans,

corn, pumpkins

and cucumbers


tomatoes and


plant beans,

and okra



set up trellises

and cages




and corn

plant cucumbers,

broccoli, cabbage,

Brussels sprouts,

English peas, beans,

potatoes, squash

and cauliflower

plant lettuce,

turnips, carrots,

beets, and


plant spinach;

pot basil, chives,

parsley, rosemary,

and sage

for a sunny

kitchen window


and enjoy

collect any

remaining produce

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.

Making Jelly

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.)

Muscadine Jelly

• 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 1

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.

Step 3

Blueberry Jam

• 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 1

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.

Step 3

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 birdsongspantry@gmail.com or find them on Facebook @BirdsongsPantry

Sugar Free

Triple Berry

• 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 1

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.

Step 3

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 1

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


Pepper Jelly

• 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 1

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.

Step 3

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.

“Nothing can

compete with

the quality

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

drive through

along with

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





Hometown RANKIN • 29

30 • MARCH 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 31


Chicken Pile-Up


• 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



• 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

chicken soup

• 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)

• Coconut

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

Serves 10


Chunky Vegetable Soup

• 2 lb. ground chuck

• 1 small sweet onion, chopped

• 1 tsp. salt

• ½ tsp. pepper

• 3 (14 oz.) cans low-sodium

beef broth

• 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


Praline Crunch

• 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.


White Chocolate

Bread Pudding

• 16 slices white bread, cut up

• 3 eggs, beaten

• 1 stick butter/margarine, melted

• 2 c. sugar

• 1 qt. whole milk

• cinnamon

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,

then frost.


Jalapeno Grits

• 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)

• Salt

• Pepper

• 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.

Serve warm.

Sandra Calhoun


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

Pisgah Elementary.

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,

is priceless.

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

discipline philosophy?

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

super fun.

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

TV show?

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

new trees.”

Amelia Earhart

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

to participate.

40 • MARCH 2021

–––––––––– ♥ ––––––––––

Random Acts of Kindness

Melanie McMillan

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

Facebook post.”

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

reached remission!”

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

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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

Jamie Dearman


Florence Middle


Jossalyn White


McLaurin High


Vihaan Mahajan


Northshore Elementary


Hometown RANKIN • 55

Physical Bullying

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.

Tell Someone

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

your life

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

“Physical Bullying”

Ethan Horton

8TH GRADE Florence Middle $100

“Tomorrow I Graduate”

Kyra Means

6THGRADE McLaurin Elementary $50

“Tell Someone”

Jadrien Shoemaker

8TH Florence Middle $25

A Misunderstanding

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

“A Misunderstanding”

Shayna Barnes

10TH GRADE Brandon High - $100

56 • MARCH 2021

Be Kind

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.

“Be Kind”

Aliah Hammack

9TH GRADE McLaurin High $50

Dear Bully

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!

“Dear Bully”

Judy Slay

12TH GRADE Florence High $25

CATEGORY 4 • 9th-12th Poster

Jill Hardin

10TH GRADE Northwest Rankin $100

Addison Johnson

11TH GRADE Brandon $50

Caitlin Mixon

11TH GRADE Northwest Rankin $25

Hometown RANKIN • 57

58 • MARCH 2021








(601) 992-5333 hartfield.org


into a reality





(0) 601.203.2222

(C) 601.906.1921

NMLS# 730127

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.

Polk’s Drugs

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

Brandon Nursing

& Rehab

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

your employees?

“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


Crossroads Counseling

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

Larry Swales,

Chancery Clerk

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


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

your employees?

“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


Animal Hospital

Hometown RANKIN • 63

Frederick’s Sales

& Service

What do you most appreciate about

your employees?

“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

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

Hometown RANKIN • 67




february 12

68 • MARCH 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 69


Highland Bluff

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.

Teacher Awards

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.

Steens Creek

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

TheTime COIN

Camille Anding

The short, inspirational quote

of anonymous origin spoke to me

years ago.

Its value has become more treasured over the years,

but my inherent sinful nature continues to wrestle with

its guidance.

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 –

Thank you.

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