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For the Love of Pets

Pet Parade

2 • APRIL 2021


April 11th is National

Pet Day, and our

team has had a

great time putting

together this issue

featuring a variety

of pets.

I was reminded of my childhood and

being blessed with two outstanding dogs.

One was a black Lab we named Belle. She

lived up to that name because she was a

true, caring southern belle among her canine

breeds. Our other favorite dog was Flick,

named after the sound of my dad’s camera

that my brother and I grew up hearing.

Belle was a chosen, purchased pet. Flick

was a rescue animal—a full-bred German

shepherd but suffered from malnutrition and

was in poor physical condition. My dad felt

the animal could be saved and began treating

him with medicine prescribed from our

veterinarian and lots of TLC. Flick responded

beautifully and gave the rest of his life and

allegiance to every member of our family.

He stood constant watch wherever my brother

and I played and only barked when a car

pulled into our driveway. Both pets always

had their fill of Purina, but we never denied

them table leftovers.

On winter nights when the thermometer

registered below freezing, we allowed them

to sleep by the den fireplace. They repaid this

kindness by staying statue-still, never moving

from their lying position.

Yes, they were outside dogs and never

felt the pull of a leash on their collars. They

ran free around our home in the country,

experienced life without pens or cages, and

always reaped loving care from their human

family. What a life for a dog – and what

indelible memories they gave us.



Tahya Dobbs



Brenda McCall


Daniel Thomas


Kevin Dobbs



Caroline Hodges


Othel Anding


Mary Ann Kirby



Alisha Floyd



Jodi Jackson


Reader Spotlight 7

The Way We Were 8

Pet Parade 12

For The Love of Pets 20

Max's Mission 24

Kuzco, the Therapy Llama 26

To Protect & Serve 28

Hometown Family 32

Neighborhood Eats 38

Time Coin 90

...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

A always FRIEND has



Have theirs

with a MECU


4 • APRIL 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 5

When Care at Home is Not Enough… We’re Here For You!

6 • APRIL 2021

214 Spell Drive Richland, MS 39218







Why did you decide to make Rankin County

your home?

My husband and I both grew up here, and

nearly all of the memories, people, and places

that shaped us are in Rankin County. Raising

our daughter here and giving back to the

community that gave us so much is what we

have always wanted.

How long have you lived in Rankin County?

My entire life! I moved away and came home

a couple times for college and graduate school,

but I’ve been back “for good” for about five


Tell us about your family.

I am married to the most kind, humble,

hard-working man on Earth. Justin and I have

been friends since high school, but we didn’t

start dating until after college. The full story is

a really sweet one. Saying, “Yes” to him was the

easiest decision I’ve ever made. Evie Reid is

our two-year-old daughter, and she is the

sweetest, silliest, little soul. We are beyond

thankful to raise her in Rankin County where

hard work, kindness, and faith are valued above

all else. It truly does take a village, and we have

the best one around!

What is your favorite memory of living

in Rankin County?

Many of my favorite memories were set in

Rhonda Whitehead’s Studio during the fifteen

years I spent taking classes there and competing

with The Company. I still name Mrs. Rhonda

as one of the most influential people in my life.

Everyone there was family, and the studio was

my resting place on every good and bad day.

Where are your three favorite places to eat

in Rankin County?

Zeke’s, Soulshine, and Fernando’s! Also,

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention

Cups and Mocha Mugs!

What are some fun things to do in Rankin

County on the weekends?

We love to take Evie to any of the area parks

and kayak on the reservoir. I would also spend

all my time painting pottery at Fat Cat Art

Cafe if I could!

Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

I love painting, reading, exercising, and


What are three things on your bucket list?

I want to travel to so many places! I also want

to grow my art business into a ministry of

some kind. Justin and I have also set goals

around becoming debt free, so we are working

really hard to make that happen!

Who is someone you admire and why?

I have so much admiration for my grandmothers.

My mother’s mother left her home

in Minnesota to move to Mississippi to marry

my grandfather. She was a teacher and had a

heart for missions. I never got to meet her,

but I feel connected to her somehow.

My father’s mother was a true trailblazer

for women in South Mississippi during the

1950s. She began working at a department

store after community college that served

a majority male audience in a male dominated

industry and worked her way up to management

very quickly. She always balanced her

intelligence and confidence with kindness.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I see us building in the Fannin community on

Justin’s grandfather’s land. I want our house

to be filled with family, friends, and anyone

else who needs a place to belong. In ten years,

I hope to have created a home and a life that

serves that purpose!

What is your favorite childhood memory?

My younger sister and I grew up on a

cul-de-sac with several other kids, and we

would spend hours outside playing soccer

or basketball and riding our bikes down the

huge hill in our neighborhood. Summers

there were the best.

If you could give us one encouraging quote,

what would it be?

“Go back to what you know.” Let the

foundation for your choices be what you

already know to be true and right.

What is your favorite thing about

Hometown Magazines?

As a new member of the Hometown team,

I appreciate the welcoming environment of

the staff. Being surrounded by other creatives

who encourage everyone to share ideas is so

fun, and I love that those ideas come together

to serve local communities. The support

Hometown Magazines provides our citizens,

schools, and businesses is incredible. I am

honored to be here!

Hometown RANKIN • 7

The way

WE were

Angel & Keith Reed

Leigh Ramsey

Everyone knows that Black

have been together ever since.

Union, and that is where they

Shreveport. Their daughter,

Friday is a popular day where

Angel moved around quite

met. Over time, they realized

Hannah Grace, was born in

consumers are willing to fight

a bit as a child but wound up

they were interested in more

2005. They longed for her to

the crowds to walk away with

graduating from high school in

than just friendship, and they

grow up closer to the aunts,

great deals. For Angel, Black

Shreveport. She then enrolled

went out on their first date in

uncles, and cousins who were

Friday 1998 was the day she

in the Shreveport branch of

November of 1998, after that

in the Jackson area. They

would walk into a commitment

LSU. Meanwhile, Keith grew

memorable Black Friday.

transferred to Florence in

for a lifetime. That day, Angel

up in Meridian. He started

Angel admits that she

2007 and have lived there

went to a mall in Shreveport,

his college career at Meridian

probably loved Keith right

since. Both Keith and Angel

Louisiana, and intentionally

Community College but

away, but they dated several

now work at Florence High

stopped in the store where

transferred to Louisiana State

years, and got married in 2001.

School. Angel is the tech

Keith Reed worked. While she

University Shreveport. Both

They both graduated with

team leader and library media

was visiting the store, he asked

Angel and Keith began to

degrees in education and

specialist. Keith is the assistant

her out on their first date. They

attend the Baptist Student

started their careers in


8 • APRIL 2021

“You’ll know

when the

right one

comes along.”

When asked about how

through, the Lord has gone

they keep their marriage strong,

before us.” Angel also gave this

Angel shared that the founda-

bit of wisdom, “We often

comes along.” Angel also wants

will be returning to the same

tion of their marriage was being

expect our spouse to read our

Hannah Grace to see that being

area where they spent their

built before they got married.

mind. Keeping an open line

faithful to a church can help

honeymoon. This 20th

“The center of everything has

of communication is one of

keep a marriage strong. “We

anniversary will be celebrated

to be faith,” she said. Being

the hardest and best lessons.”

want her to see that we value

at a resort in San Antonio,

involved in church and the

Angel shared the important

church and want her to make


Baptist Student Union and

things she wanted her daughter

it a priority as well.”

It seems that for the Reeds,

going on mission trips helped

to take away from observing

May 19 of this year, Keith

a good foundation and strong

solidify that faith. “We’ve had

their marriage. “I didn’t have a

and Angel Reed will celebrate

faith made their Black Friday

difficult times and troubles. In

lot of serious boyfriends. You’ll

their 20th anniversary. They

find the deal of a lifetime.

everything we have gone

know when the right one

Hometown RANKIN • 9

10 • APRIL 2021

Be part of the winning

team at The Blake

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Availability is limited. Call for a tour today!

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Hometown RANKIN • 11



Fewer things bring more joy than

the bond between a pet and its owner.

When you have a pet, whether it’s a

dog, cat, hamster, chicken, or goat,

life is filled with belly rubs and

shared moments that remind you

how good it feels to be loved.

Hometown Rankin Magazine

wanted to celebrate all the pleasures

that make having a pet in your

life such a treat. We conducted a

photo contest and enjoyed all the

wonderful submissions received.

The winners are included here.


Taffy Oswald Teeter

12 • APRIL 2021

delta & Clayton

Andrew Comans

Candace Smith Photography


Jessica Harrison Perkins


Lexie Burt

Hometown RANKIN • 13


Lil’ Red

Robyn May Shows

Erica Burleson


Clancy Walker


Tiffany Byrd Smith

14 • APRIL 2021


Laura Martin Quick


Susie Bunn May


Amanda Hodges


Chelsea Hopson


Katrinna Miller

Hometown RANKIN • 15



Tracy Thompson


Kim Bartholomew


Heather Edgar

Pretty Boy

Cindy Boykin Jackson

16 • APRIL 2021


Angie Thornton


Emerson Burt




Lea Anna Tice Burnside

Morgan Wilke

Hometown RANKIN • 17

18 • APRIL 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 19

For the Love of Pets

How did you come up with your pet’s name,

and does it have any specific significance?

Emily Chandler (Blue)

When my husband and I were first married we

watched one of the latest Jurassic Park movies.

In the movie there’s a female Velociraptor

named Blue. She’s sassy and protective. At the

end she saves the day and I cried and told him

our first dog would be named Blue. Fast forward

a few years and we get a redbone coonhound.

While trying to decide her name, he reminded

me that I had already decided her name!

Emerson Burt (Elizabeth)

Well, the duck was a female and

she was the alpha duck so I instantly

thought of Queen Elizabeth.

Christian Leeper (Moose)

Chance’s previous owner bottle fed him because

the mama didn’t produce milk. They said, “Well, he

has a chance to live!” So Chance became his name.

But I call him Moose because of his big head!

What is your funniest pet memory?

Brayden & Landon Kelly


We think it’s funny when she

goes to sleep under the oven,

considering she’s “bacon!”

20 • APRIL 2021

LP Puckett

The funniest story about my

chickens is when they chased

the Walmart deliveryman in our

driveway. They heard the plastic

bags and thought he had treats!

Shelbie Manor (Ringo)

Ringo has always been protective

of his human sister Adalyn.

He constantly checks on her

throughout the day. He even

stands on his back legs like a

human to see around things

to make sure she is ok!

Sadie Grace Conner

(Molly May)

At Christmas I got her a big

ball pit filled with colorful

bouncy balls and she jumped

right in and spilled every one

of them on the floor! She enjoyed

her Christmas presents so much!

She also loves her toddler bed

in my room.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a pet owner?

Angie Crawford (Allie Kay, Lucie Ray, Mouser)

I recently lost both parents, who besides my husband,

were my life! Without God first and those little wiggle

butts, I wouldn’t have made it! Every time they see a tear,

they run up and give me a thousand kisses. If I have a bad

day or feel invisible, my fur babies let me know I’m the

world to them–and they are the world to us! I wouldn’t

trade anything for taking care of them.

Brandi Hopson (Sonny Boy)

His name is Enis Merlene, but we

call him Sonny Boy. Because you

have to admit, Enis is horrible!

It was my grandfather’s name

and everyone called him “Son.”

Maddie Withers (Comet)

For me, it’s seeing my pets get excited

when they see me. They make my

day so much better and they act

like I make theirs better, too!

Carla Nations (Oscar)

The most rewarding thing is the

unconditional love. Oscar greets

me at the door and gets so excited

when I’m home!

Lexie Burt (Milkshake)

I’ve had several pets but having a

cow for a pet is the best! It’s a totally

different kind of love. Milkshake is

the sweetest and most loving animal

that I have ever owned. He is always

giving me kisses. If I’m having a bad

day, he knows it and will come lay

his head in my lap. After loving on

him for a few minutes, everything

is all better. They love us humans

without limitations.

Gatlin & Trace Thompson (Cletus Jack)

Gatlin: The best thing about Cletus Jack is his personality.

He runs in from the pasture to see us. Trace: And he’ll

give you a kiss to get a carrot. Most people wouldn’t

think that donkeys would be good pets but they are.

Gatlin: Yeah, Cletus Jack is like a really big dog!

Kacey McCrory (Walley)

The most rewarding thing is that no matter how

bad your day was or how down you may get, your pet

senses it and somehow makes that sadness disappear

the moment they see you! They are more than just your

pet–my babies are my other half. They seem to make

me smile and laugh when I didn’t think it was possible.

Hometown RANKIN • 21

22 • APRIL 2021



CALL NOW: 601-401-3299

Hometown RANKIN • 23

24 • APRIL 2021

Max’s MissionMistie Desper

“Max is here! Max is here!” can be heard throughout

the Mustard Seed as Kathy Lewis and therapy dog,

Max, enter for their weekly meetings. Max, a lab mix,

has left his pawprints on so many hearts throughout the

community starting with Kathy’s.

Kathy, an avid animal lover since she was a young

girl, has worked closely with local animal shelters since

2008. To date, she has fostered and cared for more than

200 puppies. She joked that she was “St. Francis of Assisi

[patron saint of animals]” because of her huge heart to be

an advocate for these animals.

Max came into her life at a time when she had

struggled with the adoption of one special animal she

cared for. As she fosters and trains puppies, she said,

“They all have their own personalities and my job is to

train them, do home checks of potential adopters, and

make sure they match well.” Before Max, Kathy had

trained a very special dog that she desired to keep for

herself and begin therapy services with. However, when

the interested adoption family had an instant bond with

him, Kathy knew it was the right choice to let him be

adopted. She said, “God knows exactly where these

puppies should be.”

Her calling into providing animal therapy services

was stronger than ever when a young pup entered her

life and changed everything. Kathy instantly knew he

was different. She explains, “His demeanor was so kind.

You could just see it in his eyes.” Little did she know the

impact Max would have on her and all the lives he

would eventually touch.

Former rescuer, friend, and therapy animal trainer

with Dawgone Fun Therapy, Cindy Metzger, helped Kathy

get Max started with therapy training. He breezed through

training and earned the Canine Good Citizenship Award

from the American Kennel Club. When he took his therapy

training test, Kathy said, “He was just meant to do this.”

Soon, Max was spreading cheer throughout the

community. He and Kathy spent one summer at a local

bookstore where families would bring in their children

for readings. “The children love him and are drawn right

to him,” she said.

That same summer, Max spent time at the

Mississippi Natural Science Museum in their “Wolf

to Woof: The Story of Dogs” program for children. Max

loved all of them so much and was such a natural with

them adding to the overall exhibit which showcased the

natural bond between humans and canines. Kathy added,

“He would just lay there and let them do whatever they

wanted. He is a people pleaser.”

In addition, Max made his rounds to local nursing

homes. The residents loved when he would visit. Kathy

said, “You could hear them call him to their rooms as

soon as we’d walk in.”

Max’s keen senses were becoming more evident.

Kathy explained that he showed signs of instincts that

she had never seen in all her years of training animals.

He began therapy services for The Mustard Seed,

Little Lighthouse, and Caring Hands. The residents and

students would light up each time he came through the

door. His presence helped their reading program as they

always wanted to sit and read to him.

Kathy recalled, “Many children at Caring Hands

have disabilities where they would often sit on the floor.

Max was never taught this but he would lay down and

belly crawl to them. He just instinctively knew to get on

their level.”

Max and Kathy were regulars at The Mustard Seed

when the coronavirus pandemic crippled the community

last year. The routines and schedules of the residents’

lives had been disrupted which are very important to

anyone with special needs. To help alleviate some of

the stress, Kathy brought Max for “house calls and

driveway visits” to anyone who wanted one.

Regarding those first face-to-face visits during the

uncertainty of the pandemic, Kathy stated, “During those

first weeks of the pandemic, everyone was scared but I

knew God was watching and would keep up safe.” She

explained that she would take Max to visit with them in

their driveways or she’d just sit on the porch so they

could love on him.

Max also kept active on many zoom calls and in driveby

parades. The nursing home wouldn’t allow his visits

during this time so Kathy made sure his friends knew

they were being thought of by sending pictures of Max

with “I miss you” messages in hopes to brighten their day.

Kathy has seen firsthand the joy and happiness that

Max has brought the local community. Max, now 9 years

old, is back with his Mustard Seed family for outdoor

visits and hopes to be back with his nursing home friends

very soon as well.

Kathy’s heart for fostering and sharing Max with

others has changed the lives of so many people and given

them something to look forward to each and every

week. They plan to continue sharing love and joy in our

community. Kathy, who is now a therapy animal tester

herself, shared that “God has put me on this mission”

to serve others with therapy animals. The pair hope to

reunite with all of their special friends and continue

their calling.

Hometown RANKIN • 25

Mississippi Therapy


Animals With Purpose, Hands That Serve


26 • APRIL 2021




LlamaLeigh Ramsey

Heal the wounds, love the people. Those two statements seemed to be

shared by Kuzco the Llama and his owner, Katrinna Miller. Kuzco was in bad

shape when he was about to be put up for auction in Tennessee. Miller was

searching for a llama, and Kuzco was the perfect fit. Once Kuzco made it to

Miller’s program, Katrinna doctored his wounds and began to bond with him.

Katrinna Miller is the founder of a local non-profit, Mississippi Therapy

Animals. Fueled by a passion for her own need for healing, her desire to see

others heal, and a love for animals, Katrinna had all the puzzle pieces

necessary to build this program.

With a history of childhood trauma, Katrinna noticed the way animals

brought her comfort. Her interest in the medical field grew when she

participated in Hinds Community College’s Allied Health Program through

Pearl High School. She was especially drawn to animals. After high school,

she worked as a vet nurse. She then continued her education and is currently

attending school to become a Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology

from Jackson State University.

Miller trained her own dog, Bit Bit, an Australian Shepherd who is

nationally certified through the American Kennel Club to qualify as a

service dog. She wanted others to receive the same help she received

from Bit Bit. She formed the non-profit and began growing her collection

of therapy animals.

Katrinna personally selects her animals who are either rescues or

babies. She gets trained to handle the animal, then she trains the animal

to see if they are suited for this type of work. The animal must have the

correct temperament and enjoy the work. She currently has 17 animals,

including talking parrots, baby doll lambs, dogs, alpacas, horses, a donkey,

a coatimundi, and a hedgehog.

After his own wounds healed, Kuzco the Llama went through his

training and built a resume of therapy. “His spirit blossomed,” Katrinna said.

“He’d follow you around like a dog.” Kuzco lived a spoiled life. He enjoyed

the 30 acres on which he lived, and a barn, complete with a television that he

loved to watch. The snacks and the people were his favorite parts of his visits.

Kuzco made such a huge difference during the pandemic. “We didn’t back

down. We’d put on the full PPE and visit the COVID units. He made the patients

laugh. He’d squish his nose and face up against the glass.”

At one hospital in South Mississippi, Kuzco and Katrinna walked into

the hospital room and the man just started crying. He was so happy that

Katrinna and Kuzco would come to the hospital to see him. Kuzco loved to

put his head over the side of the hospital bed to give or receive a kiss. “For

some, the last people they saw were me and my llama.” They also visited

the hospital workers. The front-line workers needed this therapy just as much

as the patients.

Kuzco began losing weight and was not able to get around as easily as

he once did. Because he was a rescue animal, no one was sure exactly how

old he was. “Llamas are very stoic animals. They can be dying, and you may

not see it until they are almost gone.” Sadly, during the preparation of this

story, Kuzco died of natural causes. “We’ve cried and smiled at his memory.”

Kuzco lived his last days being spoiled and doing what he loved.

All the pieces, even the broken ones, of this puzzle have come together

to form the beautiful masterpiece that is Mississippi Therapy Animals.

Katrinna Miller is motivated by her own once seemingly insurmountable

experiences to help others. “I’m grateful for those experiences now. Without

them, I would not have the tools to help people in similar situations.”

Katrinna saw a need in Mississippi and began filling that need through

her own passions and hard work. This type of therapy is beneficial to anyone.

Some companies have even brought this therapy to their employees to boost

morale. Katrinna and Kuzco are both great examples of what personal healing,

and a passion to see others heal, can mean to a community.

Hometown RANKIN • 27

28 • APRIL 2021

To Protect & Serve

Mistie Desper

Companions and champions. The role of man’s best

friend has taken several forms within the Rankin County

Sheriff’s Office. Copper, a beloved goldendoodle, is one of

several canines who work for the department.

Copper’s role for the department is a little unconventional

compared to the typical K-9 position. Administration

Assistant Kristi Shanks, has been Copper’s devoted owner

since 2015. Their bond is very unique. Having diabetes,

which has led her to many hospitalizations, was made

much easier by always having her faithful companion by

her side. He was allowed to be in the hospital with her

during her stays and procedures. You could hear the love

and adoration she has for him. Now she gets to share him

with others.

Copper has been a fixture at the sheriff’s office since

he was just a few weeks old. From greeting potential

employees or putting children or family members at ease

while at the office, he serves Rankin County proudly by

dishing out loads of love to everyone he meets. Kristi said,

“He is so special and brings so much joy to the office and

helps boosts the overall morale.”

Copper is so much more than just the office mascot.

Kristi added, “We take Copper into the jail to visit with

the inmates and into the schools and local nursing homes.

The children and patients just love him.” At the schools,

he is able to show off his tricks like jumping through

hoops, playing dead, giving high fives, and saying “I love

you” by barking three times on command. For the nursing

home patients he visits, this is the highlight of their

week and a visit that they look forward to. Kristi

concluded, “He just puts everyone at ease.”

Copper has quite a few cool friends at the

department who serve the Rankin County community as

law enforcement K-9’s. Rankin County Deputy Chris Picou

states that the K-9 unit has some of the best qualified

dogs in the nation. Typical law enforcement dogs are

Bloodhounds, German Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois

breeds. With nine dogs currently serving in the program,

they have different and very specialized trainings.

Chris explains, “All of our animals are imported from

Europe where they go through extensive training shortly

after birth, oftentimes before their eyes are even open.”

There they gain the foundational training before arriving

to other agencies for more specialized support.

The K-9 unit that serves and protects Rankin County

has had specific training through U.S. K9 in Louisiana.

That agency has earned a stellar reputation in the canine

training industry. Using the best and most up-to-date

training techniques, they are producing some of the

most exceptional law enforcement animals and handlers

in the business.

Chris added, “Our animals have continued training

and certifications and compete annually with the U.S.

Police Canine Association.” The USPCA certifications are

recognized and mentioned in many court cases in the

United States setting a high standard for police service

dogs. Chris said, “I have to brag a little on our handlers.

They are good and train a lot. In February, our K-9 Iwan

was named Top Dog [in the narcotics division].” The K-9

unit for Rankin County has an impressive and lengthy list

of accomplishments and awards. Rankin and Madison

County K-9 units train together. The most recent competition

consisted of 30 teams and the local K-9s took home an

astonishing 27 awards.

The importance of the relationship and trust between

animal and handler cannot be overstated. The officers

strive to be the best for each other because they so often

must rely on one another. The animals must have certain

instincts and connections with their handlers to be able

to do their job effectively and to protect their partner,

especially in a dangerous situation where every second

counts and the outcome could mean life or death. These

animals are highly trained in very specific areas such as

car searches on the side of a busy highway where they

must maintain focus. Some are search animals who must

quickly and effectively locate a person where time and

speed are essential. Others are apprehension dogs that

must race to locate and stop a suspect.

Chris shared an incredible story of a local officer,

Wes Shivers, and his K-9 Jack’s apprehension of a suspect

who was hiding in a pond. Jack took off into the pond

after the suspect but was pushed under water for far too

long to be safe. When the other officers got to the suspect,

they feared the worst, that Jack had drowned. Not only

did they find him, they discovered Jack had indeed

apprehended the suspect under water just as he had

been trained to do.

Because of these bonds that become so strong,

when a dog is retired, he lives out the rest of his life

under the care of his trusted handler. Chris said, “It’s

unfair to remove them from their environment and from

their handler.” He joked, “I just recently spoke to an officer

to check on a retired dog and he said he was now fat

and happy [enjoying his retirement].” Sheriff Bryan Bailey

plays a large role in supporting the K-9 unit so the animals

can reach their full potential while working and have the

hero’s retirement that they deserve.

Between Copper’s therapeutic presence and the

K-9 unit serving and protecting, the residents of Rankin

County can be proud of the department’s commitment to

keep them safe. For more information or to have Copper

visit your school, contact the Rankin County Sheriff’s

Office at 601-825-1480.

Hometown RANKIN • 29

Let ’s





5286 Parkway • Flowood • (601) 992-4045

30 • APRIL 2021

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Act of 1990 and other applicable Federal and State Acts, Hinds Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin,

religion, sex, age, disability or veteran status in its educational programs and activities. The following have been designated to handle inquiries regarding these policies: EEOC Compliance: Sherry Franklin, Vice

President of Instruction/Career & Technical Education, Box 1003, Utica, MS 39175; Phone: 601.885.7002 or Email: EEOC@hindscc.edu. Title IX: Deandre House, Associate Vice President Student Services, Title

IX Coordinator, Box 1100 Raymond MS 39154; Phone: 601.857.3353 or Email: TitleIX@hindscc.edu.

Hometown RANKIN • 31

32 • APRIL 2021


Tell us about your family.

STEVEN & CHARITY We own Insurance Associates of Rankin County located

in Brandon. We are members of Brandon First United Methodist Church and

we all love sports – football, baseball, and basketball, particularly! We love

attending Brandon sporting events and enjoy spending time in Starkville at

Mississippi State supporting the Bulldogs. Steven loves to golf, fish, and hunt.

Charity enjoys exercise, travel, reading and cooking.

REAGAN (18) will be graduating from Brandon High School in May. Reagan’s

favorite part of school was playing football as a Brandon Bulldog on Friday

nights. He’s very social and enjoys spending time with his friends and

also enjoys hunting and working out at the gym.

WILKES (age 11) is currently a fifth grader at Brandon Elementary. He loves

sports, plays baseball and football, and loves to fish and hunt.

How you meet, and how long have

you been married?

We met in 1997 when we were both in the

wedding of two of our best friends from

high school. We will celebrate 22 years of

marriage in May.

Do you allow time to be with your

spouse for a date night?

When we can find the time, we enjoy going

out to dinner or going out with our friends.

Working together gives us the advantage of

having a few moments to talk or have an

impromptu lunch date every now and then.

Hometown RANKIN • 33

What brings you the greatest joy as a parent?

Everyone has always advised us that your kids grow in the blink of

an eye and that is definitely true. Reagan is approaching his high

school graduation, and it truly seems like he was just starting

kindergarten at Rouse a couple of years ago. The greatest joy as a

parent has been so many moments that have become forever

memories. Memories from all the ball games, Steven coaching

Reagan’s pee-wee football teams with Wilkes attempting to be

the water boy, Wilkes’ tenacity on any type of ball field from the

age of three, trips to watch Mississippi State, vacations, Reagan

wearing #17 on the football field on Friday nights and his little

brother wearing his jersey in the stands, and so many more!

Who is the financial manager in your home?

We have a good partnership in managing our finances in our

home. We make big financial decisions together and have similar

financial goals.

When your children were younger, what was your

discipline philosophy?

We have always strived to teach our children to be kind, respectful,

and well-mannered. There is not and never has been a lot of

tolerance for any actions that don’t portray this. We have been

called mean parents on more than one occasion by our children–

but parenting often calls for you to be much stricter than your

children may like.

What do you see in your role as the greatest benefit

to your family?

STEVEN The fun one but also the one who lays down the law

when needed.

CHARITY Manager and caretaker of schedules, household, and

school work.

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

does the cooking?

We eat at home most nights. Charity enjoys cooking and does the

majority of cooking. Steven enjoys grilling, using his smoker, or

frying fish or deer meat. If pressed for time, breakfast is a quick

go-to meal.

How long has Brandon been your home?

Steven lived in Brandon during his early years before his family

moved to Pelahatchie. We moved to Brandon as a couple in 2001.

What are some of your favorite things about

Rankin County?

We love the sense of community here in Brandon and in Rankin

County. The area has grown so much over the last several years,

but you still get the small-town feeling. We feel truly blessed to

live and work here, worship in a wonderful church, and have our

kids educated by great teachers in outstanding schools. We love

supporting Brandon High School athletics and activities and have

spent years in Brandon parks playing ball.

How do you spend summer breaks?

Our last few summers have heavily revolved around sports from

football practices and camps to baseball games and tournaments.

We do enjoy taking a break with a vacation. Some our favorite

summer vacations have been beach trips with friends, trips to

the mountains, fishing, and trips to Omaha to the College

World Series.

What accomplishments make you proud during your

time living in Brandon?

We take great pride in our business and how it has grown since

Insurance Associates of Rankin County opened its doors

20 years ago.

Both boys started playing sports as soon as they were able to sign

up. Watching them work hard to excel in whatever sport has been

rewarding. We both have coached or helped coach soccer and

baseball at an early age, and Steven has coached basketball.

We recently counted that Steven has been coaching recreational

football since 2010 when Reagan started flag football and

continues with Wilkes now. His coaching era includes multiple

trips to the Rankin County Super Bowl with championship

outcomes a couple of years.

We are proud to have our kids attend Brandon schools.

I (Charity) have been actively involved through the years serving

in different roles in schools’ PTOs. I currently serve as the PTO

president at Brandon Elementary where I was recognized as

Parent of the Year. We both have served on the board of directors

of Brandon High School’s B Club.

What drives you to have the job that you have?

Owning and managing a business isn’t always easy, but it is

rewarding to see your business transform over the years. We are

blessed with a great team who is committed to helping customers

determine what meets their needs and providing excellent service.

34 • APRIL 2021



What’s your favorite thing

to do as a family?

REAGAN Going to Mississippi

State games.

WILKES Watching Mississippi

State together.

What your favorite restaurant?

REAGAN Crechale’s

WILKES Burgers & Blues

What’s your favorite TV show?

REAGAN The Office

WILKES Peyton’s Places on ESPN

Hometown RANKIN • 35

36 • APRIL 2021


with a bank that knows


Hometown RANKIN • 37





(Full Circle)

It began with a small hotdog cart.

Fred Cerami, looking for inspiration on a way to pay his tuition at

Southern Miss., found just that with the street vendors in New Orleans.

He bought a cart of his own and for four years, he sold hot dogs

to hungry college students on Hardy Street in Hattiesburg.

Susan Marquez

38 • APRIL 2021

Harkening back to his

Italian roots, Fred and

his wife started Cerami’s

Italian Restaurant in

1977 near the Ross

Barnett Reservoir.

“It was a happening place,”

says Alissa

Cerami, Fred’s daughter.

Born in 1978, Alissa grew up

in the restaurant. “It’s all

I really knew for the first

part of my life.”

Hometown RANKIN • 39

“I thought a restaurant would be

a good part-time gig for me.”

The popular restaurant closed in 1992

and life for the Cerami family went on.

Alissa grew up in Madison and attended

Madison Central High School. She was

adamant about never going into the restaurant

business. “I saw the hard work and long

hours it took.” So just out of high school,

Alissa chose to go into the hotel industry.

“I worked for a couple of Marriott properties,

and I went through their first-class training

program.” But Alissa really wanted to earn a

college degree, so she took advantage of the

adult program at Belhaven University in

Jackson where she earned a business degree

then got a job doing administrative work for

Baptist Hospital.

In 2005, Alissa’s daughter, Serenity Lane,

was diagnosed with leukemia. Alissa found

herself a single mother and caregiver for her

sick child. Thinking of ways she could make

some extra money, Alissa talked with Fred

and her sister, Jennifer, about the possibility

of the three of them opening a restaurant.

“I thought a restaurant would be a good

part-time gig for me.” The new version of

Cerami’s opened in 2006 on Lakeland Drive

in Flowood. Eventually, Jennifer and her

husband moved to New Orleans, and Fred

retired. Her part-time restaurant gig became

full-time many years ago and now Alissa is

the restaurant’s owner.

“It’s hard for me to believe that we have

been open for 15 years already,” Alissa says.

“That’s longer than the original Cerami’s

was open.” Fred still comes in most nights

to greet guests. “He is, after all, the face of

Cerami’s. I call him our mascot! I’m the

one who runs the operation and I tend to

stay in the background.”

Her experience growing up in the

restaurant has given Alissa an innate

understanding of what it takes to run

Cerami’s, day-to-day. “I feel like I make it

look easy. I have just been in it for so long.

I believe you should never let the customers

know if there is a problem. They need to

enjoy their meal and not worry about

anything else.”

While some things have remained the

same at Cerami’s, Alissa has introduced a

few changes. “The decorations are the same

as the original restaurant,” she says. “My dad

has always been in charge of decorations!”

Another thing that has remained the same

is the iconic salad cart. “That was dad’s hot

dog cart back in college. We had it as a salad

cart in the old restaurant and we’ve always

had it here as well.”

40 • APRIL 2021

Customers help themselves to a classic

Italian salad with fresh lettuces, gorgonzola

cheese and marinated onions. “To me, it’s a

simple, yet intriguing salad.”

The recipes are the same as they always

have been, with a few new dishes introduced

by Alissa. “We have tried our best to keep

up with the times and accommodate special

dietary needs. We offer several gluten-free

dishes, as well as keto dishes. People are more

health-conscience today so we offer more fresh

fish options and vegetables.” Alissa says she

has hired a chef, Jay Benson, who has been a

wonderful addition to the restaurant. “Since

the restaurant opened, he has been one of

our best additions. He trained in Italy for a

few years, and he is very knowledgeable

Because he is from Bay St. Louis, he has

brought a lot of seafood specials, which have

been very well received.”

Alissa says she always like to challenge

herself, but COVID was the challenge of a

lifetime. “We are so fortunate that we have

such loyal, regular customers. I am so grateful

that we are blessed with a good community.

They kept us going, but it was tough. We had

no help, and we had no direction. We had to

make it up by getting creative and trying

some new things. We had to come up with

everything on the fly. We also did everything

we could to protect our workers and our

customers. People have been so patient with

us. Now we are open 100%, but we are still

being cautious.” One of Alissa’s biggest

challenges so far may be the addition of a

Sunday brunch. “We had our first one on

Valentine’s Day, then the ice storm hit,

so we are really just getting it going.

It features a few entrée items, as well

as brunch specials by our chef.”

While she did not plan on going into the

restaurant business permanently, Alissa

says she is certain that God put her on this

path for a reason. “I enjoy it. I enjoy meeting

people. I love hearing their Cerami’s stories.

So many people have come into my life

through the restaurant who I never would

have met otherwise. People seem to feel

safe here, and at home here, which I love.

I do feel that we are here for a reason.”

And in case you are wondering, Serenity

Lane is now 20 years old and a nursing

student. “She was only five when we opened.

Now she wants to specialize in pediatric


Hometown RANKIN • 41



42 • APRIL 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 43

44 • APRIL 2021


Chicken Lasagna

• 8 oz. lasagna noodles

• ½ cup chopped onions

• ½ cup chopped green bell pepper

• 3 Tbsp. butter

• 2 cans cream of chicken soup

• 1 (8 oz.) can sliced mushrooms,


• ⅓ cup milk

• ½ tsp. basil

• 1½ cup cottage cheese

• 3 cups cooked, cubed chicken

• 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

• ½ cup fresh Parmesan cheese

• 8 oz. shredded Mozzarella cheese

Cook noodles according to package

directions; drain (I cook my noodles

with the broth I boiled my chicken in).

Cook onion and green peppers in

butter until tender. Mix onion

mixture with remaining ingredients

except noodles. In 13x9 inch pan,

put a small amount of mixture, then

layer noodles with mixture, ending

up with noodles on top. Sprinkle

with mozzarella cheese (You can

add as much cheese as you want

on top if desired). Bake at 350

degrees for 45 minutes.


Banana Cake

• 4 large ripe bananas

• ½ cup water

• Nuts, chopped (optional)

• ¾ stick butter

• 1 Tbsp. vanilla

• 3 eggs

• ⅔ cup powdered sugar

• 1 yellow cake mix

Beat eggs and bananas together.

Add cake mix and water (with nuts

if desired). Pour mixture into a

greased Bundt pan and bake at 325

degrees until cake tester comes out

clean (about 45 minutes). When

cake is finished, turn upside on cake

plate. In a small saucepan, melt

butter, powdered sugar and vanilla

until dissolved and pour over hot



Apple Pie

• 3 cups apple

• 3 Tbsp. flour

• 1 tsp. cinnamon

• 1 cup sugar

• 2 Tbsp. butter

• 3 Tbsp. milk

Slice apples in large bowl. Mix flour,

sugar, and cinnamon and coat apples.

Pour coated apples into piecrust.

Pour milk over coated apples and

dot with butter. Bake at 375 degrees

until golden brown.


Gaye’s Homemade

Fudge Sauce

• ¼ cup cocoa

• 1 cup of sugar

• ½ cup heavy whipping cream

• 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

• 3 Tbsp. butter

• ¼ tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. vanilla

Measure cocoa, sugar, cream, syrup,

butter and salt into a heavy

saucepan. Stir until blended; bring

to a boil over moderately high heat.

Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add vanilla.

You can store in fridge and can be

reheated. (Delicious on ice cream,

brownies, banana cake or whatever

else you love to put chocolate on!)


Friendship Tea

• 1¼ cup Tang

• ⅔ cup instant tea w/sugar

and lemon

• 1 tsp. ground cloves

• 1 tsp. cinnamon

• 1 tsp. ground all spice

Combine all ingredients, stirring

well. Store in airtight container.

Place 2-3 Tbsp. and mix in a cup

of boiling hot water. Enjoy with

a friend!


Gaye’s Sweet Tomato

Sauce Meatloaf

• 1½ pound ground chuck

• 1 egg

• 1 small onion, chopped

• 1 green bell pepper, chopped

• 1 16 oz. can tomato sauce

• Salt and black pepper to taste

• 2 slices of fresh white bread, torn

• 1 Tbsp. vinegar

• 1 Tbsp. prepared mustard

• ½ cup packed brown sugar

Combine ground chuck, egg, onion,

green pepper, ½ can tomato sauce

and salt and black pepper in bowl;

mix well. Mix in bread. Pack into a

loaf pan, shaping indentation lengthwise

down the center of meatloaf.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven

for 30 minutes. Combine remaining

½ can tomato sauce with vinegar,

mustard and brown sugar in a bowl,

pour half the mixture over meat loaf.

Bake 20 minutes. Top with remaining

sauce. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes

longer until done. Serve over mashed

potatoes or rice.



• 2 cans diced tomato

• 1 tsp. cumin

• Clove of garlic

• 1 bunch cilantro

• 1 can diced green chilies

• Diced green onions

• Juice from fresh lemon

• Diced fresh jalapeno

(depends on how hot you like)

• Salt and pepper to taste

Puree all ingredients together!

Serve with chips. Enjoy!


Cheesy Crab-Stuffed


• 4 medium baking potatoes

• Vegetable oil

• 1 cup (4oz.) shredded sharp

Cheddar cheese

• ½ cup butter, melted

• ½ cup half & half

• ¼ cup diced onion

• ½ tsp. salt

• ¼ tsp. ground red pepper

• 1 (6 oz.) can crabmeat, drained,

flaked, chopped

• Paprika

Scrub potatoes thoroughly and rub

skins with oil. Bake at 400 for one

hour until done. Allow potatoes to

cool to touch. Cut potatoes in half

lengthwise, and carefully spoon out

pulp, leaving shells intact. Spoon pulp

into mixing bowl. Add all ingredients

(except paprika) and mix well. Stuff

shells with potato mixture and sprinkle

lightly with paprika. Bake at 425 for

15 to 20 minutes. Yields 8 servings.


Gaye’s Ranger Sweet

Dinner Rolls

• ½ cup warm water

• 2 packets active dry yeast

• 1½ cup warm milk

• ¾ cup sugar

• 2 tsp. sugar

• 2 tsp. salt

• 2 eggs

• ½ cup shortening

• 6 ½ cups flour

Mix ½ cup of warm water and two

packets active dry yeast in a large

bowl, then stir in remaining

ingredients (except flour). Mix well.

Add about 3 cups of flour and mix.

Add 3 to 3 ½ cups more flour (until

you can handle the dough). Knead

dough for about 5 to 10 minutes, then

put in greased bowl and cover for

about an hour and a half. Punch

down and shape dough into balls.

Put in greased pan, cover with a towel

and let rest for another half hour.

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes,

checking frequently. Brush with

butter and serve.

Gaye Knight

Gaye Knight was born and raised

in Star, Mississippi, and married her

high school sweetheart, Danny Knight,

in 1987. She cherishes her family and

spending time with them. They include

daughter Annah and son-in-law

Landon, son Cameron, son Jacob, and

two grandsons, Samuel and Henry.

Throughout her lifetime, Gaye has

traveled and lived all over the U.S. as

a military family, and has obtained

recipes from all over the country and

all around the world. She has always

loved to cook and entertain!

Hometown RANKIN • 45

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


46 • APRIL 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 47

“We really try to maintain a friendly, hometown,

laid back atmosphere where our clients and their

pets feel welcome. No stiff white coats and no cold

hospital feel to our practice. It’s a warm, welcoming

place,” said Dr. David Watson, a veterinarian at Brandon Veterinary Clinic.

48 • APRIL 2021


The clinic opened its doors in March of

2008. For roughly 11 years, Dr. Watson was the

only veterinarian on staff. In 2019, he hired

Dr. Patricia Mann, who is now his associate.

The clinic has a total of nine people on staff,

including the two veterinarians.

Dr. Mann holds a particular interest in

cats while Dr. Watson prefers to care for

dogs. “I have a black lab named Delta,” stated

Dr. Watson. “I tend to like those more.” Dr.

Watson’s love for dogs began when he was

about four or five years old. He had a little

black and white dog of his own. “My dad was

old school and he was not too keen on

having a dog around,” he explained. “I only

had him around eight months or so before

he got heartworms.”

When five-year-old Watson took his sick

puppy to the veterinarian, the vet sadly told

him the treatment would be too harsh on his

little dog. Watson faced every child’s worst

fear: losing their best friend. He made the

decision to put him down, and it broke

Watson’s five-year-old heart. “That stuck with

me,” said Dr. Watson. “He was the only pet I

have ever had.” Since then, Dr. Watson made it

his mission to save every dog he can, because

he does not want a kid to have to lose his

“little buddy.”

When asked about his role in the Brandon

community, Dr. Watson explained the importance

of emergency management. “My role

is to make sure our pets here in the community

are safe from disease, which is why it is

so important to vaccinate,” stated Dr. Watson.

The vaccines protect the pets, as well as the

community. Rabies and parasite prevention

protocols are essential in keeping the pet

owner community safe.

For Dr. Watson, the ability to preserve and

protect the human-animal bond is another

one of the primary roles in the Brandon

community. He expressed that it is also one

of the most rewarding aspects of being a

veterinarian. “People develop a very strong

bond with their pets. If I can keep that pet

well and keep the human-animal bond

strong, then I am making a difference,” he


Dr. Watson told a story of a lady who

discovered she had breast cancer because

of the human-animal bond. “The dog would

curl up with her and lay on that side of her

chest. The woman figured out that the dog

was trying to tell her something, so she did a

self-examination. She found a lump where

her dog had been laying. She ended up having

a breast tumor in that area. To this day, she

attributes her recovery to her dog, because

the dog was the reason she discovered the

tumor. The dog basically saved her life.”

Along with preserving the human-animal

bond, Dr. Watson thoroughly enjoys the

birth of puppies. The staff at the Brandon

Veterinary Clinic has a great deal of experience

in canine reproduction. Dr. Watson conducts

many inseminations and C-sections. In fact,

these are his favorite procedures. “We’ll get a

bulldog with 8 or 9 puppies and the whole

staff will be handling puppies. I love that stuff,”

he remarked. “A lot of veterinarians hate it

because of the pressure. There is a lot on the

line, but tough cases are the best payoff.”

Along with assisting in the birth of little

puppies, Dr. Watson also makes sure to prioritize

interpersonal time with clients. He is

really good at spending an appropriate

amount time face-to-face in order to help

them understand their pet’s health condition.

“I like to sit down on a stool and have a conversation,”

he explained. “I am really big on

educating clients. I think they really appreciate

that. I make sure to answer their questions,

because I feel as though they are paying for

the knowledge and experience I have in

addition to their pet’s treatment.”

For example, Dr. Watson tries to help his

clients sort through which information about

their pets is true and which information is

only accredited to large companies trying to

persuade their consumers into buying their

pet-related products. Watson expressed his

frustration with the misinformation about

pet health in marketing. “There is a lot of

marketing to pet owners that is not accurate,”

said Dr. Watson. For example, grain-free pet

food and treats are marketed as a healthy

food source alternative for dogs. However,

Dr. Watson does not support this idea. “If you

open a magazine or hop on the internet, you

are probably going to be marketed grain-free

pet food,” he said. “There is actually a lot of

scientific evidence supporting the fact that a

grain-free diet is not good for a dog.”

Since starting his practice, Dr. Watson

has seen many unfortunate cases. The most

unfortunate cases are acute illnesses that are

hard for a pet-owner to detect initially. For

example, cancer and heartworms are both

difficult to detect, because the dog may not

show any symptoms for a long period of

time. Unfortunately, these diagnoses are

discovered too late. “The news can be

shocking,” said Dr. Watson. “A dog came in

with stage four heartworm disease. The dog

was acting completely normal. The only

symptom was some bloating, which the

owner had mistaken for weight gain. The

owner had no idea that his dog had such

a serious illness, and it was too late to help

the dog at that point.” Watson expressed that

this process never gets easier. “It is one of

the hardest parts of what we do.”

COVID-19 is another challenge Dr. Watson

and his team have faced. “We had some clients

who were very reluctant to bring their pets,”

said Dr. Watson. “It certainly had a negative

impact on everybody.” In order to limit the

face-to-face interaction during the pandemic,

the Brandon Veterinary Clinic provided curbside

service to their clients. “We greeted the

clients through their car window. They called

us once they arrived in the parking lot, and we

were able to do the majority of the appointment

over the phone,” explained Dr. Watson.

However, Watson misses the interpersonal

relationships with his clients. “I have built my

practice on and around having educational

conversations with clients.”

Hometown RANKIN • 49

If you’re looking for a full-service veterinary

medical facility that serves Brandon, Flowood,

and the surrounding areas, look no further than

Oakdale Animal Hospital. POPPY WILLIAMS


Animal Hospital

50 • APRIL 2021

The professional and courteous staff at

Oakdale, which is owned by husband-and-wife

veterinarian duo Drs. Bill and Jennifer Sullivan,

provides top-notch care, and their passion for

caring for your pet is evident to all.

As a full-service veterinary hospital that provides

internal medicine, surgery, dentistry, and

health maintenance services for small animal/

companion animals, Oakdale Animal Hospital

was first established in 2004 and works hard to

deliver excellence in veterinary care, and they

pride themselves on their well-trained and caring

staff, as well as their diagnostic capabilities.

After attending Mississippi State University

College of Veterinary Medicine as classmates,

Drs. Bill and Jennifer both graduated in 1992

and were married in July following the vet

school graduation. Today they live in the Reservoir

area and have three children. When

they’re not treating animals, they enjoy being

active at Pinelake Church and spending time

outdoors with family.

When asked about how they decided to

pursue veterinary medicine, Dr. Bill said, “Animal

health and the investigational aspects of disease

diagnosis interested me as a young man.

As I worked and volunteered in this field, I set a

course toward college and eventually veterinary

school at Mississippi State University.”

Nearly three decades later after graduation,

it’s a decision both Drs. Bill and Jennifer are still

glad they made, and they’ve feel extremely

blessed to practice a career they love so much

within a community that is home.

“This community has been my home since

childhood and the people here are family,” said

Dr. Bill. “Every time that I am out and about – at

local businesses, at local restaurants, or just

enjoying recreation activities – seeing the way

that people greet and treat each other here just

confirms that we are right where we need to

be. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without

the trust and support of this community.”

Though Drs. Bill and Jennifer Sullivan first

started and own Oakdale Animal Hospital, they

are quick to point out that it takes a team to

make both the short-term and long-term

success of Oakdale Animal Hospital possible.

This team includes their staff of additional

veterinarians Dr. Robert Jason Gray and Dr. Gina

Blackwell, a team of certified veterinary technicians,

kennel technicians, and receptionists.

In addition to providing direct veterinary

care to your pets and staying on top of the

latest advances in veterinary technology, their

team is committed to educating their clients on

how to keep their pets healthy year-round, with

preventative good nutrition and exercise.

Throughout the past year, continuing to

work and care for animals amidst a pandemic

has undoubtedly been challenging. But the

team at Oakdale Animal Hospital has continued

to offer the same excellence in veterinary care

and customer service, no matter what comes.

“The recent pandemic has been an adjustment

for all of us and we quickly realized the

importance of customer service and how it

didn’t have to be sacrificed even with limited

face-to-face contact with our customers,”

said Drs. Bill and Jennifer Sullivan. “We have a

drive-thru service, as well as curbside, pickup,

and delivery services. We never stopped striving

to exceed our clients’ expectations, but our

phone volume was very high at times.”

Oakdale Animal Hospital even offered a

“pet-taxi” service at no charge to their senior

citizen clients for an extended period of time to

ensure that their most vulnerable population

clients could still have their pets treated by the

staff at Oakdale. Even a year into the pandemic,

they are still able to offer all these services as a

continued added convenience to their clients.

The future looks brighter than ever for Oakdale

Animal Hospital, and they are now working

on the hospital’s next phase which will be

enlarging the hospital’s footprint by adding an

additional 4,500 square feet and three more

exam rooms. They also plan to expand their

surgical and dental suites and utilize the additional

square footage to provide better service,

additional staff, and room for hospitalized pets.

The team at Oakdale Animal Hospital

summed it up best when they said: “We are all

called to serve others. We, as caregivers to

animals, play an important role in the lives of

many people in this local community, our

community. We understand the value of the

human-animal bond. In a world of ever-changing

technology and internet shopping, we know

nothing can ever replace or automate the gentle

hands that nurture and care for an animal.

It’s why we feel so honored to be able to so.”

Hometown RANKIN • 51

Mental Healthcare

You Can Trust

5611 Highway 80 East, Pearl • 601.939.6634 • crossroadscounselingms.com

52 • APRIL 2021


into a reality





(0) 601.203.2222

(C) 601.906.1921

NMLS# 730127

Hometown RANKIN • 53

Crossgates Veterinary Clinic opened for business

in 1978, making it one of the oldest privately-owned vet clinics

in Rankin County. It was founded by Jim and Gail Anderson.

In 2014, Dr. Todd Sullivan and his wife, Stacie Sullivan, purchased the clinic. They

took over the practice that year, while the Andersons remained on staff until 2018.


54 • APRIL 2021

Crossgates Veterinary Clinic is located on

Highway 80 in front of the Pearl Walmart. When

the practice first opened its doors in 1978, it

was in the middle of a cattle field. The practice

served as a veterinary clinic for large animals,

mainly cattle. Today, it is a full-service general

practice for small animals.

Dr. Jenny Jones Sowell, Dr. Keri Kennedy

Hobby, and Dr. Sarah Fuller work alongside Dr.

Todd Sullivan. Dr. Jenny Sowell has a special

interest in feline medicine, earning the clinic its

standard as a Gold Certified Cat Friendly

Practice. In fact, she also holds the title as

one of the Top 10 Young Feline Vets in the

United States. The clinic offers a variety of feline

services, including referrals.

Dr. Sarah Fuller offers a vast amount of

services in emergency medicine, allowing the

clinic to operate as an urgent care clinic during

business hours. The clinic began emergency

services years ago and became certified by the

American Animal Hospital Association in 2005.

In fact, it is ranked in the top 12 percent of

animal hospitals by the American Animal

Hospital Association.

Dr. Todd Sullivan has a special niche in

clinical pathology, serving the clinic with his

on-sight pathology services. The clinic has a

state-of-the-art ultrasound system, which aids

Dr. Sullivan in his pathology research. Dr. Sullivan

earned the title as Mississippi Young Veterinarian

of the Year back in 2016. Dr. Sowell also earned

this title the following year.

Dr. Todd Sullivan cared for animals throughout

his childhood and upbringing. “I have had

animals my entire life,” he explained. He grew

up on a farm where he learned how to care

for cattle. He attended and participated in many

cattle shows. In fact, he met the previous

owners, the Andersons, at a cattle show.

“They brought me into the field of veterinary

medicine,” he added.

Dr. Todd Sullivan also has a love for dogs.

This love grew during his upbringing on a farm.

“I love dogs. Growing up, I always had a dog,”

he explained. “They were consistent companions

around the house and the farm. They are

so happy to see you all of the time.” Because of

his understanding of the significance of the

human-animal bond, he tries to implement

sincere empathy in every pet owner and client

interaction. “God called me to veterinary medicine

for this reason,” he explained.

Sullivan emphasized the importance of the

veterinarians’ role in the community. “According

to One Health, 90 percent of the diseases we

see in animals can be transferred to humans,”

said Sullivan. These diseases include intestinal

parasites, rabies, cat scratch disease, and possibly

even COVID-19. Dr. Sullivan believes it is the

veterinarian’s job to protect the community

from these transmittable diseases. Crossgates

Veterinary Clinic does this by providing education,

proper treatment, and vaccinations for

their clients and patients. In addition to disease

protection and prevention, Dr. Sullivan believes

a veterinarian’s role is to protect food supply

and observe the trends in animal population.

The hardest part of being a veterinarian is

seeing an animal suffering, firsthand. Dr. Sullivan

insists that euthanasia is one of the most

challenging procedures in the field, especially

when he sees it day after day. “We usually care

for these animals their whole lives,” he said.

“The dog becomes a part of our own family.”

Finding the balance between exhibiting

empathy for a sick pet and showing genuine

happiness for a healthy one is another challenge

for Dr. Sullivan. “I may have a euthanasia

appointment at 2:30 p.m. and an appointment

for a new puppy at 3:00 p.m.,” he said. “It is hard

to try to be there for the suffering patient and

also be excited for the new patient within the

same hour.” Dr. Sullivan explained he would

much rather implement more care on the preventative

side rather than undergo the euthanasia

process with a client. “I love to educate clients

about anything and everything,” he said. “I enjoy

the relationship I get to make with those people.”

The most rewarding part of Dr. Sullivan’s job

is returning a pet from being terminally ill to

health. “We will have a bad dental illness case

and perform surgery, then the pet owner is calling

us saying, ‘Fluffy is playing with a ball he has not

played with in years!’ That is the most rewarding

phone call,” explained Sullivan.

In addition to the vast amount of services

the clinic provides to its clients, Crossgates

Veterinary Clinic also has a full-service boarding

facility. The staff is dedicated to providing quality

care to its pet residents. In fact, Dr. Todd Sullivan

stayed overnight for an entire week in the facility

during the ice storm in order to continue to

provide care to their boarded pets. “Someone

has got to make sure the animals are taken

care of,” he said.

Crossgates Veterinary Clinic’s dedication to

the health of animals is shown in so many ways.

One of these ways is their mobile vet option.

The clinic owns a mobile truck used to provide

services to animals around Rankin County and

at their own home. “We have a 24-foot mobile

veterinary truck,” explained Dr. Sullivan. “It is

basically a surgical unit on wheels.” The veterinarians

have the same capabilities to care for

pets in the mobile truck as they do in the clinic.

A few of these services include lab, surgery,

ultrasound, in-home euthanasia, and normal

preventative care.

Dr. Sullivan also uses this truck to care for

pets in Mendenhall, where there is no access to

a clinic. “I visit Mendenhall to care for animals

every Thursday,” he said. “I’m from Mendenhall,

so the community is dear to my heart.”

COVID-19 impacted businesses across the

county, and Crossgates Veterinary Clinic is no

exception. However, the clinic has introduced

many protocols in order to overcome the challenges

of the pandemic and continue to care

for pets. For example, the clinic has a telemedicine

service it uses to provide quality pet care

to clients. “We offer TeleVet, which is an app

our clients can use to schedule appointments

and attend them virtually,” said Sullivan. The

mobile vet truck also played a significant role in

caring for pets during the pandemic, making it

possible to visit the homes of the elderly.

Hometown RANKIN • 55

Making dogs beautiful and feeling loved through professional dog grooming is

all in a day’s work for Amy Barron and her mother Dixie Dull, who jointly own

Posh Paws Professional Dog Grooming.


56 • APRIL 2021

Though raised in Morton, Mississippi, Amy

decided to move back to Pennsylvania for a

time and she built a career dedicated to helping

animals through working for several veterinarians—being

the president of Needy Paws Rescue

from 2006-2011, and helping to support several

spay and neuter organizations.

During her time in Pennsylvania, Amy

attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Dog

Grooming and opened Amy’s Animal Friends

Professional Dog Grooming, which she owned

for 30 years. Mrs. Dixie, Amy’s mom, wanted to

get in on the fun and trained in dog grooming

in Pennsylvania as well.

After the death of Amy’s father and a

divorce from her husband, Amy and Mrs. Dixie

decided it was time to make the move back to

Mississippi and start a new beginning.

“My brother Jake Dull had moved back to

Mississippi three years prior to marry a high

school friend named Jamie Woods, and one

day he saw Mrs. Debra McKay hammering a

‘For Sale’ sign in her yard on 471 in Brandon,”

said Amy. “My mom and I ended up buying her

house and it’s been home ever since. I’ll tell you

though, when we moved back to Mississippi it

felt like Amy’s Ark because I brought with me

three horses, three birds, six dogs, and a cat.”

Once they moved back, Amy and Mrs. Dixie

decided to join forces and combine their

professional dog grooming passions and

experiences to open Posh Paws Professional

Dog Grooming.

“We named our shop Posh Paws because I

have an eye for shiny, glittery things and it

seemed appropriate,” said Amy. “My mom

Dixie, being over her retirement age, can still

groom the same or even more than me. We

both absolutely love grooming.”

Amy and Mrs. Dixie, as well as the rest of the

staff at Posh Paws take pride in their work

ensuring that their customer’s dogs leave happy

and safely groomed. In fact, all new customer’s

dogs leave with a goody bag and complimentary

photo of their first visit.

In addition to grooming and running her

business, Amy is also passionate about helping

others find their niche in dog grooming and

she teaches an all-breed grooming course.

She’s taught 29 people so that they can start

their own business in the grooming field.

Looking back, Amy attributes her success

to hard work, a love for dogs, the rest of her

team, and the amazing community that supports

her. “We chose Rankin County because

of the growth we have seen over the last few

years and also that we knew a lot of people

here already,” said Amy. “Our community is so

wonderful, and they’ve really rallied to support

us over the past year dealing with COVID and

business closures. We’re truly blessed to live

and work here.”

In the future, Amy and Mrs. Dixie plan to

grow Posh Paws by adding three more groomers

to their team. They both agree that not only

would this add local jobs, but it would help with

serving the dogs that they have on the waiting

list, currently.

One of the things that initially drew Amy to

the dog grooming was her work experience in

veterinary clinics. “I loved grooming because I

could take dogs, love on them, and make them

beautiful, without seeing them sick,” she said.

“I felt I could use my passion for animals in a

positive way, and I’m like a grandmother—I love

on them and then get to give them back happy

and healthy. It’s a passion and an art.”

When Amy isn’t grooming dogs at Posh

Paws, you can find her enjoying some of her

favorite activities, like riding horses, spending

time with her family and friends, fishing, dancing,

boating, and attending Pinelake Church. If

there’s one piece of advice she’d like to give to

others, it would be to, “Put God first, find your

joy, and be happy. The rest will come together.”

Hometown RANKIN • 57


Baptist Medical Group announces the opening of our

newest location. Visit Baptist Medical Group – Pearl

Primary Care for all your health care needs.

For your convenience, routine and same-day

appointments with Dr. Sanders can be made through

your Baptist OneCare © MyChart account, online

at baptistmedicalclinic.org/clinics or by

calling 1-855-733-8863.

110 South Pearson Road – Pearl, MS 39208 Melissa Sanders, DO


Get Better.

58 • APRIL 2021

Add Scheduling an

Eye Exam to Your Routine.

It Is


Scheduling a comprehensive eye exam with Jackson Eye Associates

should be as routine as brushing your teeth daily. It Is A Big Deal!

Call to schedule your exam at one of our three convenient locations

or visit JEA Optical today!








©2021 JEA

Hometown RANKIN • 59

Dr. Ben Zieren, who is the veterinarian and owner of

Luckney Animal Hospital, has never met a stranger and loves

getting to know people in his community. But most of all, he loves animals.


60 • APRIL 2021

He focuses his energy on the health and

well-being of his small animal patients, and

he enjoys working with his clients to build

relationships based on preventative care and

good health practices.

Originally from Macon, Mississippi, Dr.

Zieren graduated from Oxford High School

and attended the University of Mississippi for

a time before transferring to Mississippi

State University. From there, he received

his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 2008.

He worked in Missouri for a couple of years

before moving to his wife Erin’s hometown

of Flowood in 2010.

“Erin and I moved here in 2010 for job

opportunities and to be near her family, and

our home and clinic are actually on property

in Flowood that was part of her family’s

original homestead,” said Dr. Zieren. “I love

the small-town feel of Flowood and Rankin

County. I love being able to get to know my

clients and see them around town. The people

of small towns like this seem to understand

the importance of getting to know each other.”

In March of 2017, the Zieren’s opened

Luckney Animal Hospital as a full-service

small animal practice that provides in-house

diagnostics, surgery, radiology, and preventative

care for your pets. With Dr. Zieren as

the veterinarian and Erin as the architect

and designer of Luckney, it began with, and

remains today, very much a family affair—

and that is just how the Zierens like it.

This past October, the Zierens expanded

with the opening of Luckney Bed & Biscuit,

which provides luxury boarding to their clients.

Though he primarily enjoys providing

veterinary care to his furry patients, more often

than not, Dr. Zieren also finds himself taking

an active role in their owners’ lives as well.

“Many days, I find myself as a therapist.

Our pets are members of our families, so

often my staff and I become much closer to

our clients than in standard client/patient

relationships,” said Dr. Zieren. “We are there

step-by-step during hard or involved

processes, and bonds definitely get formed

in those situations.”

Dr. Jessica W. Moore, Luckney’s new

associate vet, was raised in Pearl, Mississippi,

and grew up with a diverse assortment of

animals. It was during her years of showing

horses, cattle, and lambs through Rankin

County 4-H that she decided she would

become a veterinarian. Dr. Moore and her

husband, Daniel, live on their family farm in

Vaughan, Mississippi, with their dogs, cats,

chickens, and goats. She is very happy to

have recently joined the Luckney Animal

Hospital family.

Like many small business owners,

Dr Zieren and Erin know, firsthand, some

of the challenges that arise, especially

for newer businesses like Luckney Animal

Hospital that are still in a growth pattern.

“Small business owners don’t have the

advantages of major corporations and we

fight this every day. We are members of the

community, and you don’t get the customer

service from a corporation that you do from

local businesses,” said Dr. Zieren. “We work

hard on our relationships and want to offer

this word of wisdom to beware of online

medical products for your pets. They do not

know your pet or your pet’s accurate health

history and cannot provide the same

guarantees for the products like a local

veterinarian can for their patient.”

Dr. Zieren, Erin, and their children Cullen

and Mary have planted what they believe to

be permanent roots here in Flowood. Erin

firmly believes that no family is complete

without dachshunds, so they have two for

good measure: Chloe and Lady. Samantha,

the black Lab, loves going to work with Dr.

Zieren, so you might see her around the

clinic, greeting clients and generally loving life.

In his time away from work, you’ll find

Dr. Zieren on a John Deere. With a family

farming background, he has a passion for

working outdoors. He and Cullen are tractor

enthusiasts. Have some John Deere trivia?

Just try him.

Most of all, the Zierens come across as

truly genuine and authentic people, and

Dr. Zieren is quick to point the spotlight at the

others, versus himself, who have been integral

to his personal and professional goals.

“Dr. Lee Payne at the Animal Clinic of

Oxford was the first to see potential in me,

and he helped pave the way for me to go to

vet school,” said Dr. Zieren. “My dad Bill

Zieren was the person to teach me the value

of honesty, integrity, and hard work. Also, my

father-in-law Bill Holden has been a great

influence and mentor with starting a business

from absolutely nothing.”

In the future, the Zierens hope to continue

to provide top-notch veterinary care to their

patients at Luckney Animal Clinic, as well

as continue to grow in the luxury boarding

capacities at Luckney Bed & Biscuit. No

matter what he does, Dr. Zieren plans to

continue living by, while hopefully passing

down to his kids, his favorite quote, “Do what

you say you’re going to do.”

Hometown RANKIN • 61

Dr. Mitch Clemmer, owner and lead veterinarian

at Flowood Pet Hospital and Resort, laughed when he said

that he’s been drawn to two things all his life – animals and

entrepreneurship. Throughout his life, his accomplishments

and career accolades have been a testament to that.

Flowood Pet Hospital


62 • APRIL 2021

“My wife and I started dating in high

school and she lived on a farm with horses

and plenty of animals and was one of four

daughters, so I was essentially the labor force

on the farm which gave me plenty of animal

experiences,” said Dr. Clemmer. “I’ve also said

that I’ve got the entrepreneurship disease,

meaning that no matter what I do, I feel the

urge to start and grow businesses to some

degree. I’ve been blessed to have utilized

both a love for animals and entrepreneurship

in my career.”

Though he was born and raised in Jackson,

Mitch later went on to obtain three degrees

from Mississippi State University – a B.S. in

Dairy Science, an M.S. in Animal Physiology,

and a DVM in Veterinary Medicine – before

ultimately relocating to Flowood in 1981 and

making it his home ever since.

“When I got out of vet school in 1981, we

moved to Rankin County, and back then,

Lakeland Drive was just a two-lane road

without much out there,” said Dr. Clemmer.

“At the time I had started the first house call

practice in Jackson called Mobile Animal

Clinic, where I would drive anywhere that

people needed me – Madison, Flowood,

Brandon, Florence, sometimes even as far

out as Kosciusko. However, my roots and

passion remained in Rankin County.”

Years later, Dr. Clemmer bought and

owned two local Banfield Animal Hospitals

inside Petsmart before ultimately making the

decision to open Flowood Pet Hospital and

Resort in 2017, and he hasn’t looked back


Flowood Pet Hospital and Resort isn’t

just a veterinary clinic that provides top notch

medical and surgery care – “all the -ology

types of things,” says Clemmer. It’s also a

doggy daycare and boarding facility that

houses an indoor and outdoor playground,

several dog runs, with a capacity to house

over 100 kennels, and “luxe suites” that offer

beloved pets TVs and cameras so that their

owners can watch them during the duration

of their stay.

In addition to the luxe and friendly atmosphere

for pets and their human families,

Flowood Pet Hospital and Resort offers

a seriously impressive list of services to

their clients. One of those services is their

“Healthy Pet Plan.”

Though the monthly plan packages are

specific to the age of your particular pet, the

most popular Basic Adult Dog Plan, which

costs only $35 a month, includes unlimited

sick visits, all annual vaccinations, a full

annual physical exam, a dental cleaning, a

spa package, nail trimmings, organ profiles,

blood count work, discounts on flea, tick

and heartworm preventatives, and much

more. It encompasses huge health benefits

for your dog and equally huge savings for

your pocketbook. Preventative care is

important in preserving the life and longevity

of your beloved pets.

“Just last week I was talking to a client

who is a part of our Healthy Pet Plan and I

reminded her that she still had some free

x-rays left to utilize before the year was up.

So we did the x-rays and surprisingly discovered

a softball-size tumor on her dog’s

spleen,” said Dr. Clemmer. “The dog was

showing zero signs of sickness, but the tumor

would’ve ruptured, and the dog

would’ve died if we had not have caught it

early. We did surgery the next day to remove

it and the dog is already fine and moving

around great. Preventative care like this

makes such a huge difference!”

If great feedback, healthy pets, and happy

clients are any indication, the future at

Flowood Pet Hospital and Resort will be as

bright as they want it to be. “We just love

what we do here. There will be four veterinarians

on staff in May, and we are all

passionate about what we do – from the

doctors down to every member of our

staff,” said Dr. Clemmer.

Speaking of staff, Flowood Pet Hospital

and Resort is a workplace home to 20

employees, all of whom live, work, and play

locally. It’s something that he is passionate

about. “Whenever we can, we buy local. We

employ local. We promote local in all that we

do,” said Dr. Clemmer. “I truly believe that the

success of smaller, independent local businesses

has a domino effect, and it works to

spread our dollar further.”

Though the services and packages at

Flowood Pet Hospital and Resort are many,

if you asked Dr. Clemmer what propels their

success, he would immediately respond

with, “our people.” Dr. Clemmer loves

working alongside his daughter Dr. Chelcie

Hutchinson, who’s the practice manager and

also one of the vets there, and he loves

working alongside their team.

“Because of our staff and their hard work,

we’ve grown exponentially since our opening,”

said Dr. Clemmer. “They care and they

love what they do. They have such genuine

empathy and attention to detail. It makes my

job so easy. I never want to underestimate

the value of a good employee, and we have

a team of them.”

At the end of the day, Dr. Clemmer feels

blessed to come home to a beautiful wife, a

loving family, his nine perfect grandchildren,

and the community in Flowood he’s planted

professional and personal roots in.

Hometown RANKIN • 63

64 • APRIL 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 65

Hometown Veterinary Hospital is proud to serve

the veterinary needs of pets in the Brandon, Jackson, and Flowood

areas of Mississippi as the largest privately owned practice in Mississippi.


66 • APRIL 2021

Dr. Richard Kirby and Dr. Daniel Plunkett

are both compassionate and experienced

veterinarians with years of experience in veterinary

dental care, surgery, and reproductive services.

Though their combined experience is

noteworthy, Dr. Kirby and Dr. Plunkett, as

well as the entire team at Hometown Veterinary

Hospital, love what they do and the

patients they serve and treat – the human

ones and the furry ones.

Hometown Veterinary Hospital can trace

its beginnings essentially back to the beginning

of a single career, which is Dr. Kirby’s.

Dr. Kirby first began Hometown Veterinary

Services not long after he graduated vet

school—in an ambulance where he would

travel and make house calls.

This led him to meet one of his most

well-known clients, Willie Morris. Their relationship

grew as Willie acquired more cats,

and Dr. Kirby was even honored with being

mentioned in his book My Cat Skip Magee.

When filming started in the Jackson area

for the movie My Dog Skip, there was not a

question as to who would be the vet on the set.

After several years, the first brick and

mortar location of Hometown Veterinary

Services on 471 in Brandon opened its doors

in June of 1997. In the years since, the client

base at Hometown Veterinary Services continued

to grow and Dr. Kirby has received

many awards, with his favorite being voted

as the Best Veterinarian in Rankin County

in 2016.

In 2017, Dr. Kirby and the entire staff at

Hometown Veterinary Services grew as

they welcomed a new partner, Dr. Daniel

Plunkett. They have since changed the

name to Hometown Veterinary Hospital and

moved to their new location in Brandon. In

the new state-of-the-art facility, Dr. Kirby

and Dr. Plunkett, in addition to their qualified

team at Hometown Veterinary Hospital,

are proud to offer the latest tools and

equipment to the animals under their care.

Their services include, but are not limited

to, dental care, reproductive services, surgery,

digital radiography (x-ray), and laser therapy

to diagnose and care for their client’s pets. In

addition to their services, they are incredibly

passionate about educating their clients

about the ways to understand their pets’

needs and help keep them healthy through

preventative care.

At the end of the day, the team at Hometown

Veterinary Hospital understands that

their patients have a choice to make,

many choices in fact, in deciding who cares

for their animal companions. That’s why

they work so hard to bring compassion, experience,

and a good dose of hometown,

small-town clinic care, and combine it with

advanced equipment and big hospital

capacities for the best care possible. They

do it because they believe their patients

simply deserve the best.

It’s a belief and commitment that has

contributed to their success over the many

years. Just one glance at client testimonials

or reviews and you’ll see it’s the repeated

satisfied customer service and quality veterinary

care, month after month and year

after year, that’s made them a staple in the

Brandon area. We’re certainly thrilled to have

them here!

Hometown RANKIN • 67

68 • APRIL 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 69


to First Responders

Why did you decide to be a fireman?

Growing up, my father was a career fireman in Richland, and a

firefighter for the Cleary Volunteer Fire Department. I would go on

calls with him any chance I could get when he was volunteering

in Cleary, and couldn’t wait until I was old enough to respond on

my own! So I guess you can say that would be the inspiration.

How long have you been with the Star Fire Department?

Since 2018. I was previously with the Cleary Volunteer Fire


Tell us about your family.

My fiancée is Taylor Flowers. I have a son, Brayden Malley, and

a daughter, April Malley. Sorry to everyone I left out—but it

would take up the whole magazine!

What is the toughest thing you have experienced

in your job?

Firefighting is mentally and physically challenging. Seeing

tragedies ranging from fires to cardiac arrest can be tough on

anyone. The toughest things normally come from serious car

accidents that I work quite often—and won’t go into detail about.

The reward comes from helping others in what are, quite often,

the worst moments of their life.





Share some things you enjoy doing in your spare time.

I own two restaurants and run calls with Star in my downtime–

so “spare time” is hard to come by. In the time I do get, I enjoy

traveling, spending time with family, and trying new restaurants.

70 • APRIL 2021

What are three things on your bucket list?

Well…the bucket list in my opinion is something that should start

small and be renewed every few years. But on the current one, we

have four more continents to visit. The last bucket list consisted of

skydiving, scuba diving, parasailing, and a hot air balloon ride.

Not sure what will be on the next one yet!

Who is someone you admire and why?

As much as I hate to give a generic or typical answer, I would

have to say my father for instilling in me the work ethic that got me

to where I am in my career—along with actually inspiring me to be

a fireman.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young person,

what would it be?

Be present. Live in the moment.

What is your favorite thing about Star?

We are just far enough out from all the busy-ness of the cities,

but still close enough for convenience.

What is your favorite thing about Rankin County?

The Star Fire Department. And yes, I am biased.

Hometown RANKIN • 71

72 • APRIL 2021

Any HGTV fan knows that home decorating

hasn’t been the same since Chip and

Joanna Gaines came on the scene and made

“shiplap” a household word. Their unique

style has inspired a multitude of do-it-yourselfers

and home decorators alike, with folks

scouring flea markets to find the perfect

piece to salvage and make their own. Those

who aren’t so handy prefer to benefit from

the creativity of others, searching for home

decor items that give them the vintage look

they want without the work. Whether you’re

a DIY veteran, or just looking to spruce up

your home with some vintage inspired decor,

Vintage Market Days ® of Mississippi is sure

to have what you’re looking for.

Founded by Amy Scott and Dianna

Brown, the first Vintage Market Days ® event

was held in 2012 in Bixby, Oklahoma. The

success of that first event led to licensing in

other communities, and by 2014, Vintage

Market Days ® was a franchise business. The

business continues to expand, and there are

currently Vintage Market Days ® franchise

events in 26 states.

Vintage Market Days ® was introduced to

Mississippi around five years ago, and this

year’s event promises to be the best yet.

Continuing the tradition of Vintage Market

Days ® of Mississippi is a family affair for local

franchise owners Chris and Jana Fuss, and

Betty Fuss, Chris’s mom. Chris and Jana have

lived in the metro area for 27 years, and are the

parents of two sons, Matthew and Jonathan,

who will also be involved in this event. The

combination of sales, marketing, and vendor

relations experience in this family makes for

a smooth transition into the franchise.

Betty first experienced Vintage Market

Days ® as a vendor and was the one to introduce

the family to the event, taking Jana

along to help with her booth at Vintage

Market Days ® of Mobile. Chris has been in

sales since his early days peddling produce

from his parents’ garden, and currently serves

as regional manager of Sunrise Fresh Produce.

As a marketing director with Merit

Health, Jana is no stranger to coordinating

events, big or small, down to the last detail.

She’s also an avid shopper who loves helping

others find the perfect gift or home décor

item, making this the perfect venue for her.

Having promoted other events in the southeast

for years, including the Murfreesboro

Antiques show in Tennessee, when the

opportunity presented itself to acquire the

Vintage Market Days ® franchise, the Fuss

family knew it was the right move.

Vintage Market Days ® of Mississippi is

excited to partner with the Metropolitan

YMCAs of Mississippi, an association of

men, women and children committed to

bringing about lasting personal and social

change. “The YMCA is so much more than a

fitness facility with kids’ sports programs,”

Jana says. “So many do not know about their

other ministries for children and senior

adults, one of which is the Feed the Hungry

program. The YMCA is special to our family,

as our children were cared for through afterschool

programs and participated in summer

camp for several years.” Jana has been fortunate

to work with the YMCA through her

job and involvement in the community, and

immediately thought of the YMCA as a

community partner when her family took

over Vintage Market Days ® of Mississippi.

“We are happy to give back to an organization

that supports neighbors, enables

youth, adults, families and communities to

be healthy, confident, connected and secure.”

Much more than a flea market, Vintage

Market Days ® of Mississippi is unique in that

it hosts vendors from all over the country,

offering a variety of original artwork,

antiques, clothing, jewelry, home decor,

outdoor furnishings, and much more. Live

entertainment and food trucks add to the

fun atmosphere which sets Vintage Market

Days ® apart.

The theme for this spring’s event is “Life’s

a Garden,” and will feature a fresh produce

stand and flower truck. After a longer than

expected hiatus due to COVID, vendors are

excited to be back after last year’s markets

had to be cancelled.

Vintage Market Days ® of Mississippi will

be held at the brand new Mississippi Trade

Mart, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April

23rd - 25th. Special perks are offered to those

who buy tickets in advance, including a

Vintage Market Days ® tote full of goodies

and coupons from vendors, as well as the

opportunity to enter the market first each

day. Additionally, the first 25 shoppers in line

each day will receive a gift certificate in an

amount ranging from $5 - $50 to spend at any


The Fuss family is always on the lookout

for high quality vintage home goods dealers,

and welcomes vendors to visit www.vintagemarketdays.com

for more information on

this one of a kind event.

Hometown RANKIN • 73

74 • APRIL 2021

SHOP Local

Get Spring ready with

lots of fun prints!

The Wilander - Brandon

Gifts for

grads & Moms

Crawford Hill Boutique

- The Outlets of Pearl

Bread boards,


home décor & more!

Downtown Giftery - Brandon

Hobo Purse & Wallet

The Beach Look Boutique - Pearl

Hometown RANKIN • 75

76 • APRIL 2021

SHOP Local

gifts for mom

Red Wagon Boutique & Screen Printing - Richland

Pampa Bay Pottery

She & Sho Tote

Sweet Peas Boutique - Pearl

Gifts for moms & grads

Flawless Boutique - Flowood

bird houses

Chapmans Florist - Pearl

Hometown RANKIN • 77

To advertise in this

Shopping Guide,

please contact us at

601-706-4059 or




Support our Small Businesses

78 • APRIL 2021

SHOP Local

Properly Tied Piper Dresses, Swimwear,

Matching Sibling Outfits

Southern Raised - Brandon

Angel art

Vintiques - Brandon

Seda France Travel Tin

in “Japanese Quince”

Apple Annie’s - Brandon & Madison

bird baths

Rivers Greenhouse and Garden - Brandon, MS

14k white gold


& Diamond


Jackson Jewelers - Flowood, MS

the coziest

Fuzzy Slippers

Polk’s Drugs - Brandon, MS

Hometown RANKIN • 79

80 • APRIL 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 • 81






march 4

The Vault

82 • APRIL 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 83



Kindergarteners at Pisgah Elementary recently

celebrated the 100th day of the school year by

dressing as 100-year-old “grannies” and “grandpas!”

First graders celebrated the 101st day of school by

dressing as dalmatians from 101 Dalmatians!

Two of Pisgah Elementary School’s fifth grade students,

Dylan Johnson and Nathan Boyd, qualified to compete

VIRTUALLY in the Scripps National Spelling Bee,

with Dylan Johnson advancing to win 3rd place in

our division! Pisgah is extremely proud of these two

young men. The staff and students have not let the

virtual way of doing things slow us down! Ms. Jones’s

1st graders celebrated World Read Aloud Day by

inviting community members to read to them via

ZOOM. Upper grade students made video recordings

of themselves reading their favorite storybooks to

share virtually with our lower grade students. Mrs.

Lofton, our librarian, held our first virtual book fair,

which allowed parents to shop for books online.

This school year has brought many challenges

adjusting to life during a global pandemic, but those

challenges have only made the staff and students of

Pisgah Elementary School stronger and closer as a

school community. Together Pisgah Elementary

School will wrap up the 2020-2021 academic year

with success!

84 • APRIL 2021

Pearl Public School District

Early Childhood Education Center - Read Across America

Students dressed up as storybook characters for National Read Across America Day.

Pearl Lower - Book Fair

Kindergarten and first-grade students enjoyed shopping at the school book fair.

Northside - Roundup

To celebrate the PTSO fundraiser’s success of $11,000 in donations, students

participated in Western Roundup activities that included stick horse races.

Pearl Upper - Heart Month

Students and faculty wore pajamas to celebrate raising money for

Children’s Hospital of Mississippi in honor of Heart Month.

Pearl High - Annual Inspection

Pearl Public School District Superintendent Dr. Raymond Morgigno served as

the guest inspector at the NJROTC Annual Military Inspection.

Pearl Junior High - Black History Month

Students decorated bulletin boards around the school in honor of Black History Month.

Hometown RANKIN • 85



Better Together

This is a time to showcase all RES staff,

students, and parents. We pause and

reflect on the notion that what we’re

doing matters. It matters not just for the

Lil’ Rangers we have in our classes today,

but also for the future. Last school

year’s sudden closure brought different

emotions and challenges to our Ranger

family. In the blink of an eye, we made

sudden shifts to innovative ways of

learning due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In order to provide equitable learning

across virtual and physical spaces, RES

staff prepared to make quick adjustments

and pivot. Fast forward to the new school

year. RES staff work hard daily to fill

learning gaps, challenge students, as

well as, address the social-emotional

needs and safety concerns for students.

All have handled social distancing, mask

wearing, and hand sanitizing, all while

still managing in being the BEST Ranger


Our dedicated staff hasn’t let the chaos

of this pandemic ruin their love for

teaching or our Lil’ Rangers’ love for

learning. They’ve found creative ways

to be effective, attentive teachers amidst

the madness happening around the world.

Our staff will be remembered as a

committed staff who helped students

in the age of coronavirus by being

available, communicative, and by

supplying an education that matters.

We don’t know what the future holds,

but it’s important to be optimistic,

especially when it comes to teaching

our Lil’ Rangers. Even more, we are so

grateful to our families and continued

supporters who show our RES family

how valued they are.


86 • APRIL 2021

88 • APRIL 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 89

TheTime COIN

Camille Anding

It’s one of my all-time favorite Christmas

gifts – a sound machine.

For ten-minute intervals, I can fill our bedroom with

a variety of relaxing sounds. There’s the sound of wind.

It makes me want to reach for another layer of cover as

I imagine a winter storm brewing. My mind sweeps me

to those days when our family was young and reveled

in snow days. A winter storm forecast would send us

running for groceries – mostly “fun food” and an extra

can of gas for snowmobiling on the three-wheeler.

The night winds we could only watch through the icy

windowpanes as we snuggled under layers of quilts

by the fireplace.

Another push of the button brings a mountain stream

running by my head – just like the one we visited with

our kids. We’ve always cherished mountain moments

for their scenic beauty and climate relief. The laughing

gurgle of the stream reminds me of slippery

wading and picnics on the rocky slopes –

times when schedules weren’t so demanding

and controlling.

If I tire of mountain streams I can fling open the

windows to a summer night filled with serenading

insects and mental pictures of barefoot children with

sun-warmed glows chasing lightning bugs. It was a

time of continuous play, ravenous appetites, and

unfailing sleep. Those summers slipped past as quickly

and illusively as the floating lightning bugs.

My favorite sound comes with the next button.

The surf laps at my feet, and the sea gulls fly overhead.

Vacation memories on the beach with beach bags filled

with suntan lotion, towels, books, cheese puffs, and more

sand, emerge. Regardless of how long our vacation

stretched over the calendar, we never tired of the

endless waves that erased our footprints and sand

castles. They brought tranquility and rest to our drained

bodies and created a playground of memories.

As I drift off to sleep with the night’s selection of

sounds, I hear something else through

the surf, wind, water, or night creatures.

It’s a soft voice – my Heavenly Father’s.

He says, “Listen to how I have loved you.”

90 • APRIL 2021

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