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FLOWOOD • BRANDON • PELAHATCHIE • PUCKETT • FLORENCE • RICHLAND • PEARL • STAR • PISGAH• RESERVOIR
For the Love of Pets
2 • APRIL 2021
FROM OUR PUBLISHER
April 11th is National
Pet Day, and our
team has had a
great time putting
together this issue
featuring a variety
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.
PUBLISHER & EDITOR
Mary Ann Kirby
IN THIS ISSUE
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
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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.
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Hometown RANKIN • 3
A always FRIEND has
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
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
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
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
Angel & Keith Reed
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
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
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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
Candace Smith Photography
Jessica Harrison Perkins
Hometown RANKIN • 13
Robyn May Shows
Tiffany Byrd Smith
14 • APRIL 2021
Laura Martin Quick
Susie Bunn May
Hometown RANKIN • 15
Cindy Boykin Jackson
16 • APRIL 2021
Lea Anna Tice Burnside
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
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
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
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
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
Hometown RANKIN • 25
A N I M A L S
Animals With Purpose, Hands That Serve
26 • APRIL 2021
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
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
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
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In compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972 of the Higher Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities
Act of 1990 and other applicable Federal and State Acts, Hinds Community College offers equal education and employment opportunities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin,
religion, sex, age, disability or veteran status in its educational programs and activities. The following have been designated to handle inquiries regarding these policies: EEOC Compliance: Sherry Franklin, Vice
President 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
When your children were younger, what was your
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
CHARITY Manager and caretaker of schedules, household, and
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
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
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
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
WILKES Watching Mississippi
What your favorite restaurant?
WILKES Burgers & Blues
What’s your favorite TV show?
REAGAN The Office
WILKES Peyton’s Places on ESPN
Hometown RANKIN • 35
36 • APRIL 2021
INVEST. GROW. BUILD.
with a bank that knows
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Hometown RANKIN • 37
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.
38 • APRIL 2021
Harkening back to his
Italian roots, Fred and
his wife started Cerami’s
Italian Restaurant in
1977 near the Ross
“It was a happening place,”
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
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
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
• 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.
• 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
• 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.
• 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!)
• 1¼ cup Tang
• ⅔ cup instant tea w/sugar
• 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
Gaye’s Sweet Tomato
• 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!
• 4 medium baking potatoes
• Vegetable oil
• 1 cup (4oz.) shredded sharp
• 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,
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
• 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 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
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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.
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The Friends Card cost $12 per year, 100% of which is
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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
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
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
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52 • APRIL 2021
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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
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
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
“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
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
NOW OPEN IN PEARL!
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
110 South Pearson Road – Pearl, MS 39208 Melissa Sanders, DO
58 • APRIL 2021
Add Scheduling an
Eye Exam to Your Routine.
A BIG DEAL!
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!
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
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
& Resort POPPY WILLIAMS
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 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
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
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.
STAR FIRE DEPARTMENT
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
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
Get Spring ready with
lots of fun prints!
The Wilander - Brandon
grads & Moms
Crawford Hill Boutique
- The Outlets of Pearl
home décor & more!
Downtown Giftery - Brandon
Hobo Purse & Wallet
The Beach Look Boutique - Pearl
Hometown RANKIN • 75
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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
Chapmans Florist - Pearl
Hometown RANKIN • 77
To advertise in this
please contact us at
Support our Small Businesses
78 • APRIL 2021
Properly Tied Piper Dresses, Swimwear,
Matching Sibling Outfits
Southern Raised - Brandon
Vintiques - Brandon
Seda France Travel Tin
in “Japanese Quince”
Apple Annie’s - Brandon & Madison
Rivers Greenhouse and Garden - Brandon, MS
14k white gold
Jackson Jewelers - Flowood, MS
Polk’s Drugs - Brandon, MS
Hometown RANKIN • 79
80 • APRIL 2021
Hope and Guidance for
Mel Coxwell P.A.
A Family Law Firm
20 Eastgate Dr. Suite E
Brandon, MS 39042
Experience that Matters for a Brighter Tomorrow
Hometown RANKIN • 81
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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
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
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
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Hometown RANKIN • 89
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
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