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2 • SEPTEMBER 2021


September 22nd is

American Business

Women’s Day.

We want to take the opportunity with our September issue of

Hometown Rankin to showcase contributions and accomplishments

of some outstanding businesswomen in our own county.

It’s more difficult now than ever to be an entrepreneur, and the

featured owners/businesses you’ll read about deserve a lot of


Another great national day to observe in September is Grandparent’s

Day on the 12th. There is a special bond between grandchildren

and their grandparents. The pandemic causes many of us to value

those relationships even more. We encourage you to make the

most of your grandparents this year and don’t take for granted the

time you have.

And last but not least, don’t forget National Coffee Day on

September 29th. We hope you enjoy the variety of coffee recipes

we have shared with you. Coffee is good most any time of year,

but it’s especially good when the temperatures start dropping and

fall arrives. Treat a friend to a cup of coffee this month and enjoy

the fellowship.

As always, we’re incredibly thankful for the advertisers who help

make Hometown Rankin possible. Please remember to shop local

and support the businesses here in our hometown. Stay safe—and

thanks for reading Hometown Rankin!



The Way We Were 8

Quarry Trails 10

...see you around town.


Tahya Dobbs


Kevin Dobbs


Mary Ann Kirby

Conversations Over Coffee 20

Raising Whosoevers 26

Water Treatment Plant 34



Brenda McCall



Caroline Hodges



Alisha Floyd


Kim Cochram

Women In Business 38

Homewtown Family 68

A Home for Brad 86

Hometown Homes 90


Daniel Thomas



Othel Anding



Jodi Jackson

The Time Coin 98

www.facebook.com/hometownrankinmagazine. For subscription information visit www.htmags.com or contact us at info@HTMags.com / 601.706.4059 / 26 Eastgate Drive, Suite F / Brandon, MS 39042

All rights reserved. No portion of Hometown Rankin may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. The management of Hometown Rankin is not responsible for opinions expressed by its writers or editors.

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

Hometown RANKIN • 3

4 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 5

6 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 7

Myrtis & Clifton Boggans

Camille Anding

“Our meeting place was in the

basement of Rock Star Missionary

Baptist Church.” Clifton and

Myrtis Boggans were punctual

and smiling. The welcoming cool

of the church’s fellowship area

on an August evening set the

tone for what was scheduled as

an interview. It quickly shifted to

a heart-to-heart conversation/

counseling session/refreshing


The early years of the devoted

couple could be a story of its own.

Myrtis Fletcher was the sixth

child in a family of ten brothers

and six sisters. The Fletcher

children grew up on a farm in

Johns of Rankin County. “We all

worked!” Myrtis affirmed. “We

worked before school, feeding

chickens and caring for baby

chicks, went to school, and went

back to work when we got home.

We had a large garden and

livestock, so there was always

work for everyone.” Myrtis

paused, recollecting those years

of her childhood, then continued,

“But it was good for us. We all

learned how to work.” They also

learned how to play with

homemade toys, something

today’s children have never


Clifton nodded in agreement.

He, too, was from a large family

– four brothers and six sisters –

and grew up in Flowood. Work

was also a necessary part of his

childhood with jobs and responsibilities

around his home.

After high school graduation,

the two met while working at the

Mississippi State Hospital where

they lived in the male and female

dorms. Myrtis worked with the

dietary section, and Clifton drove

a milk truck and made deliveries

around the hospital campus. It

was in the evenings when they

would prepare for the next day’s

breakfast that they became

friends. They carried on conversations

while they cracked eggs

into a large pot for breakfast.

Myrtis reminded Clifton that

he referred to her as his “younger

sister” for over a year while their

friendship developed. Then on a

cold winter day he asked her to

meet him in the hospital parking

lot. He came right to the point:

“I’ve had enough of this sister

stuff; I want a girlfriend.” Myrtis

was happy to oblige.

On March 22, 1978, Clifton

asked Myrtis to marry him. I

asked if they recalled where he

popped the question. Without

hesitation, they answered in

unison, “On Airport Road.”

Clifton, with his customary

winning smile said, “She said ‘yes’

so fast; she was trying to reel me

in!” Myrtis joined in his laughter

and nodded that she was thrilled

to become Mrs. Boggans.

On March 22, 1980, exactly

two years after Clifton’s proposal,

they shared wedding vows at

Myrtis’s church in Johns before

a large audience with one of

Clifton’s brothers officiating.

8 • SEPTEMBER 2021

“Love God, then

your wife, and don’t

let anyone–including

parents and children –

come before your wife.”

Three years after their

marriage, Clifton said, “Yes” to

God’s leading him to be a preacher

of the Gospel. It was a call Clifton

first felt when he was very young.

During his teenage years he

pushed the call aside and lived

for himself. After meeting and

marrying Myrtis, God’s drawing

returned. Clifton credits Myrtis

for helping him stay “on the

straight and narrow.” Clifton

expressed with tenderness,

“My love for the Lord and my

commitment to Myrtis kept

me from ever wanting to hurt

either one.”

Clifton still remembers the

Myrtis that first won his heart.

“She was friendly – everyone was

drawn to her, and she was pretty

– just like now.” He paid her an

outstanding compliment with

this: “I think she models love

better than I do.”

Myrtis said about Clifton,

“He’s always been a gentleman,

so humble and polite, and I’ve

never heard him cuss. I can’t

stand that!”

The Boggans raised four

daughters, and now enjoy eight

grandchildren. Clifton made it

clear to his congregation

concerning his girls as they were

going through their childhood,

“Children will be children; they

all have to grow and learn.” He

spoke about his days of fathering,

“I had a strong desire to be their

protector,” and then with another

jovial laugh finished, “then they

grow up and never get out of your


Myrtis mothered with

discipline but remembered her

own childhood. “I would always

get two of my sisters to join me

when I was up to mischief. That

way none of us could tell on each


As a parent, Clifton credits

his own parents for teaching him

early lessons in godly behavior.

“It was their behavior that

influenced me. It was what they

did and didn’t do that I watched

in their lives.”

Before our time ended,

more counsel was shared. On

the pandemic from Clifton:

“COVID makes us think about

death, but so many still don’t

think about Him and their


On marriage: “Love is

commitment. Love God, then

your wife, and don’t let anyone

– including parents and children

– come before your wife.”

The couple also had advice on

arguing. Myrtis said, “When we

get a little warm (her term for

argumentative), we table it and

come back when we calm down,

because words hurt. You can say,

‘I’m sorry,’ but you still remember

those words.”

Myrtis continued, “Avoid

leaving the bedroom during an

argument. You’ll move to the

living room, and then, next thing

you’re out the door!”

“Also keep your problems

between the two of you. People

are gonna give you advice but go

to the Lord. He already knows;

and don’t tell your mama. She’s

always gonna take your side!”

Tell it like it is Mr. and Mrs.

Boggans! Thank you for living

lives before us that we can watch

and model.

Hometown RANKIN • 9



Melanie McMillan

“Like riding a bike.” The idea that a skill,

once learned, is never forgotten. Over the last

year and a half, many people have been finding

that to be true, as they reacquaint themselves

with a particular skill most of us learned in

childhood. The pandemic silver lining for

many individuals and families has been a

renewed appreciation of the great outdoors.

With so many entertainment venues closed or

at reduced capacity, outdoor activities have

become extremely popular, not the least of

which is cycling. From leisurely bike rides

around the neighborhood to more adventurous

trail riding, the dramatic increase in bike

sales from 2019 to 2020 testifies to its

popularity. Luckily for those Rankin

Countians who are new or returning

mountain bike enthusiasts, The Tri County

Mountain Bike Association and the City of

Brandon have teamed up to provide bike trails

close to home.

The Tri County Mountain Bike Association

(TCMBA) was formed 21 years ago and

since its inception, the volunteer-led group has

worked hard to build and maintain bike trails

in the Jackson metro area and beyond.

According to Chris Wise, president of the

TCMBA board, the group has more than

600 members, and volunteers average 1,300

hours per year building and maintaining

natural surface mountain bike trails. Additionally,

the organization raised almost

$15,000 last year to rebuild wood structures

on trails in the area.

Mountain biking is definitely my favorite activity and has been for the past five years. I did not start mountain biking again

until my mid 40s so it’s never too late to get started. Until now I’ve driven to Ridgeland several times a week to ride and, now,

I can ride on my side of town. The Quarry trails are delightful and there are trails that are appropriate for beginners to advanced

riders. I’m so thankful to the City of Brandon and to all the people who have been working to develop these trails for use by

Mississippians and hopefully one day for youth mountain bike races. As the team director for the Mississippi Blues, one of three

Mississippi-based NICA teams, we will be looking for venues to use for middle/high school mountain bike races over the next


10 • SEPTEMBER 2021







Hometown RANKIN • 11

My son and I have ridden mountain bikes

together for the past several years and we’re

really looking forward to having another local

option with the new Quarry trails. Bikes were a

big part of my life growing up and now they’re

a big part of his life. Mountain biking can be

as casual or as serious as you’d like to make it.

Fast or slow, there’s something for everyone.

He’s fast and I’m slow but we both love it. My

wife has started riding recently also and we’re

all planning to be regulars at the Quarry.


12 • SEPTEMBER 2021

In 2019, TCMBA approached Mayor

Butch Lee about the possibility of developing

bike trails at Quarry Park in Brandon.

Recognizing the benefit of an additional

recreational venue for the community, city

leadership and TCMBA formed a partnership,

with the city taking on most of the expenses,

and members of TCMBA donating their time

and muscle to making the trail project a reality.

Jefcoat Fence company contributed to the

project by loaning the volunteers an excavator

which enabled them to clear a lot of the trail

quickly. Quarry Park currently offers approximately

four miles of trails, with plans to have

ten miles total upon completion.

For those with a competitive streak, the

first ever Brandon Beatdown Short Track

Mountain Bike Series was held in July on three

consecutive Saturdays. “The City of Brandon

covered the cost of hosting this race series, so

the event was free for participants,” said

organizer Trey Spillman. Spillman noted that

another race series, The Gulf South Regional

Mountain Bike Series, hosts approximately ten

races annually across Mississippi, Louisiana,

and Alabama. “Mississippi is well represented

as a host for these events, and we hope that the

Trails at the Quarry Park will be added to that

series once they are complete. We’ve studied

other cities and know that events like this, as

well as the availability of the trails themselves,

have a positive economic impact on the city.”

In August, the city will host the first ever

Brandon Quarry Crit Series at the amphitheater,

offering race opportunities to those who

prefer road riding to trails. A criterium or “crit”

race is a short road race of a certain number of

laps on a closed circuit. There is no charge to

participate in these races, which will be held

every Wednesday night in August. Additionally,

the Louisiana Mississippi Bicycle Racing

Association (LAMBRA) is working with the

city to host a large road race in the fall.

The Quarry Trails are open every day to

the public, but if you venture out on a Thursday

night, you’ll notice that trail “traffic” is a little

heavier than normal. Each week, weather

permitting, TCMBA meets for a group ride

where all ages and experience levels are

welcome to join. On a recent Thursday, close to

20 riders met to enjoy the trails they have

worked so hard to build and maintain. Their

excitement and enthusiasm are contagious, and

no doubt they could convince even the most

reluctant riders to give the trails a try.

Not content to rest on their laurels,

TCMBA leaders and volunteers are hoping to

build other bike trails in the county and are

currently looking for available land. “My goal is

to do everything in my power to grow the sport

of mountain biking in this area,’’ says Trey

Spillman. “I’m thankful that we have a

proactive and enthusiastic club in TCMBA,

with experienced and creative trail builders and

volunteers. We are also fortunate to have local

officials, like Mayor Butch Lee with the City of

Brandon, who understand that having quality

trails will not only improve our quality of life,

but could also positively impact our local

economy by attracting people from all over the

region to come check out what we’ve built here.

I encourage everyone to join TCMBA, and I

will see you on the trails!”

For more information on how you can get

involved with the Tri County Mountain Bike

Club, visit www.tricountymtb.org or find them

on Facebook.

Hometown RANKIN • 13

14 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 15

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Why did you decide to make Rankin

County your home?

I was a child when my parents moved us to

Rankin County. It was a great place to grow up

and a great place to raise a family.

How long have you lived in Rankin County?

My family moved to Rankin County in 1978.

Tell us about your family.

My husband, Keith Sullivan, and I have been

married for 32 years, and we have two children,

Dalton, age 24, and Heather, age 21. Keith and

I both work in Rankin County. Our son lives

and works in Philadelphia, Miss., as a forester,

and our daughter is entering her final semester

at Mississippi College working toward physical

therapy school next year.

What is your favorite memory of living in

Rankin County?

I have two equally fond memories growing up

in Rankin County. Summers were awesome and

never dull. The neighborhood I grew up in had

lots of kids and we played outside every day, all day.

It was an awesome childhood. Moving into my

teen years was equally exciting because of church

group activities and school activities particularly

pep rallies and football games.

Where are your three favorite places

to eat in Rankin County?

Frisco Deli, Pizza Shack, and Longhorn


What are some fun things to do in Rankin

County on the weekends?

Hmm, I recently went axe throwing in Flowood.

That was really fun! I also enjoy going to movies,

bowling, hanging out at the pool at The Club, and

I don’t go a lot, but the reservoir offers a lot of

opportunities for families. And I love baseball, so a

Mississippi Braves game is always a winner.

Share some things you enjoy doing in your

spare time.

Reading, spending time with friends and/or family,

and sometimes I just enjoy being at the house and

taking it easy with the dogs.

What are three things on your bucket list?

A cruise to Alaska, whitewater rafting (I’ve

obviously never been), and a trip to Hawaii

Who is someone you admire and why?

My mom. She is a strong woman and doesn’t

complain. Always has a smile and is just a beautiful

lady. And my pastor. He leads our church family

well and sets a great example of how to live for


Where do you see yourself ten years

from now?

In Rankin County enjoying a new phase of life.

Now, if God has a different plan for me, that will

be just fine. I’ll go wherever He says go.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

Summertime. I’m not sure I have one favorite

memory, but summers were the best.

If you could give us one encouraging quote,

what would it be?

I’m not a big quote person. But I do share

scripture quotes with people all the time so

I guess my answer would be Jeremiah 29:11—

I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord,

plans to prosper you not to harm you; plans to give

you a hope and a future.

What is your favorite thing about

Hometown Magazines?

Reading about the people of Rankin County.

We have a lot of interesting people here and it’s

great to learn about them.

Hometown RANKIN • 17

"No matter how slow you go,

you are still lapping

everybody on the couch."

18 • SEPTEMBER 2021



1 7 Y E A R S

Hometown RANKIN • 19


over coffee

Melanie McMillan

“Would you be interested in writing an editorial?” read the text

message. Although I’ve written many articles for Hometown

Magazines over the years, editorials were new territory, as I had done

only one. That one, “Random Acts of Kindness,” was so inspiring and

thought-provoking for me that my enthusiastic response was “Yes!

What’s the topic?” The reply came quickly: “September 29th is

National Coffee Day and we thought it would be neat to read about

the conversations and community that happen over a cup of coffee.”

As any good writer/journalist would do, I began my research

enthusiastically - by making a cup of coffee.

Contrary to popular memes, one can live without coffee - though

why anyone would take that chance I’m sure I don’t know. For many,

a morning cup of joe is a non-negotiable part of the daily routine, and

flagging creative juices during an afternoon slump are often brought

back to life by a hot - or iced - brew. There’s just something about it

that sets it apart from other beverages, whether it’s a medium roast

you brew at home, or a cappuccino from your favorite coffee shop.

Even those who have never acquired a taste for it understand that a

friend’s invitation to grab a cup of coffee isn’t at all about the actual

drink. It’s an invitation to catch up, reconnect, and spend unhurried

time in conversation.

20 • SEPTEMBER 2021

in Tokyo - which, by the way, included five from Ole Miss and six from

Mississippi State.

As we talked, it struck me how naturally the conversation flowed.

Some may attribute that to being in the South and how we are, as a

rule, fairly friendly folks. However, there’s something about sitting

down at a table together with a cup of coffee that prompts interaction,

even when it’s spontaneous and among strangers.

Several years ago I read a book entitled, “First We Have Coffee,”

On a recent Saturday morning at Cups in Brandon, I asked two

gentlemen who were enjoying coffee and conversation if I could

interrupt them for a moment. Jokingly they replied, “that depends.”

I explained that I was writing a story about conversations over coffee,

and they graciously invited me to sit down and visit. Jay Eads of

Brandon and Joel Jones of Pearl met 20 years ago at Brandon Gun and

Pawn and found they had much in common. Both men were in

the military for many years - Jay in the Navy and Joel in the Marines

and Army. They are also both retired attorneys and worked for the

attorney general of Mississippi, though not in the same department.

For several years, the two have met every Saturday morning to

catch up over coffee, with topics ranging from politics, electric cars,

family, and everything in between. “We’ve come up with solutions to

lots of problems,” the pair joked, “but so far no one has asked us for

them.” This particular morning they were discussing the Olympics,

wishing there was more publicity about Mississippi athletes competing

by Margaret Jensen, the daughter of Norwegian immigrants. Filled with

stories from her childhood, the book paints a beautiful picture of

Jensen’s mother, a pastor’s wife, who over the years welcomed countless

friends and strangers into her home with a hot cup of coffee and,

more importantly, a listening ear. “Mama” offered encouragement,

wisdom, and hope to others when she put the coffee pot on and said,

“first we have coffee, and then we talk.”

Life moved at a slower pace when “Mama” was entertaining at her

kitchen table over 100 years ago. “I’m just so busy.” How many times

have we heard this, or said it ourselves? Our days are filled with

checking items off a to-do list, but if we’re honest, much of our

“busyness” is of our own making, with little lasting importance. I think

my acquaintances at the coffee shop would agree that our lives would

be infinitely richer if we replaced an item or two on our to-do list with

“invite a friend for coffee.” Jay said it perfectly. “Coffee is just the

vehicle. It’s really about the conversations and the relationships.”

Hometown RANKIN • 21


White Chocolate Mocha

• ¾ cup whole milk, or low-fat

• 3 Tbsp. white chocolate chips

• ½ cup brewed coffee

• 1 tsp. sugar, optional

• 2 Tbsp. whipped cream,

for garnish

• Dash ground nutmeg, for garnish

Add milk and chocolate chips to

a pot. Whisk together on mediumlow

heat, until the chocolate has

been incorporated and the sauce is

smooth. Meanwhile, brew a half cup

of your favorite coffee or espresso

and pour into a cup or mug. Pour

the white chocolate milk sauce over

the coffee and stir in any additional

sugar, if desired. Top with whipped

cream a light dusting of ground

nutmeg. Serve and enjoy!

Whipped Coffee

• 2 Tbsp. hot water

• 2 Tbsp. sugar

• 2 Tbsp. instant coffee powder

• milk and ice

Add hot water, sugar, and

instant coffee to a bowl. Hand

whisk or use an electric mixer

until the mixture is fluffy and light.

To serve, spoon a dollop over a cup

of milk with ice in it and stir.

Pumpkin Spice Latte

• 1 cup milk

• 2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree

• 1 Tbsp. sugar

• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

• ½ tsp. ground ginger

• ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

• ⅛ tsp. ground cloves

• ½ tsp. vanilla extract

• ½ cup brewed espresso,

or strongly brewed coffee

• 2 Tbsp. sweetened whipped cream

Add pumpkin puree, sugar,

cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves,

vanilla and espresso to a small pot.

Bring to a simmer on medium-low

heat and whisk occasionally until

pumpkin puree has been incorporated

and the sugar and spices

dissolve. Add milk to a second pot

or a microwave safe jar and heat just

enough to warm through. Whisk

milk vigorously until it begins to

foam or froth. If you have a milk

frother wand, you may use this to

create the foam desired. Pour the

hot coffee mixture into a mug and

then pour in the frothy milk. Top

with whipped cream and a dash

of cinnamon, if desired.

Iced Coffee

• 1 cup coffee, at room temperature

• 2 Tbsp. half and half,

or more, to taste

Simple Syrup

• ½ cup sugar

• 1 cup water

• ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Combine sugar and water in a

medium saucepan over medium

heat, stirring until the sugar has

dissolved. Let cool completely and

stir in vanilla extract; set aside in

refrigerator until ready to serve.

Serve coffee over ice with half and

half and simple syrup, adding one

teaspoon at a time, to taste.


• 12 oz. fluid very strong brewed

coffee or espresso, chilled

• 8 oz. fluid whole milk

(more to taste)

• ⅓ cup sweetened condensed milk

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• ¼ cup chocolate syrup

• ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

• Whipped cream

• ¼ cup half-and-half (optional)

22 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Vanilla Frappuccino

Combine coffee, milk, sweetened

condensed milk, and vanilla to a

blender. Add ice and blend until

smooth and icy. (Add half-and-half

for richer and creamier Frappuccino.)

Serve with whipped cream on top.

Mocha Frappuccino

Combine coffee, milk, sweetened

condensed milk, vanilla, and

chocolate syrup to a blender.

Add ice and blend until smooth and

icy. (Add half-and-half if you’d like it

to be a little richer and creamier.)

Serve with whipped cream on top.

Mocha Chip Frappuccino

Combine coffee, milk, sweetened

condensed milk, vanilla, chocolate

syrup, and chocolate chips to a

blender. Add ice and blend until

smooth and icy, with tiny chocolate

bits throughout. (Add half-and-half if

you’d like it to be a little richer and

creamier.) Serve with whipped cream

on top, and drizzle the whipped

cream with chocolate syrup or dot

with more chocolate chips.

Chocolate Comfort Cake

• 1 package dark chocolate cake mix

• 1 package (3.9 oz.) instant

chocolate pudding mix

• 4 large eggs, room temperature

• 1 cup sour cream

• ¾ cup canola oil

• ¾ cup brewed coffee

• ½ cup sugar

• 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter

• 4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

• 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate,


In a large bowl, combine the first

seven ingredients; beat on low speed

for 45 seconds. Beat on medium for

two minutes. Pour into a well-greased

10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350°

until a toothpick inserted near the

center comes out clean, approximately

50-55 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes

before removing from pan to a wire

rack to cool completely.

In top of a double boiler, melt butter

and chocolate. Stir occasionally until

mixture is glossy and smooth.

Drizzle over cake.

Apple Nutmeg Coffee Cake

• 3 Tbsp. butter, cubed

• 2 cups chopped peeled Gala apple

• ½ cup packed brown sugar,


• ¼ cup brewed coffee

• ⅔ cup canola oil

• ½ cup sugar

• 1 large egg plus 1 large egg white,

room temperature

• 2 tsp. vanilla extract

• 1½ cups all-purpose flour

• 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

• ½ tsp. salt

• ½ tsp. baking soda

• ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

For the drizzle:

• ⅓ cup brewed coffee

• ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

• 1½ cups confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 375°. In a 10-inch

cast iron or other ovenproof skillet,

melt butter over low heat. Add apple

and ¼ cup brown sugar. Cook and

stir until crisp-tender, about five

minutes. Stir in coffee; remove from

heat. In a large bowl, beat oil, sugar,

egg, egg white, vanilla and remaining

¼ cup brown sugar until well

blended. In another bowl, whisk

flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda

and nutmeg; gradually beat into oil

mixture. Gently spread over apple

mixture. Bake until a toothpick

inserted in center comes out clean,

18-22 minutes. Cool on a wire rack

10 minutes.

Meanwhile, for drizzle, in a small

saucepan, bring coffee and cream to

a boil; cook until liquid is reduced to

¼ cup, 10-12 minutes. Remove from

heat; stir in confectioners’ sugar. Let

stand 10 minutes. Drizzle over cake.

Java Muffins

• ¼ cup butter, softened

• 1 cup packed brown sugar

• 2 large eggs, room temperature

• ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce

• ½ cup buttermilk

• ½ cup strong brewed coffee

• 1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules

• ½ tsp. vanilla extract

• 1 cup all-purpose flour

• ¾ cup whole wheat flour

• 1½ tsp. baking powder

• ½ tsp. baking soda

• ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

• ¼ tsp. salt

• ½ cup finely chopped pecans,


Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl,

beat butter and brown sugar until

crumbly, about 2 minutes. Add eggs

and mix well. Beat in applesauce. In a

small bowl, whisk buttermilk, coffee,

coffee granules and vanilla until

granules are dissolved; gradually add

to butter mixture. In another bowl,

whisk flours, baking powder, baking

soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to

butter mixture; stir just until moistened.

Fold in ¼ cup pecans. Coat 12 muffin

cups with cooking spray or use paper

liners; fill three-fourths full. Sprinkle

with remaining pecans. Bake 15-20

minutes or until a toothpick inserted

in center comes out clean. Cool 5

minutes before removing from pan

to a wire rack. Serve warm.

Café Mocha Cookies

• 1½ cups unsalted butter, softened

• 1½ cup dark brown sugar, packed

• ½ cup granulated sugar

• 2 eggs

• 4 tsp. vanilla extract

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 2 cups bread flour

• 4 tsp. cornstarch

• 2 tsp. baking soda

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1½ heaping Tbsp. coffee

grounds, fine or coarse

• 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line

baking sheets with parchment paper

or silicone baking mats. In a large

bowl, add flours, cornstarch, baking

soda, salt, and coffee grounds. Whisk

to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted

with the paddle attachment, cream

together butter and sugars for two

minutes until light and fluffy. Then

add in the eggs and vanilla extract

and beat for 2 more minutes. Slowly

add in the flour mixture and mix until

all combined and well-incorporated.

Using a spatula, fold in the mini

chocolate chips. Bake for 11-13

minutes. They will look super soft but

they continue cooking after removing

from the oven. Let cool on baking

sheet for five minutes before moving

to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Coffee Granola

• 1½ pounds rolled oats (7½ cups)

• ½ cup finely ground coffee

• ½ cup granulated sugar

• ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar

• ⅓ cup all-purpose flour

• ¼ cup rye flour

• ½ teaspoon kosher salt

• 2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen

• ¾ cup dark porter

• ¼ cup unsulfured molasses

Preheat oven to 350. Line two large

rimmed baking sheets with

parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss

the rolled oats with the coffee, both

sugars, both flours and the salt. Using

a box grater, shred the frozen butter

into the bowl, then toss to mix. Stir in

the porter and molasses until evenly

coated. Spread the mixture on the

prepared baking sheets. Bake for

about 30 minutes, stirring every 8-10

minutes, until golden and nearly

crisp. Let cool completely, stirring

occasionally. Granola can be stored

in an airtight container for up to

three weeks.

Hometown RANKIN • 23

Brunini.com | 601.948.3101




24 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 25

26 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– Written in third person by author Teena Welborn –

Mississippi Christian author Dr. Teena Welborn

is a retired educator. She has been married to Cliff

Welborn for 35 years and has raised three boys,

Allan, Ashlee, and Aaron.

Hometown RANKIN • 27

Dr. Welborn graduated from Brandon High School in 1984.

After her boys entered public school, she decided to go back

to college and get a degree in education. She attended Hinds

Community College, The University of Southern Mississippi

where she received her degree in elementary education, and

Mississippi College receiving a doctorate in educational

leadership with a minor in counseling. Dr. Welborn taught

at Northside Elementary in the Pearl, Florence Elementary,

and Florence High School.

She was on the administrative team at Mendenhall Jr. High,

where she served as an assistant principal in the Simpson

County School District. While serving in this position, she

started having symptoms that were very unusual and that

no doctor in the area could diagnose—one of

which was for her eyes to remain completely

closed. She was sent to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville,

Florida. After more testing at one of the top-rated

hospitals in the country, the doctors determined

Dr. Welborn had Central Sensitization Syndrome

which would cause her to step away from her

much-loved career.

Before these symptoms took over her ability to

function normally, she was about to defend her

research, and receive her doctorate. In her opinion,

this would never happen. Everything was over as

far as furthering her unwavering passion and plans

of making positive changes for Mississippi in the

area of education. She had been serving on an

education advisory committee at the Mississippi

State Capitol under the direction of Rep. John Moore.

That would also have to end. In her mind, she would forever

be bound to a chair and helped by her husband. There would

be no driving or enjoying her grandchildren on the level she

had been used to in the past.

However, as she walked through the doors of the hospital

having to hold her husband’s arm, God and the doctors at Mayo

had new plans for her. While she wouldn’t be able return to

education, she would lead a better life with more function if

she would follow their strict daily plan. The goal was to open

her eyes back up and calm some of the symptoms.

Dr. Welborn, said, “Anyone that knows me knows I am not

a person that is disciplined in the area of taking care of myself,

physically or spiritually—so this would be a miracle if I could

actually conquer this!” She finally agreed to follow the daily

regimen of so called “getting better.”

Through this process, Dr. Welborn found out that even

though she was saved and baptized at Crossgates Baptist

when she was thirteen, she had been a baby Christian for

many years. Her growth with Him or in Him had not been

what it should have been. She said, “God and I have become

best buds! It was the only way I could deal with the symptoms

and make it through the day. When you cannot see to read His

word, you talk to Him a lot!”

After about six months of following Mayo’s advice, her eyes

started opening and symptoms started getting better. She will

never be fully back to normal again, and some days are still

spent on the couch or staying close to her husband. However,

on her good days she makes the best of them by getting out

and doing her favorite things like being involved in church,

hunting, fishing, and enjoying low-stress activities. They told

her that when she had good days, to hit the floor running!

The doctors said it was their goal to help build new pathways

in the brain and block out the bad ones that had occurred—

so it would all be up to her. She works hard on that every day

with much help from her Heavenly Father.

When Dr. Welborn was able to see enough to start reading

again, she went back to Mississippi College to discuss with

them the prospect of completing her doctorate. They were

able to accommodate her, and she completed her degree.

At that point, she knew the degree would never be used in a

professional setting, but she needed to complete it because

Mayo said, “You started it, you need to finish it. It will be good

for you.” So she did!

28 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Also, with eyes gradually coming open, she wanted to

know more and more about God and His word, so she was

diving in more than ever. The more she read, the more

scriptures she kept coming across about parenting, children,

authority, and the enemy and how he wants to attack the

family unit and our children. If the enemy can get our next

generation and the next and the next, he has won.

She felt for two years God was telling her to write a book

about her experiences as a parent, an educator, and what

she was finding in His word. She told God, she was not a

writer, had always struggled in that area, could not speak

about the book to promote the message, and with all the

symptoms (short term memory loss, not being able to

create full sentences some days, and totally disoriented

on other days), that was NOT going to happen.

But He wouldn’t leave her alone. She finally agreed to

start putting information on paper and it eventually turned

into Raising Whosoevers to be the Heart of our Schools.

Dr. Welborn admits it is not the best written book on

the market, but she believes it has a powerful message for

parents in today’s world that are struggling with raising their

children in a time when the enemy is attacking them and

the family unit. She believes it is also support for those

parents making the right decisions for their children and

feeling like they are alone in raising them using biblical


Dr. Welborn feels this was God’s plan to get a message

to parents, and she will continue to follow his plan. She

believes that if it is His plan, He will make it happen on His

time. She said, “And He will take care of me in the process.”

She also admits, “I no longer fight against what God wants

for my life or the message he wants sent, whether I am

doubting myself or not.”

Raising Whosoevers to be the Heart of our Schools can

be purchased at Impression Books in Flowood, Milestone

Christian bookstore in Pearl, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Dr. Welborn is also available for parenting conferences that

are great for local churches. Please contact her at


This is a scriptural- and experienced-based book

about how to put much more love, peace, and

joy back into your daily family life, yes, even

while raising your children. With all the chaos

in everyday life of parents and children, we need

answers! It is very possible to have more enjoyment

more often if you follow God’s plan for

raising your children. It is simple and not at all

difficult. It’s straightforward. This is not a book

that puts things lightly, and it is not politically

correct. This book is strictly God’s plan for

raising strong, successful, and godly children.

Most importantly, it teaches you and your child

to see the enemy coming a mile away. He comes

to kill, steal and destroy, and your family and

children are his number one concern! There is

information in this book about how parents

should interact with their children and school

staff to have the most success and pleasant

academic experience. Some of the topics

discussed in the book are about what God says

about being a parent, the devil’s attacks on the

family, discipline at home and how it carries to

the schools, and how to be a good example for

your children as well as the community without

being arrogant or overbearing. God is love and

always will be. God should never by portrayed

as haughty. Do not follow how to raise your

children by watching your friends, even some

of your church friends, or the people who claim

to be Christians, if they are not following biblical

standards. It is so simple. It is the devil causing

confusion and chaos, not God. He is peace, love,

and joy. This book will tell you how to have all

of this in your family if you really want that for

your children.

Hometown RANKIN • 29

30 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 31

32 • SEPTEMBER 2021







Hometown RANKIN • 33

Water is something we all take for granted.

We turn on the faucet in the sink, and out flows

clean, drinkable water. When water from washing

dishes or taking a shower circles the drain, it’s

all but forgotten. We never really think about

where that water in the toilet goes when we

flush it, or what happens to wastewater once

it leaves our homes or businesses. The West

Rankin Utility Authority oversees wastewater

treatment for seven separate entities and

assures that you don’t have to think about it.

Providing wastewater transport for a

population of nearly 100,000 people, the West

Rankin Utility Authority serves the cities of Pearl,

Brandon, Richland and Flowood, as well as the

Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International

Airport, the state hospital at Whitfield, the Rankin

County Jail, and other government entities and

residential neighborhoods in unincorporated

parts of Rankin County, including the Pearl River

Valley authority. To ensure service for Rankin

County in the coming decades, a new wastewater

treatment facility has been built on Highway 49

in Richland.

Bruce Stephens, who serves as the executive

director of WRUA, explains that all the wastewater

from the area has been pumped to the Savanna

facility in Jackson. “We have been paying the

City of Jackson to treat all wastewater since

1978,” he says. “Now we will be able to use the

same pipes to pump clean, treated water to the

Pearl River. The new plant will allow for Rankin

County to build for the future while controlling

our own destiny.”

A little math makes it clear why the WRUA

pulled the trigger on building the new facility.

The measurement for wastewater facilities is

millions of gallons daily, or MGD. Stephens says

the Jackson facility has a permitted capacity of

34 • SEPTEMBER 2021



Treatment Plant

Susan Marquez

46 MGD and operates at approximately 43 MGD.

Currently, west Rankin County sends 13 MGD to

Jackson. “There is only a 3 MGD left for growth,”

says Stephens. “After that, the plant will need

to expand, and that cost will be passed on to

residents of Rankin County. Although our share

of the expansion would be $150 million, the

WRUA would have no say in the design or build

of the project. It came down to building our own

facility or being at the mercy of someone else.”

The new WRUA wastewater plant will cost

just under $100 million and will have a permitted

capacity of 20 MGD. “We predict that capacity

will support our service area for 25 more years,”

states Stephens. That means Rankin County

will save $50 million, while no longer being

dependent on the Jackson facility. There is land

available at the WRUA wastewater site to triple

the capacity in coming decades.

The final phase of the construction is wrapping

up, and the plant will begin operation in late

August. “It takes several weeks to get up to full

speed,” explains Stephens. “We should be

completely online by the end of September.”

Stephens says that residents and businesses in

the area should notice no changes.

Brandon Mayor Butch Lee says that the plant

is a great example of interlocal politics. “We

went to the bond market, got some money and

built our own plant. Now we can control our

own rates, and not be at the mercy of anyone

else. This will be a good thing for all of Rankin

County. It will be especially good for economic

development. This is a generational fix that will

service us well into the future. We will have a

state-of-the-art facility that will be maintained to

the nth degree.”

Hometown RANKIN • 35


into a reality





(0) 601.203.2222

(C) 601.906.1921

NMLS# 730127

36 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Keri davis

Pacesetter Gallery

38 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S –


“My passion is art and I want to help the

cultural arts grow in this town as well as support

the wonderful local artists,” said Keri Davis,

owner of Pacesetter Gallery in Flowood.

Keri has been passionate about art since

she was just a little girl. Growing up in rural

Uvalde, Texas, she was exposed to unique and

beautiful artwork in her own grandmother’s

art gallery. This gallery was a beacon of light in

a very small town that was primarily cattle

ranches. Keri recalled, “There was nothing

around but acres and acres of ranches. Her

gallery became known as the place to get fine

art.” Watching her grandmother’s devotion

to supporting local talent and giving their

community access to some of the greatest

painters in Texas, Keri developed a love for

the arts that has continuously grown over

the years.

Keri sadly shared, “My grandmother passed

away last year at age 96 but she was my idol

and my mentor. I remember growing up in

the gallery being around these beautiful works

of art. She taught me so much. I began taking

lessons myself in my youth.”

Her passion led her to the University of

Texas for art studies. She continued to pursue

her dream, became a teacher, and began

creating amazing murals among other works

around her town.

Life brought her to Rankin County in

2012 with her husband, Jason, and their

blended family where she took a step back and

changed gears from the career path she had

been pursuing. Taking on a predominantly

male oriented position in building supplies,

she worked for Lansing Building Products in

Pearl for many years. Lansing is the country’s

largest supplier of building products. There,

she learned valuable business skills and her

hard work and dedication landed her the

prestigious opportunity to become one of six

females to run a division of the company.

Although she enjoyed her career immensely,

art was still at the forefront of her life and


Keri said, “During Covid, I really started to

think and ask myself ‘Is what you are doing

your true calling?’ I only get one shot in this

life, and I really began to stop and realize my

dreams of wanting to collaborate with other


This realization was a light bulb moment

that set her on a new and exciting path. She

opened her very own art gallery in Flowood

this summer. Keri paid homage to her late

grandmother by naming her gallery by the

same name as the gallery she adored and grew

up in, Pacesetter Gallery.

Keri added, “I am a third-generation

woman-owned business. My mother and

grandmother knew their calling and went

fearlessly out on their own. I saw this day to

day. Having a background of strong women,

I have never once had a thought that I

couldn’t do it as well.”

Her passion has now opened the doors to

new cultural experiences to the area. Keri has

a soft spot for exposing the youth to all types

of art, music, and culture. She said, “I want

the kids to be able to experience creative

artists and get inspired. I want them to have

an outlet. We have had some tough times

[living through a pandemic] and really need

some positive things. There is so much of that

to be experienced through music and the arts.”

Pacesetter Gallery is home to 43 Mississippi

artists including her husband, Jason. The

gallery offers several collections including

enamel artists, ceramic artists, mixed media,

candles, and floral. Keri said, “The store has

surpassed all of my expectations.”

Keri wants the gallery to be a true gathering

place for the community. She has hosted wine

and cheese tastings and had events with live

musicians. She plans to host many more events

for the public to enjoy and get a glimpse of the

talent in our area. She will host sidewalk

paintings where locals can watch an artist

paint live while sitting on the sidewalk outside

of the gallery. Many people do not get to

experience this up close and personal glimpse

into creating a unique and one-of-a-kind piece.

She is eager to open her doors to those in the

community and use it for all sorts of events.

Keri and her family enjoy the many things

Flowood has to offer, and she hopes to give

back with her gallery. When not creating art,

running the gallery, or enjoying time with her

family, you can find Keri singing with another

one of her mentors, fellow artist, art gallery

owner, and musician, Richard McKee. They

enjoy playing local clubs and coffeehouses


She concluded, “It has been a blessing to

partner with other artists and be able to offer

the arts to this area.”

For more information or to purchase art,

visit www.pacesettergallery.com.

Hometown RANKIN • 39

Formeka Ball

Ball Tax & Accounting Service

40 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S –


Formeka Ball is one of those multi-talented

people who has done many things in her life

before finding her true calling. She went to

nursing school but didn’t finish. She also went

to cosmetology school, and she worked in a

salon for a few years. She is also the director of

a daycare center in Jackson. But her true calling

is helping others, and she found that she can

do just that by helping people with their taxes

and accounting.

Formeka grew up in Florence and attended

Richland High School through the tenth grade.

She then moved to Pearl where she graduated

from Pearl High School. “My parents divorced

when I was young, then remarried 16 years

later!” Formeka is one of four children. She

has twin sisters who are younger than her,

and an older brother.

Always a good student in math, Formeka

says she is a fast learner and has a photographic

memory. When a friend started a tax and

accounting business, she asked Formeka if she

would like to come work with her. For the

next ten years, Formeka learned more than

she realized. “I learned how to start a new

business and I learned tax law.” Sometimes

you work with people and learn lessons, and

sometimes you must find your own way.

Formeka found her own way in November

2019 when she started her own business, Ball

Tax and Accounting Services. “My first tax

season began in January 2020.”

Sadly, one year after starting her business,

Formeka’s father passed away from Covid.

“He was at the ribbon cutting of my business

and he was so excited. He was always so

supportive of me. He invited everyone he knew

to come to the opening, which motivated me

to work even harder.” Formeka looked up to

her father who was a business owner himself.

“He owned his own drywall business. My father

never worked for anyone else. That was a real

inspiration for me.”

When she started her business, Formeka

wanted to be involved in the community. She

joined the Pearl Chamber of Commerce. She

is also a member of the Junior Auxiliary of

Rankin County, where she serves on the board

of directors. “I joined that organization because

I wanted to do things to help people. I knew I

could accomplish more with a group than on my

own to help where needed in Rankin County.”

Balancing work with the rest of her life is a

challenge for Formeka, but she manages to do

a good job. A single mother to Rylee Moore,

her seven-year-old daughter, Formeka says she

is grateful that her mom is nearby to help her

out. “Rylee’s dad is also very involved in her

life.” She is also grateful that her work allows

her some flexibility. “Someone is always in my

office when I’m not there. It’s important for

my clients to have access to me, so I work

around other things so that I can be available

to them.” And she’s not only available during

tax season, but throughout the year. “I listen

to what my clients need, and if I can handle it,

I will.”

The satisfaction for Formeka comes when

her clients reach out to thank her for doing her

job. “I do the best I can because that’s the way

I was raised. It’s amazing to me that people are

so grateful when I do my job well. It’s what my

clients deserve, and I will always be consistent

with that.”

Formeka attends church at the Sweet Water

Missionary Baptist Church in Flowood. While

she was unable to attend church services live

during the pandemic, she found another way

to attend church. “My brother is a pastor, so I

watch him virtually each Sunday. I love hearing

him preach.” Her church has now resumed

services, and Formeka is still able to watch her

brother preach online.

In a way, Formeka’s career in tax prep and

accounting is a ministry to those she serves.

“I like to take the load off of people,” she says.

“Not everyone understands logic and tax laws,

which is something I enjoy. I can take care of

that for them, so they have one less thing to

worry about.”

Formeka’s office is located at 206 St. Paul Street in Pearl.

Call 769 233-7850 for more info.

Hometown RANKIN • 41

Nelda Neal

The Beach Look

42 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S –


There’s nothing better than the beach look

– casual, tanned, carefree. Nelda Neal helps

women achieve that look every day through

her boutique in Pearl called The Beach Look

Boutique and Tanning. Running a retail

boutique is a “second chapter” career for

Nelda, who previously worked in healthcare

marketing and administration for many years.

A friend of hers who owned the boutique was

thinking of retirement and approached Nelda

with the opportunity to purchase the business.

“My husband, John, and I talked about the

boutique business for many years, but we are

not risk-takers.” Finally, the thought of owning

her own business won out, and the couple

closed on the business December 31, 2019.

They closed the business for a week so

Nelda could make it hers. “We opened on

January 6, 2020,” she says. “Life was good, and

I absolutely loved it. I felt this was a Godthing

from the beginning.” Then the pandemic

hit. “Now, it’s by the grace of God that we are

still here!”

Starting a new business just before a

worldwide pandemic might deter some people,

but Nelda dug in her heels and decided that

no matter how tough it would get, she would

be even tougher. “It was a big learning curve

for me, and it’s been a challenge, but regardless,

it’s still fun.”

“I have always loved to shop for myself,

and now I get to shop for my customers. I will

shop all day looking for something different

that will set our shop apart. I don’t buy for

myself anymore; I buy for my customers.”

Nelda says that she loves getting to know her

customers on a personal level and she enjoys

finding things she knows they will love. “The

best part about this business is the relationships

that I have built through the store.”

The keyword in business recently has been

“pivot.” Nelda had to make a quick pivot to

keep the store running. “We do everything we

can to make our customers and potential

customers comfortable. We will schedule an

individual shopping time if someone wants to

shop in the store but does not feel safe around

crowds. We offer free in-store pick-up and

curbside delivery. During the height of the

pandemic, when everything was closed down,

we would even personally deliver purchases to

our customers’ homes.”

The Beach Look is a tanning salon (one of

very few independent tanning salons left), as

well as a ladies boutique that carries apparel,

jewelry, accessories, gifts and tanning lotions

and supplies. Located at 401 Crosspark Drive

in Pearl, Nelda says she is selling more online

than she ever would have imagined. “We had a

Facebook page and Instagram page when we

started, but the method of selling through

those social media sites was not enough. The

pandemic forced me to work on our website,

and this has been a huge boost for our

business. We hope it’s also been a huge help to

our customers.”

The store has many long-time customers,

so Nelda has kept a lot of the same products

and brands that have been popular items over

the years. But she is also making it her own

by adding a wider range of products and price

points in order to grow her customer base.

“We have higher end items for those who

want a bit more luxury, but we also have more

affordable items which are appealing to our


Nelda grew up in Pearl and went to Pearl

High School. Her husband, John, grew up in

the Madison/Ridgeland area. After marrying,

they lived in Pearl for 20 years. John has been

with the Ridgeland Police Department for

33 years, and now serves as the department’s

chief. “He loves what he does,” says Nelda. “In

his off time, he is a big help to me in the store.”

Nelda says John did all of the renovations

and made her dreams come to life. Now he

does everything that needs to be done, such

as changing the bulbs in the tanning beds and

changing the filters in the air conditioner and

more. “He even helped me create our website,”

Nelda says. She thinks the reason he is so eager

to help is because he realizes how much she

enjoys what she does. “He recently made the

comment to me, ‘We’ve been married 25

years, and I’ve never seen you jump up each

morning so happy to go to work!’”

The couple has two grown children, a

daughter and a son, and recently gained a

daughter-in-law. None of them are involved

with the business, as they have great careers

of their own, according to Nelda. John and

Nelda attend the reservoir campus of Pinelake

Baptist Church. “We are also huge Southern

Miss fans,” Nelda says. “We are season ticket

holders. Hattiesburg holds a special place in

our hearts, because that’s where John and I

first met each other.”

The Beach Look is located at 401 Cross Park Drive

in Pearl. Visit thebeachlookboutique.com for more


Hometown RANKIN • 43

Dr. Sarah Langston

The Dental Wellness Group

44 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S –


Dr. Sarah Langston juggles many roles on

a daily basis. Wife, mother, daughter, friend,

and dentist are just a few of those roles that

she loves the most. Though a native of Laurel,

Sarah resides in Madison with her husband of

16 years, Cory, and the three children they

have together: Lillie (19), Ford (10), and

Caroline (6).

In July of 2013, Sarah was thrilled to open

The Dental Wellness Group in Brandon, and

she’s loved how her practice has allowed her to

develop relationships with members of the local

community, her employees, and her patients.

“I’m not someone who always knew that

I wanted to be a dentist. In fact, as a child

I hated going to the dentist, and I initially

planned to become a medical doctor,” said

Sarah. “However, one day after talking to one

of my friends, I decided to go the route of

dentistry and it’s been great. It’s allowed me

to control my time a little better in the season

of life that I’m in with kids and a family, so

that has worked well for me.”

As a general dentist, Sarah treats patients,

young and old, but she does admit that she

has a soft spot for her pediatric patients.

Growing up in Laurel, Sarah’s dentist was her

best friend’s father, and it was this view of

small-town dentistry, and a practice where

patients feel both taken care of and valued,

that guided her. According to Sarah, she

wanted to have a dental practice like the one

that she grew up in, where both the patients

and practice grew alongside each other.

“I love my job because I’m able to spend

time with people all day – people who are like

me and people who aren’t. I am able to learn

about their lives and vice versa and we’ve

developed some great relationships,” said

Sarah. “My philosophy behind patient care at

my practice is that I wouldn’t do, say, or tell my

patients to do anything that I wouldn’t do, say,

or tell my mother to do.”

Her philosophy of patient care isn’t the

only thing that has been shaped by her mother.

In fact, Sarah credits her mother with being

one of the most influential people in her life.

Both Sarah’s father and mother owned their

own businesses and watching their hard work

and rewards of entrepreneurship made its

mark on Sarah’s life at an early age. It taught

her that it is ok to dream big, and that you can

have and do what you want to do, if you’re

willing to work hard for it.

“My mom has always been such a huge

encourager to me, and she always taught me

that as a woman you needed to be able to stand

on your own two feet,” said Sarah. “That has

been something that has always been in the

back of my mind. It’s not about having someone

you do or don’t depend on, because honestly

I hate the word ‘dependents.’ It’s more about

knowing that you can support and take care

of yourself.”

Another part of her life growing up that

has contributed to her success and the way

that she shapes both her worldview and

decisions has been traveling. According to

Sarah, her parents always loved to travel,

and they were able to travel together as a

family quite a bit growing up, which she said

fundamentally shaped her perspective.

Traveling is something that she and Cory

have also carried on within their own family,

and they love to travel to different places.

“It’s important to me that my kids get to

experience and see other things and people,”

said Sarah. “Though it’s been hard to do much

traveling for the last year and a half due to

Covid, Cory and I always try to take the kids

to different places whenever we can.”

Speaking of her husband Cory, Sarah

gushes about him. They’ve been together

almost 20 years now, and she says they are

finally at the point where they’ve spent more

of their lives together than apart. While Cory

continues to make a huge impact on their

personal lives, Sarah admits that he’s been

integral at her practice as well.

“I would never have done this if it weren’t

for Cory. He’s an encourager and a ‘doer,’ and

he pushes me not to get stuck in the details

but instead take action,” said Sarah. “Cory

constantly tells me that I can do things, and

I just don’t know that I would’ve ever had

my own practice without him.”

When she’s not at her practice, traveling

with her family, or spending times with

friends, Sarah also attends Madison Heights

Presbyterian Church with her family and says

that she loves the community there. She says

that whether she is “Sarah” in Madison or

“Dr. Langston” in Brandon, she’s the same

person at heart each day, and that’s something

we can’t help but smile about.

To learn more about Dr. Sarah Langston and The Dental

Wellness Group, visit www.drsarahlangston.com.

Hometown RANKIN • 45

Kim Foreman

Kimberly D. Foreman CPA PC

46 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S –


Kim Foreman loves to make life easier for

people. As a certified public accountant, her

job allows her to take care of taxes and other

financial issues for her clients. “I love to help

people, so this job is ideal for me.”

A native of Florence, Kim grew up in

Plantation Shores. “I went to McLaurin

school from the third grade on,” she says.

While in high school, Kim was in DECA, a

vo-tech program. “They got me a job working

at Trustmark in the afternoons. I was in the

proof department from high school through

college.” A woman Kim knew from church,

Patricia Mounce, was an accounting professor

at Belhaven. “She told me she thought I’d be

good at accounting and became a real mentor

to me.”

Kim enrolled at Belhaven and received her

Bachelor of Science in Accounting, graduating

in only three years. “I rushed through so that I

could be grandfathered in for the CPA exam

without getting my masters,” she explains.

Graduating from college was a big deal for

Kim. “I’m the fifth child out of six, and I’m the

only one of all six of us to graduate from

college.” While in her first semester at

Belhaven, Kim lost her dad, and five years

later she lost her mom. “My dad knew I was in

college, and he was so proud. My mom got to

see me graduate.” It took another two years to

get her CPA. “Back then they only gave the

test two times a year.”

After graduating from Belhaven, Kim went

to work full time at Trustmark as an assistant

administrator in the trust department before

moving to the audit department. All the while,

she was studying for her CPA exam. Paul

Shelton, who owned an accounting firm in

Jackson, hired Kim. She passed the CPA exam

in 1999, the same year she got pregnant with

twin girls. She worked with Paul, who became

a mentor, and his son-in-law, Stephen Smith,

for ten years. David Ringer, an attorney in

Florence, pushed Kim to go out on her own.

“I started my own business in 2006,” she says.

Kim’s office is in downtown Florence, and

she loves being there. “I have three staff

members who help me with payroll, bookkeeping,

receivables, and payables for our

clients. I do a few things that are not typical

of other CPAs. I deal mostly with small

businesses.” One niche area that Kim services

are churches. “I started out with one small

local church outsourcing their total bookkeeping

services to me in 2007 and I have since added

two more churches. It’s something I’ll probably

be doing even after I retire. I love working for

churches because I’m working for God!”

Doing individual taxes for friends is how

Kim’s business started. It soon grew, and she

was doing taxes for both individual and

corporate clients. Her biggest downfall in

business may be her big heart, but Kim sees

that as a positive. “If you help people who need

help, but can’t afford it, they will tell twenty

other people how wonderful you are. That’s

the best kind of advertising!” Her father was a

self-employed body shop mechanic, and she

thinks she may have gotten her drive and work

ethic from him. “He was a very hard worker,

and he did his best. He is probably the reason

I like to help people so much. He often helped

families who were broken down on the side of

the road at all hours. And he would bring home

the oddest things they paid him with because

that’s all they had. I’m most influenced by my

dad, because he taught me that I could be my

own boss. I miss him every day.”

Kim says she loves helping schools as well.

“My girls were in the band for seven years at

Florence High School, and I was the band

booster treasurer. They are 22 years old now,

but I’m still doing the taxes!”

Kim is proud of the independent young

women her girls have become. “Kaylee has a

Bachelor of Science in Psychology from

Belhaven and works at Region 8. She is

planning on starting her Ph.D. program next

fall. Karlee will graduate from Belhaven next

May with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry

and Exercise Science. She also plans to pursue

a Ph.D. in chemistry next fall. They are both

very academic and career oriented, and I

couldn’t be any prouder of them. I have always

tried hard to make it all work. My focus has

always been on the girls, work and church.”

Kim says that it is hard to be a woman in

business, especially as a single mom. “God

didn’t intend women to work outside of the

home. We do it because we have to. There is

always pressure to be the best mom possible,

to be involved in the church, to be active in the

PTO at school and to have the perfect home.

I’ve learned I cannot be perfect and it’s ok to

do the best I can. Women tend to put too

much pressure on themselves.”

When she’s not working, Kim enjoys

traveling. She even combines work and travel

on her frequent trips to Miami. “I do work for

Victor Napoli, yet another mentor, who

previously owned several Big 10 Tire Stores in

Mississippi. I started working with Vic at Paul

Shelton’s office. Vic now lives in Miami and

owns several businesses there, so I go down to

do his accounting work.”

Covid has been a challenge for Kim’s

business. “We tend to work more on problems

now than ever before. I spend a lot more time

on the telephone. But we have been successful

in transitioning more people to Quickbooks

online which helps with the workflow.” Kim

says she tends to spoil her clients. “I don’t

mind. I’ve been so blessed. My business has

grown so much in the last five to seven years.

Right now, I can’t imagine doing anything


Kim’s office is located at 128 B South Church Street

in Florence.

Hometown RANKIN • 47

Whitney Sephton

& Briana Boyd

Rollin’ Beans

48 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S –


Sometimes a business seems so right that

it’s almost impossible not to do it. Such is the

case with Rollin’ Beans, the mobile coffee

business owned by Whitney Sephton and

Briana Boyd. “Our husbands, Kyle Sephton

and Jesse Boyd, are in business together, and

Bri and I have been friends for a long time,”

says Whitney. With their husbands supporting

their business idea, the women were ready to

jump into something new together.

Whitney grew up in Madison and went to

high school at Jackson Prep. She worked at a

coffee shop in Ridgeland while in high school.

While majoring in special education at

Mississippi State, Whitney worked at a coffee

shop in Starkville. “I have always loved coffee

and I enjoyed working in coffee shops.”

After college, Whitney taught school

before going back to school to study behavior

therapy. “I loved it, but I had to travel a lot.

My children were small, and I didn’t like being

away from them so much.” Whitney was in a

bad automobile accident while traveling for

work, so she had taken time off about the time

Covid hit. Sitting at home, she couldn’t help

but try to think of what she might do next.

“I thought about a coffee truck I had seen on

social media during Covid. I hadn’t seen any

posts from them in a while so went online to

see what they were up to.” To Whitney’s

surprise, the truck had been put up for sale the

day before. “I called Briana, who told me she

had just told Jesse that she wanted to go to

work at a coffee shop so she could learn to

make coffee! Briana works two days a week as

a cardiac sonographer in pediatric cardiology

at UMC, but otherwise, she was free to join

me. We felt that it was the Lord telling us that

this is what he wanted us to do.”

In October 2020, the women bought the

coffee truck, which is actually a vintage camper

converted into a coffee kitchen. “We had no

idea what we were doing,” laughs Whitney,

“but we dove in headfirst. We were just excited

for the adventure! It was a learn-as-we-go

situation.” That included learning how to drive

with, and park, a trailer. Whitney’s four years

of experience working in coffee shops in high

school and college certainly prepared her for

the job. She taught Briana how to make the

coffees, and they were ready for business.

Without a solid gameplan in place for the

business, the women grabbed opportunities

when they saw them. With the Canton Flea

Market just two weeks away, the women set a

goal to get the truck ready in time for one of

the largest events in the Central Mississippi

area. “We pulled into Canton on the morning

of the Flea Market and started serving coffee,”

recalls Whitney. “By 9:00am, we were almost

out of supplies! I called my husband, and he

went to the coffee supply place and brought us

what we needed just in the nick of time! We

ended up serving coffee all day.”

Because Whitney had been an educator

and was passionate about teachers, they started

taking the coffee truck to schools. “Teachers

were buying coffee with their own money,

until one day a parent contacted us and told

us his child’s teacher was having a hard time.

The parent wanted to buy the teacher a cup

of coffee. We thought about it and realized

there were probably many people who would

be happy to spring for a teacher’s cup of coffee.

We worked with the schools, and soon,

teachers were getting free coffees, thanks to

the generous parents.”

Still without a marketing plan, another

“gift” rained down on the coffee peddlers.

“A company called and said they wanted to

sponsor coffee for the teachers at a school.”

More companies followed. And it was not just

teachers who were treated to coffee. The entire

school staff, including the entire child nutrition

and technology departments were included.

Whitney says she has learned that behind

every cup of coffee is a person, and every

person has a story. “Coffee can change a

person’s whole outlook for the day. We have

been so blessed to do this. It’s been so much

fun, plus we have met some of the nicest

people. Our goal is to love people and serve

coffee. When hiring new people, we have to

see that love.”

The truck’s menu is a simple one. “We use

locally roasted Bean Fruit and Thunderhead

Coffee,” says Whitney. “We have espresso

drinks, hot or iced. Our most popular is an

espresso drink called the Magnolia Sip, with

caramel, light chocolate, and vanilla. We also

have frappes, hot cocoa, and OG (medium

roast drip coffee). We also started selling energy

drinks this summer and people love them!”

Sometimes folks want a little something to

eat with their coffee, and Rollin’ Beans delivers

with their amazing cinnamon rolls. “They are

made locally, and people rave about them,”

says Whitney. “We have had people order a

dozen at a time.”

As the business continues to grow, a more

solid business plan is forming. The women

depend on word-of-mouth advertising and

social media to let people know where they

will be and when. “We would love to have

more trucks going forward so that we can

service more areas,” says Whitney. “We don’t

like turning people down when we are already

booked somewhere else.”

Whitney says running a business might

seem scary at first, but she advises people to

jump in. “Once you are in it, you will realize

you can do it. I always try to take the wisdom

offered to me by others and really listen to

what they are saying. They have experienced

something and learned from it and that can

help us. They have an insight that can be very

helpful.” There are parts of the business that

Whitney says aren’t the most fun. “Dealing

with the health department and paying taxes

are all just part of doing business.” There are

employees, ranging from high school students

to a mom with six kids. “We are sad to say

goodbye to some of our college students who

are going back to school.” Whitney says the

coffee truck is an ideal job for stay-at-home

moms. “Our peak time is 6:30am to 9:30 or

10am, so they can work in the morning and

have the rest of the day free.”

Whitney’s family now lives in Brandon,

and the business is based in Brandon as well.

“My husband went to Brandon High School,

and he knows so many people here. We now

live in Brandon, and we love it.” Whitney says

it has been rewarding to see how God has

blessed their business to love and serve the


Follow Rollin’ Beans on Facebook

for scheduled appearances or contact them

at rollinbeanscoffee@gmail.com.

Hometown RANKIN • 49

Whitney Pace

Studio Sole Dance

50 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S –


So many little girls dream of life on stage

under the big lights in beautifully ornate

costumes. Whitney Pace, owner of Studio Sole

Dance made that dream a reality. “Seeing my

best friend’s dance recitals in 2nd grade sealed

the deal for me being a dancer,” she joked.

Growing up in dance, Whitney always had

a passion for the beautiful art form. She

admits, “I always loved dressing up and seeing

my best friend’s recital outfits when I was

young was exciting and I just knew that was

for me.” It wasn’t long before she began

dancing at Dance Unlimited.

After high school, she went on to Holmes

Community College in Ridgeland before

transferring to the University of Southern

Mississippi. There she majored in elementary

education and temporarily minored in dance.

Marrying her high school sweetheart,

Jonathan, and returning to Rankin County,

she became a kindergarten teacher at Steen’s

Creek Elementary in Florence all while still

dancing and teaching dance at a local studio.

Her passion for dance created a fire that

she just couldn’t put out. Having roots in

Florence and knowing so many in the

community already through teaching children

during the day and dancers at night, she knew

her heart truly wanted a place to call her own.

Whitney said, “I called my mom and that was

that. We started looking into the next steps to

make it happen. I never felt like this was

something I couldn’t do on my own.” Studio

Sole opened its doors in 2014.

Studio Sole sets out to not only teach their

students based on their abilities, talents, and

ambitions, but more importantly, Whitney

strives to glorify God in all she does. She hopes

to instill the love of God and all His grace and

honor Him through the artistic expression

and gift of dance.

Whitney said, “I love this area and

community so much and I have loved all the

kids I have been able to teach and work with

through dance. This has definitely been a

blessing to be able to do what I love.” She

added, “You know that saying, if you are able

to do what you love, then you’ll never work a

day in your life? I fully believe that and get to

live it every day.”

Whitney has worked diligently to create a

welcoming space that promotes a positive

family environment. One of Studio Sole’s mission

statements says, “Our goal for every soul

that dances with us is for them to develop and

grow their self-esteem, confidence, and love

for dance, every year.”

After years of working long hours of

teaching in some capacity day and night, she

was faced with a difficult decision whether to

continue teaching her precious students and

operating and teaching at the studio simultaneously.

The 2021-2022 school year is the

first year her students won’t have Mrs. Pace as

their teacher. She decided to teach dance full

time this year.

Whitney said, “It has been a pretty smooth

transition, although sometimes it can get hard.

We just bought land in Richland for a new studio

in the future which we are very excited about.”

Studio Sole offers ballet, tap, jazz, musical

theater, tumble, hip hop, Christian contemporary

and is proud to begin offering baton.

Whitney’s students also have the opportunity

for recreational dance as well as competitive

dance. She said, “These girls work

year-round in the studio, around eight hours

each week.” She has a team of highly qualified

instructors for every area of dance offered.

Her love for all things dance has bled over

into her family who just happen to be her

biggest supporters as well. She and mom,

Tracie Sasser, own a dancewear line together

aptly called Soul to Sole Dancewear. The

collection offers a variety of dancewear and

athleisure styles to choose from.

Whitney said, “Everything from the studio

to the store is a true family affair. When there

are recitals, everyone is there working to do

what needs to be done. You will see them all in

their Soul shirts just getting it done whether

it’s building sets, helping with setup and

breakdown, and pretty much everything else.

It is definitely a team effort and they are there

every step of the way.”

Whitney’s dedication and hard work

recently earned her the prestigious award of

being named one of Rankin County’s Top 40

Under 40 by Hometown Rankin and PriorityOne

Bank. She credits her parents love and

dedication that have helped instill a work

ethic in her that has allowed her to become a

young leader in her own community.

When she is not training dancers or

working in the store, her interests include

spending time with her husband and family

and preparing for a special delivery. The Paces

will welcome their first child, a sweet baby girl

this fall. This blessing comes after the pair

suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage, but the

couple rejoiced in knowing that God had a

perfect plan for their family. Jonathan and

Whitney are eager to welcome their miracle,

Wrenlee Ruth, in a few months.

For more information or to register for classes,

visit www.studiosoledance.com

Hometown RANKIN • 51

Dr. Angela Shannon

Happy Tummies

52 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S –


Angela Shannon always thought she wanted

to be a teacher. Now a physician and owner of

a clinic for children, the Smithville, Mississippi,

native says she was “involuntarily volunteered”

to tutor her two sisters when she was still a

child herself. “I realized then that I didn’t have

the patience to be a teacher!” She recalls her

life skills class teacher’s assignment to research

a career she might like and report on it to the

class. “I really do love children and I’m

particularly drawn to babies,” she says. “I used

to love watching the show Empty Nest on

television. There was a character on the show,

Dr. Harry Westin, who was a pediatrician.”

Inspired by the character, she thought she

could do what Harry Westin did.

After graduating as the valedictorian from

Smithville High School, Dr. Shannon attended

Millsaps College, where she majored in biology

and minored in chemistry and music. “My

pre-med advisors said I’d only need to take

one or two more classes to have a chemistry

minor, which I needed to go into medicine

anyway. I minored in music as well to lighten

my load a bit. I love music and can’t see how

anyone can exist without it! I learned about

famous composers, as well as learning how to

compose. I play piano by ear, and still enjoy

playing when I can, although when my

children hear me play, they want to climb up

and play with me!” She graduated cum laude

from Millsaps.

Dr. Shannon attended medical school at

the University of Mississippi Medical Center

in Jackson. “When in med school, we had to

try all fields of medicine. I really enjoyed my

gastrointestinal rotation. A colonoscopy is a

lot like a video game – you have to move a

scope around corners and go around curves,

and to me, it’s a fun way to make a diagnosis to

ultimately help a patient.” She graduated from

UMC in 2006 and did three years of residency

at UMC, finishing in 2009. “I determined

that pediatric gastroenterology would be my

final destination.” A three-year fellowship at

the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland,

Ohio, helped prepare her for her next step.

“My husband and I were ready to leave the

snow behind in Ohio and move back south.”

She went to work for GI Associates in 2012,

where she specialized in pediatric GI. While

there, Dr. Shannon started a travel clinic. “I

went to Tupelo once a month, which I loved,

because I was able to visit my parents and my

now-95-year-old grandmother.”

Happy Tummies Pediatric GI Clinic was

founded in January 2021. It’s a place where

infants to young adults will receive comprehensive

evaluation and management of their

gastrointestinal problems. “It’s amazing how

many people I meet who do not know this

specialty exists,” Dr. Shannon says. “Sometimes

when a child has a chronic stomachache, or

they are not going to the bathroom like they

should, some reassurance and minor modifications

are all that is needed. However, it is

not unheard of for children to have Crohn’s

disease, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, or any

number of more serious issues. We work hard

to find out what’s going on and to make their

tummies happy again.”

The Happy Tummies practice is a place

where children can come to get well again.

“We want families to feel welcomed and

comfortable,” Dr. Shannon says. “God gave

me the idea and it is so rewarding when a child

comes in telling me their tummy isn’t happy

and I can help make it better.”

Dr. Shannon married her husband, Jason,

in 2009, near the end of her residency. “He is

a certified registered nurse anesthetist. It wasn’t

always the easiest path. He was an ICU nurse

at UMC for seven or eight years, then he started

his CRNA schooling while I was finishing my

fellowship. Now he works with Jackson

Anesthesia Associates,” says Dr. Shannon. The

couple had their first child in September 2012,

one month after she started working.

There are now three children in the

Shannon family. Abigail is eight years old,

Jude is six, and Jacob is four. “Jacob is on the

Happy Tummies billboards around town,”

says Dr. Shannon. “All of our children are

very different, and we love them all to pieces!”

The family lives in Madison.

Working through the Covid pandemic has

been a challenge. “It definitely affected the

practice,” Dr. Shannon says. “We had to

establish guidelines right away. Fortunately,

our growth has been slow and steady. We’ve

embraced telehealth visits, and we’ve had to

limit the number of people who can go in with

our little patients. We understand everyone is

concerned and wants to be there to make sure

the little ones are OK, but Covid has made

that impossible. We know it can be scary for

families, and that is heartbreaking.”

Dr. Shannon is involved in several medical

societies, including the North American

Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology,

Hepatology and Nutrition; and the Mississippi

State Medical Association, where she is a vice

president of Madison County for the Central

Mississippi Medical component. She is also a

member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., an

organization founded in 1938 that focuses on

providing social, cultural, and educational

opportunities for youth. The family attends

Greater Pearlie Grove Missionary Baptist

Church, where Dr. Shannon is involved with

the nursery and healthcare ministry teams.

Happy Tummies is located at

1679 Old Fannin Roadin Flowood.

For more information visit www.4happytummies.com.

Hometown RANKIN • 53

Dr. Mandy Fowler

& Dr. Nancy Harrison

Mississippi Arthritis Clinic

54 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S –


Since she was a small child, Amanda

“Mandy” Fowler wanted to be a doctor. The

Rankin County native knew about hospitals

because both of her parents worked at the

University of Mississippi Medical Center,

although neither were doctors or business

owners. “They had me working from the time

I was 15,” she recalls, “and I am thankful they

instilled a strong work ethic into me.” That

work ethic carried Amanda through college at

Millsaps, where she earned an undergraduate

degree in biology and her master’s degree in

biomedical sciences at UMMC prior to entry

into medical school at UMMC.

“I developed a love for rheumatology as a

medical student,” says Dr. Fowler. “I loved that

while we treat both men and women, a large

portion of our patients are women across all

ages in life, from teens to 100s. Rheumatic

diseases are rarely ever cured but are managed,

usually over a lifetime.”

As the owner and physician at Mississippi

Arthritis Clinic, Dr. Fowler is drawn to the

long-term relationship developed between

rheumatologists and rheumatology patients.

“I love that I get to walk beside my patients in

all stages of their lives and support them as

they learn to live their lives to the fullest,

despite their disease.”

The clinic was founded nearly twenty years

ago, and Dr. Fowler worked there before buying

the practice in 2016. Dr. Nancy Harrison joined

her in the practice in 2019. Both doctors are

board certified in internal medicine and

rheumatology. They take pride in developing

a special bond with each patient they treat.

The discovery and management of autoimmune

conditions is a journey that often involves

years of unanswered questions and the

frustration that comes along with having a

chronic disease. Helping patients rediscover a

good quality of life is at the center of their


Several conditions are treated at the clinic,

including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic

arthritis, osteoarthritis, and other immune

diseases such as gout, lupus, Raynaud’s

Phenomenon, Sjogren’s Syndrome, and more.

The clinic has recently relocated to a new

space in the St. Domnic West Tower in Jackson.

The new space provides a fresh and welcoming

atmosphere. A modern infusion site allows

patients to receive intravenous infusions in the

safest, most comfortable way possible. Lab

work, x-rays, and bone density scans are also

available on-site.

Dr. Fowler thinks of herself as more of a

woman in medicine than a woman in business.

“I do recognize that the business side of our

clinic is essential. It’s important for us to have

the people and resources in place to manage

our team and our resources so that we can

continue to provide the highest level of care to

our patients. We are so grateful for our

wonderful clinic administrator, Tammy

Hutchinson, who keeps the business aspect of

the clinic running smoothly. She does a

fantastic job of managing our day-to-day


The work she does at the Mississippi

Arthritis Clinic is more than just a job for

Dr. Fowler. She and her family are active

members of First Baptist Church of Fannin.

Her husband, Bryan, started seminary recently

at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

working towards a Master of Divinity. “My

Christian faith is a huge part of my life, and

I feel like my clinic and my patients are my

ministry as well,” she says.

“When I was first introduced to the

physicians and staff at Mississippi Arthritis

Clinic, I knew immediately that was the place

for me. I knew that eventually owning my

own practice and business would give me the

best opportunity to fulfill my ministry in

medicine and rheumatology.” Dr. Fowler was

married with two young children at the time

she joined the clinic and as she eventually

became the owner of the practice. “I knew

that working for myself as a business owner

would give me the opportunity to be involved

in my children’s lives as much as possible.”

Another aspect of the practice that drew

her attention is that it is all-female owned and

staffed. “I knew I would have the support of

other working women that were juggling the

same responsibilities of work and family life.”

Dr. Fowler was ecstatic when Dr. Harrison

wanted to join the practice in 2019.

Both Dr. Fowler and Dr. Harrison are

moms with young children. Dr. Fowler’s

husband Bryan serves as a quality assurance

inspector with the Mississippi Air National

Guard, and Dr. Harrison’s husband Brannon

is a thoracic surgery resident at UMMC.

There are two nurse practitioners in the

practice, Lindsay Page and Sherra Carr, who

also take pride in developing a special bond

with the patients they treat.

Dr. Fowler, and the rest of the team at

Mississippi Arthritis Clinic, is focused on

helping patients find answers, feel better,

and to enjoy every day.

For more information on Mississippi Arthritis Clinic,

visit www.mississippiarthritisclinic.com.

Hometown RANKIN • 55

Megan Howe

Synergy Myofascial Release

& Rehab

56 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S –


“From my past in physical therapy, I realized

the need and the importance of having that

close one-on-one time to spend and focus on

each individual patient,” said Megan Howe,

owner of Synergy Myofascial Release and


Megan, a Gulfport native, grew up watching

her parents devote their time to others and

they taught her the value of an incredible work

ethic. Her father worked for 40+ years in the

local school district. She said, “He taught me

that work is very important and to always put

100% into what you are doing. Quitting is

never an option”

Her mother worked for the City of

Gulfport and always went above and beyond

to provide for their family. Megan added,

“My mother took care of so many people.

She always made sure we had all we needed

but also made sure we had enough to share

with others. She taught me the importance of

giving back when you can. This is where my

desire to serve started.”

Megan’s calling to serve others began from

the impressive examples of her own family.

She went on to pursue physical therapy at

Pearl River Community College and ultimately

moved to Jackson to take a position at the

Methodist Rehabilitation Center.

She has been practicing physical therapy

since 2002 with her primary interest in

myofascial release. In 2015, her desire to serve

her patients took her down a new and exciting

path when she opened Synergy, which now has

locations in Flowood and Madison.

Megan said, “Synergy is a place where its

ok if you don’t fit into a typical mold. We take

more of a holistic approach and treat the

whole person. I think that is what really sets

us apart. Of course, we’ll treat your neck pain,

but we take it a step farther and will also work

to find the root cause of it. We want to treat

the symptoms but also fix the underlying issue.

We have a real whole-person view.”

Synergy specializes in outpatient physical

therapy services for traditional rehab of injuries,

dry needling, cupping, and manual therapies

such as myofascial release, which is a form of

physical therapy treating myofascial pain

syndrome. This is a chronic pain disorder

caused by sensitivity and tightness in the

myofascial tissue. The manual release of these

muscles focuses on reducing pain by easing the

tension and tightness in the trigger points.

The experienced and knowledgeable physical

therapists at Synergy work hard to restore

each patient’s mobility, manage pain, and

regain overall health.

Expressing the deep connection she has

with her patients, Megan said, “My clients

become like family.” She added, “We pray for

each other. We know what is going on in each

other’s lives. They support me, my family, and

my business and I support them. You create a

bond which has been such a blessing to me.

They become more than a client, they become


Megan has found great success being a

woman-owned business. However, that road

has sometimes had adversity. She has faced

and overcome some of the challenges of not

always being taken seriously. She explained,

“I remember when I signed my lease for the

building, the landlord wanted to speak with

my husband. I do think you get treated

a little differently as a woman. I think that has

really been my only challenge.” Her upbringing

among positive role models helped her

overcome any challenge she has met so far to

fulfill her dream of serving and healing others.

When she is not working, Megan enjoys

spending her time with her husband of 13 years,

Blake, and their 10-year-old son, Parker. Blake

and Megan are also proud foster parents to a

9-year-old and a 10-month-old. The family

enjoys traveling together any chance they get

when they aren’t busy with the children’s

football and baseball activities. They are also

very active in their church, St. Mark’s in Madison.

Megan also has a love for decorating and

party planning. She said, “This is where I can

let loose and be creative.”

Visit them at www.synergymyofascial.com

for more information.

Hometown RANKIN • 57

Ashley Wilkinson

Whimsy Willows

58 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S –


Florence native Ashley Wilkinson loves her

job because she gets to make women feel good

about themselves. “I know what it’s like to be

a plus-sized woman. It’s difficult to find

fashionable clothes – there just aren’t many

places to shop.” Knowing there had to be

something out there, Ashely went on a journey

in 2015 to see what she could come up with. “

I found a lot of things I liked, so I figured

others would like them as well.” Starting with

two clothes racks in her dining room that fall,

Ashley had no idea how quickly her business

would take off.

Today Whimsy Willows is a full-service

boutique that caters to “real” women who have

a strong sense of style and a love for fashion.

Ashley has created Whimsy Willows to be a

place where women love to shop. “I get to

make women feel good in the clothes they

wear. When a woman feels good, she can

conquer the world!”

Ashley hasn’t always been in fashion. As a

matter of fact, she was a nurse for eight years.

“I was passionate about nursing, and I still

miss it. I think being a nurse prepared me for

this in a way as I had to deal with people and

their emotions.” Ashley also cut hair for ten

years. “My father owned a barber school, and

I worked for him for a while as well.”

But retail was in the cards for Ashley. After

the surprising success of her dining room

boutique, Ashley’s husband said something had

to give. “It just grew and grew and was taking

over our home!” Married to Eddie Wilkinson,

Ashley says that she is fortunate to have a

husband who is such a big supporter of what

she does. “He grew up not far from me, in

Richland. Eddie works in the oil fields for 28

days at a time, but when he’s home, he helps

men any way he can.”

In January 2016, Ashley went to the apparel

market in Dallas for the first time. “It was so

overwhelming! I almost quit that day. But my

mother-in-law was with me, and she told me

she had never seen me fail at anything I tried.

She said I could do anything I set my mind

to.” So, Ashley pushed ahead and started

booking shows.

“I did Florence Day first, the November

after I started in September out of my home.

We did great, so I kept booking shows.” Her

last full year to do shows was in 2018. “We

did 43 shows that year.” Now she only does

Mistletoe Marketplace in Jackson, and

another big show in Amite City, Louisiana.

When naming her business, Ashley wrote a

list of different things, but her husband wasn’t

impressed by any of them. “He said I should

find a name that uses ‘Willow.’ That was a big

joke between us,” laughs Ashley, “because

although we had been married 12 years before

we had our child, I always said I wanted a girl

named Willow, because my grandparents had

a big willow tree in their yard, and I loved it!

He said he wasn’t going to have a daughter

with that name.” Since the business was,

essentially, like a first child to Ashley, she named

it Whimsy Willows. Just after opening her

first store Ashley found out she was pregnant

with their daughter, Ellyanna.

The boutique has been in two other

locations before landing in its current location

at the Outlet Mall of Mississippi. The store

employs three people, including Charlee

McDaniel, the boutique’s manager, who started

as a temporary employee for the store. “She

also does our social media and online store,”

says Ashley.

Self-taught in business and retail, Ashley

admits she’s made a few mistakes, but she has

learned from them. A lot of Ashley’s education

in business came from working in her father’s

barber school. “While working for him, I saw

what it took to run a business. Watching him

taught me life lessons about managing a

business. He also taught me to be sure we

were covered financially for a couple of months,

which was good advice as we endured the

Covid pandemic.” The store closed for a

month, then operated on reduced hours for a

while. “That gave us time to revamp our

website, which I wasn’t crazy about anyway.

I like to interact with people and Covid made

that hard for me.”

Looking back, Ashley says that all the

experiences she has had have shaped her to be

what she is today. “All the bosses I’ve ever had

have influenced me in some way.” When she is

not working, Ashley says she loves to travel

with her family. “We love to hunt, and we are

crazy about Mississippi State football and the

New Orleans Saints. We have a travel trailer,

and we love to go camping.” Since having their

daughter, Ashley says pretty much all they do

is about creating experiences for her.

Whimsy Willows Boutique is located at

200 Bass Pro Drive, Suite 410 in Pearl.

Visit whimsywillowsboutique.com for more information.

Hometown RANKIN • 59

Wendy Putt

Fresh Cut Catering & Floral

60 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S –


The lavish settings Wendy Putt creates for

weddings and other events is a long way from

the cricket farm she grew up on in Byram.

“My mom and dad raised crickets for the bait

and pet industry,” she says. When she went to

college to study nursing, her dad told her that’s

not what God was calling her to do. So, Wendy

enrolled in the retail floristry management

program at Mississippi State. “I worked on a

rose farm to make extra money,” she says.

Always very project-oriented, she had found

her ideal profession.

“My first job out of college was working

for McCarty-Holman in Jackson, purchasing

flowers for the floral departments in all their

stores. For me, it was the most fun job ever!

I was ordering from Miami and California.

Every floral department had specific flowers

they needed.” Two years in, a headhunter

called and told Wendy about a position with

Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Missouri.

“They were doing a market test on putting

flowers into their 5,000 stores, and they

wanted me to be the buyer. I met with growers,

and I moved around from Kansas City to

Baltimore to Indianapolis. I loved it! But after

one year, they stopped the market test, and I

was without a job.”

Wendy wasn’t sidelined for long. “My dad

flew up to Kansas City to help me move home.

We were driving back and stopped in Jackson,

Tennessee. I saw a little floral kiosk named

Fresh Cut. I told my dad I thought that was

a great name for a business.” She started

freelancing for weddings and events. “My dad

offered me a little concrete building on his

cricket farm to use, and I was thrilled to have

it. I worked out of that little building for

four years!”

In 1992, Wendy met the man she would

marry the next year, Bruce Putt. “We bought a

little house on Highway 49 South that was

commercially zoned. We put in a couple of

coolers and started operating out of that space.”

Adding catering to the mix, Fresh Cut Catering

and Floral has continued to grow. They built a

little commercial kitchen in 1996. “Bruce is an

excellent cook. He worked at Puckett Machinery

during the day, and we would cook all

night. We hired a lady who was a line cook to

help, and we hired two delivery people. He

quit his job in 2006 and came on full time

with our business.”

They eventually moved their residence to

Sheffield Drive in northeast Jackson while

their children were attending Jackson Academy.

“I helped my parents out on their cricket farm

to earn extra money.” These days, Wendy says

Bruce spends his time “in kitchen world” with

the chefs, line cook, and dishwasher at their

headquarters in Flowood. “That’s his domain.”

Wendy says she spends a lot of time in the

warehouse with “the guys.” She does inventory,

packing and on-site installs as well as

consultations and planning.

Julia, who also studied floral design at

Mississippi State, joined the business full time

in May 2018. “Julia has so many new and fresh

ideas,” says Wendy. “Her design ideas are top

of the food chain! I’m so impressed by her

incredible imagination. She comes up with the

most amazing ideas and I’ve got the redneck

MacGyver skills to make it happen!”

Wendy’s business grew despite not having a

business model or plan. “We kind of made it

up as we went along!” But sometimes women

in business just get things done because they

instinctively treat their customers the way they

want to be treated. Treating customers right

and tending to their needs is what Wendy says

has caused her business to grow. “We all care a

lot about our customers, and they know it.”

Through the years, the business has grown

to include two event venues, The South

Warehouse and The Railroad District, as well

as a brand-new headquarters and showroom in

Flowood. Even a major fire didn’t stop Wendy

and her crew from moving ahead. “We opened

Galleries Event Rentals at 115 Cypress Cove in

Flowood on March 1 last year, and on March

20, it burned to the ground. It was a total loss

– all that was saved was the concrete slab. We

had put so much effort into it, including

buying product for five years that we had kept

in storage until we got the new building built.

But the blessing was that no one was hurt. We

kept on going, and we rebuilt. Our new place

opened in February of this year.”

Wendy says her biggest satisfaction comes

from seeing the look on a customer’s face

when they see the space for their event. “We

start from a room that looks like nothing and

transform it into something wicked awesome!

When we see them walk into the space and

realize we’ve made it theirs, it’s the best feeling

in the world!”

For more information on Fresh Cut Catering and Floral,

visit www.freshcutofjxn.com.

Hometown RANKIN • 61

Allyson Johnson

& Bethany Frazier


62 • SEPTEMBER 2021

– W O M E N I N B U S I N E S S –


Allyson Johnson has always loved retail. She

grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, but spent

summers and holidays in Laurel. Armed with

a business degree, Allyson went to work for

J.C. Penney, then Hallmark. “I was with Penney’s

for 14 or 15 years,” she says. Allyson also has a

crafty side, and she painted glassware that she

would sell.

When her mother passed away, Allyson took

some time to reflect on her own life. “I started

thinking about what I was supposed to do in

life. I was working at MDOT, and it was a

great job with benefits, and I was still painting

glassware.” But something tugged Allyson

from deep inside. The family had moved from

Madison to Puckett when Bethany (Allyson’s

daughter) was eight years old. “I realized that if

we needed to get a present for a birthday party

or anything else, we had to go back to the

Jackson area. There just wasn’t much in Rankin

County at that time. The more I thought about

it, the more I wanted to open my own store.”

Allyson drew up plans for a retail boutique.

She incorporated in 2011 and in March 2012,

she opened the doors to AllyOops in Pearl.

“AllyOops was my nickname growing up, and

I thought it would be a fun name for a store,”

says Allyson. “I always loved the concept of

Anthropology, where they carry a variety of

items – gifts, clothing, lifestyle. That’s what

I wanted to do. Sometimes we nail it, and

sometimes have a buying dud, but we always

try to learn from our mistakes.”

Allyson was determined to do things right.

“Every point of sale and every procedure was

to ensure customer satisfaction. I even have an

employee handbook.” AllyOops opened in one

suite, and it was very small, but for Allyson,

owning her own business was a gift from God.

“He put the right people in my path, like Mr.

James Bennett, a professor at Hinds Community

College, who coached me on all I needed to

do to start a business.”

By December 2012, business was so good

that Allyson decided it was time to quit her

job at MDOT and devote her time to her

new business. “My education, my experience

and God were working together to make

AllyOops a success!”

Bethany Frazier, Allyson’s daughter, says

that when her mom decides to do something,

she is going to do it and she is going to go all

in. Bethany grew up in Puckett and graduated

from Puckett High School. She attended

Mississippi College where she majored in

pre-med. “I wanted to go into medicine, but

once I graduated, I had the feeling that I

wasn’t on the career path I was supposed to

be on. While in college, one of my professors

asked us what was the one thing we would do

every day for free? For me, that was a no-brainer.

It would be working in the store with my mom.”

Bethany was concerned that her parents

might be upset that she had spent all that time

and money going to college for something she

didn’t want to do. “But instead, they encouraged

me, and my mom welcomed me into

her business.”

Over the years, the store has grown, first

into the suite next door, then to the next suite.

“We’ve had to really learn who our customer is,”

says Allyson. “We don’t follow trends, but we do

buy trends and make them our own,” Bethany

explains. “Because Mom has so much knowledge

and background in this, we listen. We tend to

buy what we love, and hope others will like it,

too. We don’t want to do what others are doing.”

Allyson agrees, saying “I don’t even shop our

competition. I just stay in my lane and we do

what we love and that seems to work for us.”

When the Covid pandemic first hit,

Allyson said, being brutally honest, that she had

a meltdown. “We were one of the first stores

to close, out of an abundance of caution. We

didn’t know how long that would last. We were

able to continue selling, and deliver items

curbside, if customers wanted that. And

although we are not an online boutique, the

pandemic forced us to examine our online

presence. We had to change the way we did

things, including having lots of sales, and that

really pushed us out of our comfort zone. I’m

an old-school retailer. I needed to be on

e-commerce, but I had to be pushed to switch

over to that. I am a people person, and I like

person-to-person interaction!”

Bethany upgraded the point-of-sale system

and that changed a lot for the family. “I think

it enabled my mom not to work 24/7. She was

able to prioritize her time better, and value

family more. As her daughter, I love it. I had

my first child, a son, last year and he has an

awesome grandmother!”

Covid challenged the business in other

ways as well. “Our supply chain was compromised,

so that made it difficult to get inventory,”

says Allyson. “We had to trust God, trust the

process and trust our customers, and by the

grace of God, we have made it through!”

One thing Allyson has always learned in

business is to train up your replacement. “I

was sick for two weeks and couldn’t work, but

the store operated just fine under my daughter’s

leadership. I couldn’t be more thankful and

proud. She deserves big kudos!”

The business is a real family affair, of course

with Allyson and Bethany, but Allyson’s other

daughter, Caitlin, is also a big help. “She’s a

full-time teacher, and she loves it, but she also

helps us with the backend and receiving, and

she helps with our other business, Markethouse.”

Just before Covid, the traveling show

business was really picking up, and Allyson’s

husband, Rick, was a big help. “It was fun seeing

Dad interact with the customers at our booth,”

says Bethany. “He loved to go with us, and it

turns out that he is a great salesman!” Even

Bethany’s young son gets into the act. “He will

clean the floor for us,” laughs Allyson. “I think

when you are doing a business like we are, you

need family support. We are blessed that we

have been able to do this.”

AllyOops is located at 5647 Highway 80, #7, in Pearl.

For more info visit allyoops.com.

Hometown RANKIN • 63

64 • SEPTEMBER 2021



Hometown RANKIN • 65


104 Louis Wilson Dr. • Brandon, MS • 39042 • 601-825-5056 phone • 601-825-5092 fax

www.msfb.org • Facebook.org/RankinCountyFarmBureau


A Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation membership comes with exclusive savings.

As a member, you can take advantage of the discounts on products and services listed here.

For more information and a list of all member savings and benefits, visit msfb.org/discounts.

66 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 67

68 • SEPTEMBER 2021



Tell us about your family.

We have two daughters that are both teachers in the Rankin

County School District. Tracey is married to Josh McKay.

They have three children: Jake is 16, Hayes is 13, and Millie is

12. Tricia is married to Alan Bennett. They have Ella Claire

who is 13, Maggie is 10, and Ella is 11. The girl grands have

fun together and also enjoy school, dancing, volleyball, and

anything to do with crafts. The boys like football, fishing,

hunting and following their favorite sports. We are proud of

these kiddos and glad to be their Papa and ChaCha. We also

have John’s mother to add to our family list. She is called

Grandma Shirley. At 94 years old she is a storyteller, a

wonderful cook, and never meets a stranger. At the holiday

times, we count on her picture-perfect pies and her dressing

to go with our turkey.

Now to tell a bit about John and me. John is a tool fanatic.

If you need a certain tool, gadget, or some part fashioned from

scratch, he has it in mind or he can build it. He loves and

collects trains, old cars, tools. The kids/grands all believe that

no matter what is broken, their dad/Papa can fix it. I like to

read, crafts, and I enjoy cooking. I also like to arrange flowers.

My dad had a flower shop, and all through elementary school

and high school I worked at the shop to earn extra money.

Tell us about your courtship and marriage,

and how long you’ve been married.

I met John at college when I was coming back from class in a

horrible rainstorm. I had no umbrella, but he sure did and

asked me if I’d like to share his umbrella. I’m so glad he asked!

When we arrived at my dorm we exchanged phone numbers

and about a week later he called me and asked if I’d like to

meet him downstairs. He said he’d be standing by the snack

machines. I can’t believe that I flipped a coin with my

roommates to see if I would go and meet him. Heads, I would

go, tails, I would just leave him standing there! (Awful-right?)

Heads it was and praise the good Lord for a heads-up

coin toss and the power of an escort in the rain! We have been

married for 50 years and it seems like that time passed in the

blink of an eye.

Hometown RANKIN • 69

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

We have always tried to have a special time for each other but

through the hesitancy of going out, masks, and the pandemic, our

date nights have been Gunsmoke, Nova, and National Geographic

on the TV! Now doesn’t that sound exciting? We make a good time

in whatever we do. We always say ...every day this side of the grass is

a great day!

What brings you the greatest joy as a parent?

What about as a grandparent?

Our daughters are very special to us. There is a special bond

between moms and daughters and dads and daughters. Now, let me

not paint a picture of all sunshine and roses because there have been

plenty of opinionated sessions and eye rolling in the background.

But in the end, there is always an understanding of how much they

are loved. Now married, they are united as a couple, and parent their

children following some of the very same rules (some unpopular) as

we had with them while they were growing up. For us, the joy we

both share is being able to watch and guide from the sidelines.

The grandchildren are so much fun to be around and all

different. They are not cookie cutter. There are no words that can

explain how much we enjoy them being just who they are. Life is

good, but so much better because of them. We appreciate the small

moments even more since the pandemic kept them afar for birthdays,

Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We are happy to see them

celebrate each other’s accomplishments and show great empathy if

something doesn’t work out for one or the other of them. May they

always be friends, be close, and cheer for each other.

When your children were younger, what was your

discipline philosophy?

We prayed our way through every event they participated in and

everywhere they went.

How long has Rankin County been your home?

What are some of your favorite things about

Rankin County?

Rankin County has been our home for over 35 years. We lived in

Brandon and for the last 16 years we have lived in Florence. We love

seeing friendly faces everywhere we go. We are proud of our school

system and all the help that teachers and coaches have shown all of

our kiddos, encouraging and influencing their outlook on life. We

have been big Friday Night Lights fans for more years than I can

count. There is a community commitment to our schools, neighborhoods,

families, shops, and restaurants. There is, with this commitment,

an allegiance and always a helping hand in times of trouble or

a town salute in times of recognizing accomplishments. Everyone

pulls together to make the good times better and help to make the

bad times bearable.

What accomplishments make you proud during your time

living in Rankin County?

We are both retired but busy every day. John retired from Kansas

City Southern Rail after a 42-year career that began as an engineering

technician to chief engineering officer for both North America

and South America. I taught first grade for 28 years and loved my

job from the first day in the classroom until the day I retired. We

both agree that if you have a job that you love - you will never feel

like you ever worked a single day in your life.

What was the most memorable lesson your mom or dad

taught you?

Both sets of parents had a wonderful work ethic. We were taught to

be self-sufficient and to figure things out the best we could on our

own. We always knew that if we needed help that they would be

there to assist. Both John and I worked through college and are

grateful for learning early that hard work pays off even if things

aren’t easy.


Growing up, what’s your favorite thing to do as a family?

A shared memory we have will always be Christmastime. Growing

up, there was such excitement as we would rush to separate the gifts

and decide where everyone would sit to open presents. Now both

families descend on Papa and ChaCha’s house and, just like we did

as children, our children have taken on the same role. Laughter,

good food and fun have always been on the menu.


What is your favorite thing about your grandparents?

ELLA CLAIRE, 13 Papa and ChaCha think up great adventures that

are always fun. They are ready to go and do things anytime. I also

admire both of them because they are loving and caring to everyone

even if they are not family.

MAGGIE, 10 They are always helpful to me. They just like for us to

be together. They both teach me things. ChaCha bakes with me and

Papa has shown me how to fish!

JAKE, 16 I like to work at Papa and ChaCha’s. He has a collection

of tools and a tool for every job.

HAYES, 13 It is fun to go to the beach every year with both of them!

It’s good to be with family.

MILLIE, 12 We all love Christmas and holidays. It is a good to be

together as a family. At Easter, ChaCha stuffs plastic eggs with

treasures and Papa is the best at hiding them so we can find them.

70 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 71


to First Responders





Sunny summer days can be the perfect time and temp for

outdoor fun for everyone. Yet it can also mean death for infants

and children locked or left in vehicles when the temps reach 90

degrees and above. According to the National Weather Service,

15 minutes is enough time for a small child to suffer great bodily

harm or potential death in high temps. There are various scenarios

of how these catastrophic situations can happen. Parents can

forget their child, accidently lock them inside the car, the child

can lock himself inside and not know how to unlock the vehicle.

Nicole Dickerson knows first-hand the horror a parent can

experience in such an occurrence. She credits Florence policeman

Jonathan McCardle for saving her six-month-old when she

accidentally locked the infant in the car. While she “fell apart” in

panic, Officer McCardle maintained calmness and composure,

working rapidly to free the child.

Read the details from the hero officer’s own words:

“I was dispatched to unlock a vehicle that had a 6-month-old

infant inside. I radioed back to dispatch to confirm if the vehicle

was running or not. Mind you it was sunny, clear, and about

90-95 degrees outside. Dispatch said ‘not running.’ I initiated

lights and siren. I was coming from across town and had to drive

through downtown to Hwy 49 North about a mile south of the

north city limits and it was lunchtime traffic. By the grace of God,

I was able to get through traffic fairly easy and make it on scene.

The mother was frantic (as any mother would be). I was able to

unlock the door reach in and unbuckle him. He was screaming and

soaked in sweat. But as soon as he saw me, he stopped crying

and smiled at me. I handed him to his mother and told her to get

him inside and get his clothes off to cool him down. I called for

EMS, they arrived shortly after, and he was checked and cleared.

From the time she told my dispatch what was going on until I got

him out of the car, only six minutes passed. There was an extra

two minutes before that due to her calling 911 and then having to

transfer her to our dispatch. Although this was strictly an accident,

temperatures in vehicles rise very quickly. I’m not exactly sure

how hot it was but if I had to guess, it was already 110-115 degrees

in that short amount of time. It doesn’t take long at all. All in all,

it turned out very well. Thanks be to God.”

Why did you decide to be a policeman?

It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little boy. I like

helping people and making the community a safer and better


How long have you been with the Florence Police


Five years. I was with Rankin SO from 2008-2013.

72 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Tell us about your family.

I have two awesome sons, Owen who is 17 years old and Garrett

who just turned 15. I have two beautiful stepdaughters, Taylor

who is 14 years old and Kimberle who is 11 years old. I’ve been

married to my beautiful wife, Kathy, since 2017. We actually

graduated Pearl High School together in 1998 and met back up

18 years later thanks to a good friend of mine who is married to

her sister.

What is the toughest thing you have experienced

in your job?

Losing so many first responders in the last few years due to hate

that is being thrown at us from all sides. I know the majority

supports us still and that gives me hope.

Share some things you enjoy doing in your spare time.

My stress relief is the gym. I love to work out. I also love going to

car shows with my family and showing off my 1998 Mustang Cobra.

What are three things on your bucket list?

Travel the U.S. and maybe visit Ireland and Scotland.

Who is someone you admire and why?

I’ve come to admire a great friend of mine named Jim Smith. I met Jim

about a year ago in the gym. Jim is a retired fireman with the City of

Richland. He was actually training another friend of mine, Coty Hamilton,

until Coty was injured in a car wreck. When it was decided that a

benefit run/lift competition was going to happen for Coty, Jim started

training me. I’ve never seen him turn away from helping anyone he

could. He is the least selfish person I have ever known and never asks

for anything in return.

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

what would it be?

Advice I give the youth all the time is to slow down and enjoy your

youth. Because once you’re an adult, work and bills take the place

of all the fun.

What is your favorite thing about the City of Florence?

I love Florence because of the people and community.

What is your favorite thing about Rankin County?

I have not lived outside of Rankin County since my mother moved us

back here in 1989. I love that we have many things to do here in this

county and it will keep growing!

Hometown RANKIN • 73

74 • SEPTEMBER 2021




We’re here to help you meet your business

goals, with deposit and loan options

designed for business growth!


Hometown RANKIN • 75

76 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 77

What’s the biggest

difference in your

generation and the

generation of your


Technology! We need to keep children

outside doing fun things like camping, swimming,

family time, and sitting at the table having

dinner after asking God’s blessing on the food.

Camilla Pegues

I see three contributing factors that have influenced those changes. The first being

the loss of a secure and safe childhood. As a child, I lived in a home where the doors

did not have to be locked. Today, we have to lock everything and cannot afford to

leave children unsupervised. The second challenge is technology. The downside

to so much technology is that many parents use this as a tool for babysitting rather

than interacting with their children. The upside is Facetime! The third challenge is

that many of today’s generation are not self-disciplined. Kids in my generation were

taught to respect their elders, their friends, and themselves. Children do not enter

this world knowing how to behave or be responsible. Take the time to teach your

child right from wrong by modeling appropriate actions, providing explanations for

what you are doing, and listening to your child with your undivided attention. Many

children in today’s generation are allowed to do whatever, however, and whenever

they choose to do so.

Cheryl Saffle

The advancement of technology

across the board! They will have

a hard time locating a map (GPS),

a typewriter (computer keyboard)

and landline (cell) phones will

be obsolete. Several essential

things technology CANNOT

replace is: TIME invested in

grandchildren, HUGS/KISSES

exchanged and WORDS of

encouragement to every


Rodney Bounds

The biggest difference is technology. It has made

modern-day life much more comfortable.

Derek Thurman

78 • SEPTEMBER 2021

What’s something

you want your


to learn that will

help them as

an adult?

They should always make their relationship with God and their families their top priority.

Debbie Allen

We want all our grandchildren to always

trust and depend on God first, and never

forget, with God nothing in this world is

impossible. We want them to seek God

and always make sure that what they

are doing is also in line with God’s will for

them. Seek His guidance before man.

Maxine Spann

Put God first and be kind. If you can’t

say anything nice, don’t say anything at

all. Sometimes when they are leaving,

I will say, “Be particular!” My Gramps

said that a lot instead of saying see ya’

later or bye. It always made me think.

If you practice being particular with your

words and actions, you will be a better


Deb Tucker

Keep in touch with your close friends

as you grow older. It’s easy to let

friendships drift away but a long-time

friend is precious.

Steve Rachel

Hometown RANKIN • 79

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84 • SEPTEMBER 2021



Ribbon Cutting

July 23

Hometown RANKIN • 85

“A Home for Brad” organizers Deputy Dwayne Moak, LeeAnn Sanders,

Madison County Sheriff Randy Tucker, and Lt. Joey Butler with Deputy Brad Sullivan

as a social media campaign to build Brad a new home kicks off.

86 • SEPTEMBER 2021


Back in November of 2020, our

sister publication, Hometown

Madison, brought you an in-depth

story about Brad Sullivan, the Madison

County sheriff deputy that sustained

life-threatening injuries while attempting to

arrest a kidnapping suspect east of Canton on

September 5, 2019. The events of that day left this single father

of two with two bullet wounds in his head. Thirty-two days later,

after being in a medically induced coma, Brad Sullivan was

awake and facing the uphill battle of rehabilitation and recovery.

As with most physical disabilities, the ongoing expenses associated

with an injury of this magnitude can often make prioritizing

a livable home fall way down on the to-do list. Brad suffers

paralysis to his left side and regularly uses a wheelchair. Brad

has retrofitted and engineered as much as he can on his own,

including his personal vehicle, but it’s not hard to imagine the

limitations that come with not having properly ADA compliant


Fast forward to 2021 and enter the Madison County Mississippi

Sheriff’s Department Benefit Association. This organization has

begun a fund-raising project with the goal of building a fully

compliant home for Brad and his family to spend the remainder

of their lives. Madison County Sheriff’s Deputies, Lt. Joey Butler

and Dwayne Moak are spearheading the “A Home for Brad”

project and hope to provide a special place for their former

co-worker and friend—a place that will accommodate his

special needs.

“Brad has a piece of land that we’re going to build on—so we’re

already that far along in the process,” stated Joey Butler. The

Home Builders Association of Jackson will be coordinating the

construction of the home through Kirkland Development, Charter

Homes, HouseWorks, and other HBAJ partners.

The “A Home for Brad” campaign

launched on August 31 and utilizes

Facebook, primarily, to reach the

over 11,000 followers of the “A Home

for Brad – Praying for Deputy Brad

Sullivan” page.

“This is going to be an expensive project,” said Dwayne Moak.

“Not only have the cost of building supplies skyrocketed, but

everything in Brad’s home will have to be customized, adding

expense, so it’s important we reach as many people as possible.”

All donations are fully tax deductible. Contributions can be made

through their website at www.ahomeforbrad.org or checks may

be made payable to the Madison County Mississippi Sheriff’s

Department Benefit Association, Inc. (Madison SD Benefit

Association) at 2941 Highway 51, Canton, MS 39046.

Those interested in donating homebuilding services, supplies,

equipment, etc., can contact Vicky Bratton of the Home Builders

Association of Jackson at vicky@hbajackson.com. For all

monetary donation inquiries, contact LeeAnn Sanders with

the Madison County Sheriff’s Department at leeann.sanders@

madison-co.com. For all other general inquiries email support@


Joey Butler is confident the community will support this endeavor.

“We depend on law enforcement to keep us

safe and protect us. Brad did his job. Now Brad

needs a home. He deserves that. We’re looking

forward to meeting that need.”


Hometown RANKIN • 87

88 • SEPTEMBER 2021




Hometown RANKIN • 89

Welcome HomeSusan


Brad Burleson has a passion

for serving people. “Homes are the

vehicle that allow me to do that,” he says. “I

try to serve people by providing leadership

and guidance based on the experience I’ve

gained in the real estate industry.”

I was introduced to sales at an early age

and working with my grandfather is an

important part of my history. He instilled

one thing that sticks with me every single

day - LEAVE A LEGACY by being the best

at your "craft.” He was my best friend.

Brad grew up in Raymond and graduated

from Hillcrest Christian School before

attending Mississippi College. He wanted

to go to college locally so he could continue

working in the furniture store. “I also got to

eat dinner at Mama’s every night,” he adds.

Brad met his wife, Leann, as he was

finishing up at Mississippi College. The

couple married and moved to Brandon.

Brad continued to sell furniture in the

family store before moving into outside

sales with Ashley Furniture and selling

that line to smaller stores. “At the time, drug

sales reps were doing well, and I moved

into selling drugs, legally!” Six months later,

Brad, along with thousands of other

employees, was laid off due to economic

pressures. “I went straight to real estate

school,” he says. “My grandfather always had

a hand in real estate, including developing

several neighborhoods in Rankin County.

He wasn’t one to put all his eggs in one

basket – he always had several income

sources, which is a mentality I carry with

me to this day.”

When he got his license in 2008, Brad got

his feet wet with the Merck Team. “A family

member referred me to Carl Merck. I was

fresh out of classes and needed a mentor.

Carl knew that I wanted to eventually open

my own business, and he was supportive of

that. I spent several years working with him

and gained a lot of experience on how to

run a real estate brokerage.

Brad founded Ulist Realty in 2013 and

has been able to franchise the brand to other

states. What makes Brad’s brokerage unique

is his own approach to selling real estate. He

decided that just because something is done

a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

“I wanted to look at my business as a new

age real estate company where we are

changing the guard on how real estate is

done. With our technological drive, we

pride ourselves on not taking all your time

or equity. We can do meetings virtually and

all paperwork is digital.”

A tireless worker, Brad says he probably

works twice as much as anyone would want

to. “I was trained to be a marketer,” he says.

“Homes just happen to be what I market.

The truth is that I love to serve people. I do

that by making the home buying and selling

process simple. I know that a home purchase

is usually the largest financial decision of

people’s lives. My gift is putting the pieces of

the puzzle together to make that happen.”

Brad has developed a timeline of sorts

to aid his clients. “I usually have them focus

on three things each week. We look at what

we’ve already done, then focus on what we

are doing. Finally, we focus on what we

need to do. That helps keep everyone on

track.” Technology is an important tool in

Brad’s business. “We are 100% tech-driven,

which allows us to scale and grow the


Brad’s office is located in the Flowood

area, but he and his team sell homes

throughout the tri-county area. “Our focus

has always been residential, with a large

portion dedicated to new construction,” he

says. “We have several new developments

being marketed for 2021.” New construction

developments include Long Leaf of

Brandon, Greenfield Station of Brandon,

and Jasmine Cove of Brandon, all in the

39042 zip code, as well as Patrick Farms of

Pearl and Silver Ridge of Pearl, in the 39208

zip code. Brad says now is a great time for

folks to consider selling their current home

and get into a new one. “We’d love to talk

with anyone who may like to consider that.”

Family is the most important asset to

Brad and Leann. “Our family dynamic has

changed over the last few years - not what

we had planned but wouldn't change a

thing at this point.” Brad credits his parents

100% for the culture he and his brother

were raised in and that they work hard to

pass on to their girls daily. We are just one

big group doing life together.

90 • SEPTEMBER 2021

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92 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 93

Did you know that fall

is a very important time

of the year for your lawn?

There are several things your lawn needs to prepare

it for winter. A “winterizer” fertilizer application is recommended.

It’s also time for preventative weed control.

Landscape beds will benefit from a fresh layer of mulch

or pine straw. This will help insulate the plants from the

colder temperatures and help reduce weeds in your

landscape beds.

The Jackson area has been hit hard with army

worms this summer. It is likely they will continue into

the fall until the weather cools down. Fall fertility and

watering will be especially important for those whose

lawn have been damaged by the army worms.

Fall pre-emerge applications are a great way to

prevent or reduce the dreaded winter weeds.

A fall fertilizer application that is blended for this

time of year and your grass type is also a great way to

ensure a healthy lawn before it goes dormant. Another

thing to remember is that September and October tend

to be dry months therefore watering may be needed.

Proper fertilization and chemical treatments are

important to maintaining a healthy lawn. Each grass

type has different recommendations and requirements.

A local lawn and garden supply store, county extension

office, or a licensed applicator can provide you with

more details regarding this topic. By following these

guidelines, you will be well on your way to preparing

your lawn for the coming winter months.

94 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 95


96 • SEPTEMBER 2021

TheTime COIN

Camille Anding

The sign over the display of earrings said

60% off. That and the standout pair of

creamy, pearlized earrings pulled me in

for a closer look.

I knew I didn’t really need another piece of jewelry, but

THIS pair? A soft vein of khaki ran through the pearl color

of the dangly set. I could see how perfectly these earrings

would match the khaki and white combos I often wore.

These bargain beauties would find their place in my

jewelry box.

Sunday was a khaki and white day for church, and I

proudly put on my new pair of earrings. As I walked to my

usual seat in Sunday school, Gale sat down beside me and

immediately complimented my earrings. “Those are just

beautiful,” Gale said as she leaned close to admire them.

Just as my pride swelled to a Sunday-school-size limit,

that inner voice that I understood whispered, “Give Gale

the earrings.”

While Gale continued to dissect the earrings,

God and I had our own dissecting moments.

“I will, LORD, I hear you, but let me do it next

Sunday – there are people around now, and

I don’t want a big scene from Gale.

I’ll bring them to her next Sunday.”

Sunday came, and I took my even more beloved

earrings and placed them inside my purse. I perused my

class for Gale, but she wasn’t there – yet. I was sure she

would be present.

I was right. Gale entered the room and looked around

at the few faces already gathered. “I choose you,” she said,

pointing directly to me. The kindly widow that was known

for her good deeds walked toward me, handed me an

earring and said, “Would you mind helping me with this

earring? I just could not get it to cooperate this morning.”

As I gently pushed Gale’s earring into place, I was in

spiritual shock and awe. God had removed all doubts.

I hadn’t needed further confirmation, but this made the

decision concrete! “I have something for you, Gale.”

I placed the “chosen” earrings in Gale’s hand. “These

are for you,” I said softly.

Tears welled in Gale’s eyes as she shook her head in

disbelief. I had to wipe my own tears because there’s an

indescribable joy in obedient giving and

receiving “concrete” messages.

98 • SEPTEMBER 2021

Hometown RANKIN • 99

You can postpone

the vacation.

You can postpone

the vacation.

But don’t put of f your

But don’t put of f your

health care.

Many things have been postponed because of the pandemic,

Many things have been postponed because of the pandemic,

but your health care shouldn’t be delayed. Routine screenings

but and annual your health wellness care exams shouldn’t can help identify be delayed. health issues Routine in the screenings

and earliest annual stages, wellness when they exams are most can treatable. help identify health issues in the

earliest stages, when they are most treatable.

Our providers are committed to helping you stay well. We are

Our taking providers extra precautions are committed to provide to a safe helping and clean you stay environment well. We are

and offer both in-person and telehealth appointments.

taking extra precautions to provide a safe and clean environment

and Make offer your both health in-person a priority and and schedule telehealth an appointments. today.


Make your health a priority and schedule an appointment today.




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