Create successful ePaper yourself
Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.
CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING NAMED A
NMLS # 1990660
2 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 3
4 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 5
6 • JUNE 2022
FROM OUR PUBLISHER
Rankin County is one of the fastest
growing counties in the state.
We have some of the best to offer when it comes to housing,
education, shopping, medical facilities, and churches. There is a
large population of young professionals who are helping make
Rankin County the place it is. We at Hometown Magazines are
proud to partner with PriorityOne Bank in recognizing the Top 40
Under 40 in this issue. Read about these professional leaders
who are proud to be making a difference in Rankin County.
We congratulate them!
In honor of Father’s Day on June 19th, we took the opportunity
to recognize five great dads. These men represent different seasons
of life but share the common bond of being a father.
Father’s Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors fathers and
their influence in our lives. You don’t only have to honor your
biological father on this holiday—you can celebrate stepdads,
granddads, uncles, adoptive fathers, and others you consider
father figures. We at Hometown Magazines wish all dads a
Happy Father’s Day!
Summer is here again! I can remember the excitement I felt as
a child knowing there was no school for a few weeks. It was hot,
but my brother and I spent hours and hours exploring in the woods
around our home and playing baseball or basketball until we couldn’t
see at night. I was able to visit my homeplace in north Mississippi
briefly last week after attending a funeral, and the memories flooded
me. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude of where I was raised,
how I was raised, and for my family. I also felt, all too realistically,
how incredibly short life is. But I’m thankful that death isn’t the end.
Our Heavenly Father offers us eternal life through Jesus where there
are no more tears or goodbyes.
Have a wonderful summer and enjoy each day the Lord has
given you! We look forward to seeing you around our hometown.
ON THE COVER L-R: Tommy Thrash, Michael Wolf, Chief John Myers, David Horner, and TreMarcus Rosemon
PUBLISHER & EDITOR
Mary Ann Kirby
IN THIS ISSUE
The Way We Were 8
Reader Spotlight 13
Hometown Family 16
The Fun Fashionista 22
Top 40 Under 40 32
Hometown High 5 50
Waterpointe Living 66
72nd Airlift Wing 68
Honoring the Father 75
The Time Coin 114
...see you around town.
www.facebook.com/hometownrankinmagazine. For subscription information visit www.htmags.com or contact us at info@HTMags.com / 601.706.4059 / 200 Felicity Street / 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 • 7
Tommie & Stanley Shows
It’s an “at home” feeling just
being in the company of Tommie
and Stanley Shows. Their quiet,
calming spirits mixed with their
positive attitudes make them
worthy role models for married
couples and those contemplating
marriage commitments. Their
fifty-eight years of sharing Mr. and
Mrs. certainly establish credibility
to their marriage prowess.
The weaving of their stories
holds some uncommon and unique
occurrences. Tommie and Stanley
began first grade together in the
same classroom and graduated
with the same senior class of
Ellisville High School. Ironically,
the two were voted prince and
princess in a fall festival during
their first grade year. While in the
third grade, Stanley recalls being
accompanied by his sister to
purchase a valentine for Tommie
– from Stanley. It seems Cupid
began early work in their hearts.
It wasn’t until their eleventh
grade that they realized their
friendship might run deeper than
just being classmates. Tommie
said, “It kind of hit me one day –
I like him!”
Stanley nodded in a memory
moment and joined in, “I always
liked her – she just didn’t always
They began dating and after
graduation both enrolled at Jones
Junior College. Between their
freshman and sophomore years they
repeated their wedding vows on a
Sunday afternoon, June 7, 1964.
Tommie said that her parents
approved of her fiancé and their
choice to marry during college.
“They liked me,” Stanley added
with a smile.
Their wedding and honeymoon
memories reflect the contrast
between then and now. Their
reception was complete with a
wedding cake, nuts, mints and
punch. Stanley had Monday off
from work, so they drove to the
Gulf Coast in a blue Volkswagen
bug for their one-day honeymoon.
He filled the gas tank with $3
and paid for their hotel room that
Like a lot of young married
couples, their first few months’
lodging was challenging. However,
they called the old, converted army
barracks home and learned to
light the hot water heater before
needing hot water. For survival
reasons, they also remembered to
turn it off after heating the water.
Tommie remembers the visit
Stanley’s dad made to that first
He left after a bit but returned
with a fan.
The couple finished college
at Mississippi State University.
She was an elementary education
major, and Stanley chose agriculture
education as his major. They
rejoiced to have better living
quarters but stayed busy with
schoolwork and jobs. Stanley
worked twenty hours a week
cleaning the vocational shop and
held down a second job for a
8 • JUNE 2022
“Make sure that
retired professor as his gardener,
groundskeeper, orchard caretaker,
and general custodian. Stanley’s
pay was produce from the garden
and orchard. In addition to
Tommie’s college courses, she
took a job in the college library.
Working as an assistant
student trainee for the USDA
for two summers helped Stanley
land a job with that department
in Brandon after graduation. He
also joined the National Guard.
In the following years they bought
a house in Brandon and Tommie
taught school in Florence. A
promotion moved them to Raleigh
where they built a home. Another
promotion to Hinds County
moved them back to Brandon.
By then their son Greg was the
new member to their family.
After thirty-two years with
the USDA, Chip Pickering from
Jones County approached Stanley
to work for him. Stanley retired
from the USDA to become
district director for Chip for eleven
years. Stanley’s ‘people-person’
makeup was a perfect fit. He
retired again only to be asked by
Gregg Harper to join his team.
Ten years later Michael Guest
asked for Stanley’s help with his
election and is still working with
Since November of 2021,
Stanley has been the primary
caregiver for Tommie after she
had blood clot complications from
back fusion surgery. Tommie
bragged on how he’s cleaned
house, bought groceries, washed
and folded clothes while taking
excellent care of her.
Tommie has made great
progress and plans to be travelready
in the weeks ahead. Stanley
applauds her for her fortitude and
for her being such a great mother
to their son Greg and daughterin-law,
Nicole, and a loving
grandmother to Hunter and Emily.
The Shows are members of
Brandon Methodist Church and
according to Tommie, “We’ve held
about every office in the church.”
Tommie’s advice to young
couples is to have patience and
make sure you’re best friends
before marrying. Stanley added,
“Make sure that you’re deeply in
They appear to have taken
their own advice as their love for
each other still shows in their
smiles and attention to one
another. Even though Stanley
isn’t a coffee drinker, he makes
Tommie’s coffee every morning.
After fifty-eight years and
counting, you could call theirs an
uncommon and unique love.
Hometown RANKIN • 9
WITH BANKPLUS AND ZELLE ®
Send money straight from your smartphone to friends,
family or millions of others with access to Zelle. It’s
free, fast and secure with your BankPlus Mobile
Banking app. Learn more at bankplus.net.
1. Transactions typically occur in minutes when the recipient’s email address or U.S.
mobile number is already enrolled with Zelle. 2. Must have a bank account in the
U.S. to use Zelle. 3. In order to send payment requests or split payment requests
to a U.S. mobile number, the mobile number must already be enrolled with Zelle. 4.
Zelle and the Zelle related marks are wholly owned by Early Warning Services, LLC
and are used herein under license.
© Copyright 2021 BankPlus.
10 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 11
12 • JUNE 2022
Why did you decide to make Rankin County
I wanted to live in a county where I felt safe.
Rankin County also has a lot of attractions and
How long have you lived in Rankin County?
I’ve lived here for six years.
Tell us about your family.
I am blessed that both of my parents are still
living. I have two older sisters, a twin sister, and
a younger brother, all of which reside in
northeast Mississippi—except for my brother
who lives in Memphis. I have a lot of nieces
and nephews. The closest thing I have to a
child is my 2-year-old Yorkie, named Mia.
What is your favorite memory of living in
It would definitely have to be the cordiality of
people. Most people you encounter are honest,
caring, and helpful.
Where are your three favorite places to eat
in Rankin County?
I love fast food, but since I’ve gone vegan, I’ve
had to find restaurants that offer vegan items
on their menus. So far Newk’s (portabella
veggie sandwich), Mugshots (veggie burger),
& Zeek’s (Magic Mush Wrap) are my top three
What are some fun things to do in Rankin
County on the weekends?
To be honest, I’m mostly a homebody. I do
like attending the local movie theaters when
there’s a film I’d like to see.
Share some things you enjoy doing in your
I’ve been a gamer since I was a kid. My favorite
thing to do when I get off work is play on my
PS4, because it relaxes me after a long day. My
favorite genres are role-playing and fighting.
I like staying fit and healthy, so I exercise
two or three times a week. I like reading about
the American Civil War and U.S. slavery
during the summer months.
What are three things on your bucket list?
I have four. Ziplining, learning how to swim,
attending at least one of my nephew’s games
(he’s recently been drafted to the NFL. He
plays for the Minnesota Vikings), and going
Who is someone you admire and why?
This is a difficult question to answer, as I have
respect and admiration for a lot of people.
I would say first, my parents, Richard Jones Sr.
and Cheryl Hych, who have always provided
for their children. Second would be Maxine
Evans Gray–she loves God and has a heart
for Him and his people.
Where do you see yourself ten years
I’ve always desired to teach adult students
at the collegiate level. I want to share my
classroom experiences and knowledge I’ve
gained over the years as being an educator with
those who wish to enter the field of education.
I still see myself teaching elementary-aged
students while I’m preparing prospective
teachers to enter the classroom as a college
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Getting my driver’s license. I had a fear of
driving and almost failed driver’s education
because of it. My teacher was merciful and gave
me a C even though I didn’t deserve it (I never
drove in class again after I was made fun of ).
If you could give us one encouraging quote,
what would it be?
Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts
I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts
of peace, and not of evil, to give you an
What is your favorite thing about
Hometown Magazines recognizes individuals,
promotes small businesses, and informs
readers of the great things going on in our
Hometown RANKIN • 13
14 • JUNE 2022
Founded to serve Mississippi’s petroleum industry
back in 1954, Ergon is trusted today by customers
in more than 90 countries around the world.
We offer innovative solutions for asphalt and
pavement preservation, specialty oils, specialty
chemicals, transportation and terminaling, industrial
and commercial construction and much more.
Hometown RANKIN • 15
16 • JUNE 2022
Tell us about your family.
Napoleon - 53, enjoys traveling, nature trails, and movies
Catherine - 51, enjoys gardening, decorating, and cooking
Alexandra - 21, enjoys shopping, going out with friends,
road trips, and playing with their cat, Dumpling
Andrew - 13, enjoys reading, playing video games, martial arts,
and building with Legos
How did you meet and how long have you been married?
After I graduated high school in Pearl, I went back home to the
Philippines to obtain my college degree. Catherine and I attended
the same university in the Philippines in 1988 and had one class
together. It was love at first sight, and I fell head over heels for her.
In the Philippines, it is a tradition for a man to court a woman, so
for a year I courted her by bringing flowers, chocolates, and her
favorite food. I needed to court the whole family, from her parents
down to her brothers! After many attempts, she finally accepted,
and we were together for 10 years before we got married in
January 1999. We have now been married for 23 wonderful years.
Hometown RANKIN • 17
Do you allow time to be with your spouse for a date night?
Yes, once a week we go to see a movie and dinner date during one
of our off days. We have opposite schedules, but we try make time
for each other. Most of the time we love eating popcorn while
watching movie at home. It is important to have date nights out of
the house, and to be able to communicate with each other.
What brings the greatest joy as a parent?
My greatest joy is to see my children grow up. We try to teach them
valuable lessons: to be a good Christian, how to be humble, helpful,
and respectful, to be responsible citizens and young adults. We
look forward to seeing them reach their dreams in the future.
Who is the financial manager in your home?
We both make decisions on everything, and constantly communicate
to make sure that we have attended everybody’s needs. My
wife handles most of the finances because she is the most responsible
with money – she is constantly budgeting everything. I work
hard and I let her take care of our money.
When your children were younger, what was your
We are blessed to have both of our children. They are good kids.
We always remind them to study hard, to be responsible and
respectful. They make mistakes and we talk about it. If they get in
trouble, we take away their electronics and teach them the consequences
of their actions.
What do you see in your role as the greatest benefit to
As a father and a husband, I make sure that my family is safe and
What’s a quick go-to meal that isn’t fast food? And who
does the cooking?
My wife always cooks for us. She loves to cook Filipino recipes that
her mom taught her. We love her easy go meal of fried rice with
either shrimp, or a meat that does not take more than 15 minutes to
make. Everyone in the family loves rice, of course!
How long has Brandon been your home?
It has been a privilege to live in the beautiful city of Brandon for
20 years. We are looking forward to staying here until retirement.
What are some of your favorite things about
Rankin County is one of best communities in Mississippi. We
have a wonderful school district and especially appreciate the safety
of our location. It has easy access to everything like the Dogwood
Festival Market, good restaurants, the Reservoir and many parks
and events. Our church is just few miles away from our home.
How do you spend your summer breaks?
We go traveling frequently and every few years we go out of the
country. We love going on trips with the family and enjoy things
like amusement parks and museums. We have loved going to the
beach and mountains.
What accomplishments make you proud during your time
living in Brandon?
Our biggest accomplishment is giving back to our community,
especially during the pandemic. We are both frontline workers and
work with the people every day.
What drives you to have the job that you have?
And what do you do for a living?
We love to help people. We are so blessed that during the pandemic
both of our jobs played an important role to help and serve the
people. I work at the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department as a
patrolman, and my wife Catherine is a telemetry tech at Baptist
Hospital in Jackson.
QUESTIONS FOR THE CHILDREN
What’s your favorite thing to do as a family?
Andrew Board games and playing the Oculus Rift
Alexandra Road trips and karaoke
What’s your favorite restaurant?
Andrew Outback Steakhouse
Alexandra Osaka on Lakeland
What’s your favorite tv show?
Andrew Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Alexandra The Good Doctor
What’s your favorite movie?
Andrew Lego Movie
18 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 19
20 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 21
22 • JUNE 2022
Little girls love to play dress-up, wearing
oversized heels, fancy clothes, and bright
makeup. The excitement and joy from
these times are memories that will last
“Everyone needs and deserves to feel fabulous,” said Alana Miles of her
lifelong love of dressing up.
“It all began with my mom. She hosted tea parties that grew and grew so
much so that they turned into a career for her.” Alana admitted the obsession
only grew as she entered high school. “I just love clothes in general, but I
loved how I was able to express my personality.”
Alana went on to participate in various pageants, but the days of being
able to get “glammed up” unfortunately ended with high school. She longed
for those fun days and sought out various balls, galas, and charity events that
she could do as an adult.
Those fun events came to a screeching halt when the stay-at-home
orders went into place during the Covid pandemic. Alana said, “It really
took on a life of its own during the lockdown. I began dressing up in more
costumes just for fun and posting online. It really was a coping mechanism
for me. I started getting positive feedback from people saying how that was
just what they needed during such a tough time where we didn’t know what
each day would bring.”
She began to trade her love of ball gowns and formals and all things
fancy for more fun costume-based themes during this time of uncertainty.
“There is a website called the National Day Calendar. There is literally
something to celebrate every single day.” From whimsical days like National
Dance Like a Chicken Day to more serious ones like National Nurses Day,
the calendar lists daily things to celebrate and recognize.
Hometown RANKIN • 23
Alana uses these “national days” to not
only brighten her day but also brighten the day
of those around her—including her co-workers
at Rivertrust Federal Credit Union, where she
has been the marketing director for the past
twelve years. She joked, “Nobody has said that
I’m crazy yet or at least they do it behind my
back. But in all seriousness, the feedback has
been so positive! People are just so sweet and
supportive of me. I have people message me
asking if I know what day it is!”
She also takes the opportunity to interact
with people on social media and post her various
outfits for others to enjoy. “I love being able to
share my outfits and create a little laughter,
especially when times were so heavy [during
Covid]. I remember one particular post I made
where I dressed up in an inflatable unicorn
costume to check the mail. It was so well
received. People have come to enjoy it and
look forward to it.”
Admitting to owning hundreds of costumes
and gowns, Alana jokes, “My husband, Robert,
oh bless his heart! He doesn’t get much closet
space, but he is such a good sport.” Her
collection is well organized and categorized
so she can quickly and easily find whatever
she needs for her uniquely themed outfit of
Finding bargains whenever she can, Alana
admits she tries her very best to not overpay
for anything. Her heart for making others smile
is evident in how hard she works to come up
with outfits that can brighten someone’s day.
As the reigning Mrs. Pollen Queen, a fun
pageant to celebrate the dreaded pollen
season in the South, Alana will soon pass her
crown on to this year’s pageant winner. She
admits, “It is all in good fun and I enjoy it so
much. I just hope to shine some light and give
people something to smile about.”
24 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 25
26 • JUNE 2022
WE’RE READY TO
Welcome You Home!
CALL (601) 401-4906 TO SCHEDULE YOUR TOUR TODAY!
Come discover Mississippi's premier Assisted Living and Memory Care
community. You will feel right at home at The Blake.
350 TOWN CENTER WAY | FLOWOOD, MS 39232
Hometown RANKIN • 27
The Northwest Rankin High School cheerleaders competed in the Division 1 Medium Game Day for the National High School
Cheerleading Competition in Orlando, Florida, at ESPN Wide World of Sports. At their first time competing at Nationals,
they received first place with a score of 96 out of 100 in the preliminary round, allowing them to skip. The team went on to
win first place in this division with 99 out of 100 possible points. Coaches are Marilyn Hebert, Caitlin Lohman, and Johnny Taylor.
Athletes are Katie Bonds, Lexi Martell, Caleigh Hennington, Maddie Welburn, Jenna Kate McKenzie, Jaci Arrington, Gracie Gardner,
Reanna Green, Swayze McMinn, Anna Marie Axton, Chloe Angulo, Zoe Robin, McKenna Whitt, McCarley Weir,
Anna Lauren Calvert, Anna Claire Davis, Kendal Jones, Carsyn Lyles, Bree Bowling, Kinsley Strawbridge, and Kinsley Bledsoe.
28 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 29
30 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 31
BEST OF THE BEST
Rankin’s Best of the Best Top 40 Under 40 recognizes the very best young professionals
that Rankin County has to offer. They are industry disruptors and innovators of all types.
They are the best in their fields and will be instrumental in leading us through the new
wave of technology and ways of doing business that have resulted from changes
in the workplace over the last couple of years.
Criteria for consideration required that candidates must be under the
age of 40 at the time of selection and work in Rankin County. Nominations
were solicited from the public–with the top 40 being selected by committee.
Winners will be celebrated with an awards luncheon on July 19th.
32 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 33
Adam Donothan Byrd, DMD
NextHome Realty Experience/
Aarika has an Associate of Arts and sociology
degree. Spending time with her family, traveling
and making memories are things she enjoys
doing. She’s an event planner and enjoys
doing DIY wood working projects with her
husband. She’s a member of the National
Association of Realtors.
Being named NextHome 2021 Rookie of
the Year is something that makes me proud.
The best piece of business advice that I
have received is to never remove the people
element out of what we do as realtors.
Although our job is to help our clients on their
home buying or selling journey, it’s important
for me to make them feel safe with I am their
agent. Clients should know that you care
about what’s best for not only them but for
their families as well. Humans over houses
should be the goal—because I have applied
that advice, and taken it to heart, my business
has blossomed. I am grateful for the love and
support of my amazing husband Roger and
guidance from my broker/mentor Ryan. I’m
blessed to have the privilege to make an
honest living and have so much fun while
doing it. It’s a dream come true.
34 • JUNE 2022
Alfa Insurance/The Jussely Agency
Aaron Jussely is a graduate of the University
of Mississippi and currently is the owner of Alfa
Insurance, the Jussely Agency. In his free time,
he enjoys playing with his two sons, James
and Luke, attending Ole Miss sporting events,
golfing, and hunting and fishing. Aaron is a
member of the Brandon Business Association,
Lakeland Presbyterian Church, NAIFA, and
LUTCF. He is a corporate sponsor for Brandon
High School B Club and is a member of the
Shell Coffee Group.
In 2015, I was awarded the Top Property
Producer award for the state of Mississippi.
Out of one hundred agents, I wrote the most
property premium in the entire state. I also
finished runner-up two years in a row for the
President’s Club. The President’s Club is the
group of top agents for the state. I would love
to finish first, but I am extremely proud of all the
work that went into getting second two years
in a row. In our profession, you start over every
year and to do that well in back-to-back years
shows that the vision I had when I started has
turned into a reality.
The best piece of business advice I’ve been
given is no one manages your business as
well as you. As you continue to grow, it’s easy
to take your eyes off the less appealing parts
of the job, but you are only as good as your
weakest link and so you must be vigilant in
making sure you are still doing the small things
as you grow your business.
top 40 under 40
Florence Dental Clinic, Dentist
Dr. Byrd is a graduate of Mississippi State,
and the University Medical Center Dental
School. He enjoys playing soccer, tennis, and
golf. Dr. Byrd is a member of the Mississippi
Dental Association, American Dental Association,
and International Academy of Facial Aesthetics.
The career achievement that makes me
most proud is being able to stay open
throughout Covid without having to let any
of my employees go.
Dr. Blake Hobbs
Whimsy Willows Boutique
Ashley Wilkinson attended Florence High
School and Hinds Community College. She is
now the owner of Whimsy Willows Boutique.
She enjoys spending time with family, traveling,
vintage picking, shopping, and singing. Ashley
is also very creative and enjoys coming up with
ideas for her storefront. She is excited to get
more involved in the community this year.
I never planned to be where I am today.
I started this as a hobby. It blows me away that
I have been able to grow a dream into a
reality. We have two storefronts and currently
looking for our third location. Now as a mom of
a little girl, I strive to be even more successful,
and I hope one day she may want to follow in
my footsteps and earn her place in business.
My goal is to have great employees who love
their job and I want them to take something
positive with them if they decide it is time to
move on to another opportunity.
The best piece of business advice I reside
with is, ‘Never give up. Nothing comes easy.
If it did, everyone would do it.’ I grew up my
entire life in a small business. I was taught that
hard work and determination will take you
anywhere. You are also only as good as the
team around you. My support system from my
family and my work family is amazing. They
have all pushed me when I wanted to throw
the towel in and walk away. Without my tribe
cheering me on, I would not be where I am
today. I will be forever grateful for them.
Renasant Bank/Banker, Lender, VP
Blake has a degree in business administration
from Mississippi College. He enjoys anything
that’s outdoors—pool time, spending time in the
woods, and he’s always been known to stripe
his lawn like a ball field. Blake is a member of
the Flowood Rotary Club, the Flowood
Chamber, and past chairman of Flowood
There have always been key people within
my bank that have helped me along the way,
and that I’ve been able to go to for questions
and guidance. And there have been thousands
of questions. Being able to step into
those same mentors’ shoes and help others
grow within the company, get promoted, and
have other people come to me for knowledge
and advice is very rewarding and humbling.
That makes work fun.
The best advice I’ve received has to do with
banking: Treat the bank’s money like it is the
Lord’s money and treat every client like they’re
your mama. Treating people fairly with kindness
and being a good steward of your company’s
resources is what has enabled my favorite
Apex Physical Therapy of Flowood
Dr. Blake Hobbs is a graduate of Mississippi
State University and the University of Mississippi
Medical Center and currently serves as a clinic
director and physical therapist at Apex Physical
Therapy of Flowood. In his spare time, he enjoys
tennis, golf, wake surfing and snow skiing.
Blake is an active member of the Mississippi
Physical Therapy Association and American
Physical Therapy Association. He has served
as an honoree for American Cancer Society’s
Best Dressed Jackson in 2021 and raised over
$3,000 for the ACS. He has also been voted as
a Top 5 nominee for Best Physical Therapist in
Hometown Rankin Magazine’s Best of the Best
competition for the past four consecutive years
(2018, 2019, 2020, 2021).
I am most proud to be voted as a Top 5
Nominee for Best Physical Therapist in
Hometown Rankin Magazine’s Best of the Best.
It is very humbling and rewarding to be
nominated by the community and reassures
me that I am using the gifts that God has given
me to make a positive impact on patients
during challenging times in their lives.
The best advice I’ve been given is,
‘Someone may forget what you said or did, but
will never forget how you made them feel.’ This
advice applies to patients, co-workers, and
friends. If you can treat everyone with respect,
no matter who they are or the position/title
they hold, all the rest will come together.
Hometown RANKIN • 35
Bobby “DJ” Odom Jr.
Cameron Tandy Treadwell
Darrell’s Auto Electric
DJ is the owner and operator of Darrell’s
Auto Electric in downtown Brandon. He enjoys
scuba diving, fishing, drag racing, and anything
that involves working with his hands. He is a
master Mason member of Tyrian Lodge,
member of Automotive Locksmiths of America,
and National Automotive Service Task Force.
As my dad got ready to retire, there was
a transition of power. The people I grew up
learning from and idolizing transitioned from
peers and coworkers to employees.
I continued to work hard and show my loyalty
and appreciation to them.
Surround yourself with good people and
good things will come. Nothing is more true!
By hiring God-fearing and honest employees
that treat people right and do honest work,
business will always be there.
Your Anesthetist, Coker Farms,
Coker Properties, Bar C Cattle Co.
Bradley received his master’s in nursing with
a focus in anesthesia. He enjoys farming, cattle,
hot rods, fishing, and hunting. He’s a member of
the American Association of Nurse Anesthetist,
and Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association.
I am most proud of my farm to table business,
Coker Farms. From having not touched a cow
seven years ago to developing one of the
biggest ‘farm to table’ businesses in Mississippi,
it has been truly rewarding and exciting.
Developing this business and meeting the
needs of our clients is something I am very
Some great advice is—make it happen!
If you believe in yourself, then you can do
anything you set your mind to. No matter how
big the dream may seem, you can conquer it
with the right mindset. Don’t let anyone
convince you that you’re not worthy or
capable. Just make it happen!
Assistant Vice President
Cameron received both a Bachelor of
Political Science and an MBA Finance from
Mississippi College. He enjoys spending time
outdoors, running/cycling, and is skilled in
playing guitar and bass guitar. Cameron is
president-elect for Rotary Club of Flowood,
an Interact Club Liaison, an advisory board
member of Know Ministries, BNI-referral
connection, and a graduate of Leadership
I am most proud of completing the
Community Bank Management Trainee
program and being promoted to a lender and
branch manager at the Flowood/Dogwood
location in less than a year.
While attending a seminar, one of our
bank’s executive officers said, ‘Your legacy
is not made at the office; it is made at home.’
This has led me to create a better work/life
balance for myself and be more fulfilled in
my professional role.
36 • JUNE 2022
top 40 under 40
Charles G. Stevenson, Ph.D.
Dr. Haley Fortenberry
Rankin County School District/
The Learning Center, Principal
Dr. Stevenson earned his Doctor of
Philosophy from Mississippi State University,
a Master of Art in Teaching from Belhaven
University, and bachelor’s from Tougaloo
College. He enjoys writing and is in the process
of writing a book. He also enjoys traveling when
time permits. Dr. Stevenson is a member of
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc, and Miss.
Association of Middle Level Educators.
Moving into administration has been my
greatest career achievement. I truly enjoy
being able to collaborate, mentor, and coach
other educators as they move from good to
great. I consider it an honor and privilege to
be able to lead a school and help shape the
culture of the school. I have the ability to be a
transformational leader in my role. Not only
can I impact students’ lives but also impact
an entire school community by collaborating
with other administrators, parents, and
organizations in the community.
The best piece of advice I have received is
‘be the light and hope for students when they
have no hope or no one to spark that fire in
them.’ I have kept this in my mind since first
moving into administration. I have the ability to
change lives by building rapport and setting
high expectations. This has helped me to think
outside the box and build relationships with
the students who struggle or have no one else
to believe in them.
David Kerr is a Mississippi transplant from
Ohio and now works as the director of group
sales for the Mississippi Braves. He is a former
professional table tennis player, state, and
national champion collegiate debater, a graphic
designer, and has visited more than 100 celebrity
chefs. David is a member of the Pearl Kiwanis
Club, Society of American Baseball Research,
National Communications Association, National
Association of Parliamentarians, and an
ambassador for the Pearl Chamber of Commerce.
The biggest challenge in my professional
career was the shutdown from the 2020
pandemic. With live events completely closed
in 2020, it was beautiful how our team came
together to provide an outlet for Rankin County.
Without baseball, we opened Trustmark Park
and led events like movie nights, target golf,
and even high school graduations! I am so
proud of how we stayed active in the community
even while our business was shut down.
We won a 2022 minor league championship,
and our MLB team won the World Series,
but the biggest career achievement was
probably the time I watched a kid run to his
dad right before we clinched a championship
and say, ‘I’m so glad I get to watch this with
you!’ Knowing how we connect families is the
greatest thing we get to do. I’m also very proud
of my designs being used for charity events—
like the Tougaloo 9 jersey we’re doing in 2022!
Brandon Family Chiropractic/
Dr. Fortenberry holds a Doctor of Chiropractic.
Being a business owner and mama does not
leave much time for her, but she does enjoy
reading and spending time with her son and
husband. She’s a member of the International
Chiropractic Pediatric Association, the
Mississippi Chiropractic Association, 100
Women of Central Mississippi Association,
and a member of Pinelake Church.
Owning and operating my own practice and
watching it develop into the success it is today
makes me the proudest. I give all the glory to
the Lord for blessing us with this practice.
There have been some long and hard days
that go into owning a business, but when you
see all your hard work pay off, it makes every
bit of it worth it. I am so grateful to be able to
serve this community and help aid in the
health of our community, one nervous system
at a time.
Best piece of advice I’ve been given is
never quit on a bad day. This piece of advice
has not only been helpful in business, but also
in my personal life. No matter the challenge,
you can apply this statement if you take the
option of quitting on a bad day off the table,
no challenge will consume you. No challenge
will be the deciding factor of your career. When
you take quitting off the table, you become in
control and know that no matter what, today
you are going to persevere.
Hometown RANKIN • 37
Dustin Taylor Stewart
Edwayne F. Hutton
Dr. Emily Durham Wilhite
JH&H Architects, Planners,
Interiors PA/ Architect
Dustin has a Bachelor of Architecture and
enjoys farming, gardening, hunting, fishing,
playing guitar, and woodworking. He’s a
member of the Mississippi Chapter of the
Construction Specifications Institute and
I was on the design team for the new
Northwest Rankin High School. It was
incredibly special for me to help design the
school where my wife works, and where my
two daughters will eventually go to school.
Joshua 1:8 shares the formula for success.
The ‘Book of the Law’ or the Word of God
reveals to us how to live in a heavenly
kingdom. If that becomes your meditation,
then your focus and mission will align, and
success will find you in often unexpected
and divine ways.
Local Real Estate, EF Hutton
Properties, Hutton Investment
Properties, Local Landing
Edwayne Hutton is an owner of multiple
companies. He is the principal broker of Local
Real Estate and owns EF Hutton Properties,
Hutton Investment Properties, and Local Landing.
In his spare time, Edwayne likes to go hunting
and fishing. He is a member of the National
Association of Realtors, Mississippi Realtor
Association, Home Builders Association, and
the Flowood Chamber.
The biggest challenge that I had to
overcome in my professional career was
switching careers at age 34. I overcame this
challenge by not letting myself think there was
any other choice but success in it. It was my
goal at this time to create a career my wife
could join me in where we could both be more
family-oriented and independent. Since this
was my singular focus, I gave it everything to
see it through.
I have always lived by the motto, ‘If you treat
everyone as a friend and with kindness and
the same respect that you would expect from
others then the business will follow.’ I am in
sales, but I don’t think of myself as a salesman.
I always give my honest opinions on matters
followed by no pressure, and I think my clients
appreciate that and in turn, they become my
biggest source of referrals.
Grants Ferry Family Dentistry
Emily Wilhite is a dentist practicing at Grants
Ferry Family Dentistry in Brandon. She obtained
her undergraduate degree from Louisiana Tech
University and her Doctor of Dental Surgery
from Louisiana State University School of
Dentistry in New Orleans. In her free time,
Emily enjoys exercising on the Peloton,
reading, and playing tennis. She is an active
member of the American Dental Association
and Mississippi Dental Association.
The career achievement that makes me
the proudest is my transition to Grant’s Ferry
Family Dentistry and the continued growth
we’ve experienced. Nothing makes me feel
prouder and more accomplished than to know
that a patient has had a positive experience
under my care.
There are a couple of pieces of advice that
I have found important to incorporate. The first
is that trust is key to any relationship. I believe
this is vital for the doctor and patient relationship
as well as for the employer and employee
relationship in order to build a positive work
environment. The second is to be a lifelong
learner. The drive to continue learning helps
me to be able to offer the most up-to-date
and advanced information, techniques, and
technology in order to provide the best care
for my patients.
38 • JUNE 2022
top 40 under 40
Eric Tanner Long
Sweet Southern Occasions, LLC
Emily Wooten, owner and CEO of Sweet
Southern Occasions, is a graduate of East
Central Community College and Mississippi
State University. Sweet Southern Occasions is
a local wedding and event planning company
that began in 2020. Emily is also employed at
the Mississippi Economic Council as their
communications and projects manager.
In her free time, Emily enjoys traveling,
photography, cooking, baking, and working
out. She is an active member of the Public
Relations Association of Mississippi, Public
Relations Association of America, and the
Junior Auxiliary of Rankin County where she has
held many roles. She is currently a project chair.
Starting and running a successful business
is my highest achievement thus far. Having my
own company has been a dream of mine for
many years and accomplishing that makes
me very proud. I did not want to ‘just start’ a
business, I wanted to start a business the right
way, grow it, and know that I am helping others
the best way I can. I love knowing my clients
The best piece of business advice that
resonates with me is to ‘Know your WHY.’ You
should always be thinking of your why in all
situations… Why did you start your company?
Why are you in business? Why do you do
things the way you do? There are lots of whys
in life. Know YOUR why and stick with it!
Tanner Long is a graduate of Mississippi
University for Women and the University of
Alabama Birmingham. He currently works as a
nurse practitioner at Capital Ortho in Flowood.
In his spare time, Tanner enjoys wake surfing,
hunting, fishing, playing softball, going to the
gym, and spending time with his daughter.
Tanner is a member of the American Association
of Nurse Practitioners and the National Institute
of First Assistants.
The biggest challenge that I have had to
overcome in my professional career was when
my brother was paralyzed just a few short
months after receiving my RN degree while I
was also still furthering my education. I made
the decision to hold off on finishing my master’s
to assist with his care. As he continued to
improve, we both returned to finish our overall
degree goals supporting each other 100%.
It was very difficult to balance school, career,
and helping him learn his new adaptive life,
but our support system was amazing. We both
The best piece of business advice that has
impacted my career is ‘TO SERVE.’ A preacher
once spoke with us regarding careers, and he
instructed us to use whatever career path to
serve the Lord and the rest will fall into place.
I am very blessed to see many patients and get
to hear their testimonies as well as share my
family’s and mine. As we all fall short at times,
I believe this was the best business advice!
Elite Physical Therapy
Greg Horlock is a graduate of the University of
Mississippi and the University of Mississippi
Medical Center. He works as a center director
and physical therapist at Elite Physical Therapy
in Richland, Miss. He likes to golf, cook, grill,
watch movies, and spend time with family and
friends. Greg is a member of the Richland
Economic Development Association and the
American Physical Therapy Association.
The best piece of advice I have learned is
that the leader is responsible for the culture
of a workplace. A good leader is humble,
hardworking, and dedicated to their people.
I have learned that there are many things
that I can’t control; however, I do have the
opportunity to make my employees and patients
feel valued, respected, and heard daily.
I have been blessed to work with and learn
from the most wonderful people, including my
own staff—one of those being our former PT
tech/office coordinator. During the pandemic,
she became our front office coordinator. She
worked very hard to keep our business afloat.
She shared with me that her goal was to
become a physical therapist. I began to
provide her with as much mentorship and
encouragement as possible—especially as
she took her prerequisites, studied for the
GRE, and continued to work full time at our
clinic. She has now been accepted into PT
school, and I’m so proud to have played a
small part in her journey.
Hometown RANKIN • 39
Jayme Elizabeth Shoemaker
Jessica Lindsey Allen
The Winning Smile Dental Group/
Hannah attended the University of Mississippi
and Belhaven University earning her BA and
MBA in healthcare administration. She enjoys
traveling, watching her husband play music
around town, and spending time with their
Hannah is a 2019 class member of Leadership
Rankin, president of Mississippi chapter
of the American Association of Dental Office
Managers, multi-year cheerleader for ACS Real
Men Wear Pink, Crown Council member, and
is involved in local chambers. She also loves
to volunteer at multiple organizations around
the community, her favorite being The Mustard
The American Association of Dental Office
Managers is a national organization of
like-minded individuals offering support to
thousands of managers in the dental field.
Each state has its own local non-profit
chapters. Mississippi did not have a chapter, so
I helped found the first one in the state. It took
a lot of hard work, but I am proud of what
we’ve achieved and look forward to helping
others using my extensive dental knowledge.
My mom was a huge advocate for
education. We lost her unexpectedly in
January, but she taught us to never stop
learning. In learning new things, I am always
excited about the next day.
The Club at Crossgates/
Kids Club Director
Jayme has a bachelor’s degree in elementary
education from Mississippi College. She enjoys
reading, driving, needlework, listening to music,
and spending time with her family.
My greatest professional achievement to
date, has been opening Kids Club Aftercare
and Summer Camp.
My dad taught me to work hard and do
my best. Another wise man taught me that
sometimes you do things that will cost you
more, whether it’s money, time, or energy,
because it’s better for your people. I strive to
do my best and to take care of my people in
the best way that I can. Sometimes, caring is
costly. All the time, caring bonds you closer.
These things have led me to stay at The Club
at Crossgates for years and to have a Club
family for which I am always thankful.
The First Bank
Jessica Allen is a mortgage lender/
mortgage originator at The First Bank. She
serves on the Northshore Landing Homeowner
Association Board as secretary, is a member of
the Mississippi Mortgage Bankers Jackson
chapter, and is a member of the Flowood and
Madison County Chambers of Commerce.
She also enjoys being room mom for her first
grader at Hartfield Academy. She enjoys
traveling and spending as much time possible
making memories with her young children.
The biggest challenge I have had to
overcome in my career is making a name for
myself and gaining the trust from local agents
and clients. The best advice I was given as a
new lender was to not give up on my worst
day and I have lived by those words ever
My first year as a lender, I doubled my work
goal quota and tripled my personal production
goals. I was nominated as Top 5 Lender in the
2021 Rankin’s Best of the Best and have been
a top lender for my company in the state of
Mississippi for two years and the top three
overall in my company.
40 • JUNE 2022
top 40 under 40
Ming Construction, Inc.
Josh earned an associate degree in
landscape management technology and is
currently the vice-president of Ming Construction,
Inc. When Josh isn’t working, he enjoys
collecting antique tractors, gardening, and
camping. He’s a member of the Mississippi
State Board of Contractors, Classic Green,
and treasurer of Red Dog Game Management
Being nominated for best home improvement
supplier in Rankin County and celebrating
our 40th year in business in 2021 was huge
for me. Upholding the legacy as a family
business is the reason I chose this as my
career. I plan to offer the opportunity to my
children in the future as well.
My dad told me that in business you can
have two but never all three of the following:
good, fast, or cheap. You can have good and
fast, but it won’t be cheap. You can have fast
and cheap, but it won’t be good. You can have
cheap and good, but it won’t be fast. That has
always stuck with me and helped keep me on
track when things don’t go as planned.
Kyler Johnson is a graduate of the University
of Mississippi and currently works in inventory
operations at Zavation. In his spare time, Kyler
enjoys watching Ole Miss sports, playing golf,
and traveling. Kyler is an active member of
Brandon Baptist Church.
Working for the Mississippi Braves as an
intern last summer was one of the biggest
challenges that I have had to overcome in my
professional career. I learned how to provide
quality customer service with limited staff. As I
gained more experience on the job, I learned
how to manage all duties and responsibilities
I was assigned.
After six months at Zavation, I was promoted
from set specialist to our kyphoplasty inventory
operations and that is an accomplishment that
I am most proud. The best piece of business
advice that has impacted my career is ‘Your
word is your bond,’ which means do what you
mean and mean what you say. I strive to be a
man of my word, following through with my
effort and work ethic.
Mississippi Sports Medicine
and Orthopaedic Center
Mallory Hemphill is a graduate of Mississippi
State University and currently serves as the
director of marketing, communications, and
outreach at Mississippi Sports Medicine. She
enjoys spending time with family and friends,
visiting the beach, and dancing. Mallory is an
active member of the Junior League of Jackson,
American Marketing Association, and the
Mississippi Hospital Association Society for
Healthcare Marketing & Public Relations.
She is a committee member for Make-A-Wish
Mississippi and Mistletoe Marketplace. Mallory
is also a Mississippi Children’s Museum partner
and a member of St. Marks Methodist Church.
I’m proud of my position at Mississippi
Sports Medicine, where I have the honor of
working with highly skilled physicians and
medical staff to help individuals improve their
overall quality of life. I am fortunate to have
the opportunity to connect with patients by
providing them with vital information and
highlighting their recovery journeys.
The best piece of business advice I’ve ever
received is to never be afraid to step outside
of your comfort zone. Applying this advice
and in my career has shaped me to be more
flexible in unpredictable situations, helped me
gain more confidence, and be more creative.
I wouldn’t have gotten where I am now without
taking risks and challenging myself.
Hometown RANKIN • 41
Margo Wilson Garrett
Florence Family Clinic/
Family Nurse Practitioner
Margo graduated from Southern Mississippi
College of Nursing with bachelor’s and master’s
degrees. She enjoys spending time with family
and friends and playing tennis. Margo is a
member of the American Academy of Nurse
Practitioners and the Mississippi Nurses
Association, and Briar Hill Baptist Church.
Coming back to my hometown to work as
a nurse practitioner has been extremely
rewarding. I am proud to be from Florence
and consider it a privilege that I can serve my
community in this way.
The best advice I have ever been given is to
always treat others the way you would want to
be treated. I have found that if you treat others
kindly and with respect, you get that in addition
to their trust in return.
Matt is a graduate of George County High
School, MGCCC, and the U.S. Army. Matt
enjoys coaching his son’s little league team,
duck hunting, and having a good late night of
karaoke and warzone. He’s a connector with
the Rankin County Chamber of Commerce, a
member of Flowood Rotary, and a Rez Ducks
Unlimited Chapter Committee member.
An accomplishment I’m proud of is growing
my business from scratch during the early
stages of Covid and earning the opportunity
to serve the people of Rankin County and in
the state of Mississippi.
Some great advice I’ve been given is to get
outside your comfort zone, don’t let fear dictate
the decisions you make to grow your business,
and give yourself a chance to achieve the
greatness you’re worthy of. You must dream
big things to achieve big things.
Harvey’s Fish Hut Too, Owner
Phillip is a graduate of Jackson State
University having earned a Bachelor of Science
and a Master of Science with concentration in
strength and conditioning. He enjoys listening
to a wide range of genres of music, JSU
tailgating, cutting pan trout fish in record time,
playing basketball and flag football, supporting
small business, and cake tasting/ranking.
Phillip is a member of the Pearl Chamber of
Commerce, Jackson State Alumni Association,
and Word of Life Church.
I’m most proud that I’m able to give back
and support/sponsor others through my
business. I have always worked hard enough
to first support my family, but it’s been a bonus
and dream come true to be in a position to
financially support businesses, students, and
sports programs in my hometown of Pearl and
Pearl High School.
The best piece of advice I’ve been give is
‘Always bite off more than you can chew.
Figure out how to chew it down as you go.’
This advice has resonated with me by
pushing me out of my comfort zone. I’ve had
this advice in mind when taking on what
seemed impossible or challenging in the given
circumstance. By biting off more than I could
chew, I’ve been able to grow my business and
my relationships made within my business to
positively impact my life and goals going
42 • JUNE 2022
top 40 under 40
Pearl Police Department
Ruben is a graduate of Pearl High School,
Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer Training
Academy, and U.S. Army Military Police School.
In his spare time, Ruben enjoys wood working,
spending time with his wife Delia, and two
children, Meredith and Aldridge. He’s a task
force member of the Central Mississippi
Human Trafficking Task Force, and Internet
Crimes Against Children, and is a member of
McLaurin Heights Baptist Church in Pearl.
Becoming a police officer is something
I’ve always wanted to do, nothing else. In law
enforcement, you need two traits: being a
protector, and having a servant’s heart. My
most proud achievement is when I became
I was raised in a Christian home and was
always taught to help someone and to have a
servant’s heart. Every day I go to work, I strive
to help someone, whether it be a coworker, or
a citizen. I have continued that great advice to
my six-year-old little girl. I tell her every day to
be nice, be kind, and help someone today.
Ryan is a graduate of Brandon High
School and Hinds Community College with
an Associate of Graphic Design. He enjoys
landscaping, woodworking, problem solving,
and cooking. Ryan is a member of the Rankin
County Chamber of Commerce, coaches youth
softball with the city of Brandon, and volunteers
throughout the community with various
The achievement that makes me most
proud is the sense of satisfaction of implementing
a well-executed plan and a building coming
to fruition for our staff. To be able to meet the
needs of our staff so they can serve our
customer base well is a great achievement.
There are three ways to become successful:
do something better than anyone else can do,
do something no one else can do, or do
something that other people don’t want to do.
It has been easy to follow the ‘better’ method
and achieve greatness due to the opportunities
Community Bank has afforded me.
The Yard Milkshake Bar/
Rylea graduated from Brandon High School.
She enjoys reading and learning new art skills
such as making jewelry, painting, and drawing.
Rylea is creative and artistic, and working at
The Yard Milkshake Bar has helped grow
At The Yard Milkshake Bar, we have won
Best Dessert/Bakery annually since opening
in 2020. We came to Flowood with high
expectations and exceeded every single one
of them as a team. Knowing we provide guests
with an experience they can’t get anywhere
else makes us want to work harder to improve
customer satisfaction and ensure anyone who
comes in our doors has a smile on their face!
I’ve learned that knowing where your
breaking point is can be beneficial in making
your attitude what it needs to be at work.
Speaking up and letting others know when
you’ve got too much on your plate can make
all the difference in productivity. As a manager,
it can be easy to take on too much responsibility
and overload yourself with tasks. It’s also
crucial in recognizing when employees are
overloaded. This mindset can help decrease
stress levels and impacts how I deal with
others whether it’s co-workers or customers.
Hometown RANKIN • 43
Sarah Nicole Greer
Savana Ferguson Skelton
Shannon Putt Warren
Special Education Teacher, Case
Manager for Florence Middle
School SPED Department, Cheer
Coach for Florence Middle School
Nicole has a B.A. in Psychology from USM
and is currently pursuing her master’s in
educational leadership from Mississippi
College. She enjoys running in local 5K’s,
coaching the Florence Middle School
cheerleaders, attending all things Florence
Eagles, and spending time with her husband
and two children. Nicole is a member of
Florence Middle School PTO, Southern Miss
Alumni Association, and Dixie Metro Whitetails
The greatest achievement in my career is
getting to see my former students, who faced
all different kinds of struggles and adversity,
get to walk across that stage at graduation.
It makes every hard day, every long meeting,
every endless piece of paperwork, worth
every single minute!
When I chaired Rankin County Ducks
Unlimited, our state chairman at the time told
me, ‘Never be the person who doesn’t return
their shopping cart.’ This never left me and
always reminds me that you can’t be the
leader you need to be if you aren’t willing to
dig in and never leave something unfinished.
I always strive to go the extra mile in everything
I do to ensure that I leave things better than
they were before me.
Origin Bank- Mortgage Loan
Officer Assistant Vice-President,
Chief Executive Officer
Savana graduated from Northwest Rankin
High School and Mississippi State University.
She enjoys connecting people to one another.
Savana is a member of Rankin County
Republican Women and is a 2019 class
member of Leadership Rankin.
Starting a woman-owned construction
company while also having the highest
volume year to date for the year 2020 is an
achievement for which I’m proud. I look back
and think, how did I do that?
‘Under-promise and over-deliver’ is the
one comment that changed my career for the
better. These words stick with me every day.
Weichert Realtors Innovations/
Shannon enjoys hiking and camping, and
loves being a show choir and soccer mom.
She’s a member of RAD—Radically Against
Dystrophy, a youth leader at FBC Brandon, and
a member of National Association of Realtors
and Mississippi Association of Realtors.
After 17 years at one job, God started
nudging me to make a change. I was terrified.
One night, our youth Bible study was titled
‘Are you a good listener?’ James 1:22 says,
‘Do not merely listen, but act.’ God calls us to
respond to what He is saying by action. It took
a year for me to respond to God. I started my
career in real estate and He has been faithful
providing ever since.
Some of the best advice I have been given
is ‘knowing what you need to do to improve
your career takes wisdom, doing it takes
courage.’ Starting fresh in real estate at the
age of 37 means that you have to put yourself
44 • JUNE 2022
top 40 under 40
Capt. Sidney Nolan
Baptist Medical Group/
Family Nurse Practitioner
Shelby graduated from Mississippi State
University in 2012, University of Mississippi
Medical Center in 2014, and University of
Alabama Birmingham in 2021. She enjoys
playing tennis, traveling, attending church,
and spending time with family and friends.
Shelby is a member of the American Association
of Nurse Practitioners.
I landed my dream job fresh out of nurse
practitioner school. I have always dreamed of
serving the community that I have called home
for 32 years, and now I get to live that dream
out on a daily basis by taking care of the
citizens of Brandon every day.
Advice that has impacted my career is this:
There are kind people everywhere. If you can’t
find one, be one. When people trust you with
their health, it’s one of the most vulnerable
states to endure. As a healthcare provider, it’s
important to not only deliver the best care
possible, but also treat your patients with
kindness, empathy, and respect.
Mississippi Army/Air National
Guard, Cyberspace Operations
Sidney has a Bachelor of Science in
Industrial Technology from the University of
Louisiana at Lafayette. In his spare time, he
enjoys working out, backyard football, and
playing instruments (percussion) with his son,
Braylon. Sidney is a member of the Rotary
Club of Rankin County and Phi Beta Sigma
Completing the U.S. Air Force cybersecurity
training has been, by far, one of the proudest
moments in my career. I walked away with
additional tools and skills that are needed
more than ever before in this country, giving
me the responsibility and opportunity to serve
in a unique capacity.
There was a time in my career when I
struggled to find the next step in my journey.
I knew where to go but could not seem to
make the pieces connect. One of my mentors
told me something that I have never forgotten.
‘Some of the most successful people have
had the most failures while on their journeys.’
Keeping this in mind has helped me practice
patience in my career!
The Relaxation Nook
Tiffany attended Mississippi School of
Therapeutic Massage and now is a licensed
massage therapist at The Relaxation Nook. In
her spare time, she enjoys spending time with
the people that she loves - her husband, kids
The biggest challenge in my professional
career that I had to overcome was in 2018
when I suffered from two herniated discs in my
neck. This could have ended my career due to
debilitating pain and loss of function in my left
arm. After trying many things, ultimately spinal
surgery is what put me on the road to recovery.
For the past 10 years as a massage
therapist, I would just rent a room in someone
else’s place. Finally, I opened my own place so
I could expand and offer new services. In less
than a year, I have grown from just me to a
team of five, and that is an accomplishment
that I’m proud of.
Hometown RANKIN • 45
Tyler Reid Boykin
The Relaxation Nook
Trista is a licensed esthetician at The
Relaxation Nook in Brandon. She earned her
associates degree from Copiah Lincoln Junior
College and received her aesthetician training
at the Mississippi Institute of Aesthetics, Nails
I am a baseball mom and I love being on
the fields spending time with my family.
The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my
career is when COVID happened. After
working for the same company for five years,
I was laid off. I was unemployed and very
stressed. It was at that time I decided to take
a leap of faith and become self-employed.
I joined a licensed massage therapist one
year ago and we have already expanded our
services, have grown into a team of five and
are well known in the community.
Showing up for one client a day is just as
important as showing up for five clients a day.
I have relied on this to grow as an esthetician
as it put me in the mindset to give my all to
every client whether it’s one or five. It showed
me that every client is vital to build a business.
The AC Doctors
Tyler Boykin is the lead HVAC technician at
The AC Doctors. He graduated from Brandon
High School, Hinds Community College, and
Pennsylvania University. He enjoys racing,
boating, watersports with kids, coaching his
kids in sports and spending time with family.
He is a member of Brandon Baptist Church,
a member of AHRI Association and ASHRAE
The biggest challenge I have had is
realizing you’re not going to have the right
answers in all situations. I’ve learned it’s ok
to say ‘I don’t know, but I’ll find out.’
My grandfather always told me honesty is
the only policy to become a successful person.
No matter what the situation, good or bad,
honesty builds success and reputation. I feel
this has helped build my reputation and gained
the trust of my customers.
El Potrillo Mexican Restaurant/
Vania graduated from Hinds Community
College with a degree in associate marketing
management and is currently the restaurant
owner at El Potrillo of Brandon. In her free time,
Vania enjoys traveling, baking, and watching
movies with her family. She is a member of
New Life Christian Fellowship, where she
serves as a children’s Sunday school teacher.
Being nominated for four consecutive years
as the Best Mexican Restaurant in Rankin
County is an accomplishment that I am very
proud of. I love that so much because it
speaks volumes about our team. They make
me proud, and I am thrilled that their hard
work gets recognized.
One piece of business advice that has
stuck with me is ‘To lead with fairness and
compassion.’ This has become a guiding
principle for me, as I strive to take care of my
employees and create a respectful environment.
I truly believe that if they feel supported
and valued, they will, in turn, take care of our
46 • JUNE 2022
top 40 under 40
Whitnee Jenkins Roberts
Havard Real Estate Group, Realtor
Whitnee graduated from Mississippi State
University with a B.S. in Elementary Education
and M.S. in Secondary Education. She is
co-owner of Prissy Press Squared, an avid
tennis player, as well as a wife and mother of
four. Whitnee is a member of the Rankin
County Chamber of Commerce.
The specific achievement in my career that
I am most proud of is my growth from 2020-
2021. In one year, I grew my business 266%,
and added an additional thirteen units in sales.
A great piece of advice I’ve been given is to
change your mindset, change your life. Once I
changed my thinking, as well as put my faith
into action, I began to succeed tremendously in
my field. Words/thoughts are seeds. Whatever
seed one plants, that is what will grow. I am
grateful for this advice because with it, I have
been able to grow my business substantially,
and reap the benefits of a changed mindset.
Special thanks goes to
for sponsoring this event.
And congratulations to all the winners!
Hometown Rankin Magazine
looks forward to telling your stories
as your stars continue to shine.
BEST OF THE BEST
Hometown RANKIN • 47
MAKE US PART OF
Countless Career Opportunities
Hinds Community College is
committed to moving people
and communities forward
by helping develop their purpose,
passion and profession.
Discover YOUR pathway forward!
REGISTER FOR SUMMER/FALL CLASSES
JACKSON-Academic-Technical Center | JACKSON-Nursing/Allied Health Center | RANKIN | RAYMOND | UTICA | VICKSBURG
In compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972 of the Higher Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and other applicable Federal and State Acts, Hinds Community College offers equal education and employment
opportunities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability or veteran status in its educational programs and activities. The following have been designated to handle inquiries regarding these policies: EEOC Compliance: Sherry Franklin, Vice President of Instruction/
Career & Technical Education, Box 1003, Utica, MS 39175; Phone: 601.885.7002 or Email: EEOC@hindscc.edu. Title IX: DeAndre House, Associate Vice President Student Services, Title IX Coordinator, Box 1100 Raymond MS 39154; Phone: 601.857.3353 or Email: TitleIX@hindscc.edu.
48 • JUNE 2022
Free Mobile Banking
Free Mobile Deposit
Auto & Personal Loans
Home Mortgage Loans
www.RivertrustFCU.com Phone: 601-664-2085
INDEPENDENCE DAY FIREWORKS EXTRAVAGANZA
M-BRAVES VS PENSACOLA BLUE WAHOOS
MONDAY, JULY 4TH • 6:05PM
Hometown RANKIN • 49
For seven weeks, Renasant Bank
and Hometown Rankin Magazine
honors school personnel throughout
Rankin County for outstanding
work in their fields. Nominations
are accepted through Facebook
each week and those receiving
the most nominations are awarded
gift baskets from our sponsor.
We are pleased to have been able to
celebrate with these amazing school
employees that were voted on by
their peers. Thank you to all who
participated and congratulations
to our seven winners.
East Rankin Academy
Coach Hopper is the perfect embodiment of a coach who sets
extremely high standards of effort and performance for his
athletes and then finds ways to individually motivate each of
them to attain these expectations. His kids truly think they’re
going to win every competition they’re in, regardless of who
they’re up against.
– Jonathan Worrell, Athletic Director
I was at East Rankin early 2000s then returned five years ago
to help with, and ultimately take over, the track and cross-country
program. My role is providing a process where my athletes
realize that consistent hard work and dedication will achieve
results. Seeing them gain confidence and grow as individuals is
– David Hopper
50 • JUNE 2022
Dr. Jill Parker
Brandon Middle School
Mr. Larry is a wonderful bus driver and mentor for our students.
We are so thankful for the positive interactions he has with
them. He ensures that they are safe, treated with kindness,
and taken care of. He takes the time to get to know each of
them and treats them as his own. He is truly the best and
represents each of our school values and principles with honor.
We love Mr. Larry. – Dr. Lee Pambianchi, Head Principal
Dr. Jill Parker is incredible. She is also our dance choreographer
and her husband is one of our coaches. On top of being a
counselor, Dr. Parker is heavily involved in the Brandon community.
She has a servant heart and is willing to go above and beyond
to support other teachers and students. We are very blessed to
have Dr. Jill Parker at Brandon Middle School.
– Trey Rein, Head Principal, Brandon Middle School
The most rewarding and sometimes entertaining part of being
a bus driver is talking with the students. There is always an
interesting story to be heard, whether it is from a kindergartner
or a high school student. I try to be a positive influence in their
lives. Thank you for the recognition. It is a great honor.
– Larry Dukes
I’ve always had a passion for helping kids achieve their goals.
I love building relationships with our students, their families, and
our staff members. I am blessed to have the opportunity to
support our community, help build social emotional skills, and
be able to be a source of encouragement in a student’s time of
need. I love being able to empower students to face current
obstacles and help prepare them for any challenges the future
may hold. It’s truly a divine opportunity to have a career that
allows me to leave a positive impact in someone’s life. I have
been counseling for a total of 13 years. Six of those years have
been at Brandon Middle School and second at Northwest
Rankin High School. – Dr. Jill Parker
Hometown RANKIN • 51
Highland Bluff Elementary
Mrs. Angela truly makes our cafeteria a welcoming place for
students, staff, and parents. She is always a team player and
works hard to be a part of her team, not just their manager.
She does so much to make sure that she is truly helping every
one of her workers—assisting with inventory, cooking and
preparation, and checking out students as a cashier every
morning. We are so glad to have an inviting environment for
our students to enjoy breakfast and lunch each day.
– Josh Jones, Head Principal
As a cafeteria manager at Highland Bluff for 13 years, I truly
enjoy serving the students and staff a healthy breakfast and
lunch. It is very special to me because I love to see their smiles,
to be positive, and to encourage them to have a great day!
– Angela Crapps
Pearl Upper Elementary
Mrs. Sistrunk is passionate about education and about her
students. She has high expectations for her students and lets
them know they are capable of being their best. Mrs. Sistrunk
is a lifelong learner in that she seeks out opportunities to improve
as a teacher by attending conferences and workshops. She
brings this gained knowledge back to her classroom. As the
science robotics sponsor, she has dedicated afternoons and
sometimes weekends to the students. The Pearl Public School
District is blessed to have Mrs. Sistrunk as an instructor.
– Sheila McKay, Assistant Principal
This is my 10th year teaching and my 8th year at Pearl Upper
Elementary. I love being a teacher because I love showing my
students that they can do anything that they set their minds to.
My favorite part about teaching is when a student gets excited
about learning! When my students are excited about learning,
I know that I am doing my job correctly. Thank you all so much!
I feel blessed to have had so many people in the community
– Ashley Sistrunk
52 • JUNE 2022
Mrs. Johnson is an amazing educator and librarian. She has a
passion for encouraging kids to dream big and achieve those
dreams by boosting their literacy and learning about the world
around us. She is new to us this year, but she has been a real
game changer. MES has had multiple students return to us with
learning loss due to the pandemic. Ms. Johnson has helped
spearhead tutoring groups, mentored students and teachers,
and supported teaching kids as young as Pre-K on how to use
the school library and local library to teach a deep love of
learning. She teaches so many, including adults, and her heart
beats for this community.
– Kristen Langerman, Head Principal
Miles is a very hard worker. He handles a lot of maintenance
issues and also volunteers to help coach cross country as
well as softball. He does a really good job with the kids in
supporting them in everything they do. He also drives a bus!
– Jason Thomas, Assistant Principal
I enjoy being a part of the Florence community and the school.
FHS is the perfect fit for me right now. It’s like family around here.
– Miles Martin
Being a teacher librarian is amazing! Many people are blessed
to work in professions that they love. I’m double blessed
because I love being called to teach and I love teaching at
McLaurin Elementary. Our school is full of the most awesome
people, and I love it here! This is my tenth year in education,
but my first year at McLaurin. My family moved to Rankin
County in June of 2021 and it instantly felt like home.
– Gabrielle Johnson
Hometown RANKIN • 53
54 • JUNE 2022
Brunini.com | 601.948.3101
ATTORNEY TREY JONES
Hometown RANKIN • 55
to First Responders
What made you decide to work in EMS/Volunteer Fire?
Howard The short answer is my son. I thought I was too busy as a
business owner, school booster club president, husband, and father
to join Puckett Volunteer Fire Department when my son joined at the
age of 16. Once I was relieved of my duties as booster club president,
I made a few emergency calls with my son. It was then I found out
there was a need in the community to be filled. After joining the
department, the call became clear that I could make a difference in
someone’s life, and so the journey began.
Clay Service to my community and curiosity about the fire service
were my original motivating factors for joining the volunteer fire
department. When I was younger, probably 14, I saw these community
members volunteering their time and helping people during some of
their worst experiences. I saw what they were doing and thought I
could help in some of those situations. I did not know much at the
time, but I knew I wanted to be able to serve others. I never expected
it to turn into a career, however. My experiences at the Puckett
Volunteer Fire Department (VFD), and the members there, shaped
me into the person I am today.
How long have you been with Puckett VFD/EMS?
Howard In April 2017, I officially became a member of the Puckett
VFD. It did not take long to realize I had found something my son
and I could do that brought us closer. After a year, I wanted to help
more, so I graduated from EMT school in 2018 and became a national
registered EMT. In August 2019, with the encouragement of my
family and friends, I began paramedic school. After 12 months of
classroom instruction, along with 700 clinical hours, I successfully
became a national registered paramedic (NRP). I am now a captain
on the Puckett VFD, part-time paramedic for Pafford Ambulance
Service, business owner, husband, father, and grandfather.
SON & FATHER
PUCKETT VOLUNTEER FIRE
Clay I started with Puckett VFD in April of 2014, right after my 16th
birthday. I tried to join earlier, but they said I had to be able to drive
before I could join. I have been working with the department since.
Tell us about your family.
Howard Vicki, my wife of over 26 years, is my biggest fan, always
encouraging me to chase my calling. My son, Clay, is my inspiration.
He is a full-time nurse, a member of Puckett VFD, and a part-time
EMT for Pafford Ambulance Service. My daughter Carlee is my little
sunshine. She still loves to come crawl into Daddy’s lap to tell me
about her day. I have two step sons, Brock (wife Amber) and Brad
(wife Kelsey), and two grandsons, Paxton and Camden. They are
actively making their mark in life. My mother and father are both
residents of Rankin County and active members in the community.
56 • JUNE 2022
What is the toughest thing you have experienced in your job?
Clay One of the hardest things about our job is the small window
of time that we spend with most people. We provide stabilizing care
and then pass them off to another care provider. On many occasions,
we don’t get the information about the outcome of situations. One of
the other difficult parts about working in a community like Puckett
is that you know those to whom you are providing care. We see
these people out and about in town and when we are called to their
emergencies, it can be hard to care for the same people you see at
church and the ballfields. It also increases the importance of the role
we play. These are our friends and their loved ones.
Share some things you enjoy doing in your spare time.
Howard During the winter, I enjoy the outdoors with family.
My wife, father, brother, nephew, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law
all enjoy deer camp together. This is a time we can sit around and
fellowship. Spring and summertime brings out the fishing boat.
My wife and I use that as a time to remove ourselves from life for
a few hours and leave the fish in the water for another day. So, I
would say as far as spare time, I love anything that family and
friends can do together in fellowship.
Who is someone you admire and why?
Clay This is probably my father. He has always worked hard to
provide for us, but more than that, he has always loved and supported
my family. But in all that hard work he always had time to support
others. On many occasions, I can recall him dropping everything to
help someone in need or taking Saturdays to help provide for the
needs of someone else. He truly has a giving and caring heart.
If you could give one piece of advice to a young person, what
would it be?
Howard Be strong and listen to God. We all think we know what
we want and what is best. We do not. I have traveled down so many
roads that ended up being dead ends. I have done so many things
because someone else said it was a good idea. God has a path for
each of us. Follow that path. It does not mean there will not be
learning curves along the way but be strong and live by faith by
trusting in God’s lead.
What is your favorite thing about Puckett/Rankin County?
Clay One of my favorite things about Puckett is the support that
everyone has for each other, which helps make us a strong community.
I have seen time and time again people go out of their way to support
the families around them. My favorite thing about Rankin County is
the family atmosphere everywhere I go - there is always something
to do or places to go.
Hometown RANKIN • 57
Hosted by the
Pearl Chamber of Commerce
April 29 / Pearl Community Room
Department of Public Safety
58 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 59
HARD FOR YOUR HOME
SO WILL WE.
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT
138 Lakeland Heights Blvd.
Flowood, MS 39232
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT
138 Lakeland Heights Blvd.
Flowood, MS 39232
MORTGAGE LOAN ORIGINATOR
1255 West Government Street
Brandon, MS 39042
MORTGAGE LOAN ORIGINATOR
2441 Old Brandon Road
Pearl, MS 39208
60 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 61
Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann
May 13 / The Ivy
62 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 63
64 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 65
These days, it seems our lives are so fast paced.
Always rushing here and there to shop, exercise,
meet with friends, then head back to the suburbs
only to close the garage door and lock out the world.
66 • JUNE 2022
Wouldn’t it be great to return to a simpler time, where
neighbors know one another, where you can walk to the corner
grocery, dry cleaner, or coffee shop? Imagine stepping out of
your office to take a walk, stopping to throw a ball with kids
in a neighborhood park. Or perhaps you would like to retire
to a place where you can enjoy outdoor gardens, cooking
classes and other activities.
All this and more is what you’ll find at Waterpointe, off
East Metro Drive in the heart of Flowood.
A central town center will feature buildings with liveabove
units designed for a luxury lifestyle. Downstairs will
be a unique mix of shops, restaurants and businesses that will
make life more interesting and convenient. Radiating out
from the town square will be more homes, some smaller with
minimal yards, which means minimal time doing yard work.
Gus Brand, part of the Waterpointe team, says they are
excited to the see the project coming to life. “We’re excited to
work with Gary and Wayne Lyles of Lyles Signature Homes.
The homes they build are first class. Mike Thompson, the
town architect, has a very traditional style that will help make
Waterpointe timeless. We’re fortunate to have a local architect
who works on these neighborhoods like these throughout the
United States,” says Gus. “This neighborhood is second-tonone,
and a big reason for that is that most of the team lives
in Rankin County so this isn’t just a project for them. This is
Like other projects, the team has had to deal with
challenges such as supply chain issues, but the project is on go.
The groundbreaking was in late 2018, and Hemphill
Construction has completed the dirt work and utilities
installation. “Wayne and Gary poured the first slabs in
Spring 2021, and those homes are nearing completion.
They plan to build out the remainder of the street for
everyone to get a feel for how cozy the neighborhood will be.
And then they will start on the townhomes.” In addition to
single family homes, a 220-unit luxury loft project will break
ground in 2023.
Rhoads Lake is the centerpiece of the project, “That’s
what brings the neighborhood to life,” says Gus. “There will
be all sorts of activities and events around the lake, including
lakeside dining, a farmer’s market, concerts, parades and
more. It will also give people a chance to connect with others
in the community. It’s fun to think about what can be here.”
Waterpointe will also have a 100-unit luxury senior
living community. “That project offers independent living
to memory care and will be developed by a group out of
Arkansas,” says Gus. The P.Allen Smith-inspired project
will feature outdoor gardens and activities such as cooking
classes. It will even have a playground for grandchildren.
“That project will break ground later this year.”
The town center is anchored by Community Bank’s
86,000-square-foot headquarters. “Community Bank built
a gorgeous building,” says Gus. “It’s been a lot of fun to see it
Thompson Placemaking is headquartered in downtown
Brandon. “We are working with classic Southern home styles
found in Mississippi,” Mike Thompson explains. “Homes
will feature front porches and sidewalks so folks can get to
know their neighbors, and cars will park on the streets, which
slows traffic. We want to encourage interaction. The town
center will be modeled after a lot of Mississippi Main Streets
and towns with squares. Buildings will be simple, made of
brick, with stores, shops, and restaurants on the ground floor
and 75 to 100 living units with balconies upstairs.” The
development will tie into the walking trails in Flowood.
“It is designed to be walkable and with easy access.”
Adam Savage with Trihelm Properties is the commercial
broker for the project. “The big takeaway for me with this
project is that it will give Flowood an identity. It will create
a downtown, so to speak, for everyone to enjoy. Waterpointe
will have a unique tenant corridor.” The project will have
90,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. “I’m excited,
personally, about this because I am a Rankin County resident.
This is a place where I will be going to eat and shop with
Hometown RANKIN • 67
172nd Airlift Wing
Service before self.
Excellence in all we do.
68 • JUNE 2022
Longtime Rankin Countians are
familiar with the sight of a large
gray airplane circling the airspace
around Jackson. Like the commercial
aircraft that take off and land every day, the
impressive C-17 Globemaster III is part of the
landscape. Perhaps not as familiar are the stories
of the men and women behind the C-17, those who
serve in the 172nd Airlift Wing of the Mississippi
Air National Guard.
Based at Allen C. Thompson Field in Jackson, the 172nd Airlift
Wing began in 1953 as the 183rd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron.
Just past the gate, visitors to the base are greeted by one of the original
RB-26 planes, beautifully restored by the 172nd’s own maintenance
group. In the almost 70 years since the unit’s inception, there have
been several aircraft to come and go, but in 2003 the 172nd became the
first Air National Guard unit to be assigned the C-17 Globemaster III.
Typically, National Guard units receive planes that have already
been in service, but eight of the nine C-17s sent to the 172nd were
brand new, which speaks highly of the confidence placed in the
unit’s top notch maintenance team. The C-17 is an amazing aircraft,
capable of carrying massive amounts of cargo and transforming into
a hospital, while still being able to land on a small airfield. The 172nd
crews fly missions all over the world, delivering much needed supplies
and transporting injured personnel. “During the Vietnam War, it was
typical for it to take up to 30 days to get the injured out of the
battlefield and to a military hospital for treatment,” says Wing
Commander Col. Britt Watson. “It was down to ten days during Desert
Storm, but today, we can get a patient out in three days or less.”
Col. Teri Neely is the commander for the 183rd Aeromedical
Evacuation Squadron and the civilian chief of staff. She has flown
countless medical missions and has seen firsthand the amazing work
the 172nd does taking care of the wounded. “The first hour after an
injury is referred to as the golden hour,” she says. “If we can get
someone from the point of injury to a hardened facility with a
heartbeat, that person has a 99.2% survival rate. Our goal is always to
save life, limb, and eyesight. We have actually been able to transport
wounded patients from Afghanistan to the US in 24 hours.”
Hometown RANKIN • 69
While the capabilities of the C-17 can’t be overstated, the greatest
asset of the 172nd is its people, and the reputation of the unit is
recognized worldwide. While approximately 400 of the unit’s enlisted
personnel are full time, most serve as a drill status guardsman (DSG),
which means they serve one weekend per month and approximately
two weeks in the summer. They also must be ready at a moment’s
notice to be deployed should the need arise. Chief Master Sgt. John
Myers, who serves as the wing command chief, notes that there are
many DSGs who live out of state, some as far as the northeastern
and western parts of the United States. “They pay out of their pocket
to come to the 172nd. When asked why they don’t serve at the guard
unit in their state, 99% of the time their response is, ‘I just want to be
part of the 172nd.’ It’s that special to them.”
When a guardsman in uniform goes out in the community, it’s
not uncommon for someone to thank them for their service or ask
about what they do. “Just recently, I heard a little boy say, ‘Look
Daddy, it’s a soldier,’” says Chief Master Sgt. Myers. “Those one-on-one
conversations out in the community are some of our most powerful
One such encounter had a profound impact on 1st Lt. Kiara
Spann, public affairs officer for the 172nd. “I was a student at The
University of Southern Mississippi and was home for the summer,
working at a local Subway,” recalls 1st Lt. Spann. “Sgt. Chris Ward
came in and we struck up a conversation. I had been interested in
the Guard but wasn’t quite sure where to start.” Tech. Sgt. Ward gave
her contact information for the local recruiter and the rest is history.
1st Lt. Spann enlisted in 2014 and was commissioned in 2019.
The 172nd may be known for flying medical and humanitarian
missions overseas, but with a staff of close to 1,300, clearly not
everyone is a pilot or aircraft crew member. People from all walks
of life, careers, and skill sets serve in the unit. “It’s really a win-win
situation,” says Col. Watson. “DSGs bring expertise and experience
from their jobs in the community to the base, and vice versa.” The
wide range of training and careers available in the Air National
Guard are also powerful recruiting tools. “While most people join
the Guard out of a desire to serve, there are tangible benefits as well.
A tuition-free college or trade school education, along with workforce
70 • JUNE 2022
training in a chosen field makes the Guard a great option,” says Col.
Watson. Col. Neely adds, “Some of the fields are very lucrative. There
are so many areas to work in - IT, law, public affairs, engineering,
even hotel, restaurant, and fitness management. Not everyone
carries a weapon.”
The number of humanitarian missions the 172nd has undertaken
would take pages to recount. From transporting injured servicemen
after the USS Cole attack, to safely delivering Guatemalan children
to Texas for life-saving treatment following the volcanic eruption in
2018, to rescuing Americans stranded in Afghanistan, the 172nd can
be counted on in times of crisis.
Closer to home, Rankin Countians witnessed the Guard’s response
during Hurricane Katrina and more recently, the organization and
staffing of COVID-19 testing sites throughout the area. Stories like
these tend to make headlines, but the impact the men and women
of the 172nd have on their communities goes beyond high-profile
missions. Volunteers from the wing have managed event parking at
the Brandon Amphitheater and helped with field day at Flowood
Elementary. In lieu of a more “exotic” assignment, members of the
172nd Civil Engineer Squadron chose to spend their two-week
summer stint assisting with construction at Camp Kamassa, a camp
for children with special needs. The 172nd has also partnered with
Shower Power and Stewpot, collecting thousands of donated items
for these organizations.
The leadership of the 172nd is hopeful for the future. “It’s easy
to point to this younger generation and say they need a lot more
attention, and some would even say they’re not as committed,” says
Chief Master Sgt. Myers, “but I participated in an enlistment in this
building on the day that Russia invaded Ukraine. I asked one of the
young men if he realized he was committing to serve his country
in a non-peacetime military. His response was, “Yes sir. That’s what
I want to do.’”
Indeed, most of the enlisted men and women of the 172d joined
after 9/11, a testament to the ongoing desire to serve. “Most of our
guardsmen are from this area,” says Chief Master Sgt. Myers.
“They’re invested in the community and want it to be successful.
When I ask our men and women why they re-enlist, the number
one answer is ‘relationships.’ The 172nd is a special place.”
Hometown RANKIN • 71
Staff Sgt. Kyle Sistrunk
Kyle Sistrunk joined the Air National Guard
when he was 17. “I had always had a passion for
flying. My original plan was to attend the Air Force
Academy, but my best friend’s dad worked on the
base, and after learning more about the guard from
him and doing some research, I decided the Air
National Guard was the route I wanted to go.
I’ve heard it called the ‘best kept secret’ and that’s
Sistrunk left for training right after high school,
which took him first to San Antonio and then
on to Oklahoma and Washington State. “I really
enjoyed all aspects of my training,” he says.
“Some of my closest friends are the guys I went
through training with. Those experiences have a
way of creating a bond that lasts.”
Staff Sgt. Sistrunk is somewhat of a trailblazer
as he is the first in his immediate family to serve in
the military. He has no regrets and is quick to share
the benefits of the National Guard experience.
Now a senior industrial technology major at
Mississippi State University, Sistrunk will have
no student debt upon graduation thanks to his
service in the Air National Guard. “The National
Guard is a great option for college students,” he
says. “Not only can you earn your degree, tuition
free, but you learn marketable skills that will
benefit you in the job market. The work schedule
is also very flexible and blends well with college
life.” Staff Sgt. Sistrunk believes the intangible
benefits of guard service are just as important.
“Having been through basic training when I
started at Mississippi State, I was more disciplined
and mature than when I finished high school.
I was definitely better prepared for college and
had a great foundation to be a good student.”
As a loadmaster in the 172nd Airlift Wing, Sistrunk has been privileged to fly on
missions around the world. There are challenges in each one, and no two missions are the
same, but the experiences he’s had are invaluable. One of the hardest parts is being away
from home on holidays, but he takes it in stride. “Last Christmas I was in Qatar instead of
with my family, but that’s just part of the job. I’m young and don’t have a family of my own
yet, so it’s a little easier for me.”
Staff Sgt. Sistrunk’s future plans include graduate school at Mississippi State, and
re-enlisting when his six-year contract with the Air National Guard is up. “My ultimate
goal is to work full time at the Air National Guard base once I finish school, hopefully as a
pilot for the C-17,” says Sistrunk. “The guard is something I have fallen in
love with and it’s what I want for my future career.”
72 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 73
74 • JUNE 2022
They say it’s only when you grow up and step back from him
— or leave him for your own home —
it’s only then that you can measure the greatness
of an ever-present father and fully appreciate him.
June 19 is Father’s Day. And whether you’re celebrating your own father or being
celebrated as a father yourself, the impact made by this incredibly important role
within the family dynamic can leave impressions
that last for generations.
So, we honor all the fathers by saying,
Happy Father’s Day to you and yours.
Hometown RANKIN • 75
We are the Wolf family - including myself, Owen (18), and
Mary Rose (21). I work as a lawyer. Owen is a senior at Brandon
High School and is headed to Starkville where he will be studying
to become a teacher. Mary Rose is in her last quarter at Louisiana
Tech and beginning a master’ degree in the fall with plans on
becoming an archivist. Last year my wife Stacy, and their mother,
passed away unexpectedly.
I like to think that Stacy and I made a good team, and as a
family we enjoyed our time at church, work, play, and travel, amid
much laughing. Stacy worked at our church, St. Jude in Pearl,
so our kids spent a lot of time growing up helping at our church.
We did not have much family in the area, but we were always
made to feel welcomed by our local community, which is something
that has become particularly profound in our lives. We are very
fortunate to have been grounded in our faith in Jesus Christ,
which has provided much needed clarity in our lives.
The challenge of being a single dad and ‘doing it alone’ was
initially frightening for me. But I quickly realized that my wife
had done a good job of preparing our kids for the world, and her
memory is still there to help guide us.
Also, I quickly realized that there are so many generous people
in this community who have prayed for, looked in on, cooked for,
and been there for us despite their own schedules. And like they
teach us on Sunday, we never really walk alone.
I also try to keep in perspective that other men have experienced
similar circumstances. It would be selfish of me to think my
situation is any more difficult than any other single parent.
However, it’s been a huge challenge adjusting to life without
Stacy. The kids’ ages have been an asset in their being able to
process their feelings, but I have had to remember that they are
feeling the loss, and I must allow them to grieve in their own way.
I try to remind both the kids and myself that each day we just
need to show up, be present, and let the Lord show us the way. Not
everything gets done well—the meal preparation, appointments,
laundry, dishes, and all Owen’s ‘senior’ things. But right now, we
are shooting for ‘good enough.’ Despite all the inconveniences of
day-to-day living, I remind myself how blessed I am.
As a single parent I try to instill what every parent should want
for their children–to love God, love others, work hard, be kind, and
laugh. And while I cheer success, I hope the kids learn to fail with
dignity and rise from losses.
We don’t always know what circumstances led to a person being
a single parent, but few are likely to prefer it over the support of a
spouse. However, support can come from anyone, and every time
you offer to help that single mom or dad, in even small ways, it is a
blessing of untold value. I’ve learned this from experience!
I hope my kids will always remember that I read to them before
bed, and that we laughed a lot. Saying “Good night, love you,” and
hearing it back is my favorite part of the day as a dad. It just tells me
that we made it through another one, and we are still family.
76 • JUNE 2022
I am married to my college sweetheart, Jasmine (Coley)
Rosemon of Rosedale, Mississippi, and we have one daughter,
Kennedi, who will turn one in June. I am the owner and founder
of The Rosemon Law Firm, PLLC, where I practice personal
injury, criminal defense, and family law. In addition to my private
practice, I am also a member of the Mississippi Army National
Guard, where I serve as a judge advocate in the 185th Aviation
Brigade. My wife is an educator, and she serves in the Rankin
County School District as a curriculum specialist.
As a solo practitioner, my law practice and clients demand a lot
of my time. Thus, it can be very difficult to maintain work-family
balance. As one might imagine, the practice of law sometimes
requires early mornings and late nights, which sometimes makes it
difficult to be home in time to eat dinner with my family and see
Kennedi before bedtime. However, Kennedi and I are both blessed
to have Jasmine who is always working to make sure our home life
is as comfortable and together-oriented as possible.
Making time for personal-family time can be challenging.
However, I’m intentional to always make time on the weekends
for my family. For fun, some of the things we enjoy are attending
Ole Miss, Jackson State, and MS Braves games. Also, as a family
of faith, it is important to Jasmine and me that we attend church
every Sunday and Bible study during the week. Without a doubt,
the time that I spend with my family in church is truly some of the
best personal time that I have during any given week.
As a father, I see my role as a protector and provider to be the
greatest benefit to my family. My greatest joy as a father is waking
up every day to my sweet Kennedi greeting me with her infectious
smile. She lights up with joy and energy whenever she sees me in
Speaking as a father, I want Kennedi to remember the fun and
good times that we shared as a family. And most importantly, I
would like for her to remember to always keep God first in her life.
Hometown RANKIN • 77
“Others Before Self” is a motto I’ve operated by during my
military career, and I trust my family will always remember me
as a man who not only observed that motto but who loved the
Lord with all his heart, loved his family and loved his country.
Let me introduce you to my family. My amazing wife Lacie,
of almost twenty-six years, is a CPA and partner at Grantham
Poole PLLC. We have two children – a son Matthew who is a
2Lt. in the Air Force, stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base
in Great Falls, Montana. Our daughter Sandy just completed
her junior year at USM as an interior design major. They are
absolutely my main support system. And I have to include our
two incredibly loyal puppies—Charlie and Storm—who teach us
daily about patience and unconditional love.
Our children have made many sacrifices by my being a military
dad, and the way in which they have accepted and grown up
within military requirements never ceases to amaze me. They
have been understanding as they have experienced my being away
many times. They know, while it is difficult and challenging, there
is no greater calling than a life of sacrifice.
When I’m deployed or away, I take my most recent photos
of the kids with me which has been my drive to get back home.
As technology has changed, they have gotten letters and emails,
and in the last few years FaceTime has been helpful in communicating
my missing them. Even while away, I’ve felt it extremely
important to constantly encourage them. For the times I am at my
home base, I’m grateful for a flexible schedule which allows me to
make the most of my free time with my family.
Over the years our military family life has forced the kids to
act and operate above their age while I was away. It may sound
strange, but I believe it has better prepared them for difficulties
78 • JUNE 2022
I’m a dad who now speaks from the platform of a retired dad.
I not only enjoy being a father to a grown son, Josh, and daughter,
Jessica, but have the honor, joy, and privilege to be a grandfather to
six grands, Elizabeth, Reid, and Luke Thrash, and Anna Claire,
Charlie and Scott Shamburger.
Judy Jenkins Thrash is my high school sweetheart and bride
of forty-eight years. I count her as my greatest supporter in my role
as husband, father, and grandfather, and let me add that I’m also
a firm believer in showing your children how much you love and
respect their mother.
As a father that’s seen our own children grow into adults, I
stand in a position of seeing young fathers make choices in raising
their children. So many times, we dads fail to teach our children
to be responsible for their actions because there are consequences
for choices they make. I also know from experience that it takes
work on the part of dads to teach their children a good work ethic
but failing to do so creates so many problems for them when they
In looking back, I would choose to spend more time doing the
little things and having fun with our kids. I realize the responsibility
that dads feel and assume in providing for their families, but
sometimes that means we put our children on the “back burner.”
That’s something I wish I would have avoided more.
For sure my greatest comfort as a dad is in knowing our
children are Christians. The next best thing is getting to live
near them so I can watch our own children raise their children.
There are lots of memories that I hope our children remember,
but number one is how much I love them and how I’ve always
supported them. Hopefully I’ve shown them how to treat their
friends and neighbors because it ‘ain’t’ always about us!
Hometown RANKIN • 79
My wife Amy and I are parents to four wonderful kids that
are active and each very unique. Our boys, Robby and Daniel,
ages fourteen and twelve, and our daughters, Grace and Cara Mei,
ages ten and nine, make up the fun team Amy and I enjoy as
a family and on our travels. The kids and I are especially grateful
for Amy who continually sees that we are where we need to be and
prepared for each day.
We adopted Grace almost nine years ago and went through
the process to bring Cara Mei home four years ago. Adoption
had been born in Amy’s heart as a young girl while babysitting for
families in her church. After several years of marriage, we knew
adoption would be a part of our family at some point. That time
came in 2011 during a challenge by our church to follow God’s
calling to ‘outlive your life.’ We felt confident that this was the
time to begin the adoption process.
Adoption has impacted our lives in amazing ways through
our two daughters. We can’t imagine our family any other way!
I remember soon after we brought Cara Mei home, I was
teasing her one morning, calling her by her Chinese name, Ye Shin.
She would shake her head, “No, my name is Cara Mei,” and we
would go back and forth laughing and playing. Suddenly she
disappeared, and I thought the conversation was over, but she
returned holding a picture of herself she had removed from the
refrigerator. It was a picture of her on a swing during her time
at the orphanage in China. She held the picture up to me and
boldly corrected me: “This is Ye Shin!” and pointed to the picture.
Still smiling, she said, “My name is Cara Mei!”
She was only five years old at that time, but she understood
a spiritual concept that many of us are still trying to grasp.
II Corinthians 5:17 states that, “If anyone is in Christ...the old has
gone and the new has come.” God has used adoption in our lives to
better understand His unconditional love for every one of us.
Parents stepping into the adoption process need to understand
that their children are not necessarily going to fit a specific mold.
It’s our privilege as parents to guide them toward understanding
who God has made them to be. This has been our experience as
parents for both our biological and adopted children.
I would encourage anyone to step forward in faith to fulfill
whatever God’s leading you to do, especially if it is in the area of
adoption, even though the process can be intimidating! God
revealed his care for our family and daughters in real and specific
ways throughout our adoption journey. This came in tangible ways
like finances, the community support we received, medical needs
being met, and seeing our daughters become a part of our family so
quickly. Our journey has grown our faith in who God is in real and
There are unlimited joys in being a father, but the greatest joy
comes from watching each of our children grow to understand they
are created by God, in His image, and choose to follow Him. With
God as our Heavenly Father, every day is a new day of blessings.
80 • JUNE 2022
RANKIN’S BEST OF THE BEST
TOP 40 UNDER 40 - ARCHITECT
TO OUR VERY OWN
1047 N. Flowood Drive | Flowood, MS 39232
Hometown RANKIN • 81
82 • JUNE 2022
W. RALPH EUBANKS
City of Richland
May 4, 2022 / Richland City Hall
Hometown RANKIN • 83
84 • JUNE 2022
designed for YOU!
YAZOO CITY | FLORA | FLOWOOD | CROSSGATES
Hometown RANKIN • 85
86 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 87
Congratulations to Savana Skelton
for being named among Hometown Rankin’s
Top 40 Under 40.
Bank NMLS# 455990
Savana NMLS# 1119600
6/1/22 10:33 AM
88 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 89
Brandon Garden Club Hosts
Rock’n at the Quarry
Rock’n at The Quarry! The theme set the tone for the fun-filled 93rd Annual
State Convention of The Garden Clubs of Mississippi, Inc. hosted by Brandon
Garden Club in April. The City of Brandon provided the venues and support
for meetings, luncheons, dinners, and tours at Brandon Municipal Complex
and Brandon Amphitheater. Butch Lee, mayor of Brandon, and Philip Gunn,
speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, welcomed guests at the
opening business meeting.
The festive mood at the Early Arrivals Dinner at the Community Bank Club at Brandon Amphitheater was contagious.
Food trucks had never been used at a state convention before, and the outdoor setting was perfect - at sunset, overlooking a lake, with cool breezes.
Guests made no move to leave until CandyLee Jones stopped singing and playing her guitar.
State conventions always include afternoon tours in the host city. BGC offered three unique tours. Brandon Amphitheater was the perfect spot
for a backstage tour by Angelia Pryor, special assistant to the mayor. Mayor Butch Lee drove the tractor for a motorized, open-air tour of
The Quarry nature area’s clear lakes, stone formations, and native plants. BGC provided a shuttle from the amphitheater to Brandon Stoneware,
the pottery studio owned by Emmett and Jani Collier in Brandon’s Historic District.
The much-anticipated design banquet
featured Julia Putt, an up-and-coming
young designer with Fresh Cut
Catering & Floral. Julia was recognized
in Hometown Rankin Magazine’s
September 2021 “Top 40 Under 40”
list. Her bold and innovative designs
were projected in live video. Pianist
Bill Clark entertained during the social
hour and dinner.
90 • JUNE 2022
The City of Brandon gave tickets to Brandon Amphitheater concerts by
Willie Nelson and Brooks & Dunn. Mayor Butch Lee, and Rankin County
Supervisors Steve Gaines and Brad Calhoun drew the names.
Donna Beliech, MSU Extension Agent, gave an interesting and educational presentation on the use of rocks in gardens.
Karen McKie, owner of Green Oak Florist and Garden Center, brought old and new varieties of live plants for a “show and tell.”
Green Oak also provided plants and a unique moss wall to decorate the lobby.
Servers! Thanks to Mayor Butch Lee for inviting and coordinating the special servers at the awards luncheon.
The group of 23 servers included state, county, and local elected officials and city department heads.
The state convention concluded with an awards luncheon. Brandon Garden Club received the coveted “Garden Club of the Year” award,
which is given based on the club’s activities in the previous garden club year. BGC President Dixie Vance was proud to accept the award,
which was the culmination of exceptional work by BGC members.
Hometown RANKIN • 91
92 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 93
Retirement Reception Honoring
Dr. Ray Morgigno
Pearl Public School District Superintendent
& Mrs. Gina Morgigno, Testing Coordinator
May 23 / Pearl Community Room
94 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 95
FOR Y OUR
campus tours available now!
Contact Tracie Mallard, Director of Admission, at 601.939.8611 or
email@example.com, to schedule your family's tour.
96 • JUNE 2022
Peace of Mind Knowing Your Loved One is Safe!
PlainView is a unique Senior Living Community that offers the attention, care
and home-like environment your loved one deserves. When your loved one’s
care becomes complex, care at home may just not be enough.
PlainView offers high-quality care from loving caregivers.
Tracey Floyd, Executive Director
214 Spell Drive Richland, MS 39218
Business Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8a.m. to 5p.m.
All Inclusive Assisted Living Community
CALL NOW: 601-401-3299
Hometown RANKIN • 97
98 • JUNE 2022
Pastor Rex Yancey,
Southern Baptist Pastor, Retired
Pastor Juan Jones,
New Vision Fellowship
May 5 / City Hall
Hometown RANKIN • 99
Apple Pie Overnight Oats
• ⅔ cup milk
• ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
• ½ cup diced apple
• ¼ cup chopped pecans, walnuts,
• ¼ tsp. cinnamon
• ⅛ tsp. nutmeg
• 1 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey
In a 12-ounce jar, combine all
ingredients and stir until
well combined. Seal and
or at least 6 hours.
• 8 oz. milk
• 4 oz. low fat or fruit
• 1 cup fruit- fresh, canned, or
frozen berries, banana, papaya,
melons, peaches, pineapple–
whatever fruit you like.
Blend everything together in a
blender. If desired, add fresh
spinach, flax seeds, oats, vanilla,
honey, chocolate syrup, sugar free
coffee syrups, peanut butter.
Makes 1-20 serving.
Rustic Tomato & Cheese
• 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• 1 Tbsp. butter
• ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
• 3 ripe tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch
• 3 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
• 3 oz. provolone cheese, shredded
• 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
• ½ Tbsp. salt
• 1 tsp. black pepper
• 1 ready-made refrigerated
• 1 egg slightly beaten
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat a
medium sauté pan with olive oil and
butter. Add red onion, season with
Italian seasoning and a little salt
and pepper. Cook until slightly
caramelized, stirring occasionally.
While onions are cooking, place
sliced tomatoes in a single layer on
several folded paper towels, sprinkle
with remaining salt. Let stand for
approximately 10 minutes. Once
onions are cooked, remove from
heat, and let cool.
Unroll pie crust and place on a
nonstick baking sheet. Spread with
Dijon mustard leaving about a
one-inch border on the crust.
Sprinkle half the cheddar and half
the provolone cheese on crust then
top with half the cooked onions.
Repeat with next layer keeping the
one-inch border all the way around
the pie dough. Arrange tomato slices
in overlapping pattern on top of
onion and cheese. Fold edges of
dough toward center; tucking and
pressing to seal (dough will only
partially cover tomatoes). Brush
folded edge with beaten egg. Place
in oven and bake for 35 minutes or
until crust is golden brown. Notes:
Much like a tomato pie. Makes 6-8
100 • JUNE 2022
Ricotta Peach Tart
• 1 cup ricotta cheese
• 2 eggs divided
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
• 2 Tbsp. honey
• 3-4 ripe peaches cored and sliced,
or plums or nectarines
• 1 sheet puff pastry thawed
according to package instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a
large-rimmed baking sheet with
parchment paper. In a medium mixed
bowl combined ricotta, egg and next
three ingredients. Set aside. Roll out
puff pastry onto the prepared baking
sheet. Use a paring knife to score a
line around the perimeter of the
pastry, about 1 inch from the edge.
Spoon the cheese mixture over the
dough inside the scored edges,
spreading out to an even layer. Place
the sliced peaches in vertical rows,
overlapping just slightly until the
entire tart is filled. Brush edges with
egg wash. Bake for 25 minutes, or
until crust is golden and edges are
puffed up. Makes 8 servings.
Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
• ¼ cup raw almonds
• 8 whole graham crackers
• ½ cup creamy peanut butter
• 2 Tbsp. butter
• 16 oz. plain Greek yogurt
• ½ cup fat-free sweetened
• 1½ cups fresh strawberries,
chopped or can use blueberries
Line an 8-x-8-inch baking pan with
parchment paper so it comes up a
couple inches above the rim. This will
make it easy to remove from the pan.
Place almonds and graham crackers
in food processor and pulse until
finely ground. In microwave-safe
bowl, melt butter and peanut butter
in microwave for approximately 30
seconds. Stir to combine. Add crumb
mixture, stirring until well combined.
Pour mixture into pan, patting down
evenly and firmly to create the crust.
Place in freezer to set for about 30
Clean strawberries and remove stems.
Cut into bite-size pieces. Combine
yogurt and sweetened condensed
milk, stir until well combined. Gently
fold in strawberries. Pour yogurt
mixture in to crust, spreading evenly.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in
freezer for eight hours. Allow to sit at
room temperature for approximately
10-15 minutes. Cut into 16 squares
with a sharp knife.
June is a special month for me. I work for the dairy farmers of Mississippi. We
celebrate the month as June Dairy Month. This month honors our dairy farmers,
who work tirelessly every day to provide nutritious milk, yogurt, and cheese.
As a registered dietitian, I’ve always stressed the importance of a balanced diet.
I work for The Dairy Alliance to educate and promote one of the most nutritious
foods–milk. Studies show that after elementary school, our tweens and adults
very seldom consume enough milk or dairy. Dairy foods, such as milk, yogurt,
and cheese, provide much of the calcium, potassium, and vitamin D that is often
missing in our diet as we grow and become adults. The absence of these nutrients
increases the risk for developing osteoporosis and heart disease as well as other
Milk gives you the best value for your dollars spent in the supermarket. For less
than 25 cents per serving, milk provides eight grams of protein, along with other
essential nutrients needed. Plus, for the athletes, chocolate milk is rated as the best
recovery beverage in sports.
We all need three servings of dairy foods every day. Some ways to add this into
your diet are:
• Make grits/oatmeal with milk in the morning
• Have overnight oats in the fridge for a breakfast on the go
• Use plain or Greek yogurt as a protein-packed base for dips instead of mayonnaise
• Make playful salad “kabobs” alternating fresh vegetables with cubes of your
favorite cheese for the kids
• Have an afternoon snack of a fruit smoothie full of yogurt, milk, and fruit
• Keep cheese sticks in your fridge for a healthy and delicious snack
• Freeze yogurt tubes for a creamy summer treat
• For those with a sensitivity to lactose, use lactose-free milk. Most individuals can
still enjoy yogurt and hard, natural cheeses, such as cheddar and Swiss, which
have little or no lactose.
For other dairy delicious recipes visit www.thedairyalliance.com
– Donna Speed
Hometown RANKIN • 101
THE CHAMBER OF FLOWOOD’S
APRIL 28 / FLOWOOD NATURE PARK
102 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 103
©2022 Jackson Eye Associates
Meet our newest physician
Dr. Charles McGuffey.
Dr. McGuffey’s primary
focuses will be:
• SECONDARY LENSES
Jackson Eye Associates is proud to announce the addition of Dr. Charles D. McGuffey
to our Jackson office. A native of Madison, McGuffey earned his medical degree from
University of Mississippi Medical Center before completing his residency at the University
of Tennessee at Memphis. He completed a fellowship in cornea, external diseases, and
refractive surgery at the Dean McGee Eye Institute at Oklahoma University.
104 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 105
hen Michael Dier took a
job replacing a roof on an
apartment complex, he never
dreamed that he would one day own one
of America’s fasting growing companies.
He took the job after graduating high
school in 1999, working alongside his
friend, Steven Watkins, as a $10-an-hour
laborer. “Steven’s dad, Bud, owned the
company,” says Michael.
By 2012, Michael said he could keep
a crew busy every day. “That continued to
grow, first to two crews, then three and
four. We have had to get even more than
that after a few key storms.”
Today Michael owns Watkins Construction
and Roofing, which he purchased
in July 2018. “I knew going into this that the
construction industry as a whole, and the
roofing industry in particular, have a bad
reputation. Not returning phone calls, not
showing up for appointments, and more,
have plagued the industry. I wanted to do
things another way.”
Michael says he put his head down
and has been determined to always put
maximum effort into everything he does.
“Our customers deserve that, and we work
every day to deliver superior workmanship
and service.” That approach to business
has resulted in higher customer satisfaction,
and increased efficiency as they make
fewer return trips.
In addition to quality workmanship,
Watkins uses high quality products,
including GAF, CertainTeed, Atlas, and
Lomanco. They also have a longstanding
relationship with Beacon and Owens
Corning. In 2022, Owens Corning recognized
Watkins Construction for its commitment
to environmental stewardship with
its Sustainability Award.
“The Watkins Way” corporate culture
is centered on continual training and
education. Every employee receives
106 • JUNE 2022
customer service training and commercial
project managers are ten-hour OSHA
certified. “Everyone in the company holds
one another accountable, including
leadership” says Michael. “Every service
we provide is important to somebody, so
we treat each job with care. We give
customers every reason to put their trust in
us. We even offer a fifty-year workmanship
warranty for full roof replacements.”
Watkins Construction has memberships
in multiple industry associations,
from the National Roofing Contractors
Association to the Tile Roofing Institute,
Metal Roofing Alliance, Residential Roofing
Contractors of Mississippi, and the Better
Business Bureau. While the memberships
provide credibility, they also provide
access to a wealth of knowledge and
resources for the company.
Giving back to the community is
important to Michael. Watkins takes part in
the Owens Corning Roof Deployment,
which donates roofs for free to deserving
military veterans, as well as No Roof Behind,
which provides roofing contractors with a
framework to install a new roof at no cost
to a homeowner chosen by the local
Watkins’ service area includes cities
in Hinds, Rankin and Madison Counties
as well as Meridian, Natchez, Vicksburg,
Brookhaven, and southern Alabama.
“We strive to inspire customer confidence
in the roofing industry,” says Michael.
“We know we may not get every job, but
we want to be in every conversation about
roofing. We want to make sure every
customer knows how important they are
Hometown RANKIN • 107
108 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 109
110 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 111
Pearl Public School District Retirement Luncheon
Pearl Public School District
Friends and family gathered for a luncheon honoring the 2021-2022 Pearl Public School District
Pearl Public retirees. School This District group Retirement has more Luncheon than 380 years of combined service in education, with 8 retirees (*)
This group has
of combined service in education, with 8 retirees (*) serving PPSD students throughout their entire career in education. The 2021-2022 PPSD
Susan Cauthen*, Bonnie DeSalvo, Sharon Donald*, Angela Grant*, Annis Hennessy, Alyson Gillum*,
retirees are Susan Cauthen*, Bonnie DeSalvo, Sharon Donald*, Angela Grant*, Annis Hennessy, Alyson Gillum*, Canda Jackson*,
Canda Jackson*, Johnna Levern, Amy McCarty, Gina Morgigno, Dr. Raymond Morgigno, Thomas
Johnna Levern, Amy McCarty, Gina Morgigno, Dr. Raymond Morgigno, Thomas Schaab, Dale Shepherd, Martha Shirley*, Debbie Stevens*,
and Terri Williamson*. Schaab, Dale The Shepherd, luncheon was Martha sponsored Shirley*, by Wier Boerner Debbie Allin Stevens*, Architecture and and the Terri Pearl Williamson*. Educational Foundation The luncheon for Excellence. was
sponsored by Wier Boerner Allin Architecture and the Pearl Educational Foundation for Excellence.
112 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 113
Words are fascinating to me, and I confess that
I am much impressed with people holding and
wielding larger than usual vocabularies.
I’m especially impressed with some of the really old writers in the spiritual realm –
their vocabularies are the sort that keep me looking up the meaning of words that they
use in their books.
As I look up the meanings, I ponder the definitions and assure myself that I will retain
the new word in my vocabulary catalog and not have to look it up the next time I see it.
Much to my disappointment that’s seldom the case. My brain must have a leak due to the
Just this week I was reading in the book of Luke – the verse was in red – words
directly from God through the lips of Jesus. I didn’t need a voluminous vocabulary
to understand His words. He was reminding me that a person out of the good treasure
of their heart would speak good words, and an evil person would speak evil words
coming from their evil heart.
Sometimes I dislike words that are so easy to understand. Sometimes I wish words
weren’t so basic. Sometimes God’s Word comforts and consoles me – renews my hope,
but then sometimes I feel like I’m on the witness stand and the evidence against me is
The last portion of that verse is the real clincher. “For out of the abundance of the
heart his mouth speaks.” While I’m impressed with brains and their capacity to retain
massive vocabularies, God sees what’s in the heart. And the sobering thought is that
everyone can eventually know what’s in our hearts by what comes out of our mouths.
For a moment think about what we hear on the news and social media. Read the
quotes from newspaper headlines. Recall the conversations that you were in recently
that went ‘south’ in their direction.
I’m not suggesting that we become word inspectors for all that we hear and read.
It’s more of a suggestion that we consider our hearts and the vocabularies that they
contain. Believe me, I’ve tried to find a translation that holds less conviction, but it’s
too basic to reword. “Your words show what is in your heart.”
It appears that I’ve been impressed with the wrong kind of vocabulary. It’s the heart
vocabulary that must concern me.
114 • JUNE 2022
Hometown RANKIN • 115
Merit Health Rankin has earned
an ‘A’ for The Leapfrog Group’s
Spring 2022 Hospital Safety Grade,
a national distinction recognizing standards of
excellence in keeping patients safe and hospitals
sanitary. Thank you and congratulations to our
clinicians and staff on this achievement. We
appreciate your ongoing hard work to provide
patients with safe care.