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2 • JUNE 2022

Hometown RANKIN • 3

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Hometown RANKIN • 5

6 • JUNE 2022


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



Tahya Dobbs


Kevin Dobbs


Mary Ann Kirby


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



Brenda McCall



Caroline Hodges



Alisha Floyd

...see you around town.



Daniel Thomas




Othel Anding



Lexie Ownby

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

Camille Anding

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

know it.”

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

cost $13.

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

non-air-conditioned dwelling.

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

you’re deeply

in love.”

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

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Hometown RANKIN • 11

12 • JUNE 2022





Why did you decide to make Rankin County

your home?

I wanted to live in a county where I felt safe.

Rankin County also has a lot of attractions and

shopping centers!

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

Rankin County?

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

spare time.

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

to Paris.

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

from now?

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

expected end.”

What is your favorite thing about

Hometown Magazines?

Hometown Magazines recognizes individuals,

promotes small businesses, and informs

readers of the great things going on in our


Hometown RANKIN • 13

14 • JUNE 2022

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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

discipline philosophy?

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

your family?

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?

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.


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

Alexandra Cars

18 • JUNE 2022

Hometown RANKIN • 19

20 • JUNE 2022






Hometown RANKIN • 21

22 • JUNE 2022

The Fun


Mistie Desper

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

a lifetime.

“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

the day.

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


Welcome You Home!


Come discover Mississippi's premier Assisted Living and Memory Care

community. You will feel right at home at The Blake.



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




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

Aarika Smith

Aaron Jussely

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.

Ashley Wilkinson

Blake Chance

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

Young Professionals.

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

career achievements.

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.

Bradley Coker

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

proud of.

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!

Community Bank

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.

David Kerr

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.

Mississippi Braves

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/

Owner, Chiropractor

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

Pinelake Church.

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

Emily Wooten

Eric Tanner Long

Greg Horlock

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

are happy!

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!

Capital Ortho

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

Hannah Morrison

Jayme Elizabeth Shoemaker

Jessica Lindsey Allen

The Winning Smile Dental Group/

Project Manager

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

daughter, Magnolia.

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

Joshua Ming

Kyler Johnson

Mallory Hemphill

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

Matt Pitts

Phillip Harvey

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.

State Farm/Agent-Owner

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

Ruben Miles

Ryan Puckett

Rylea Moore

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

a dad.

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.

Community Bank/Facilities

Design-Project Manager

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/

General Manager

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

those skills.

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,

BIG Construction/

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

out there!

44 • JUNE 2022

top 40 under 40

Shelby Thomas

Capt. Sidney Nolan

Tiffany Melton

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

Fraternity Inc.

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

and family.

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

Trista Boles

Tyler Reid Boykin

Vania Martinez

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

and Cosmetology.

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

PriorityOne Bank

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.




Hometown RANKIN • 47


One College

Six Locations

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!



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 Checking

Free Mobile Banking

Free Mobile Deposit

Auto & Personal Loans

Home Mortgage Loans

www.RivertrustFCU.com Phone: 601-664-2085




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

Bus Driver

Larry Duke

Northshore Elementary


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

Cafeteria Manager



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

nominate me!

– Ashley Sistrunk

52 • JUNE 2022




McLaurin Elementary

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




Florence High

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




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.

Clay &






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

Pearl Mayor’s

Prayer Breakfast

Hosted by the

Pearl Chamber of Commerce

April 29 / Pearl Community Room


Sean Tindell

Commissioner, Mississippi

Department of Public Safety

58 • JUNE 2022

Hometown RANKIN • 59






138 Lakeland Heights Blvd.

Flowood, MS 39232


NMLS# 70244



138 Lakeland Heights Blvd.

Flowood, MS 39232


NMLS# 70252



1255 West Government Street

Brandon, MS 39042


NMLS# 85845



2441 Old Brandon Road

Pearl, MS 39208


NMLS# 730127

60 • JUNE 2022

Hometown RANKIN • 61

Flowood Mayor’s

Prayer Breakfast


Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann

May 13 / The Ivy

62 • JUNE 2022

Hometown RANKIN • 63

64 • JUNE 2022

Hometown RANKIN • 65

Advertiser Spotlight

Waterpointe Living

Susan Marquez

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

their home.”

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

come together.”

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

my family.”

Hometown RANKIN • 67

172nd Airlift Wing

Melanie McMillan

Service before self.

Integrity first.

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

recruiting tools.”

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

really true.”

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

Honoring the


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

Single Father

Michael Wolf

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

the mornings.

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

Military Father

John Myers

“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

in life.

78 • JUNE 2022

Retired Father


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

become adults.

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

Adoptive Father

David Horner

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

mighty ways.

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






1047 N. Flowood Drive | Flowood, MS 39232


Hometown RANKIN • 81

82 • JUNE 2022


City of Richland



of Prayer

May 4, 2022 / Richland City Hall

Hometown RANKIN • 83

84 • JUNE 2022

Personal loans

designed for YOU!



©2022 JEA

Hometown RANKIN • 85

86 • JUNE 2022

May 13-14

Hometown RANKIN • 87



Congratulations to Savana Skelton

for being named among Hometown Rankin’s

Top 40 Under 40.

Member FDIC

Bank NMLS# 455990

Savana NMLS# 1119600


22ORIGIN096_40Under40_HometownRankin.indd 1

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

5th grade





campus tours available now!

Contact Tracie Mallard, Director of Admission, at 601.939.8611 or

tmallard@jacksonprep.net, 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

Brandon Mayor’s

Prayer Breakfast


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,

or almonds

• 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

refrigerate overnight

or at least 6 hours.

Basic Smoothie

• 8 oz. milk

• 4 oz. low fat or fruit

flavored yogurt

• 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

pie crust

• 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

condensed milk

• 1½ cups fresh strawberries,

chopped or can use blueberries

or peaches

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

health concerns.

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





102 • JUNE 2022

Hometown RANKIN • 103

©2022 Jackson Eye Associates

Meet our newest physician

Dr. Charles McGuffey.

Dr. McGuffey’s primary

focuses will be:




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

Advertiser Spotlight

Susan Marquez

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

to us.”

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 (*)

Friends and


family gathered




a luncheon


honoring the










District retirees.

The 2021-2022

This group has


more than


380 years


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

TheTime COIN

Camille Anding

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

aging process!

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.


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