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V1011<br />

1223<br />

Tree<br />

GLEE<br />

Christmas<br />

treats &<br />


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4 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 5

Merry<br />

Christmas!<br />

“Glory to God in the highest<br />

heaven, and on earth peace to<br />

those on whom his favor rests.”<br />

Luke 2:14<br />


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6 • DECEMBER 2023


“Tis the season,” and I sure do love the season of Christmas.<br />

The December calendar always runs out of days before<br />

we can fill in all the events we hope to attend, but somehow<br />

the Christmas spirit is gifted with a special ability to coat the<br />

busyness of the month with joy and extra kindness.<br />

My family will be sure to attend some Christmas musicals<br />

and drive through some nativity scenes that will bring renewed<br />

meaning to the birth of our Savior. Those Bethlehem scenes will<br />

certainly remind me of some of the church presentations where<br />

my brother and I made some memories in our own childhood!<br />

My mom was responsible for converting adult bathrobes,<br />

scarves, and fabric scraps into shepherd and angel costumes.<br />

My brother, Eli, always insisted on wearing his newest pair of<br />

tennis shoes instead of the sandals selected for him. He promised<br />

that the lighting would be dim and he would hold his robe to<br />

cover his feet.<br />

I was an angel wearing an adult choir robe, made to fit with<br />

an arsenal of safety pins. My gold tinsel halo was secured with<br />

bobby pins, and my coat hanger wings always got hung up<br />

with the other winged angels.<br />

How times, wardrobes, and nativity presentations have<br />

changed. But how we rejoice that one thing will never change:<br />

Immanuel – God with us. That’s reason to celebrate for all<br />

seasons.<br />



Tahya Dobbs<br />

CFO<br />

Kevin Dobbs<br />


Mary Ann Kirby<br />


The Way We Were 8<br />

Christmas Treats & Treasures 12<br />

Tree Glee 20<br />

Hometown Family 29<br />

A Contented Transplant 34<br />

Art Contest 54<br />

Kids Who Care 74<br />

The Time Coin 90<br />

...see you around town.<br />


Barbie Bassett<br />


Amy Forsyth<br />



Melissa Kennon<br />



Alisha Floyd<br />


Daniel Thomas<br />

3dt<br />

STAFF<br />


Othel Anding<br />

STAFF<br />


Debby Francis<br />


Susan Wolgamott<br />

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<br />

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.<br />

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Hometown RANKIN • 7

Linda & Rusty Scafidel<br />

Camille Anding<br />

Rusty Scafidel has always been<br />

fascinated with light. The Light of the<br />

world that entered his heart when a<br />

member of Alta Woods Baptist<br />

Church was the beginning of his love<br />

for light, and that progressed to light<br />

that man could control. His dad,<br />

realizing his son’s interest in light,<br />

bought Rusty a spotlight when he was<br />

fourteen so he could study and groom<br />

his lighting interests through special<br />

programs and events at his church.<br />

When Rusty was a high school<br />

senior, another light entered his life<br />

and romantic interests. That “cute<br />

little girl,” Linda Pevey, who moved<br />

from North Carolina to Jackson, just<br />

happened to be a high school senior<br />

that joined Alta Woods Church and<br />

became an active member of Rusty’s<br />

youth group. That put the two<br />

together in Sunday school and all the<br />

activities that their group of approximately<br />

ten others enjoyed.<br />

The youth group participated in a<br />

mission trip to Montana at the end of<br />

Rusty and Linda’s senior year. The<br />

two credit that trip for the time they<br />

got to know each other and for<br />

forming a unique friendship. Even<br />

though Rusty’s shy personality didn’t<br />

allow him the courage to ask Linda<br />

for a date, they each understood that<br />

their friendship was growing deeper.<br />

College enrollment sent them in<br />

opposite directions – Linda to the<br />

University of Southern Mississippi<br />

where she majored in English, and<br />

Rusty began his computer studies at<br />

Mississippi College. The two began<br />

corresponding by letter-writing, and<br />

Linda also expressed her affection by<br />

making Rusty handmade “happies,”<br />

like books and a special bottle collage<br />

from their mission trip. (Rusty<br />

retrieved the bottle from a nearby<br />

closet while they were sharing about<br />

their budding romance.)<br />

Rusty laughed when he described<br />

some of the “goofy” ways he corresponded<br />

with Linda. She remembered<br />

an empty envelope that he sent, but the<br />

words were written in a circle on the<br />

inside of the envelope. “I remember<br />

writing one letter on toilet paper,” he<br />

said as the two laughed about their<br />

early correspondence.<br />

It was during a college fall retreat<br />

that their original youth group attended<br />

in Alabama that Rusty finally gained<br />

enough courage to ask Linda to go for<br />

a walk after a night session ended.<br />

That was their description of their<br />

first official date involving just the two<br />

of them.<br />

Rusty knew from that memorable<br />

walk that he had found his future wife.<br />

Linda knew that Rusty was high on her<br />

list, but as a Dixie Darling for her last<br />

two years at Southern, she confessed<br />

to a few more dates with other guys.<br />

After Linda’s family moved from<br />

Jackson to Morton during her last years<br />

at Southern, Rusty made weekend trips<br />

to Morton on a regular basis. Now<br />

Linda was convinced that she had<br />

found her future husband. “We were<br />

just always meant to be together,”<br />

she said.<br />

Both sets of their parents realized<br />

that marriage was in the future for this<br />

college couple. Rusty’s dad assured him<br />

that he could help them if they wanted<br />

to get married while still in college.<br />

Linda’s dad approved of Rusty as a<br />

future son-in-law, but insisted that<br />

8 • DECEMBER 2023

“ ...know that the<br />

closer you get to<br />

Jesus, the closer<br />

you get to your<br />

spouse.”<br />

Rusty have a degree and employment<br />

before becoming Linda’s husband.<br />

That day finally came, and Rusty<br />

went to ask Linda’s dad for his<br />

blessings on their marriage. Linda,<br />

being the daddy’s girl that she was,<br />

wanted to sit in on the conversation<br />

and “help” with Rusty’s shyness. It<br />

was a bad plan. Rusty’s nerves got the<br />

best of him, and the conversation<br />

ended before his courage arrived.<br />

Rusty decided he would have the<br />

talk after he proposed to Linda, so he<br />

asked Linda to take a ride to nearby<br />

Roosevelt State Park. There by the<br />

lake, he opened the little black box<br />

and showed her the engagement ring<br />

as he asked her to be his wife. She<br />

agreed without hesitation, and then<br />

they tossed the little black box into<br />

the lake – a visible commitment to<br />

each other that there would never be<br />

a need for another engagement ring.<br />

The “talk” followed with renewed<br />

courage and an agreeable future<br />

father-in-law<br />

As college graduates, Linda and<br />

Rusty were wed at Alta Woods Baptist<br />

Church on August 19, 1972. They<br />

returned from their honeymoon to<br />

their first newlywed apartment to find<br />

that their church group had been<br />

there before them. They had rolled<br />

the entire apartment, taken labels off<br />

the canned goods and stuffed the<br />

fridge with newspapers!<br />

Rusty’s first job was in the computer<br />

lab at The University Medical Center.<br />

Linda applied for work at the YWCA,<br />

hoping to use her years of dance<br />

classes to teach preschool and adult<br />

ballet. They needed a teenage program<br />

director first, so the dance classes came<br />

later. In 1976, Linda opened her own<br />

dance studio that she operated for<br />

fifteen years.<br />

Rusty’s computer skills eventually<br />

gained him the position as analyst<br />

director for Jackson Public Schools<br />

and then to executive director of<br />

information technology of Jackson<br />

Public Schools. He retired from that<br />

position and took Linda’s advice to do<br />

what he enjoyed. Theatrical Lighting<br />

Systems out of Huntsville, Alabama,<br />

fit the bill. The company eventually<br />

opened an office in Jackson that Rusty<br />

managed until his second retirement.<br />

Today the couple spends most of<br />

their service hours at their church<br />

– First Baptist in Jackson. Linda is a<br />

regular choir member and presently<br />

WMU (Women’s Missionary Union)<br />

president. Rusty is “captain of the<br />

lights” and is responsible for using his<br />

talent and expertise in enhancing<br />

worship experiences with his gifted<br />

use of lighting.<br />

Family time is rich with both<br />

daughters, Christy Emerson, and<br />

Bonnie Snellgrove with their families<br />

– husbands and five grands – living<br />

nearby.<br />

Their qualified marriage advice is<br />

not complicated. Rusty says, “Marry<br />

a Christian and be willing to work to<br />

make a blessed marriage.” Linda<br />

added, “Always remember why you<br />

got married and know that the closer<br />

you get to Jesus, the closer you get to<br />

your spouse.”<br />

That’s invaluable advice for<br />

couples who pledge to need only<br />

one engagement ring box.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 9

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10 • DECEMBER 2023

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Hometown RANKIN • 11

Christmas<br />

treats &<br />

Treasures<br />

Recently, we spent the day at Mockingbird Marketplace with the Junior<br />

Auxiliary of Rankin County tasting some yummy Christmas treats while<br />

discovering creative ways of displaying them for the holidays. Featured<br />

on the following pages are the recipes from that day.<br />

The Junior Auxiliary of Rankin County was founded in 1986 and is a<br />

non-profit, volunteer service organization that serves the needs of<br />

children, youth, and families in our community. This is accomplished<br />

through community service projects and by working closely with<br />

schools and other organizations. JARC depends solely on donations<br />

and sponsorship from individuals and local businesses.<br />

We hope that you’ll enjoy serving these in your homes this Christmas<br />

and will support the Junior Auxiliary whenever possible. Visit rankinja.org<br />

for more information.<br />

And be sure to check out the incredible selection of Christmas and holiday<br />

décor at Mockingbird Marketplace in Brandon.<br />

Merry Christmas!<br />

12 • DECEMBER 2023

Bourbon Pecan Pie<br />

• 1/2 cup dark brown sugar<br />

• 1 Tablespoon all purpose flour<br />

• 11/2 cups corn syrup<br />

• 1/4 teaspoon salt<br />

• 3 large eggs, beaten<br />

• 3 Tablespoons bourbon<br />

• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract<br />

• 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter,<br />

melted<br />

• 11/2 cups pecan halves<br />

Preheat oven to 325. Place pecan halves evenly over<br />

bottom of the par-baked pie shell. Blend together<br />

sugar and flour, add all remaining ingredients, and<br />

blend thoroughly by hand with a heavy wired whisk.<br />

Pour mixture into pie shell, over the pecans, and<br />

bake at 325 until set - about 60 minutes.<br />

NOTES<br />

Dark corn syrup is preferred but light will also work.<br />

If you prefer to leave the bourbon out, increase vanilla<br />

to 2 teaspoons. Pre-bake pie shell for 10-15 minutes<br />

at 350.<br />

Regina Todd<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 13

Celiac Friendly Coconut Cake<br />

Danielle Ervin<br />

• 2 cups (280g) all-purpose gluten free<br />

flour blend<br />

I used Better Batter; you must use one of my<br />

recommended blends, measure by weight,<br />

and sift or the recipe won’t work<br />

• 1 teaspoon xanthan gum<br />

omit if your blend already contains it<br />

• 6 Tablespoons (54g) cornstarch<br />

replace with 6 tablespoons additional<br />

Cup4Cup if Cup4Cup is your all purpose<br />

gluten free flour<br />

• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda<br />

• 2 teaspoons baking powder<br />

• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt<br />

• 4 egg whites (100g) at room temperature<br />

• 1 egg (50g weighed out of shell)<br />

at room temperature<br />

• 11/3 cups (10 ounces) buttermilk<br />

at room temperature<br />

• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract<br />

• 10 Tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter<br />

at room temperature<br />

• 11/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar<br />

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 8-inch round<br />

cake pans and line the bottom with a round<br />

of parchment paper (trace the pan on the<br />

parchment, then cut out). Into a medium bowl,<br />

sift flour blend, xanthan gum, and cornstarch.<br />

Add baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and<br />

whisk to combine.<br />

In a large measuring cup or medium-size bowl,<br />

place egg whites and egg, buttermilk, and vanilla.<br />

Whisk to combine well.<br />

In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle or a<br />

large bowl with a handheld mixer, beat butter<br />

and sugar on medium-high for at least three<br />

minutes, stopping at least once to scrape the<br />

entire mixture off the sides and bottom of the<br />

bowl, or until very light and fluffy. Add dry<br />

ingredients in four equal portions, alternating<br />

with buttermilk and egg mixture in three parts,<br />

beginning and ending with the dry ingredients<br />

and mixing to combine in between additions.<br />

Batter will sometimes look a bit curdled.<br />

Once all ingredients have been added, beat<br />

for another minute on medium to ensure that<br />

everything is combined, then turn over the<br />

batter a few times by hand.<br />

The batter should be fluffy and relatively smooth,<br />

although a few lumps are fine. Do not overmix.<br />

It will be relatively thick. Divide evenly between<br />

the pans and smooth into an even layer with an<br />

offset spatula. Bang the bottoms of the pans flat<br />

on the counter a few times to break any large air<br />

bubbles. Place in the center of the oven and bake<br />

for 20 minutes. Rotate the pans and continue to<br />

bake until the cakes are lightly golden brown,<br />

have begun to pull away from the sides of the<br />

pan and do not jiggle in the center at all (about<br />

another 10 minutes). These tests for doneness<br />

are more useful than the toothpick test. Do not<br />

overbake.<br />

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for<br />

15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack<br />

(and removing the parchment paper liners) to<br />

cool completely before frosting and serving.<br />

14 • DECEMBER 2023

Strawberry Cream Cheese Fruit Surprise<br />

• 1 can fruit cocktail, drained<br />

• 1 8-oz. jar sweet cherries,<br />

no stems, juice drained<br />

• 16 oz. chopped walnuts<br />

• 1/2 lb. seedless grapes,<br />

washed and cut in half<br />

• 1 cup chocolate chips<br />

• 1/4 cup sugar<br />

• 2 blocks cream cheese<br />

• 2 8-oz. containers of cool whip<br />

• 2 graham cracker crusts<br />

• 1 can strawberry pie filling<br />

Substitute your favorite –<br />

blueberry, cherry, peach pie filling.<br />

Allow cream cheese to soften at room temperature.<br />

Combine cream cheese and cool whip in a large mixing<br />

bowl. Mix until smooth. Stir in sugar and continue to mix<br />

until dissolved in the cream cheese and cool whip batter.<br />

Gradually add all fruit while stirring. Gradually mix in<br />

chocolate chips and walnuts. Continue to stir in all<br />

ingredients until everything is covered in the cream<br />

cheese and cool whip mixture. Pour mixture evenly<br />

into pie shells. Place in freezer to mold.<br />


Mix strawberry pie filling in a bowl with 1/2 cup water<br />

adding sugar to sweeten to your taste. Remove pies<br />

and pour mixture on each evenly and place back in the<br />

freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to mold. Remove and serve!<br />

Tammy Aiken<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 15

Hummingbird Cake<br />

Kymberly Hudson<br />

• 1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple<br />

in 100% pineapple juice<br />

• 3 cups all purpose flour<br />

• 2 cups granulated white sugar<br />

• 1½ teaspoons baking soda<br />

• ½ teaspoon salt<br />

• 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon<br />

• 3 eggs, room temperature, beaten<br />

• 1¼ cups vegetable oil<br />

• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract<br />

• ½ cup of reserved pineapple juice<br />

• 2 cups ripe bananas, chopped<br />

• 1 cup reserved crushed pineapple<br />

(do not add the remaining pineapple and juice<br />

to this recipe)<br />

• 1 cup chopped toasted nuts, pecans<br />

and/or walnuts<br />

• 2 - 3 tablespoons unsalted butter,<br />

room temperature, for cake pans<br />

• All purpose flour for the cake pans<br />

Preheat oven to 350. Drain crushed pineapple<br />

and reserve the juice. Measure 1 cup of pineapple<br />

and ½ pineapple juice. Chop bananas. Chop<br />

nuts, if necessary. Set aside. Combine flour, sugar,<br />

baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl<br />

and mix well. The dry ingredients may also be<br />

sifted together. Set aside.<br />

In large bowl beat the eggs with a whisk or a<br />

hand mixer. Add oil, pineapple juice, and vanilla<br />

extract. Mix until well combined. Gradually add<br />

and mix in the flour mixture in three stages to the<br />

wet ingredients. Mix just until the batter is<br />

incorporated, do not over mix.<br />

Fold the bananas, crushed pineapple, and nuts<br />

into the batter using a spatula. Butter and flour<br />

three 9-inch cake pans. Pour 2½ cups of batter<br />

into each pan. Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes.<br />

Insert a toothpick into the cake layers at the<br />

25-minute mark to see if it comes out clean.<br />

Once done, let the layers cool in the pans for<br />

10 minutes and then invert on to a cooling rack<br />

to cool completely.<br />


• ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature<br />

• 12 ounces cream cheese, not low fat,<br />

room temperature<br />

• 3 cups powdered sugar<br />

• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract<br />

Combine butter and cream cheese in a large<br />

bowl and mix using a hand mixer. Add vanilla.<br />

Mix until well combined. Gradually add and blend<br />

in powdered sugar. Place the first cake layer right<br />

side up on a cake plate. Spread one cup of<br />

frosting over the top. Place the second layer<br />

upside down and spread another cup of frosting.<br />

Place the final cake layer upside down and spread<br />

the remaining frosting over the sides and top of<br />

the cake. Cut and serve.<br />

16 • DECEMBER 2023

Red Velvet Brownies<br />


• 120g (½ cup) unsalted butter<br />

• 200g (1 cup) granulated sugar<br />

• 2 large eggs<br />

• ½ tsp. baking powder<br />

• 30g (¼ cup) cocoa powder<br />

• 80g (²/₃ cup) all-purpose flour<br />

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract<br />

• A few drops of gel red food coloring,<br />

or 1 teaspoon liquid coloring<br />

Preheat oven to 320 and line a 8x8 baking pan.<br />

Melt butter in the microwave. Add sugar, cocoa<br />

powder, vanilla extract, and food coloring, whisk<br />

to combine. Add eggs one at a time, whisking<br />

until smooth. Sift in flour and baking powder, and<br />

fold to combine. Reserve a ¼ cup batter to swirl<br />

and transfer the remaining batter to the lined tray<br />


• 8 ounces cream cheese, softened<br />

• 1 large egg<br />

• ¼ cup granulated sugar<br />

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract<br />

Combine cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla<br />

in a largebowl and beat with an electric mixer or<br />

stand mixer until smooth. Spoon dollops of the<br />

cheesecake mixture over the brownie batter and<br />

top with the remaining brownie batter. Use a<br />

knife to create swirls of cheesecake in the batter<br />

and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick<br />

emerges with a few moist crumbs. Cool<br />

completely, cut into squares, and enjoy!<br />

Shanna Spann<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 17

Help a child<br />

While you shop.<br />

Friends of Children’s Hospital Debit Card<br />

The Friends Card cost $12 per year, 100% of which is donated to Friends.<br />

BankPlus makes a donation to Friends each time the card is used.<br />

Available via instant issue. Since inception, the Friends debt card has<br />

raised over $4,000,000.<br />

© Copyright 2023 BankPlus.<br />

Member FDIC.<br />

18 • DECEMBER 2023

Wise Men<br />

Still Seek Him<br />

When the Maji saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.<br />

After coming into the house, they saw the Child with Mary His mother,<br />

and they fell to the ground and worshipped him. –Matthew 2:10-11<br />



Hometown RANKIN • 19

Tree<br />

GLEE<br />

Lexie Ownby<br />

We know that Christmas<br />

is the most wonderful<br />

time of the year, filled with<br />

many holiday traditions.<br />

From stringing lights on the<br />

front porch, hanging ornaments<br />

on the tree, and maybe even<br />

decorating a gingerbread house,<br />

the Christmas spirit shines bright<br />

for many of us during this time.<br />

For some, it shines even brighter.<br />

Allie Walters is a fourth generation<br />

Brandon 39042 local, and has<br />

lived in this area her entire life.<br />

For as long as Allie can remember, her mom had multiple<br />

Christmas trees every year. Most had a specific theme, and no<br />

two were the same. Her mom also had the most beautiful snow<br />

village that she set up each year. All of that made their home<br />

the most magical place at Christmas! Allie knew that she wanted<br />

her kids to have that same love for not only the fun and magic of<br />

Christmas that decorations provide, but also for being a part of<br />

the tradition of putting the trees up together as a family, and<br />

hosting loved ones to enjoy them during the holiday season.<br />

The tradition all started when the family decided to renovate<br />

their home. After her dad passed away, the renovations and<br />

add-ons to her childhood home started. The Walters family<br />

had no idea that just a month into the renovation process that<br />

the pandemic would show up, full-force. It was a long, frustrating,<br />

and sometimes sad process due to the recent loss of her father,<br />

but in June of 2022, the renovation process was finally complete.<br />

“Throughout that whole process, my one goal was to keep joy<br />

in our home. Some days were harder than others, but we made<br />

sure to focus on being grateful for being all together and to<br />

making the most of whatever phase of the process in which we<br />

found ourselves,” Allie says. Since the family hadn’t been able to<br />

really decorate for Christmas the last few years, they decided to<br />

go all out for their first Christmas in their finally finished home!<br />

Filled of Christmas spirit, Allie Walters and her family decorated<br />

their newly finished house with 10 full-size Christmas trees, along<br />

with a few small ones here and there. Allie mentioned that her<br />

mom and her tend to have different taste on a lot of things, but<br />

one thing they both love is a good theme.<br />

The Christmas trees filled their home, starting in the living room,<br />

and even making an appearance on the back porch and the closet!<br />

Each tree had a different unique theme and color scheme, as well<br />

a name–but they all ended up having one thing in common.<br />

“Although I had not purposely planned it, as I was finishing up<br />

the trees, my mom pointed out that each tree featured the word<br />

JOY in some way. Whether it was ornaments, ribbon, or some<br />

other fun embellishment, each one of my creations had come to<br />

include the word that had been my mantra over the last two and<br />

half years,” she said.<br />

Last Christmas, the family had<br />

the following trees in their home...<br />

20 • DECEMBER 2023

Elves in Santa’s<br />

Workshop<br />

The family’s favorite room is the family room that leads out to<br />

the screened-in porch. Allie and her mom wanted this room<br />

to be the most magical and fun! This cyrpess spruce is dubbed<br />

“Elves in Santa’s Workshop.” The tree was decked out with years of<br />

collected Santa Claus ornaments with mini elf ornaments, elf shoes,<br />

and fun elf ribbon. It was topped off with Ho Ho Ho pics and a Santa<br />

hat topper and some bright lime ribbon. The warning of<br />

“No Peeking” was added as a finishing touch.<br />

Merry & Bright<br />

Out on the porch was the “Merry and Bright” tree. This seven-foot<br />

flocked pine, which Allie’s handy husband put on a rolling stand<br />

for the family to be able to roll away from the screens in case of<br />

bad weather, had enough colors and sparkles on it to brighten<br />

the toughest Scrooge’s day! This tree became a photo backdrop<br />

favorite with its sequin retro lightbulb ornaments and fun tinsel!<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 21

Fa La La La Leopard<br />

“Fa La La La Leopard” was the first tree you saw when you<br />

stepped inside their home. A 7.5 foot flocked cashmere pine,<br />

it was centered on the back wall of the living room and was<br />

drenched in gold ornaments and ribbon with touches<br />

of turquoise and leopard print.<br />

Dat You Santy Claus?<br />

The hallway leading to their master bedroom featured<br />

a pair of matching seven foot fir pencil trees. Allie wanted<br />

to incorporate black into these trees to give them a chic,<br />

elegant look. As she began to play with decorations, she started<br />

to get a jazzy, New Orleans feel. Since the family loves<br />

all things NOLA, from the Saints to Satchmo, they settled<br />

on the name “Dat You, Santy Claus?”<br />

22 • DECEMBER 2023

Frosty In The Orient<br />

Since Allie’s mom’s favorite color is blue, she has had a blue and white<br />

snowman tree for many years. They knew this would be the perfect<br />

tree to go in the mother-in-law suite. This year, they started with<br />

a 7.5 rotating Douglas fir and added in another one of her blue<br />

collections, chinoiserie, to give this tree a completely new look!<br />

“Frosty In The Orient” as they named it, was a favorite<br />

of many of their guests.<br />

My Colors Are<br />

Blush & Bashful<br />

Inside their master bedroom stood the tallest tree. Nine feet tall<br />

and flocked, this Alaskan pine was decorated in various shades<br />

of blush and rose gold. One of Allie’s favorite features of this tree<br />

was the assortment of blush poinsettia and magnolia blossoms tucked<br />

in here and there. As she tried to think of a clever Christmas themed<br />

name for this tree, the only name that seemed to fit was<br />

“My Colors Are Blush and Bashful.”<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 23

Our Finest<br />

Gifts We Bring<br />

This 7.5 foot balsam fir was decorated in<br />

gold and white, and featured what most<br />

southern girls would consider one of their<br />

most prized possessions-pearls. From the<br />

pearl detailing on many of the ornaments<br />

and the pearl encrusted picks that adorned<br />

the top of the tree, to an assortment of<br />

pearl Christmas trees down the center of<br />

the dining room table, the theme was<br />

carried throughout the entire room.<br />

Woodsman<br />

Another treasured Christmas<br />

collection that Allie has had since<br />

childhood is her nutcracker collection.<br />

She wanted to display these in their home<br />

and decided to decorate a tree to match.<br />

Allie used ornaments from one of the trees<br />

she and husband Tyler had in their very<br />

first home which had a woodland theme<br />

with tartan accents. These special<br />

ornaments along with some fun nutcracker<br />

ornaments and ribbon that she added to<br />

the seven foot fir made for the perfect<br />

combo for their “Woodsmen” tree.<br />

In the past, Allie has always<br />

made a point to have all of the<br />

Christmas trees and decorations<br />

down and everything put away<br />

by New Years Eve. This year,<br />

they got everything down before<br />

school started back for the second<br />

semester, but they took their time<br />

organizing and putting things up,<br />

since it had all been pulled out<br />

of storage from the renovation.<br />

A house that is decked in<br />

Christmas decorations from<br />

front door to back door, is a<br />

tradition that the Walters family<br />

adores and looks forward to year<br />

after year. Allie’s one goal was to<br />

keep joy in their home, and to<br />

focus on being grateful for each<br />

other. Not only did joy fill their<br />

home, it was also incorporated<br />

within each theme of all ten<br />

Christmas trees. Traditions are<br />

fundamental for many families<br />

during the holiday season, and the<br />

Walters family will always value<br />

their time as a family decorating,<br />

and keeping joy alive, together.<br />

24 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 25

See why Fortune ranked Nucor No. 1 in its industry on the<br />

World’s Most Admired Companies list as well as one of the<br />

Best Workplaces in Manufacturing and Production.<br />

www.nucor.com/careers<br />

26 • DECEMBER 2023

A Season of Love and Light<br />

A Season of Love and Light<br />

We remain inspired to serve our community — especially those most<br />

in need — through the healing ministry of Jesus Christ, the power of<br />

listening and sharing God’s love. We wish you and your loved ones a<br />

joyous Christmas season and a healthy, happy New Year.<br />

stdom.com<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 27

28 • DECEMBER 2023

The Bradfords<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

Lewis, 42, enjoys hunting and fishing and anything outdoors.<br />

Alyssa, 39, likes to read historical fiction books and lead worship<br />

at Pinelake church on occasion<br />

Lilly Claire, 9, enjoys playing soccer, reading, and doing 500-piece<br />

puzzles. She is in 4th grade.<br />

Madilyn, 6, enjoys weekly gymnastics classes and is soaking up finally<br />

being a big kid and going to kindergarten at Oakdale Elementary.<br />

Both girls love our Springer Spaniel, Branch, named after Justin<br />

Timberlake’s character in Trolls, but also something that was tolerable<br />

for the outdoors-loving Lewis.<br />

How did you meet and how long have you been married?<br />

We met after Lewis saw me singing at a church Christmas program<br />

in 2009. It was through one of my most embarrassing moments that<br />

he learned my name. We were engaged and married in 2011.<br />

Do you allow time to be with your spouse for a date night?<br />

We do continue to try for date nights with the help of grandparents or<br />

actual paid babysitters. McClain and Sunset Grille are our go-to local<br />

restaurants, but we also love a quiet date at home and will pick up<br />

Kenova.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 29

30 • DECEMBER 2023

What brings you the greatest joy as a parent?<br />

Hearing our girls pray each night. It lets us know what<br />

has meant the most to them as they ask God to help<br />

them or thank Him for the things and people around<br />

them. Madilyn has recently thanked God for firemen<br />

and police officers after their community helper<br />

module at school.<br />

Who is the financial manager in your home?<br />

Alyssa is the financial manager, keeping track of bills.<br />

When your children were younger, what was<br />

your discipline philosophy?<br />

Respect and honor adults. Be kind. If you don’t,<br />

you’ll have a meeting with Mr. Spanky, a wooden<br />

spoon that has been drawn on over the years by the<br />

little Bradfords themselves.<br />

What do you see in your role as the greatest<br />

benefit to your family?<br />

Showing them how to be kind and support people<br />

whether you agree with them on every part of life<br />

or not. That’s what Jesus asks us to do.<br />

What’s a quick go-to meal that isn’t fast food?<br />

And who does the cooking?<br />

I do almost all the cooking unless Lewis fries fish or<br />

puts something on the grill. Weekday go-to meals are<br />

usually spaghetti or tacos.<br />

How long has Brandon been your home?<br />

Lewis moved to Brandon in 2006 when he began<br />

teaching and coaching at Northwest Rankin High<br />

School. I moved to Flowood/Brandon in 2007 during<br />

PT school and have remained since. We built and<br />

moved into our current home in 2016.<br />

What are some of your favorite things about<br />

Rankin County?<br />

Favorite things are our church, our friends and the<br />

community, and the Reservoir.<br />

How do you spend summer breaks?<br />

The girls usually spend time with cousins and<br />

grandparents in Louisiana. Then we meet up with<br />

Lewis’s parents, his sister, and her family for a week<br />

at the beach.<br />

What accomplishments make you proud<br />

during your time living in Rankin County?<br />

Lewis has been Administrator of the Month on<br />

three occasions for the Rankin County School<br />

District. He was also recognized as Mississippi’s<br />

Assistant Principal of the Year in 2022.<br />

What drives you to have the job that you<br />

have? And what do you do for a living?<br />

Drive for my current job comes from wanting to<br />

inspire future physical therapists to be excited about<br />

the potential they have to impact people’s lives, to<br />

be better, and be motivated to be constant critical<br />

thinkers. I am a physical therapist at Children’s of<br />

Mississippi with a clinical specialization in pediatrics,<br />

and an assistant professor for the UMC PT school.<br />

Lewis is principal of NWR High School and enjoys<br />

truly serving people. He has been called into the<br />

profession to help build young people into the best<br />

people they can be and prepare them to help make<br />

the world a better place.<br />


What’s your favorite thing to do as a family?<br />

Madilyn family movie night<br />

LC dinner time<br />

What’s your favorite restaurant?<br />

Madilyn Newks<br />

LC Soulshine<br />

What’s your favorite TV show?<br />

Madilyn The Masked Singer<br />

LC Dancing with the Stars<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 31

32 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 33

34 • DECEMBER 2023

A<br />

Contented<br />

Transplant<br />

Camille Anding<br />

“Why not try an exchange student?”<br />

That was the friend’s question that<br />

initiated Amanda and Sam Fant looking into<br />

the possibility of hosting an exchange student.<br />

For months their hearts had been open and<br />

receptive to sharing their spacious home with<br />

a child or young person in need. Their first<br />

thoughts were the possibility of adoption or<br />

fostering a child.<br />

After completing all the paperwork and<br />

completing multiple steps, they gained their<br />

license to foster and soon welcomed a young<br />

boy into their home. It was a wonderful<br />

experience until they had to give the child up<br />

to one of his family members. The Fants<br />

hadn’t realized how difficult it would be to<br />

love a child and then have to “let go.”<br />

It was for that reason that hosting an<br />

exchange student seemed like such a great<br />

idea. Both parties would know it would be<br />

a year’s stay and a wonderful opportunity to<br />

make new friends with a family in another<br />

country. Sam said, “I told Amanda, ‘Let’s pray<br />

and talk about it.’” The Fants agreed that this<br />

felt right.<br />

They contacted the American Scandinavian<br />

Student Exchange and Amanda said,<br />

“The ball rolled really quickly!” Soon, they<br />

were going through files of students that had<br />

applied for the exchange program. One<br />

young lady kept coming back to their top<br />

choice list – Irma Boracchini.<br />

She was from Reggio Emilia, a small<br />

town in northern Italy. Amanda and Sam<br />

agreed that she seemed to be the perfect fit<br />

to share their Mississippi home.<br />

In mid-August, Sam was at work while<br />

monitoring Irma’s flight from Italy to<br />

Mississippi on his computer. Irma’s parents<br />

were doing the same thing. Even though it<br />

seemed like a challenging adventure for a<br />

high school senior, both of Irma’s parents<br />

had encouraged her to participate in the<br />

program. Her mom had been an exchange<br />

student at age seventeen and Irma’s two<br />

older sisters had been exchange students in<br />

Thailand and Uruguay. Their experiences<br />

had been positive, so Irma was excited about<br />

living “abroad” for a year.<br />

The petite, dark-haired beauty arrived<br />

safely, and after a couple of rest days to recover<br />

from jet lag, she enrolled at Northwest<br />

Rankin as a senior. The students, teachers,<br />

and administration gave her a cordial<br />

welcome, and Irma, assisted by her Mississippi<br />

“parents” and counselor, wasted no time in<br />

getting involved in school life.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 35

The fall semester had already begun, but<br />

by Friday evening of her first week of school,<br />

Irma had joined the show choir, gotten a<br />

senior t-shirt, attended the senior breakfast,<br />

parade, pep rally, and her first-ever football<br />

game. She even sang the national anthem<br />

with the show choir at halftime – after much<br />

practice at home, learning the words!<br />

Her counselor from her Italian school,<br />

via email, assisted in making her class schedule.<br />

He told Irma to choose the most difficult<br />

math courses that were offered. She’s<br />

presently a calculus student and is indebted<br />

to Mrs. Winstead, her teacher, for compiling<br />

a list of translations to math terms that Irma<br />

would need for the class.<br />

Sam laughed as he shared about Irma’s<br />

first request, “She wanted to ride a school<br />

bus – a yellow one - like she had seen in the<br />

films. Walking and riding her bike are her<br />

only means of travel to her Italian school.”<br />

Her wish was granted. Irma smiled and<br />

said, “It’s not what I expected.”<br />

Even though Irma’s home school is in<br />

session six days a week, and graduation is<br />

complete after thirteen years of school, she’s<br />

impressed with her classes at NW Rankin,<br />

her teachers, and the challenging level of her<br />

courses compared to those in her home<br />

school. “I study a lot,” she said, and those<br />

studies are reflected in her first six-week<br />

grades - all A’s!<br />

Yes, she misses her family–especially<br />

her two younger sisters, but her Mississippi<br />

parents (she calls them mom and dad) have<br />

kept her busy when she’s not in school.<br />

They’ve taken her to the beach at Pensacola,<br />

taken a day trip to New Orleans, toured the<br />

Mississippi State Capitol where she met<br />

some of the legislators, and introduced her<br />

to her first cinnamon roll at the Midsouth<br />

Fair. Attending church at Pinelake has been<br />

another experience that she’s loved.<br />

Even though the student exchange rules<br />

don’t allow her to go home during the year,<br />

modern technology allows her to stay in<br />

touch with her family via FaceTime, emails,<br />

and Instagram. Her dad is a dedicated Dallas<br />

Cowboys fan and watches all their games on<br />

TV. It’s not unusual for Sam to get a text<br />

message from Irma’s dad, commenting on<br />

a certain play. Differences in time zones can<br />

mean pre-dawn texts!<br />

Irma’s communication skills in English<br />

are impressive, and Amanda and Sam agree<br />

that she continues to improve daily. Her<br />

Italian accent is pleasing, and she’s already<br />

added “y’all” to her vocabulary. Her<br />

personality is charming and warm –<br />

Amanda calls her an angel.<br />

The Fants have plans to take her to<br />

Gatlinburg, San Antonio, and Dallas, and<br />

introduce her to some offshore fishing.<br />

A Grove experience at an Ole Miss game<br />

is also on their itinerary.<br />

Irma’s Mississippi parents recently took<br />

her to a Mississippi State football game, her<br />

first ever college game. “Stepping into the<br />

packed-out stadium blew her mind,” Sam<br />

said. Irma grabbed a cowbell and began<br />

ringing it like a diehard fan. Amid the roar<br />

of the bells and the constant activities on the<br />

playing fields and sidelines, Irma shouted to<br />

her second set of parents, “I LOVE the<br />

United States!”<br />

36 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 37

METRO MS<br />


October 15- 18<br />

Brandon Amphitheater<br />

38 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 39

40 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 41

Northwest<br />

Rankin<br />

Elementary<br />

Jiya Mistry<br />

My mom and dad got me<br />

roller skates. I practice using<br />

them with my sister, that’s why<br />

this is my favorite gift.<br />

What’s the<br />

best Christmas<br />

gift you’ve<br />

ever gotten?<br />

Temperance Boyles<br />

My family got me this Crazy<br />

Carts riding toy and it doesn’t<br />

have any brakes! It’s very fast<br />

and enjoyable to ride with my<br />

brother and sister.<br />

McKinley Grace Nance<br />

The year I got a bicycle<br />

from Santa. I love to<br />

ride it all around.<br />

Caleb McGuffee<br />

I got a dirt bike from Santa.<br />

I love to ride it in the dirt.<br />

My parents are teaching me<br />

how to ride it without<br />

training wheels.<br />

Madeline Gulledge<br />

I got a dinosaur Lego set from<br />

my mom. I loved it because<br />

dinosaurs are really interesting,<br />

and I can usually make my own<br />

things with the Legos.<br />

42 • DECEMBER 2023

Cayden Oaks-Waltman<br />

My grandma got me a Nerf<br />

gun for Christmas. It’s actually<br />

a BB gun that will shoot five<br />

bullets at one time. You have<br />

to be safe with this, so adults<br />

can’t play with it. I’m safe with<br />

this gun because I always wear<br />

my glasses so it won’t<br />

hit me in the eye.<br />

Lily Zinke<br />

I got an iPad for Christmas -<br />

it was the only thing I wanted<br />

because it was so expensive.<br />

My parents worked really<br />

hard to get it for me<br />

Clayton Cross<br />

My favorite thing I got for<br />

Christmas was a PlayStation.<br />

Santa brought it to me because<br />

I really wanted it. I play with it<br />

all the time with my brother<br />

and friends.<br />

Paxton Sephton<br />

I got a guitar from Santa.<br />

I love to play it!<br />

Mia DeKay<br />

My mom and dad got me<br />

an iPad, now I don’t have to<br />

stay bored all the time.<br />

Jeb Grier<br />

My dad gave me an Xbox<br />

that I get to keep all for myself.<br />

I like playing games on it.<br />

Connor Dixon<br />

A dirt bike from my mom.<br />

I ride it around the house a lot.<br />

Hadley Carpenter<br />

Santa Claus gave me a<br />

Barbie that has a baby.<br />

Cooper Nunley<br />

One year I got an Xbox 1 from<br />

Santa and it’s so cool! The<br />

games entertain me so much!<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 43

Service.<br />

Our legacy and livelihood.<br />

We are driven by dedication to hard work, customerfirst<br />

service and a commitment to delivering the<br />

highest standard of products and service.<br />

To learn more, visit Ergon.com<br />

44 • DECEMBER 2023




Steven Wallace<br />

601-825-5242<br />

swallace@insassociate.com<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 45

November 2<br />

The Vault<br />

46 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 47

hindscc.edu | 1-800HINDSCC<br />


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<br />

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<br />

its educational programs and activities. We recognize our responsibility to provide an open and welcoming environment that fosters a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion for employees and students to collaboratively learn, work<br />

and serve our communities. The following have been designated to handle inquiries regarding these policies:<br />

EEOC Compliance: Office of Campus Culture and Diversity, PO Box 1100 Raymond MS 39154; Phone: 601-857-3569 or Email: EEOC@hindscc.edu<br />

Title IX: Associate Vice President Student Services, Title IX Coordinator Box 1100 Raymond MS 39154; Phone: 601-857-3353 or Email: TitleIX@hindscc.edu<br />

48 • DECEMBER 2023

READER<br />


Kalea<br />

WHITE<br />

Why did you decide to make Rankin<br />

County your home?<br />

We decided to make Rankin County our home<br />

initially because of the ease of access to amenities<br />

like shopping, dining, and community. We have<br />

chosen to stay because of these things plus a<br />

great school system and kind citizens.<br />

How long have you lived in Rankin County?<br />

I have lived here almost 15 years.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

My immediate family has grown exponentially<br />

in the last year. My husband and I are foster<br />

parents to two precious toddlers and expect to<br />

make their adoption final within the next<br />

month. We also had a baby at the end of<br />

September, and have the sweetest three year old<br />

doodle, Walt.<br />

What is your favorite memory of living<br />

in Rankin County?<br />

During the 2020-2021 school year, I received<br />

the Rankin County School District Teacher of<br />

the Year Award. I was honored by the chamber<br />

and RCSD during a time when I needed<br />

affirmation the most. I love how our county<br />

works to make sure its citizens feel included<br />

and seen.<br />

Where are your three favorite places<br />

to eat in Rankin County?<br />

I can often be found at Chillin’ on the Rez<br />

(especially during my pregnancy… it’s a pregnant<br />

lady’s dream!). We also enjoy eating at Amerigo<br />

and Georgia Blue. Oh, and we love to get our<br />

breakfast or sweet treat fix from our friends at<br />

SweeTee’s.<br />

What are some fun things to do in<br />

Rankin County on the weekends?<br />

Our toddlers love spending Saturday mornings<br />

at Winner’s Circle Park, and we can often be<br />

found at the adjacent Flowood Nature Trail as<br />

well. My husband and I enjoy a Sunday brunch<br />

at Table 100, and if there’s a concert at the<br />

amphitheater, that makes for an even better<br />

weekend.<br />

Tell us about your occupation.<br />

I work at Northwest Rankin High School<br />

where I teach advanced placement language<br />

and composition, instruct future educators in<br />

our Educator Preparation Academy, and advise<br />

the Landmark yearbook staff. I am one of two<br />

English department chairs and serve on the<br />

school’s leadership team as well as on the<br />

graduation committee. I love my job, and my<br />

favorite thing is to see young people grow<br />

throughout their high school journey.<br />

What do you enjoy in your spare time?<br />

I enjoy reading, taking walks, and when I have<br />

time, graphic design. These days, my spare time<br />

is minimal!<br />

What are three things on your bucket list?<br />

Visiting all the overseas Disney parks, skydiving,<br />

and publishing a book (nothing big, obviously).<br />

Who is someone you admire and why?<br />

My husband, Kevin. He has embraced<br />

fatherhood wholeheartedly, and his patience<br />

is otherworldly. He is eager to have fun even<br />

when the days are long, and he ensures our<br />

family keeps our priorities in order and above<br />

all, teaches our children to treat others with<br />

kindness.<br />

Where do you see yourself in ten years?<br />

I see myself serving as an administrator in a<br />

Rankin County school. I love being a classroom<br />

teacher, but my goal is to serve teachers and<br />

students in a supervisory capacity that allows<br />

me to facilitate a collegial atmosphere with an<br />

emphasis in community support.<br />

What is your favorite childhood memory?<br />

Anyone who knows my husband and me knows<br />

that we love all things Disney. My favorite<br />

childhood memory is my first trip to Disney<br />

World, and I could tell you about almost every<br />

moment of that trip. You didn’t ask, but my<br />

favorite adult memory thus far has been<br />

watching our toddlers at Disney World.<br />

It’s such a place of magic (cliche as that may<br />

sound), and it’s nice to lose yourself in that<br />

magic for a while.<br />

If you could give us one encouraging<br />

quote, what would it be?<br />

There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow<br />

shining at the end of every day.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 49

Committee<br />

of 100<br />

Fall Luncheon<br />

OCTOBER 27<br />




U.S. SENATOR<br />


50 • NOVEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 51

Christmas<br />

M E R R Y<br />

F R O M<br />

T H E I N S U R A N C E C E N T E R<br />

F L O W O O D - B R A N D O N<br />

52 • DECEMBER 2023

Dr. Jason Cox<br />

Dr. Daniel Atkins<br />

Glory to God in the<br />

highest, and on earth<br />

peace, good will<br />

toward men.<br />

Luke 2:14<br />

PHONE: (601) 919-8575 ONLINE: www.bellemeadefamilydental.com ADDRESS: 105 Belle Meade Point, Flowood, MS 39232<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 53

Hometown<br />

Art Contest<br />

For the 2023 holiday issue of Hometown<br />

Rankin Magazine, we asked for submissions<br />

of Christmas-themed art from high school<br />

art students throughout Rankin County.<br />

We want to encourage the artistic ability<br />

in the county’s brightest young artists!<br />

We were thrilled to receive dozens of entries,<br />

all featured on the following pages.<br />

Rebekah French, Brandion High, 12th<br />

Congratulations to<br />

Brandon High Senior<br />

Rebekah French,<br />

for being chosen as our winner!<br />

She will receive a $200 cash award<br />

from Hometown Magazines.<br />

Merry<br />

Christmas!<br />

Aaron Magee, Northwest Rankin, 9th<br />

Addalyn Martin, PPCA, 9th<br />

54 • DECEMBER 2023<br />

Addison Lane, Northwest Rankin, 10th<br />

Addison Lawson, Northwest Rankin, 9th

Amari Anderson , Northwest Rankin, 11th Amy Lee, Northwest Rankin, 10th Andrew Dollar, Northwest Rankin, 10th Angelina Johnston, Northwest Rankin, 10th<br />

Averie Arbuckle, Northwest Rankin, 11th Brady Saxton, Northwest Rankin, 11th Braylon Newsome, Northwest Rankin, 11th Christian Ebersole, Northwest Rankin, 11th<br />

Clara Matthews, Brandon , 9th Clare Whatley, Northwest Rankin, 9th Colette Anderson, Northwest Rankin, 9th Daisy Van, Northwest Rankin, 9th<br />

Dakota Williams, Pearl , 12th Dean Pope, Northwest Rankin, 10th Dylan Harley, Northwest Rankin, 11th Elijah Thompson, Northwest Rankin, 10th<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 55

Emily Beckwith, Northwest Rankin, 9th Emma Gillespie, Northwest Rankin, 10th Eric Zhang, Northwest Rankin, 10th Gavin Prentice, Northwest Rankin, 10th<br />

Gracie Spell, PPCA, 10th Hanna Paajanen, Brandon , 12th Hayden Maxwell, Northwest Rankin, 10th Ian Buckhalter, Florence , 9th<br />

Jaelynn White, Brandon , 9th Jared Bennett, Northwest Rankin, 10th Jarvis Jacobs, Northwest Rankin, 10thJazmin Urizar, Northwest Rankin, 10th<br />

Jenna Claire Davis, Hartfield Academy, 12th JoAnna Perry, Northwest Rankin, 10th Jossalyn White, Brandon, 10th Kali Sumrall, Northwest Rankin, 10th<br />

56 • DECEMBER 2023

Kamille Crain, Northwest Rankin, 9th Kamryn Sullivan, Northwest Rankin, 10th Katherine Collins, Northwest Rankin, 10th Kaylie Fondren, PPCA, 9th<br />

Kelly Truong, PPCA, 9th Kimora Coleman, PPCA, 11th Kinsley Nations, Brandon, 12th KJ Bowman, Northwest Rankin, 10th<br />

Kylie Guinto, Northwest Rankin, 9th Lance Tran, Northwest Rankin, 10th Layla Collado, PPCA, 9th Logan Tompkins, Northwest Rankin, 10th<br />

Marissa Dean, Northwest Rankin, 10th Matthew Barone, Northwest Rankin, 11th Max Miranda, PPCA, 10th Mollie Cascio, Northwest Rankin, 10th<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 57

Morgan Barlow, PPCA, 11th Peyton Parks, Northwest Rankin, 10th Reba Williams, Northwest Rankin, 10th Satomi Mills, Brandon, 10th<br />

Savanna McGahey, Brandon, 11th Saydra Snider, Brandon, 12th Sean Westbrook, Northwest Rankin, 11th Sebastian Chansley, Northwest Rankin, 11th<br />

Sidney McKenzie, Northwest Rankin, 9th Sydney Hopper, Northwest Rankin, 11th Takyra Walker, Northwest Rankin, 9th Tavia Archie, Northwest Rankin, 11th<br />

Taylor Jones, Pearl, 10th Turner Moody, Northwest Rankin, 9th Whitley Durr, Northwest Rankin, 9th Xander Easley, Northwest Rankin, 10th<br />

58 • DECEMBER 2023

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Hometown RANKIN • 59

60 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 61


November 3<br />

Farm Bureau Grill at Trustmark Park<br />

PHOTOS: Maddy Brown<br />

62 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 63


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64 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 65


Veterans Day<br />



66 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 67

68 • DECEMBER 2023

Roll-Out Event for all nominees - December 12<br />

Red Carpet Best of the Best<br />

January 24-25, Clyde Muse Center<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 69

Teach the Children<br />

Author Unknown<br />

Just a week before Christmas I had a visitor. This is how it happened. I<br />

just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to<br />

go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the<br />

door to the front room, and to my surprise, Santa himself stepped out<br />

next to the fireplace.<br />

"What are you doing?" I started to ask him. The words caught in my<br />

throat as I saw he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was<br />

gone. Gone was the eager boisterous soul we all know. He then<br />

answered me with a simple statement . . .<br />

“teach the children.”<br />

He then pulled out from his bag an ornament of himself. “Teach<br />

the children that I, Santa Claus, merely symbolize the generosity and<br />

good will we feel during the month of December.”<br />

He reached in again and pulled out a holly leaf. “Teach the<br />

children the holly plant represents immortality. It represents the<br />

crown of thorns worn by our Savior. The red holly berries represent<br />

blood shed by Him.”<br />

Next he pulled out a gift from the bag and said, "Teach the<br />

children that God so loved the world that He gave His only<br />

begotten Son. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift.”<br />

I was puzzled. What did he mean? He anticipated my question, and<br />

with one quick movement brought forth a miniature toy bag from<br />

behind the tree. As I stood there bewildered, Santa said, “Teach the<br />

Children. Teach them the old meaning of Christmas—the meaning that<br />

now-a-day Christmas has forgotten.”<br />

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a fir tree and<br />

placed it in front of the hearth. “Teach the children that the pure green<br />

color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, depicting the<br />

everlasting hope of mankind. All the needles point heavenward,<br />

making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven.”<br />

He again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant star.<br />

“Teach the children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises<br />

long ago. God promised a Savior for the world, and the star was the<br />

sign of fulfillment of that promise.”<br />

He then reached into the bag and pulled out a candle. “Teach the<br />

children that the candle symbolizes that Christ is the light of the world,<br />

and when we see this great light we are reminded of He who displaces<br />

the darkness.”<br />

Once again he reached into his bag and removed a wreath and<br />

placed it on the tree. “Teach the children that the wreath symbolizes<br />

the eternal nature of love. Real love never ceases. Love is one continuous<br />

round of affection.”<br />

Santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a candy<br />

cane and hung it on the tree. “Teach the children that<br />

the candy cane represents the shepherd's crook. The<br />

crook on the shepherd's staff helps bring back sheep<br />

that have strayed from the flock. The candy cane is the<br />

symbol that we are our brother's keeper.”<br />

He reached in again and pulled out an angel<br />

“Teach the children that it was the angels that heralded<br />

in the glorious news of the Savior's birth. The angels sang<br />

‘Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, and good will<br />

toward men.’”<br />

Suddenly I heard a soft tinkling sound, and from his bag he<br />

pulled out a bell. “Teach the children that as the lost sheep<br />

are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring mankind to<br />

the fold. The bell symbolizes guidance and return.”<br />

Santa looked at the tree and was pleased. He looked<br />

back at me and I saw the twinkle was back in his<br />

eyes. He said, "Remember, teach the children the<br />

true meaning of Christmas, and not to put me in<br />

the center, for I am but a humble servant of the<br />

One who is, and I bow down and worship Him,<br />

our lord, our god."<br />

70 • DECEMBER 2023<br />

12 • Fall 2015

Hometown RANKIN • 71<br />

Hometown Brookhaven • 13

72 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 73

74 • DECEMBER 2023


Millie McKay<br />

Mistie Desper<br />






OUT TO DO.<br />

The 14-year-old daughter of Josh and<br />

Tracey McKay is leaving a legacy of “kindness<br />

and forgiveness” in her school and community.<br />

As a member of the dance team, Millie<br />

enjoys the Friday night lights and energy that<br />

one can only experience on the football field.<br />

“I absolutely love to dance, and being on the<br />

dance team is so fun. It is a way for me to do<br />

what I enjoy and to be able to get to know so<br />

many people.”<br />

Realizing that there are younger students<br />

who look up to the team, Millie knows the<br />

importance of being a good, godly role model<br />

for others, especially younger girls. Millie<br />

added, “Being placed in a role where others<br />

look up to me makes me feel good. It also<br />

makes me realize that everything I do is not<br />

for nothing. It is touching others and making<br />

a difference.”<br />

Millie is using her academic clubs to help<br />

her community as well. As president of her<br />

class, she gets to do all the fun stuff like<br />

homecoming floats, fundraisers, and<br />

planning class events. However, she also gets<br />

the opportunity to make huge impacts in the<br />

lives of others. The freshman class is currently<br />

spending time gathering canned goods<br />

around town that will go to help the needy all<br />

over Rankin County. Aside from spending<br />

time with mom, dad, brothers Jake and<br />

Hayes, and friends, she is excelling in school<br />

making the All-A Honor Roll and September<br />

Student of the Month. Millie is also a<br />

member of HOSA (Health Occupations<br />

Students of America), the state’s superintendent<br />

advisory council, and is a member of the<br />

National Beta Club. “I am busy! And while<br />

I also enjoy reading and baking, spending<br />

time with my family and friends is very<br />

important.”<br />

She further helps her community with<br />

her involvement in the youth council where<br />

she volunteers wherever there is a need. “I<br />

have helped with everything from Dog Jam<br />

at the middle school to helping with really<br />

whatever needs doing around town.”<br />

Being involved and giving back is special<br />

to her. “Millie has a servant’s heart. She is<br />

hard working and determined to do her best.<br />

I admire that. No matter what she is doing,<br />

she rolls up her sleeves and gets to work. Her<br />

dedication and her drive are very admirable,”<br />

said mom, Tracey.<br />

At Brandon First United Methodist<br />

Church, Millie loves her youth group and<br />

seeks out various ways to volunteer her time<br />

at vacation Bible school and events like the<br />

annual fall festival. “Being godly and kind is<br />

so important to me. I hope to show others<br />

that you can help someone else is so many<br />

ways.” Millie revealed her favorite Bible verse<br />

is Ephesians 4:32 and one that she strives to<br />

live by daily. “Be kind and compassionate to<br />

one another, forgiving each other, just as God<br />

has forgiven you.” She added, “This verse just<br />

reminds me to stay true to myself. And even<br />

though others may have opinions of me,<br />

I never want to let that overtake my own<br />

thoughts and opinions. I just want to<br />

continue to be kind, loving, and forgiving.”<br />

As a freshman, she is already planning<br />

for her future. Hoping to follow her older<br />

brother to the University of Mississippi, she<br />

would love to pursue a career in the medical<br />

field. “I am hoping to be a pediatric oncologist.<br />

I love working with children and I think<br />

being compassionate and a light for families<br />

during difficult times is something that I<br />

would like to pursue.”<br />

Tracey concluded, “Millie is involved in<br />

many activities at BHS, in the community,<br />

and at our church. Her dad [Josh] and I are<br />

so proud of her involvement, but we are most<br />

proud of the kindness that she radiates. She is<br />

the same every time you meet her. She always<br />

makes time for classmates and friends, and<br />

she finds a way to include and encourage<br />

others. As her parents, we are most proud of<br />

the loving person she is.”<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 75

76 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 77


Like it never<br />

even<br />

happened.<br />

Since its beginnings in 1967,<br />

SERVPRO has become the largest<br />

company in the cleaning and restoration<br />

industry in the country, with more than 2,100<br />

locations across the United States and Canada.<br />

Local franchise SERVPRO of Brandon, owned<br />

and operated by Randy & Ginger Weimer,<br />

has been in business 23 years.<br />

78 • DECEMBER 2023

Randy Weimer retired in February of 2020, following a<br />

41-year career in the chemical industry. He and Ginger were living in<br />

West Point, Mississippi, at the time, but were looking to move back to<br />

the Jackson area, where they had both grown up. “We always knew<br />

we would move back here to be near family,” Ginger says. “We began<br />

looking to buy a business and learned through a broker we were<br />

working with about the SERVPRO franchise available in Brandon. God<br />

worked out every detail in the process, from our house selling in West<br />

Point to finding the right house at the right time in Pearl.” The Weimers<br />

spent most of September of 2020 at SERVPRO Corporate in Gallatin,<br />

Tennessee, going through rigorous training to prepare for owning and<br />

operating the franchise. They closed the business purchase in October<br />

of that year.<br />

“The majority of our work is restoring homes and commercial buildings<br />

affected by water damage,” says Randy. “It’s been very interesting to<br />

adapt the restoration process to these structures, because each job is<br />

unique.” Although SERVPRO of Brandon is known for their expertise in<br />

mitigation and repair after water and fire damage, there are other services<br />

offered by their team, including mold remediation, sanitizing, and air duct<br />

cleaning. These services were in particularly great demand during the<br />

COVID pandemic. The team also provides crime scene cleanup.<br />

After the mitigation process is complete, SERVPRO of Brandon also<br />

provides reconstruction services as required to make it “like it never even<br />

happened.” Whether a client has experienced a loss due to fire, water,<br />

mold, or even a crime on their property, having one company that is<br />

able to handle all aspects of restoration from start to finish is a blessing.<br />

“We also do remodeling work, unrelated to mitigation work, and will<br />

continue to grow that offering in the future,” says Randy.<br />

The SERVPRO team is made up of 15 employees who are like family,<br />

and the Weimers jokingly call team members their “work kids,” as many<br />

of them are the ages of the couple’s adult children. Ginger bakes a<br />

birthday cake for every employee’s birthday and keeps the candy jar<br />

full. The Weimers believe in creating a supportive work environment<br />

where employees can learn, grow in their roles, and have opportunities<br />

for advancement. “We hire for attitude and train the skills,” says Randy.<br />

Most employees have been there for a while, a testament to the<br />

positive work environment the team strives to cultivate.<br />

The Weimers are extremely proud of their work family, but their<br />

greatest joy comes from their children and grandchildren. Daughter<br />

DeAnne and husband, USAF Col. Patrick Anderson, live in Virginia.<br />

Their daughter, Andrea Carlisle, and husband, Greg, live in Pelahatchie,<br />

along with their four children. Son Jack and wife, Rhi, live in Starkville<br />

with their two children. With six grandchildren ranging in ages from<br />

two to fourteen years old, Ginger and Randy are thoroughly enjoying<br />

their roles as “Gigi” and “Pops.”<br />

Buying a business in Rankin County was a leap of faith for the couple,<br />

especially in the middle of the pandemic, but the Weimers have no<br />

regrets. “Randy and I both grew up in family-owned businesses, and<br />

we wanted to own a business together in this season of our lives. We<br />

love being able to work together every day. After 44 years, we still like<br />

each other a lot,” Ginger says with a grin.<br />

There are other rewarding aspects of the job the couple enjoys as well.<br />

“We meet people whose lives have been turned upside down through<br />

something totally unexpected,” Ginger says. “Being able to help them put<br />

their lives back together is very rewarding. We love helping people<br />

and are so grateful God worked everything out for us to do this.”<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 79

SALUTE<br />

to First Responders<br />

What made you decide to work in law enforcement?<br />

I come from a long line of law enforcement within my family,<br />

so it was an easy transition into the profession. I just always<br />

wanted to do something that had meaning. Something that<br />

would allow me the chance to positively impact the lives of<br />

others. I’m also a big people person, so having the chance to<br />

meet and speak with people from all over was right up my alley!<br />

How long have you been with the Flowood PD?<br />

I’ve worked with the Flowood Police Department for 7 years.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

I could write books speaking about my family and how much<br />

they mean to me! In short, we are all just normal folks from<br />

Rankin County. We love God, love our neighbors, and enjoy<br />

spending time together, with most of that time being spent<br />

in the outdoors!<br />

Officer<br />

William<br />



What is the toughest thing you have experienced<br />

in your job?<br />

The loss of my canine partner, Castor, in July of this year.<br />

Castor and I worked every day together for five years. So, going<br />

to work after his passing was extremely difficult. I thoroughly<br />

enjoyed being a canine handler and hope to have the privilege<br />

to work with another dog again someday. Also, I believe every<br />

officer would agree with me, anything bad dealing with children<br />

would be some of the toughest moments we go through. You<br />

tend to take those tragic moments back home with you, and<br />

they live in your memory forever.<br />

Who is someone you admire and why?<br />

One person that really comes to mind would be my dad! And<br />

the hundreds of folks who also know my dad, know exactly why<br />

that is. He is a godly man, and a wonderful father and husband.<br />

He leads his family by example, and does a fine job of it. I hope<br />

to one day mean to my son what my dad means to me.<br />

80 • DECEMBER 2023

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?<br />

I am a passionate deer and turkey hunter. So, I enjoy spending<br />

time with my family in the outdoors! Also anything I get to do<br />

with my son that he enjoys. Watching him grow and have fun<br />

has been some of the sweetest times for me.<br />

What are three things on your bucket list?<br />

I would love for my son, dad, brothers, and me to all go on a<br />

hunting trip out of state together. Fully guided, lodging, meals…<br />

the whole thing! I would also love to own my own piece of land.<br />

And finally, I want to watch my son get married and start a<br />

family of his own one day. And give me lots of grandbabies to<br />

take hunting and to spoil!<br />

What advice would you give a young person?<br />

I would advise any young person to seize the moment. Don’t put<br />

off for tomorrow what you could do today! If there is something<br />

you want, as long as it’s legal and ethical, go for it!!! And share<br />

those memories with those who mean the most to you.<br />

What is your favorite thing about the city of Flowood?<br />

Flowood has something to offer everyone. Great food, shopping,<br />

entertainment, and parks to bring your children to play. It’s due<br />

to the tireless and around-the-clock efforts from the police, fire,<br />

and medical response personnel that Flowood is one of the<br />

safest places to be.<br />

What is your favorite thing about Rankin County?<br />

Rankin County is one of the safest places to live and raise a<br />

family. From a professional standpoint, I wouldn’t pick another<br />

county to police in! I learned really fast that when things go bad<br />

in this county, it’s no longer “Flowood and Pearl and Richland<br />

and Brandon and Florence and Rankin County.” We all come<br />

together with the common goal to bring peace to the situation.<br />

It’s an awesome feeling being a part of the Rankin County law<br />

enforcement community. There is a group of men and women<br />

around the clock, who put on a uniform and are ready to help<br />

you in any way you may need. We’re just a phone call away!<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 81

82 • DECEMBER 2023

Merry Christmas<br />

& Happy New Year!<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 83


Jackson Prep<br />

Jackson Prep’s 8th consecutive MAIS Senior High<br />

State Chess Championship team poses with their trophy.<br />

Back L-R: Laquarrious Finley (11), Hayes Elliott (12), Cage Puckett (11),<br />

Parker Page (11), Wells Jordan (12), Jake Zhang (10), and Nolan Lundberg (12)<br />

Middle L-R: AJ Johnson (12), Garner Young (12); William Shepherd (12);<br />

Team Captain Eli Biggs (12); Vincent Sun (10); Elizabeth Polk (12), Caleb Zhu (10);<br />

Front L-R: Roy Benjamin (10), Zay Jones (10), Aaron Lu (11), and Nate Walton (12).<br />

Congratulations to the 2023 Jackson Prep Mindprints literary<br />

magazine staff for receiving top honors at the Mississippi Scholastic<br />

Press Association fall conference at the University of Southern Mississippi.<br />

Awards bestowed were Best Literary Magazine Finalist, Best Layout<br />

and Design Finalist, Best Continuity of Theme Winner, Best Quality of<br />

Visuals Finalist, and Adviser of the Year Finalist. Students receiving<br />

special recognition were Best Poem Finalist Miriam Caballero for<br />

“Poetry, I Love,” Best Photo Winner Gray Hawkins for “Ominous Signs,”<br />

Best Graphic Illustration Art Finalist Kennedy Buchanan and<br />

Best Spread Design Winner Kendrick Rogers for “Grief.”<br />

Front L-R: Miriam Caballero, Adrianna Wang, Stella Barbour-Matthews,<br />

Brianna Wang, Kennedy Buchanan.<br />

Back L-R: Gray Hawkins, Liam Sullivan, Catherine Hawkins,<br />

Kendrick Rogers, Mollic Stansell, adviser Kimberly Reedy<br />



Front L-R: Linley Kate Davidson, Georgia Brown, Mae Vance, Fairley Hunter,<br />

Sayle Strickland, Holden Mincey.<br />

Middle L-R: Wilder Ratcliffe, Wyatt Woodall, Britt Baker, Nella Hunter,<br />

Liam Kneip, Baron Vance, Robin Shaw, Primm Strickland.<br />

Back L-R: Amanda Slack, Head of Lower School, Will Crosby, Athletic Director,<br />

Lawrence Coco, Head of School.<br />

84 • DECEMBER 2023


2023-2024 NATIONAL MERIT<br />


Front L-R: Wells Jordan,<br />

William Shepherd<br />

Back L-R: Baty Newman,<br />

Eli Biggs<br />


2023-2024 NATIONAL MERIT<br />


Front L-R: Harrison Fulcher,<br />

Lytle Moore, Nolan Lundberg<br />

Back L-R: Garner Young,<br />

Will Herron<br />

Prep’s Performing Arts Department recently presented the beloved Lerner and<br />

Loewe musical My Fair Lady. The production consisted of over 100 student actors<br />

and stage crew. The musical was directed by Director of Performing Arts & Performing<br />

Arts Chair Emily Waterloo with Eva Hart serving as musical director, Helen House<br />

Wooley and Hope Kullman serving as choreographers, Lawson Marchetti serving<br />

as stage manager and Rachel Hammack serving as student stage manager.<br />

Seniors Meredith McClain and Will Dungey starred as Eliza Doolittle and<br />

Professor Henry Higgins.<br />


Front L-R: Stewart Russ, James Annison, Anthon Land, Brianna Wang, Adrianna Wang,<br />

Trilby Cummins, Mary Louis Russ, Helen Fulcher, Lydia Jones, and Lydia McCormick.<br />

Second L-R: Coach Wendy Russ, Haden Davidson, Thomas Werne, Maddie Webb,<br />

Avery Williams, Meredith McKay, Asher Reynolds, and Evans Reynolds<br />

Third L-R: Wil Franklin Collins and Helen Ruth Dieckman.<br />

Fourth L-R: Judson Colley, Warner Russ, Sparks Grenfell, Nan Sheppard,<br />

Piper McCalop, Olivia Smith, Taylor Caton, and Coach Erin Cummins.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 85


East Rankin<br />

Our East Rankin Academy Lady Patriots did it again, THREE time MAIS 5A State Champions in the deepest division in the state, both public and private. Our young<br />

varsity boys team is also on the rise, taking third. Three of our girls and two of our boys finished in the top 10 of their respective varsity races, receiving plaques<br />

as part of the 2023 MAIS 5A All State team.<br />

Front L-R: Leah Collipp, Arin Hawk, Kate Bryant, Emily Williams, Jewel Baker (Top 10 Finisher), Audrey Mayatte (Top 10 Finisher),<br />

Emma Raines (Top 10 Finisher), Jensen Baker, Haley Headrick, Rachel Smith, Chandler Hunt<br />

Back L-R: Audrey Hawk, Lane Riemann, Katie Lee Tadlock, Savannah Smithers, Marlee Rakinic, Abby Raines,<br />

Katie Simpson, Kylee Holifield, Addison Vowell, Coach David Hopper<br />

Front L-R: Micah Sigrest, Taylor Stroh, RT Tate, Zack Price (Top 10 Finisher)<br />

Back L-R: Grayson Blair, Gavin Thomas, JP Pierce, Jon Riemann (Top 10 Finisher),<br />

Walker Sartin, Hudson Hawk, Jackson Fountain<br />

86 • DECEMBER 2023

StoneBridge Elementary<br />

StoneBridge Elementary stands as an educational cornerstone in the community,<br />

nurturing young minds and fostering a passion for learning. With our commitment to<br />

both education and extracurricular activities, the school continues to evolve, offering<br />

an enriching environment for its students.<br />

One of the remarkable initiatives at StoneBridge Elementary was the establishment<br />

of a time capsule, symbolizing the school’s legacy and capturing the essence of<br />

the present moment for future generations. This capsule, filled with memorabilia and<br />

students’ contributions, has been sealed and placed at the school, providing a<br />

fascinating insight into the past when it’s unearthed just a few years from now.<br />

Additionally, the school is embarking on an exciting new project—the construction<br />

of a P.E. building. Anticipated to provide enhanced facilities for physical education<br />

and sports activities, this building aims to encourage health and fitness among<br />

students and teachers while supporting a comprehensive approach to education.<br />

Notably, the recent addition of a soccer field has significantly enriched the school’s<br />

playground offerings. The field, completed just last year, has become a hub for athletic<br />

development and teamwork. Students now have a dedicated space to hone their<br />

soccer skills, fostering a sense of camaraderie and healthy competition.<br />

StoneBridge Elementary continues to demonstrate a commitment to holistic<br />

education by providing not only a robust academic curriculum but also opportunities<br />

for physical and social development. These initiatives, from the time capsule to the<br />

future P.E. building and the current soccer field, reflect the school’s dedication to<br />

nurturing well-rounded individuals while maintaining a strong connection to its past<br />

and present.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 87


Pisgah<br />

Remembering Keigan: Forever a Baby Dragon<br />

In loving memory of Keigan Norwood:<br />

June 28, 2016 - May 30, 2023.<br />

Pisgah has earned a reputation for its tight-knit community centered on<br />

the Pisgah schools. Families rally around the schools and come in groves<br />

attending school functions and sporting events in support of the youth of<br />

our community. The time our community spends together, supporting our<br />

students and schools has knit us together as one family. And when a need<br />

arises amongst us, we can count on that family to come together and help<br />

fulfill that need.<br />

Likewise, when tragedy occurs, our Pisgah family pulls together and<br />

becomes a united front with an abundance of love and support.<br />

This past summer, the heartbreaking loss of one of our Baby Dragons<br />

was no exception. Keigan Norwood was a bright light, a shining example<br />

of Dragon pride and spirit, who loved everyone and showed kindness to<br />

everyone he met. Keigan never met a stranger, and everybody knew little<br />

Keigan. After the accident, our Pisgah family desperately wanted to show<br />

their love, join together in sorrow, and find ways to honor and remember<br />

Keigan.<br />

Hundreds of people came to the school playground one evening and<br />

held a prayer vigil. The Pisgah High School baseball team wore helmet<br />

decals of a K and a cross designed for Keigan by Johnathan Rhinehart,<br />

father of one of Keigan’s best buddies and classmates, as they played in the<br />

state championship game at Trustmark Park. The symbol from that decal and<br />

the phrase, “Pisgah Strong” was soon printed on buttons, shirts, posters,<br />

bumper stickers etc.<br />

Some of our elementary teachers decided to make a rock garden for<br />

the front of our school and named it, “Keigan’s Kindness Rock Garden.”<br />

The entire community was invited to come to the school to paint rocks for<br />

the garden. Keigan’s family, including his mom and brother, grandparents,<br />

aunts, uncles and cousins all came and painted rocks for his garden.<br />

David Boykin with A-Plus Signs and Creative, Inc. designed a beautiful<br />

sign for the rock garden, written in Keigan’s own handwriting that is proudly<br />

displayed at the front of our school where Keigan’s rock garden is located.<br />

For what would have been Keigan’s 7th birthday, the community came<br />

together once more for a balloon release at his gravesite. Hundreds of<br />

people came to show their love for him.<br />

Our schools have continued to find ways to remember Keigan throughout<br />

this school year. In the classroom, where Keigan would have been a 2nd<br />

grader, sits a portrait of Keigan. He wanted so badly to be in Ms. Harris’<br />

class this year, so we were able to honor his wishes in that way. Pisgah High<br />

School also presented Keigan’s mother and family with a football with the K<br />

and cross symbol painted on it at the first home football game of the season<br />

as a keepsake and reminder of Keigan’s love for sports. They also asked his<br />

mother to be the grand marshal in this year’s homecoming parade. She rode<br />

in style in front of a trackless party train, with Keigan’s classmates and<br />

friends riding in the carts.<br />

We couldn’t be more thankful for the love and support our schools and<br />

community have shown to Keigan’s family, as well as to our school family.<br />

Keigan changed many lives for the better and continues to make a positive<br />

impact on all who knew him. The love he had for Pisgah, and the love Pisgah<br />

shared for him, has reinforced to us all what it means to be Pisgah Strong.<br />

88 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 89

TheTime COIN<br />

Camille Anding<br />

As the hourglass appears to speed up in its dispensing of time,<br />

I realize the need to downsize in our collection of “life” that hangs on our walls, fills our storage<br />

space, and sits on every available surface. Our “things” are forcibly taking over our living space<br />

which amplifies my need to downsize or as this generation calls it – adopting minimalism.<br />

I’ve promised myself that I’m definitely with great intention and determination heading in<br />

that direction, but it will have to wait until after Christmas. Some things are just meant to be<br />

kept. (Someone say, “Amen.”)<br />

We downsized our 10 foot pencil Christmas tree to an 8 foot model, so that helped...a little.<br />

But then there’re the ornaments – lots of ornaments! Who can give away years of nostalgia<br />

that’s glued or stamped on every ornament selection we put on our tree?<br />

I still have ornaments that were gifts from my music students. There are cutouts made by<br />

our children that they glued with their tiny, precious fingers. The angel that adorns the top of<br />

the tree is the prize ornament that we bought when we were newlyweds and should have<br />

spent that money on food!<br />

A dear friend started me a collection of Radko ornaments that always get packed away in<br />

a tissue-filled box. How could I part with those?<br />

There have been ornament swaps over the years, and wonderful friends gave me their<br />

“friendship” that I hang on our tree each year. I’ve collected lovely jeweled cross ornaments,<br />

and there are several stained glass pieces that reflect light and joy. I admit that some of the<br />

jewels have shifted, and not every ornament is in its original condition, but the<br />

nostalgia continues to hold its own.<br />

Recently I wandered slowly down a magical aisle of Christmas ornaments.<br />

They continue to cast a spell on me, but minimalism has begun to take<br />

root. I just looked with a few “oohs” and an occasional touch. I’m learning<br />

to say, “Enough.”<br />

Isn’t that what the Christmas season teaches us with the birth of our Savior?<br />

He came to give us abundant, eternal life. Isn’t that more than enough?<br />

90 • DECEMBER 2023

Hometown RANKIN • 91

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