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V111<br />

124<br />

The Lord<br />

Will Answer<br />

When<br />

Seconds<br />


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Hometown RANKIN • 5

6 • JANUARY 2024


Embracing New Year’s resolutions often involves a laundry list of<br />

aspirations, from exercising regularly to achieving a healthier lifestyle.<br />

Yet, in the hustle of daily life, these goals can easily fade<br />

into the background. Reflecting on the wisdom of a cherished<br />

preacher who summed up his philosophy in just two words –<br />

“Do right” – simplicity becomes a powerful guide for navigating<br />

each day.<br />

Consider the transformative impact if, before reacting, we<br />

all paused to ponder the notion of “doing right.” As parents and<br />

grandparents, we echo the sentiment, urging our children to<br />

“act right” or to embody qualities like kindness, gentleness, and<br />

friendliness. These directives essentially converge into a vibrant<br />

neon sign that reads “Do Right.”<br />

In a world seemingly defining its own standards of behavior,<br />

let’s redirect attention to the timeless wisdom of the golden<br />

rule: treating others as we wish to be treated. Imagine the<br />

quieting of conflicts and friction if this principle were<br />

universally embraced.<br />

For those finding the Golden Rule a challenge, let the<br />

beacon for 2024 be the simple yet profound mantra:<br />

“Do Right.” Let’s collectively commit to this and watch as<br />

our hometown truly earns its place on the map!<br />



Tahya Dobbs<br />

CFO<br />

Kevin Dobbs<br />


Mary Ann Kirby<br />


The Way We Were 10<br />

Reader Spotlight 15<br />

Hometown Family 19<br />

When Seconds Count 24<br />

The Lord Will Answer 36<br />

Rankin’s Red Carpet 46<br />

First Responder 98<br />

The Time Coin 106<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 />

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.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 7

8 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 9

Becky & Charles Wallace<br />

Camille Anding<br />

“I do not want to marry a<br />

She was a sophomore like Charles,<br />

too nervous to ask her out on a<br />

of 1977. After their second date,<br />

minister!” It was Becky Flowers,<br />

enrolled in Mississippi College.<br />

date. “I was afraid she would turn<br />

Charles knew he had found the<br />

the daughter of the minister at<br />

He was pursuing a ministry<br />

me down,” he said.<br />

one he wanted to be his bride. He<br />

First Baptist Church Senatobia,<br />

degree to answer God’s call to be<br />

On one occasion, Becky was<br />

still remembers praying about his<br />

that made that hardline statement<br />

a minister of music. Becky was a<br />

walking into the Aven Music<br />

feelings for Becky and asking God<br />

during her dad’s thirty-three-year<br />

gifted pianist and vocalist, so she<br />

Building on campus, headed for<br />

permission to marry her if they<br />

ministry. Perhaps it was the<br />

was headed toward a music degree.<br />

practice with the musical group,<br />

were still dating in October.<br />

preachers’ kids living in a fishbowl<br />

Their futures appeared to be<br />

“The Naturals.” She was wearing<br />

They weren’t only still dating;<br />

for all the church members to<br />

aligning.<br />

a shorter performing costume<br />

they were talking about marriage.<br />

observe. Or it could have been the<br />

Toward the end of their college<br />

than the dress length of that day,<br />

It was during a family gathering<br />

24/7 on-call hours that she saw her<br />

days, they double dated but not<br />

and Charles shouted through the<br />

at Thanksgiving that Charles<br />

dad manage. There could have<br />

with each other. Charles remem-<br />

crowd to Becky, “Hey, swing it!”<br />

dropped to one knee and<br />

been multiple, sound reasons for<br />

bers sitting across from Becky on<br />

Becky was shocked at his attention-<br />

proposed. Becky said, “Yes,” and<br />

Becky’s elimination of ministers as<br />

one of those dates to get pizza and<br />

getting cheer, but Charles said that<br />

ran squealing through the house,<br />

a future spouse, but God had other<br />

wondering what it would be like to<br />

he couldn’t resist because she had<br />

showing off her ring. In June of<br />

plans.<br />

date Becky. Her merry laughter<br />

the prettiest legs on campus!<br />

1978 they were married.<br />

It was in a music theory class<br />

and that sparkle in her eyes made<br />

It wasn’t until Charles was<br />

Becky’s dad escorted her down<br />

when Charles Wallace first<br />

an impression that stayed with<br />

enrolled in seminary in New<br />

the church aisle in the First Baptist<br />

noticed Becky turning the corner<br />

him for the next months. There<br />

Orleans that he asked Becky for a<br />

Church of Senatobia. Charles<br />

as she entered the same class.<br />

was only one problem. Charles was<br />

date. She agreed. That was in June<br />

nearly rubbed the creases out of<br />

10 • JANUARY 2024

“ Becky has been<br />

everything I could<br />

hope for –and she<br />

still has that sparkle<br />

in her eyes.”<br />

his trousers, trying to dry his<br />

followed the disciplinary practices<br />

dark, but Becky gives credit to God<br />

A session in the company of<br />

sweaty hands as he waited for his<br />

that their parents had followed.<br />

for her healing and credits Charles<br />

Becky and Charles reflects their<br />

bride with the sparkle in her eyes.<br />

Charles was the main disciplinari-<br />

for enlisting hundreds of prayer<br />

“forever” love. According to<br />

After completing their<br />

an and left no room for disrespect<br />

warriors to pray for complete<br />

Charles, “Becky has been<br />

marriage vows, Becky’s dad<br />

or “smart talk” toward parents.<br />

healing, too. Charles stayed by<br />

everything I could hope for – and<br />

officiated the couple’s first<br />

(Charles had been highly<br />

her side during the stem cell<br />

she still has that sparkle in her eyes.”<br />

communion as husband and wife.<br />

influenced by the elm bush in his<br />

treatments at Vanderbilt and<br />

Becky returns his smiles and<br />

He then concluded the commu-<br />

childhood that his mother never<br />

according to Becky, “He was<br />

suggests that a test for knowing<br />

nion with a Jewish wedding<br />

let grow into a tree!)<br />

the perfect nurse.”<br />

how a potential husband would<br />

tradition by Charles crushing the<br />

Becky’s preparation for years<br />

Charles said that he would<br />

treat you is to observe how he<br />

glass goblet with a healthy foot<br />

of music teaching took a different<br />

never want to keep Becky out of<br />

treats his mother. “Charles passed<br />

stomp. It was a sign to the couple<br />

path. She was asked to interview<br />

heaven, but he did earnestly want<br />

that test from the beginning of<br />

and all the attendants that no one<br />

for the director of medical staff<br />

to see their grandchildren know<br />

our relationship.”<br />

else would ever drink from the<br />

services at two hospitals and was<br />

and love the grandmother he<br />

It’s always inspiring to know<br />

Wallace’s marital cup.<br />

hired. However, she continued to<br />

knew she would be. The Wallace’s<br />

the way couples were and even<br />

The Wallaces continued their<br />

support Charles and his ministry<br />

kitchen cupboard reflects the<br />

more encouraging to know<br />

joint ministry of music over the<br />

at the churches where they served.<br />

answer to Charles’ prayer. It’s<br />

couples like the Wallaces who<br />

next years while raising their son,<br />

In June of 2013 Becky was<br />

lined with goodies for John and<br />

continue to radiate the joy of<br />

John, and daughter, Elizabeth. As<br />

diagnosed with multiple myeloma,<br />

Hannah’s two children and<br />

“togetherness.”<br />

parents, Charles and Becky<br />

a blood cancer. The prognosis was<br />

Elizabeth and Chris’ two.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 11

12 • JANUARY 2024

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Hometown RANKIN • 13

14 • JANUARY 2024

READER<br />


June<br />

PICKLE<br />

Why did you decide to make Rankin<br />

County your home?<br />

When I was six years old, my parents moved to<br />

Pearl from a small town in North Mississippi.<br />

Pearl and Brandon have always felt like home.<br />

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

58 years except for a quick six month move to<br />

Knoxville, Tennessee.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

I met Bobby in 1981. I was cutting hair at the<br />

time. I cut his hair and a year later we were<br />

married. We have two boys, Brett and Lake.<br />

Lake married Lacey Ainsworth last year and<br />

Brett got married this summer to Anna Beth<br />

Houston.<br />

What is your favorite memory of living<br />

in Rankin County?<br />

How can I name just one? I could name the<br />

street I grew up on in Pearl, the places I have<br />

worked, or my church. But when I thought<br />

about this, it is all because of the people. The<br />

relationships have been the best part.<br />

Where are your three favorite places to eat<br />

in Rankin County?<br />

We love Osaka, Jerry’s Fish House, and<br />

Fernando’s.<br />

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

County on the weekends?<br />

We enjoy going to the movies and we must get<br />

popcorn. We like walking at the nature trail in<br />

Flowood and getting coffee at Mocha Mugs.<br />

Tell us about your occupation.<br />

I recently retired from Rankin County Schools.<br />

What a joy it was to work there. I was an<br />

assistant teacher, librarian, and an office worker.<br />

I started working at the schools because I thought<br />

it was the best job to have, being a mom. And it<br />

was, but God showed me so much there. I loved<br />

the teachers, and the children touched my heart<br />

and truly changed my life. I have such good<br />

memories in the classroom and in the office.<br />

Share some things you enjoy doing in your<br />

spare time.<br />

Brett, our oldest son, lives in Laurel. When<br />

Bobby and I go visit him and Anna Beth, we<br />

also love to go look for the houses they redo on<br />

the HGTV show Home Town. It’s like a treasure<br />

hunt to us. We like to take daytrips around<br />

Mississippi and find little hidden treasures,<br />

such as the town of Rodney. We have a group<br />

of ladies (we call ourselves the Sassy Divas) that<br />

get together once a month. We go on trips in<br />

Mississippi, play games, or just eat out together<br />

and it is always fun.<br />

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

Bobby and I would love to go to the Holy Land<br />

to see all the places of the Bible. I would love to<br />

go to Amsterdam to see Corrie ten Boom’s<br />

home/museum. My daddy was in World War<br />

II, and I have always wanted to go to Germany.<br />

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

Joyce Miskelly. When I met Joyce, we were both<br />

cutting hair at Paul’s of Pearl. We both were<br />

single. She was a Christian, I was not. I did not<br />

like her, but she was still kind to me. She never<br />

judged but always chose love. I knew there was<br />

something different about her. One day I<br />

wanted what she had, and my life totally<br />

changed. If anyone knows Joyce, they know she<br />

always gives gifts, but she showed me the best<br />

gift—Jesus.<br />

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

Bobby and I would like to travel more.<br />

What is your favorite childhood memory?<br />

Randa Massey (now Randa Blakeney) lived<br />

across the street from me in Pearl. We lived at<br />

each other’s houses. She was and is family to<br />

me. They had said on the news we might be<br />

getting snow, and the schools would be<br />

closed. That hardly ever happened. That night it<br />

started snowing. We could not believe it! Our<br />

parents let us spend the night together on a<br />

school night. We loved it. We played in the<br />

snow and Momma made snow ice cream. It was<br />

simple fun.<br />

If you could give us one encouraging<br />

quote, what would it be?<br />

Above all, love each other deeply, because love<br />

covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 15

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Hometown RANKIN • 17

18 • JANUARY 2024

The Van Normans<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

Bobby (54) – enjoys hunting and gardening<br />

Jennifer (49) – enjoys working in her flower beds, making floral<br />

arrangements, traveling, and spending time with kids/grandson<br />

Hayden (25) and Claire (25) Hayden is a graduate student (class of<br />

’24) in MC’s physician assistant program. Claire holds her BSN from<br />

MC and is a labor and delivery nurse at Women’s Hospital in Flowood.<br />

They just welcomed their first son, Carson Brooks on October 23.<br />

Hayden and Claire both received their undergrad degrees from<br />

Mississippi College. Hayden graduated high school from Hartfield<br />

Academy and Claire graduated from NWR.<br />

Kaylee (23) graduated from USM with a major in biology and minors<br />

in chemistry and Spanish. She is currently in grad school at MC where<br />

she is a part of the physician assistant program (Class of ’25). She is also<br />

a graduate of Hartfield Academy<br />

Kendall (12) is a 7th grader at Hartfield Academy, where she has<br />

attended since K3. Kendall enjoys playing volleyball on the middle<br />

school team and also rides western-style horseback.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 19

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

We will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary on December 16.<br />

We met during my freshman year of college at Mississippi College,<br />

where Bobby was a senior. We were both working part-time as<br />

contract students at the Corp of Engineers Waterways Experiment<br />

Station in Vicksburg. We were introduced by a mutual friend.<br />

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

Date nights are a luxury in this stage of life with busy work responsibilities<br />

and a middle schooler who has an active calendar. We laugh<br />

because most of our friends have reached the empty nest stage, but<br />

our sweet surprise blessing keeps us experiencing parenthood stages<br />

all over again! We have learned over the years that not all “datenights”<br />

must look like dinner out by ourselves. Sometimes, it is just a<br />

ride into town together to check on things at the school, or having a<br />

cup of coffee while Kendall is horseback riding. It may even be<br />

sitting out on our back porch or working in the flower beds together.<br />

The key is making sure that we prioritize communication and not<br />

letting our busy schedules get in the way.<br />

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

Outside of knowing that our children have all experienced a<br />

salvation moment with Christ, our greatest joy is watching our<br />

children chase their dreams and become the people that God has<br />

designed them to be. That looks different for each child, and it is<br />

such an honor to see them set goals and work hard to reach them.<br />

With our adult children, it is humbling to watch them make adult<br />

decisions and show maturity and independence. When you see them<br />

embrace the values and spiritual foundation that you tried to model<br />

over the years, it brings such joy.<br />

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

Bobby is definitely the financial manager in our home, as he is much<br />

more organized and detail oriented than I am! I prefer to have the<br />

10,000-foot overview whereas he is going to be the one that knows<br />

every small detail. When we were building our home a few years ago,<br />

I was the dreamer and he was the planner, keeping binders filled<br />

with every receipt and communication with contractors. I am<br />

grateful for his ability to focus on the details. Again, the key comes<br />

down to communication. We each know what is important to the<br />

other and truly try to approach all decisions as a team.<br />

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

discipline philosophy?<br />

I would say that our discipline philosophy has evolved over the years.<br />

When Hayden and Kaylee were younger, we were much more<br />

inclined to react immediately before hearing all the details. I admit<br />

that this did lead to times where we had to admit that we got things<br />

wrong. Bobby and I both believe that you admit to your children<br />

when you mess up and offer apologies. I think it shows transparency<br />

and builds trust that they can always come to you. As we have gotten<br />

older and hopefully gained more wisdom, I think we approach<br />

things a little differently with Kendall. Our older two may say that<br />

we are more lenient with Kendall, but I think that we just now<br />

realize what really matters and let some of the smaller details go. I<br />

see so many young parents worried about so many small things, and<br />

I want to reassure them that in the long run, many of those things<br />

will not matter. I think our greatest responsibility as a parent is<br />

ensuring that our kids are secure in their identity in Christ and have<br />

a solid foothold on what they believe. There are so many distractions<br />

in this world, and they will need to return to these truths over and<br />

over again.<br />

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

to your family?<br />

I think the greatest benefit to our family that Bobby and I can share<br />

is that we are a living example of what a life of grace, forgiveness and<br />

hard work can do. I want our children to see that life is not always<br />

fair. You will have seasons of struggle and heartbreak, but when<br />

Christ is at the center of everything that you do – you can not only<br />

survive but thrive. We want our kids to see a marriage that is real.<br />

It may not always be easy, but we do not give up. We admit when we<br />

are wrong, we always seek to grow and be better, and we rely heavily<br />

on God’s direction to guide our decisions.<br />

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

And who does the cooking?<br />

A pot roast in the crockpot is our favorite comfort food. There is<br />

nothing better than walking in from church on Sunday and smelling<br />

the roast cooking. Bobby and I share a lot of the cooking responsibilities.<br />

He is a master on the grill and the entire family would say that<br />

we would put his steaks up against any you can find in a restaurant. I<br />

did joke, though, that with all my work travel, for many years, Bobby<br />

had every restaurant in Rankin County memorized that offered free<br />

kid’s meals and what night they served those!<br />

20 • JANUARY 2024

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

We moved to Brandon in 2007 when I (Jennifer) was asked to serve<br />

as the children’s minister at the Reservoir Campus of Pinelake<br />

Church. Although my educational background is in healthcare, I had<br />

been serving as the children’s minister at a church in Vicksburg for a<br />

few years and accepted the offer to join Pinelake’s staff where I<br />

served for six years.<br />

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

County?<br />

We love that there is both opportunity and a small-town comfort in<br />

Rankin County. It would be much easier to live in a town with a<br />

major airline hub with my work travel, but we choose to continue to<br />

make Rankin County home because of the people and relationships<br />

we have built here. We are committed to the vision of Hartfield<br />

Academy to see every student fulfill their God-given purpose. We<br />

feel honored that as a family, and Bobby’s service to the school, we<br />

have been able to play a role in seeing that be fulfilled.<br />

I am the vice president of sales for the immersive healthcare division<br />

of Penumbra, a medical device company based out of the bay area in<br />

Alameda, CA. I hold my undergrad degree in occupational therapy<br />

from the University of MS and my MBA is from LSU. I have one<br />

brother that played football at MSU and another brother that played<br />

baseball there. I laugh that I am the most mixed-up SEC fan with<br />

ties to all three schools!<br />

What drives me in my career is seeing other people be empowered to<br />

succeed and grow. I have a life motto that “investing in others will<br />

always pay dividends.” I have seen this be true when working at the<br />

church and investing in small-group relationships, to working in the<br />

corporate world and building top performing teams. It all comes<br />

down to how well you value other people.<br />

How do you spend your summer breaks?<br />

We usually take a couple of trips every summer to the beach. As the<br />

older kids have gotten into graduate school, coordinating breaks has<br />

become a challenge, but we tend to spend the July 4th week in the<br />

Destin area. We also take a small trip every Labor Day weekend with<br />

my entire extended family to Gulf Shores. This past Labor Day we<br />

had 27 people in one large beach house! My parents were able to<br />

enjoy all the kids, spouses, grandkids and great-grandkids. Lots of<br />

memories are made each year!<br />

What accomplishments make you proud during your time<br />

living in Rankin County?<br />

I want to take the opportunity to say that I am so proud of how<br />

much Bobby has been invested in the growth of Hartfield. He has<br />

such a servant’s heart and would never tell you how many hours he<br />

spends ensuring that the school is able to operate. He loves being a<br />

part of what all the school is doing. Seeing Hayden and Kaylee<br />

graduate from Hartfield, and both having very successful college and<br />

graduate school careers, makes us proud of the investments we have<br />

made in their education there.<br />

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

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

Bobby is the director of facilities for Hartfield Academy. He has<br />

been there since the school first opened. He is driven by his heart to<br />

work behind the scenes to allow the school to operate successfully.<br />

He also loves that he has been able to be on campus and available to<br />

all three of our children during their times at Hartfield.<br />


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

Hayden and Kaylee both say that their favorite thing to do is having<br />

all the family over to the house to hang out by the pool and have her<br />

dad grill burgers or steaks.<br />

Kendall loves our annual trips to the beach with the whole family,<br />

but she said she also loves her solo trips to different places throughout<br />

the year with just mom and dad!<br />

What your favorite restaurant?<br />

Kendall loves Amerigo. And all the kids enjoy our Christmas Eve<br />

tradition of worship together at Pinelake followed by dinner at<br />

Table 100.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 21

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Hometown RANKIN • 23

24 • JANUARY 2024

When<br />

Seconds<br />

Mary Mullen Brinson<br />

Count<br />

Elizabeth Ann Howell, VP of design and culture at Miskelly Furniture,<br />

saved her husband, Tyler’s, life thanks to her fast-acting response in<br />

performing CPR and calling 911 immediately when she discovered<br />

him unresponsive in the middle of the night in January 2023.<br />

Elizabeth Ann (Miskelly) and Tyler met<br />

in 2017 while Tyler was in his fourth year of<br />

medical school, and they married the<br />

following year. In 2022, Elizabeth Ann was<br />

trained in CPR at work, but she assumed<br />

that if someone in her family ever needed<br />

CPR, her physician husband would be able<br />

to help. She never imagined that the training<br />

she received would allow her to help save<br />

her husband’s life a year later when he<br />

suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in the<br />

middle of the night.<br />

Elizabeth Ann awoke in the night,<br />

hearing a noise. She thought it was the dog,<br />

then she realized the noise was coming from<br />

Tyler. “I tried to shake him awake,” she said.<br />

“I thought he was just having a bad dream.<br />

In that moment, the training that I had<br />

learned from our CPR class kind of kicked<br />

in,” said the relieved EA, as she is known to<br />

family and close friends. “I called 911, put<br />

them on speaker phone, pulled him off the<br />

bed, and started doing chest compressions.<br />

I was on the phone with 911 for nine minutes<br />

before the first responders arrived to take<br />

over and provided the necessary shocks from<br />

an AED (automated external defibrillator).”<br />

Once the first responders arrived, EA<br />

called her family and a close friend, who is<br />

also a cardiology fellow and happened to live<br />

just a few blocks away from the Howells.<br />

He was able to quickly get to their house, ride<br />

in the ambulance with Tyler, and support<br />

him through a series of very scary and<br />

life-threatening events. They got him to a<br />

local hospital, where he was immediately<br />

placed in the cardiac ICU and put on a<br />

ventilator.<br />

Later in the night, Tyler awoke and was<br />

quickly aware of what had happened. He<br />

was able to communicate with hospital staff<br />

and his wife, Elizabeth Ann. This was a<br />

major reassurance because the medical staff<br />

was concerned about the possibility of brain<br />

injury due to the amount of time his organs<br />

went without oxygen. Tyler had no visual<br />

or mental effects from the event and was<br />

thankful to have received an implanted<br />

defibrillator a few days later. The defibrillator<br />

allows his heart to maintain appropriate<br />

rhythm, should his heart ever stop again.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 25

As EA and Tyler think back to that night,<br />

they want everyone to know that they don’t<br />

believe any of the things that happened were<br />

coincidence. EA knows that she was trained<br />

in CPR for a reason, and that miracles do<br />

happen, and we don’t always need to know<br />

the why or the reasoning behind them.<br />

As Tyler states when asked about that<br />

night, “I’m just beyond grateful for this miracle.<br />

Being on the other side of healthcare–<br />

the patient-side instead of the provider-side–<br />

will certainly change the way that I practice<br />

medicine in the future.”<br />

Elizabeth Ann now also knows that a<br />

cardiac episode could happen at any time, to<br />

anyone. According to the American Heart<br />

Association, 70 percent of heart failures<br />

happen at home. She now has an AED in<br />

her car. “So, we’re just thankful to be able to<br />

share with people the importance of CPR<br />

because nobody ever thinks it’s going to be<br />

them that has to perform CPR.”<br />

The Howells are thankful for everything<br />

that allowed Tyler’s life to be saved that night.<br />

Tyler is especially thankful to be able to<br />

watch their precious daughter, Everly, grow<br />

up. More time with family is something the<br />

Howells do not take for granted, as they<br />

know that Tyler’s outcome is not the case<br />

for many who suffer from a similar cardiac<br />

event.<br />

The Howells will serve as the Open Your<br />

Heart Honorees at the 46th Annual Metro<br />

Jackson Heart Ball. The event will be held<br />

on Saturday, February 17, 2024, at the<br />

Country Club of Jackson, where Elizabeth<br />

Ann and Tyler will help raise crucial funds<br />

to support the local work of the American<br />

Heart Association. They are proud that<br />

100% of the funds they help raise through<br />

Heart Ball will stay in Mississippi to help<br />

support CPR education, policy for first<br />

responders, and research for future lifesaving<br />

discoveries.<br />

For information on corporate sponsorship,<br />

ticket sales, or to make a 100% tax-deductible<br />

mission donation in their honor, please reach<br />

out to Jordan Walker, director of this year’s<br />

Heart Ball, at Jordan.Walker@Heart.org,<br />

601-321-1215, or visit heart.org/jxnheartball.<br />

26 • JANUARY 2024

Hands-Only CPR<br />

Hands-Only CPR<br />

Join a Nation of Lifesavers today.<br />

Join a Nation of Lifesavers today.<br />

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause<br />

of death, with nearly 400,000 out-of-hospital<br />

cases occurring every year in the United<br />

States. About 89% of people who suffer an<br />

out-of-hospital cardiac arrest die. Research<br />

shows that hands-only CPR (without<br />

mouth-to-mouth breaths) performed by a<br />

bystander is just as effective in the first few<br />

minutes of sudden cardiac arrest outside of<br />

a hospital.<br />

No matter where you are, if you witness<br />

a teen or an adult suddenly collapse, you<br />

need to act fast — a delay of just a few<br />

minutes could be the difference between<br />

life and death. The American Heart Association<br />

offers these two easy steps:<br />

Call 911, or have someone else call<br />

immediately and keep your phone on<br />

speaker mode.<br />

Push down hard and fast in the center of<br />

the chest at a rate of 100-120 compressions<br />

per minute.<br />

A song like Bee Gees’ disco hit “Stayin’<br />

Alive” can help you keep the correct pace.<br />

Hopefully, you’ll never have to use<br />

hands-only CPR, but in the event of an<br />

emergency, your preparedness could save<br />

a life. Learn more about hands-only CPR at<br />

www.heart.org/handsonlycpr.<br />

The American Heart Association is a<br />

relentless force for a world of longer,<br />

healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring<br />

equitable health in all communities. Through<br />


Transforming a Nation of Bystanders into a Nation of Lifesavers.<br />

heart.org collaboration with numerous organizations,<br />

and powered by millions of volunteers, we<br />

fund innovative research, advocate for the<br />

public’s health and share lifesaving resources.<br />

The American Heart Association has<br />

been a leading source of health information<br />

for nearly a century. Connect with the<br />

American Heart Association’s local social<br />

media channels @ahamississippi.<br />

1 2<br />

1 Call 911.<br />

Push hard 2 and fast in<br />

the center of the chest.<br />

Know it. Feel it.<br />

Push it. Keep it.<br />

Mary Mullen Brinson<br />

© Copyright 2023 American Heart Association, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. All rights reserved.<br />

Unauthorized use prohibited. WF213148 5/23<br />

Communications & Marketing Director<br />

American Heart Association<br />

4830 McWillie Circle, Jackson, MS<br />

Transforming a Nation of Bystanders into a Nation of Lifesavers.<br />

heart.org<br />


Call 911.<br />

Push hard and fast in<br />

the center of the chest.<br />

Know it. Feel it.<br />

Push it. Keep it.<br />

601-321-1214<br />

© Copyright 2023 American Heart Association, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit. All rights reserved.<br />

Unauthorized use prohibited. WF213148 5/23<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 27

Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese<br />

• 1 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni<br />

• 2 cups half and half<br />

• ½ cup unsalted butter, melted<br />

• 8 oz. cheddar, grated<br />

• 8 oz. Monterey jack, grated<br />

• 4 oz. cream cheese, cut into pieces<br />

• 2 (12 oz.) cans evaporated milk<br />

• 1 tsp. ground mustard<br />

• Kosher salt and black pepper<br />

to taste<br />

Stir together macaroni, half and half,<br />

butter, cheddar, Monterey jack,<br />

cream cheese, evaporated milk, and<br />

mustard in the bowl of a 5- to 7-<br />

quart slow cooker. Season with salt<br />

and pepper. Cover and cook on low,<br />

stirring every 30 minutes, until<br />

macaroni is tender, 2 to 2½ hours.<br />

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled<br />

Pork with Cabbage Slaw<br />

• 4 lbs. boneless pork shoulder or<br />

butt, trimmed of excess fat and<br />

cut into 6 pieces<br />

• Kosher salt and freshly ground<br />

black pepper<br />

• 1 yellow onion, chopped<br />

• 2 cloves garlic, chopped<br />

• ¾ cup ketchup<br />

• 1 Tbsp. tomato paste<br />

• 2 tsp. mustard powder<br />

• 2 tsp. cumin seed<br />

• 2 tsp. smoked paprika<br />

• 4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, divided<br />

• Hamburger buns<br />

Combine onion, garlic, ketchup,<br />

tomato paste, mustard powder,<br />

cumin seed, paprika, and 3 Tbsp.<br />

vinegar in the bowl of a 5- to 7-quart<br />

slow cooker. Season pork with salt<br />

and pepper and place on top of<br />

ketchup mixture. Cook on high<br />

until pork is very tender and easily<br />

shreds, 5 to 6 hours on high or 10<br />

to 12 hours on low. Transfer pork to<br />

a cutting board and shred meat<br />

(discard any fat). Return to the bowl<br />

and stir in remaining Tbsp. vinegar.<br />

Set slow cooker to warm.<br />

Slaw<br />

• ¼ head small cabbage, shredded<br />

• 1 large carrot, thinly sliced with<br />

a vegetable peeler<br />

• 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar<br />

• 1 Tbsp. olive oil<br />

• 1 Tbsp. country style Dijon<br />

mustard<br />

• Kosher salt and ground black<br />

pepper<br />

Combine cabbage, carrot, vinegar,<br />

oil, mustard in a bowl. Season with<br />

salt and pepper. Serve pork and slaw<br />

on hamburger buns.<br />

Slow Cooker<br />

Green Beans & Potatoes<br />

• 1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed<br />

• 1 lb. small new potatoes, halved<br />

• Water to cover<br />

• 2 (1 inch) cubes salt pork,<br />

or more to taste<br />

Layer green beans and potatoes in<br />

the bottom of a slow cooker. Add<br />

just enough water to barely cover.<br />

Top with salt pork. Cover and cook<br />

on low until tender, 6 to 8 hours.<br />

28 • JANUARY 2024

Crockpot Hot Chocolate<br />

• 3 cups whole milk (must be whole<br />

for the best texture)<br />

• 1 cup half and half or heavy cream<br />

• 6 oz. dark or bittersweet chocolate,<br />

coarsely chopped<br />

• 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar<br />

• 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder<br />

• 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract<br />

• 2 tsp. instant expresso powder<br />

(optional)<br />

• Pinch of kosher salt<br />

Toppings of choice: marshmallows,<br />

whipped cream, caramel, extra<br />

chocolate chops<br />

Place all the ingredients except for<br />

toppings into a 3 to 5-quart slow<br />

cooker. Briskly whisk to dissolve the<br />

cocoa powder as much as possible.<br />

Keep whisking until none of it floats<br />

to the top; one to two minutes.<br />

Cook on low two to three hours.<br />

Whisk every 45 minutes to make<br />

sure chocolate doesn’t burn on the<br />

bottom. Set to low or warm.<br />

Cowboy Brisket<br />

• 2 Tbsp. Cowboy rub<br />

(such as McCormick Cattlemen’s)<br />

• 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar<br />

• 2 tsp. smoked paprika<br />

• 1½ tsp. kosher salt<br />

• 1 tsp. ground cumin<br />

• 1 (6 lb.) flat-cut brisket<br />

• 1 large sweet onion, sliced<br />

• 3 garlic gloves, minced<br />

• 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro<br />

Slow Cooker Crack Chicken<br />

• 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken<br />

• 1 oz. packet ranch seasoning mix<br />

• 16 oz. cream cheese<br />

• 8 slices bacon (slices, cooked<br />

and drained)<br />

• 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese<br />

• ½ cup sliced green onions<br />

Add the chicken to the slow cooker.<br />

Sprinkle over the ranch seasoning<br />

mix. Place the cream cheese on top<br />

of the chicken. Cover and cook on<br />

low for seven hours without opening<br />

the lid during cooking time. Shred<br />

the chicken, I do this right in the<br />

slow cooker with two forks. Stir the<br />

cooked cream cheese into the<br />

shredded chicken and stir in the<br />

bacon. Spread out into an even layer.<br />

Sprinkle cheddar cheese and cover<br />

for 10 more minutes for all the cheese<br />

to melt. Serve over rice and top with<br />

green onions. Can also be served on<br />

a baked potato or on sandwich rolls.<br />

Stir together the first five ingredients.<br />

Trim fat from brisket leaving a thin<br />

layer; cut into three-inch chunks.<br />

Rub evenly with spice mixture.<br />

Arrange meat on top of onions and<br />

garlic in a lightly greased 5- to 6-quart<br />

slow cooker. Sprinkle with cilantro.<br />

Cover and cook on low eight to nine<br />

hours or until brisket shreds easily<br />

with a fork. Serve drizzled with a<br />

small amount of the cooking liquid,<br />

or cover and chill up to 4 days.<br />

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp<br />

• 6 large Granny Smith apples,<br />

peeled, cored and cut into slices<br />

• 1 Tbsp. lemon juice<br />

• ¼ cup white sugar<br />

• 1 tsp. cinnamon<br />

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract<br />

Topping<br />

• ½ cup rolled oats<br />

• ½ cup all-purpose flour<br />

• ¾ cup light brown sugar<br />

• ¼ cup white sugar<br />

• 1 tsp. cinnamon<br />

• ½ tsp. baking powder, double acting<br />

• ¼ tsp. nutmeg<br />

• ¼ tsp. salt<br />

• 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold,<br />

cut into pieces<br />

Place sliced apples in slow cooker.<br />

Add lemon juice, cinnamon, white<br />

sugar, and vanilla extract. Stir until<br />

apples are evenly coated. In a separate<br />

mixing bowl add topping ingredients<br />

(oats, flour, baking powder, brown<br />

sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg,<br />

and salt). Stir to combine. Cut butter<br />

into flour mixture. Using a spoon or<br />

your hands, combine flour mixture<br />

and butter until ingredients look wet<br />

and crumbly. Sprinkle topping on top<br />

of apples evenly. Place lid on slow<br />

cooker and set on high for<br />

two hours. Open lid<br />

part way and cook for<br />

one additional hour.<br />

Serve warm and top<br />

with vanilla ice cream<br />

if desired.<br />

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic<br />

Pork Chops<br />

4 boneless pork chops, thick cut<br />

1 Tbsp. olive oil<br />

Kosher salt and pepper to taste<br />

2 tsp. minced garlic<br />

½ cup honey<br />

¼ cup chicken broth<br />

3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar<br />

2 Tbsp. cornstarch<br />

2 Tbsp. water<br />

2 Tbsp. chopped parsley<br />

Season the pork chops generously<br />

with salt and pepper on both sides.<br />

Heat the oil in a pan over high heat.<br />

Cook the pork for 4-5 minutes on<br />

each side until deep golden brown.<br />

Place the pork chops in the bottom of<br />

the slow cooker. In a medium bowl,<br />

whisk together the garlic, honey,<br />

chicken broth, and vinegar. Pour the<br />

sauce over the pork chops. Cover the<br />

slow cooker and cook on low for 4<br />

hours. In a small bowl, whisk the<br />

cornstarch and cold water. Add the<br />

cornstarch mixture to the slow<br />

cooker for the last 30 minutes of<br />

cooking. Cook until the sauce<br />

thickens and the pork chops are<br />

tender. Sprinkle with parsley and<br />

serve over potatoes.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 29

30 • JANUARY 2024

OUR<br />

jacksonprep.net I 601.939.8611<br />

Inpatient mental health services for senior adults ages 65+<br />

Psychiatric assessments may be necessary<br />

if an individual has trouble with:<br />

• Memory loss<br />

• Mood disturbances<br />

• Depression or anxiety<br />

• Coping with losses and transitions<br />

• Activities of daily living<br />

• Substance use<br />

We can help with no-cost assessments<br />

available 24/7. Walk-ins are welcome and<br />

most insurances accepted. Call us today<br />

at 601-936-7886 to take the next step.<br />

Learn more at brentwoodjackson.com.<br />

3531 Lakeland Drive • Flowood, MS 39232<br />

601-936-7886<br />

Model representations of real patients are shown. Physicians are<br />

on the medical staff of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare, but, with<br />

limited exceptions, are independent practitioners who are not<br />

employees or agents of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare. The facility<br />

shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians.<br />

For language assistance, disability accommodations and the<br />

nondiscrimination notice, visit our website. 232304-2988 11/23<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 31

32 • JANUARY 2024<br />

advertiser spotlight

Wesley Biblical Seminary<br />

Developing trusted leaders for faithful churches<br />

Melanie McMillan<br />

For nearly 50 years, Wesley<br />

Biblical Seminary has been<br />

training spiritual leaders from<br />

all over the world, right here<br />

in our community.<br />

Located in Ridgeland, the seminary’s<br />

most important mission is to raise up trusted<br />

pastors. “There is a deep need for biblically<br />

sound pastors in Mississippi as well as across<br />

the country and beyond,” says Wesley’s<br />

Director of Development Kaitlin Godfrey.<br />

Offering undergraduate and graduate degree<br />

programs, Wesley is dedicated to preparing<br />

students for ministry through on-campus and<br />

online study.<br />

As a global institution, WBS follows a<br />

polysynchronous model, meaning students<br />

can attend in person or online. “Wesley had<br />

implemented online learning long before<br />

COVID, so during the pandemic, other local<br />

colleges and universities reached out for<br />

guidance on remote learning for their students,”<br />

says Godfrey. “We are proud to be able to serve<br />

370 students, with approximately 60 of those<br />

from outside the United States.”<br />

Wesley has seen a significant increase in<br />

enrollment since becoming the first school to<br />

offer an approved Global Methodist Church<br />

course of study, which consists of educational<br />

requirements for students desiring to be<br />

ordained. The GMC list of recommended<br />

educational institutions for ordination<br />

candidates is short, so the fact that Wesley was<br />

the first to be approved speaks to the caliber<br />

of the faculty and curriculum. It’s fair to say<br />

that other schools are looking to Wesley as<br />

the benchmark for successful implementation<br />

of a GMC course of study.<br />

In addition to programs for ministerial<br />

students, WBS offers the Wesley Institute,<br />

a 9-month course designed for lay people.<br />

Participants can choose between the Bible<br />

or theology tracks, both of which provide<br />

seminary-level instruction to those desiring<br />

a deeper understanding of the Bible and<br />

growing in their faith. These classes are taught<br />

by Wesley faculty members.<br />

While the name Wesley certainly brings<br />

to mind the Methodist denomination, and<br />

Wesley Biblical Seminary is on the approved<br />

GMC list, the school itself is not affiliated with<br />

a particular denomination, nor do they receive<br />

any funds from a denomination. “Because our<br />

first priority is to fulfill the mission we are called<br />

to, Wesley never turns a potential student away<br />

due to his or her ability to pay,” says Godfrey.<br />

“Last year we provided students with<br />

$505,000 in unfunded scholarships, so the<br />

support of lay people is extremely important in<br />

continuing the work of the seminary.” A little<br />

over a year ago, Wesley launched the “Steadfast”<br />

campaign, with a goal of raising $4.17 million<br />

to drive long-term funding needs. In just a<br />

year, $3.1 million has been raised, 76% of the<br />

total goal, and this is before the public launch<br />

of the campaign in January 2024.<br />

Wesley Biblical Seminary is not just<br />

physically located in the community, but<br />

faculty and staff members are actively involved<br />

in the community as well. Teaching and<br />

preaching all over the metro area, faculty<br />

members are committed to serving in local<br />

churches, leading students by example and not<br />

just through instruction. A current WBS<br />

student says, “In my previous course of study<br />

at another seminary, the instructor came into<br />

the very first class and announced, ‘the Bible<br />

is not inerrant, and it is not the Word of God.’<br />

I was stunned. In contrast, Dr. Ayars joined<br />

my first class at Wesley Biblical Seminary to<br />

affirm that the inerrancy of Scripture is a core<br />

value that WBS will never depart from.<br />

I thought to myself, ‘I’m home.’”<br />

Wesley Biblical Seminary invites the<br />

community to a reception on Thursday,<br />

January 11th, from 10am-12pm to launch the<br />

Steadfast giving campaign.<br />

For more information on Wesley Biblical Seminary,<br />

visit wbs.edu or find them on Facebook and Instagram.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 33

Steen’s Creek Presbyterian Church<br />

Christmas Party<br />

December 9, 2023 / Home of Sara & Grant Fox<br />

Steen’s Creek Pres is a church plant of the Presbyterian Church in<br />

America and the Presbytery of the Mississippi Valley, located in Florence.<br />

Pastor Danny Ruth began shepherding the congregation in August and has<br />

moved to the community with his wife Carlye and their children.<br />

To learn more about Steen’s Creek Pres, contact Pastor Ruth at<br />

601-559-9857, danny@steenscreekpres.org, or visit steenscreekpres.org<br />

34 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 35

36 • JANUARY 2024


The Lord Will Answer<br />

Overcoming the Isolating and<br />

Often Silent War on Depression<br />

Sarah Rein<br />

“Then your light will break forth like the<br />

dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;<br />

then your righteousness will go before you,<br />

and the glory of the Lord will be your rear<br />

guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will<br />

answer; you will cry for help, and he will say:<br />

Here am I.” – Isaiah 58:8-9<br />

Christy, what were you like growing up?<br />

Actually, I was recently thumbing through old pictures.<br />

Thats always fun to do. I come from a big Italian family - my<br />

twin brother and I are the youngest of five children. So, there<br />

was always a lot of energy in my home—especially around the<br />

holidays.<br />

I can remember fun memories of playing in my neighborhood.<br />

I was a tough little girl. There were no girls my age around, but I<br />

loved riding bikes and playing sports and could hang with all the<br />

little boys. I had a huge imagination, so a lot of my time was spent<br />

playing creatively. Drawing and painting. I would make pretend<br />

farms and barns for my pretend animals. I spent hours in the<br />

sandbox and on my swingset. I think people would have viewed<br />

me as a shy, quiet child, but under the surface, I felt a lot of deep<br />

emotions...some were pleasant, and some were really difficult.<br />

I’ve always had a highly sensitive soul—meaning I experienced<br />

things in life vividly. Still do. That goes for beauty in life.<br />

I see colors and things in nature that other people might not<br />

notice, and music will move me to tears at times. I am able to<br />

experience the greatest joy...but also deep darkness. I remember<br />

being young and sensing things around me that were definitely<br />

dark, even spiritual darkness, that I had no language for. That was<br />

terrifying at times.<br />

You know, high sensitivity often has a negative connotation.<br />

But I hope people see that it’s part of some of our wiring. I believe<br />

it’s a gift. We are able to experience life to the fullest. If I could go<br />

back and talk to myself as “little girl Christy,” I would encourage<br />

her to speak out about her brilliant emotions—the things that she<br />

is sensing and not hold them in. I would hold her and listen to all<br />

of the stories behind the difficult feelings. Because of some<br />

traumatic things that I experienced, I think all of the anxiety and<br />

sadness got stuck inside me and I began feeling a very heavy<br />

darkness. I can remember having my first depressive time as a<br />

seven-year-old. This became a pattern for me from then on.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 37

Share with us about marrying and transitioning into<br />

adulthood.<br />

When I grew up and entered high school, I felt a reprieve from the<br />

heavy emotions. I met Chip his junior year in college. When I saw<br />

him the first time I fell head over heels for him. I’d never met anyone<br />

like him before. We were friends for about a year and then we started<br />

dating. That was a high point in my life, for sure. We had the most fun.<br />

We were the exact opposites in personality. The old saying rings true<br />

for us. Opposites do attract. He made me feel special, and it was<br />

amazing to be with someone who was fun and spontaneous and<br />

who was following Jesus. I had given my life to Christ the same<br />

month I met him. I graduated high school in 1990 and went off to<br />

college at Ole Miss. My first day of class, Chip drove to Oxford from<br />

New Orleans where he was in seminary. He picked me up, and we<br />

drove to Memphis where he proposed. Three months later we got<br />

married and moved to New Orleans where he was in seminary.<br />

We were wildly in love and things were exciting, but when he wasn’t<br />

around I found myself alone in our tiny apartment much of the<br />

time with no friends. I became very isolated. And that is a breeding<br />

ground for depression.<br />

What was it like for both of you in those early years<br />

as you dealt with depression?<br />

When Chip first noticed it, it really pushed him away. He didn’t<br />

know what to do with me. He didn’t have a category for depression.<br />

Chip was raised to be super-independent. He didn’t have anything<br />

in him that felt like he could say ‘I need help or I’m struggling.’<br />

His attitude was ‘I’m fine, I can take care of myself.’ I have great<br />

compassion for him because there were some difficult stories behind<br />

that narrative in his head. So it was hard for him to be present. He<br />

didn’t know what to do so he would try to escape this pain - he’d<br />

go hunting or play basketball just to get away from all the discomfort.<br />

Looking back, we had some difficult seasons with all of this.<br />

When you feel isolated in your depression, it’s extremely hard to<br />

get out of. God opened up an opportunity for me to get out of the<br />

apartment and meet some good people. As an artist I was thankful<br />

to find a ceramics class. The lady who taught the class managed<br />

the business office on campus. She gave me a job and I started<br />

connecting with people and making friends. This helped me in many<br />

ways. I had another season of relief. After several years we began<br />

having our beautiful children—Rachel, Kenzie, and Regan. It was both<br />

a beautiful and brutal season. I had terrible bouts of postpartum<br />

depression. It was a different level of struggle than I’d had before.<br />

I think the deep-rooted feelings from the past began to come back<br />

up, combined with the overwhelming responsibilities and all the<br />

hormonal changes. It was the perfect storm.<br />

Postpartum depression is so heavy because it carries much<br />

shame. I would ask myself ‘Christy, you are so blessed. What is wrong<br />

with you? This should be such an enjoyable time.’ But I was really<br />

struggling emotionally and mentally. I was trying to keep my head<br />

above water. It was so hard not having anyone who truly understood<br />

the silent struggle that I was dealing with. I can remember<br />

rocking my babies, thanking God for them and at the same time<br />

weeping because of the pain. I did have sweet friends and my mom<br />

would come help me, but it was the first time I realized I needed<br />

professional help. I speak out about this a lot because I don’t want<br />

moms to feel shame. Postpartum depression is a very real thing<br />

and there’s a lot that contributes to it. There are people who DO<br />

understand what you are going through and they can support you<br />

in your suffering. Please don’t be afraid to seek that help.<br />

How would you describe your journey with depression<br />

since then?<br />

There was a long time of feeling isolated in my pain. I felt like a<br />

misfit. I felt like there were many people observing me, but very few<br />

really knew me. In the darker days, I doubted if I would ever be free.<br />

I wondered if the clouds would ever part. My connection with God<br />

was the only thing that kept me grounded. When my mental and<br />

emotional state was a wreck, I can remember going to my closet<br />

where I wrote God’s word on 4x6 cards and tacked them to the<br />

wall. My wall was covered. It helped me meditate. There were<br />

mornings that I would spend hours in there. I would light a candle<br />

to help me visualize the Holy Spirit as I prayed for strength. God held<br />

me in that space. But the depression was relentless. It was like I was<br />

in a war for my life. Off and on for four decades, I suffered to some<br />

degree.<br />

I know there are people out there who need to hear this—in<br />

the lowest moments, I didn’t want to live. This is hard to say, but I<br />

can remember waking up and being disappointed that I woke up.<br />

But I knew I had to live. God had a purpose for my life. There was a<br />

lie that Satan would whisper to me—’everyone would be better off<br />

without you,’ But I would look into the eyes of my children, and I<br />

knew that they needed their mama. This gave me the drive to<br />

persevere—to get out of bed and make breakfast and care for them.<br />

Recently, there came a breaking point for me. Things became<br />

unmanageable. I was under the care of physicians who had done<br />

everything they could to help. I had been placed on a terrible<br />

combination of medication that was toxic to my system. I was<br />

underweight and very weak, physically. I was in a state of disconnect<br />

with myself, my loved ones, and even feeling extremely disconnected<br />

from God. I’m 51 now and that happened when I was 47. By God’s<br />

grace, He put my feet on a healing path. I went to a place far away<br />

and spent a month and a half in intensive therapy. There were<br />

compassionate professionals there who helped me. It was very<br />

difficult going through a medical detox and then uncovering all of<br />

the pain that I had buried for so long. But with each session, I began<br />

to feel a difference. Slowly the light and freedom came to those<br />

wounded places inside my soul. God helped me dismantle false<br />

belief systems as I acknowledged the root causes of my pain.<br />

I felt the miracle begin in my body. It was a sacred space<br />

where I found greater intimacy with God than I could ever imagine.<br />

I tell people all the time that “Jesus reintroduced Himself to me.”<br />

Today the work continues. I still have someone I talk to therapeutically.<br />

I have a new physician. I am on safe medication with no side effects.<br />

38 • JANUARY 2024

I still have mornings that are a struggle for me. My life used to be<br />

80% some level of depression and 20% freedom. But I’d say it’s<br />

reversed now. That 20% is still there, but I have tools that help me<br />

process those thoughts and emotions. And I think maybe God has<br />

allowed that to remain so that I can be most effective as I empathize<br />

with others.<br />

As a Christian, and more specifically a pastor’s wife,<br />

what has it been like facing this darkness spiritually?<br />

That is a tough one. There was a lot of pressure there. In the<br />

beginning, I was young and I didn’t know what I was doing. I was so<br />

insecure. I was a Christian, but I was never really discipled. I didn’t feel<br />

like I had someone to walk through Scripture with me. I didn’t develop<br />

much spiritually in those early years. Looking back now, I realize<br />

Jesus was with me in the darkness even when I didn’t know what<br />

verse to quote or what to pray. He sustained me in those times.<br />

With depression, there’s a disconnect between what you know to<br />

be true and what you feel in your body. When that happens, it’s a<br />

shaming feeling and the enemy uses that. I had many beautiful<br />

people who loved me and showed up for me. Their sincere prayers<br />

supported me and I will forever be grateful to them. They know<br />

who they are (smile). But unfortunately, people can, and did, use<br />

their words and even used scripture to shame me. Some just wanted<br />

to step in and slap a Bible verse on me and stop my suffering and<br />

tears. But they didn’t know me.<br />

As the Body of Christ, we have the power to heal. That may look<br />

differently than most people have come to expect. We cannot put<br />

God in a box. The more we are able to really lean in and be with<br />

people in their pain and hold sacred space for their story the more<br />

healing we will witness.<br />

When I read scripture now, I see that Jesus himself was a sufferer.<br />

He felt the deepest most difficult emotions and there was no shame<br />

in that. David praised God in the psalms but he was also brutally<br />

honest about his suffering and his doubts. Yes, the scriptures say<br />

‘Don’t be afraid.’ But God was talking to people who were afraid. He<br />

wasn’t scolding them. There is a tenderness in His words. I interpret that<br />

as ‘Don’t fear because I’ve got you. You are mine.’<br />

A couple of my favorite verses are John 16:33 where Jesus says,<br />

‘In this world you will have tribulations, but take heart, I have<br />

overcome the world!’ And in 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 it says that it’s<br />

no wonder we don’t give up. For even though our outer person<br />

gradually wears out, our inner being is renewed every single day.<br />

We view our slight, short-lived troubles in the light of eternity. We<br />

see our difficulties as the substance that produces for us an eternal<br />

glory far beyond all comparison. I don’t want people to feel shamed<br />

by scriptures. I want them to be empowered by them! His Word is<br />

not generic and void of emotions. I want them to know that Jesus is<br />

near to the brokenhearted and He rescues those whose spirits are<br />

crushed. He makes provision. He’s okay with you not being okay. He<br />

can bring healing to your spirit, your soul, and your body and mind.<br />






THE WORLD!<br />

JOHN 16:33<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 39

What have you learned about depression and mental<br />

health that you want to share with others?<br />

I want people to understand that there is a reason for the way<br />

you are feeling! There are stories underneath each emotion.<br />

Whether it is depression or rage or anxiety or addiction. So much of<br />

it is because of your experiences in life. Your traumas. Those<br />

traumas can look like lots of things, big and small. Do not minimize<br />

your past pain. I believe that healing is possible for anyone. It may<br />

not always be physical healing, but I know that no matter what, our<br />

hearts can heal.<br />

Too many people end their lives because they are in despair.<br />

They give up hope. We all have struggles at some point in our lives<br />

whether we admit it or not. We are relational creatures and we<br />

need each other. We need others to hold hope for us and to remind<br />

us that we are strong. We are overcomers. This is where healing can<br />

touch mental and emotional illnesses. Sometimes medicine can<br />

help support you, but connection with other compassionate,<br />

empathetic people . . . THIS is what God can use to bring true<br />

healing.<br />

Why is there so much shame around the idea of suffering<br />

emotionally?<br />

Shame is a tactic of the enemy. If he can keep us in isolation, it’s<br />

much more likely he can destroy us. The Bible says that’s what<br />

Satan comes to do – ‘to kill, steal, and destroy.’ But Christ said that<br />

He came so we could have life—abundantly. He desires us to be<br />

seen and heard and known. You know you would go to a doctor to<br />

fix a broken leg. People aren’t shamed for getting treatment for<br />

their cancer. There’s no shame in pursuing healing in any other part<br />

of the body. But there has always been a stigma about mental and<br />

emotional health. One of my missions in life is to help people<br />

understand they are NOT ALONE… and God is not ashamed of you.<br />

He loves you. He has a purpose for your life and He can redeem<br />

your heartache. This is my own testimony.<br />

How has this struggle affected your family?<br />

How have they handled it?<br />

Depression touches the whole family. I know that it affected our<br />

children. They were so strong and resilient though. They championed<br />

me. And when I went off for treatment, they were my biggest<br />

cheerleaders.<br />

I can see now how God has used our experience with pain to<br />

shape all three of our children into amazing young adults. They<br />

have a trust and faith in God that is strong and secure. They<br />

witnessed His faithfulness as He sustained me and as He ultimately<br />

brought healing. While sometimes they probably were discouraged,<br />

they never gave up hope. Now they are not afraid to engage their<br />

own stories of pain. They are not afraid to ask for help. They are<br />

empathetic and they’ve offered our story as a testimony to many<br />

who are suffering. It is really beautiful. They are not ashamed of me.<br />

They are not ashamed of our story.<br />

I do think Chip has had an honest struggle with my mental and<br />

emotional health. But he loved me, and he prayed fervently for me.<br />

It has been beautiful to see how God has used this to bring out so<br />

much compassion in this man! Over the years, His life has changed<br />

in many ways as a result of our journey. It has opened his eyes to<br />

his own pain. All the things he kept concealed.<br />

When I went away and started my work. God was already<br />

moving in him. After some time, Chip started doing his own work in<br />

therapy and it has brought a deeper connection and more honesty<br />

with me. And I can see it’s what God intended for marriage - to be<br />

naked and unashamed. Not just physically but a true soul connection<br />

and openness without shame. Now God’s work is flowing out<br />

of our family’s pain as it’s affecting many individuals and families our<br />

community.<br />

What words of hope would you like to leave readers with?<br />

I would encourage people to be vulnerable. Be open and honest<br />

and transparent. Be willing to be known. The more the body of<br />

Christ can be honest about their story, I have GREAT HOPE that<br />

shame will be broken, and healing will occur.<br />

To people in the middle of this struggle…allow God to nurture<br />

you spiritually. He desires to apply the fullness of the gospel to your<br />

life and redeem every part of you. Meditate on scripture. Listen to<br />

podcasts - they are like free therapy! One of my favorites is The<br />

Place We Find Ourselves, by Adam Young. Find someone you can<br />

trust to talk to. Even if you can’t afford a counselor or therapist,<br />

you can still heal.<br />

Step into a community that will love you, champion you, and<br />

be vulnerable with you. Our ultimate hope always has to be in Jesus<br />

Christ. God’s presence is holding you no matter what you’re going<br />

through. He is faithful.<br />

Looking back on my pain in my darkest places, He was there.<br />

I know that now. In light of eternity, the suffering you’re going<br />

through is temporary. God is a redeemer. He is redeeming my<br />

heartache by allowing me to sit in the presence of fellow-sufferers.<br />

It is an honor and I am humbled to hear their stories that lie beneath<br />

the surface and to witness the bit of relief and healing that comes<br />

even with one honest conversation. I have come to understand that<br />

we can hold suffering and hope at the same time. K.J. Ramsey says<br />

it like this. ‘Grief does not cancel out goodness. Hurt does not<br />

silence our hope.’<br />

40 • JANUARY 2024

We asked Christy’s family to share what they learned<br />

and experienced as she dealt with her depression.<br />

Daughter Rachel<br />

When mom was struggling, it was difficult to see God in it at<br />

times. We would have hopeful seasons, but when the darkness<br />

would come over her again, I felt frustrated and questioned<br />

whether or not God was interested in completely healing her. I just<br />

wanted her to be well and be free, for God’s glory, and for her to<br />

not have to fight anymore.<br />

I saw her faith to be out of this bondage and the faith of those<br />

praying for her, so it was confusing to me what His holdup was. I<br />

could feel my hope for the situation fading at times, like maybe this<br />

would just be our reality and I should get used to it. Looking back, I<br />

see now that He was big enough to handle my doubts and frustrations<br />

and that He was with her (and me) throughout it all.<br />

When God finally opened doors for a plan that would set her<br />

free from this cycle, I saw freedom in her like I never had before. It<br />

strengthened my faith that God is always ahead of us and His timing<br />

is perfect, even if it’s not what we would have chosen. It’s so<br />

important to hang on to what you know is true and not let your<br />

situation determine your faith.<br />

My encouragement to people going through this is to let people<br />

around you know what you’re going through and what is helpful for<br />

you. It’s not too much for them and you’re not a burden. Your<br />

people really want to help and often don’t know how best to<br />

support you beyond prayer. So, communicating that is so helpful.<br />

For those who know a loved one struggling, ask them how you<br />

can help! What makes them feel seen? What makes it worse? Be<br />

there to listen and remind them of scripture, but understand that<br />

your words likely won’t make everything all better.<br />

Daughter McKenzie<br />

Looking back on my mom’s life and her experience with mental<br />

health, the biggest thing that I learned about God is that He is<br />

ALWAYS working. Even when you can’t see Him and He feels a<br />

million miles away, He is at work. It was so hard to see my mom<br />

struggle for so long, but to look at what God brought her through<br />

to where she is now is a beautiful thing. Outside of simply just being<br />

there for someone you love, one of the encouragements that I<br />

think touched my mom most was to just tell her how strong she is.<br />

To go through struggles with emotional health is hard, and people<br />

need to hear how strong and courageous and brave they are even<br />

when they don’t feel it. And healing is possible. Every person’s<br />

journey is different, but God is in the business of doing redeeming<br />

work in our lives.<br />

Son Regan<br />

Back in those days, I’m not sure that I fully understood what<br />

mom was going through. I can remember when I was much<br />

younger, thinking something must have happened to a family<br />

member or something bad happened if I saw her upset. As I got<br />

older, I probably knew more of what depression and anxiety were.<br />

It became something I would see come and go in waves. Not really<br />

sure when the next would come. I just felt sad that she was<br />

continuing to wrestle with this with no easy way of helping it. I just<br />

wanted to hold her hand or do whatever I could to make her feel<br />

a little bit better. I never saw it as something being wrong with her,<br />

but I knew there was another way of life and I wanted her to be<br />

able step into it and out of the darkness.<br />

I have learned that it is not God’s will or plan for someone to<br />

remain in that pain. The truth of Jesus defeating death means we<br />

can be brought out of darkness. We are now heirs to the kingdom<br />

of light. It’s not a question of ‘Is it just God’s will for me to be<br />

downcast/confused/anxious?’ I have seen myself, and those around<br />

me, be brought out of those places when we call out. I know many<br />

people can struggle to find their way out of those places. It may<br />

sound easier than it is.<br />

Romans 12:2 says to be “transformed by the RENEWING of your<br />

MIND.” The enemy’s only weapon against us is lies. If we are<br />

reinforcing lies that he feeds us, it may seem impossible for us to<br />

break free from that bondage. But if we can renew our mind with<br />

truth, even when we don’t feel that it’s true, we will see change.<br />

Renew your mind to align with the truth of the gospel.<br />

Husband Chip<br />

To those in the thick of the fight, I would say lean in to your faith<br />

in Jesus instead of running from faith in Jesus. In the midst of the<br />

hardship, God is working, revealing Himself, refining your faith, and<br />

ultimately shaping you to be more like Jesus. You can’t handle it or<br />

make it through on your own, but the Holy Spirit will strengthen<br />

you and sustain you.<br />

In the darkest and hardest times, reading the Bible and listening<br />

to worship music really helped me. I also learned that I couldn’t fix<br />

Christy’s battle with depression. That was a helpless feeling. But what<br />

I learned was that Christy didn’t need me to fix it or try to fix her.<br />

What she needed was me to be present and to love her unconditionally<br />

and reassure her I was with her. That’s sometimes harder<br />

for us to do than trying to fix it, but in the end our presence and<br />

love are healing.<br />

What I learned about faith and God is that He is faithful and sees<br />

your struggle. There were days when I said to God - ‘I don’t think<br />

I can do this anymore‘ and I needed Him to help me. Then He would<br />

do something that let me know He was with me, He saw me, and<br />

I was going to make it through. I also learned that God’s ways of<br />

doing things are not always what I want or expect. But His ways<br />

and timing are always perfect.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 41

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Dr. Ashley Emerson,<br />

MD, FAAD<br />

Happy New Year<br />

from all of us at<br />

Hometown<br />

Magazines.<br />

42 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 43

44 • JANUARY 2024


Kelby<br />

Desper<br />

PolkMistie<br />



Pearl Junior High School 8th grader<br />

Kelby Polk may just be “treating everyone the<br />

way the Bible tells us,” but to her peers and<br />

community, she is changing lives of those<br />

around her. Kelby’s family, dad Jeff, mom<br />

Robin, and sister Callie, are invested in their<br />

home church, Truitt Baptist. There, Kelby<br />

helps her mom in the preschool Sunday<br />

school class and enjoys any activity the church<br />

hosts where she can serve others. “I really<br />

enjoy helping with the little kids.”<br />

Also active in school with theater, archery,<br />

and band, Kelby is a typical teenage girl that<br />

enjoys movies, shopping, and hanging out<br />

with friends. Shying away from some of the<br />

social norms of today, Kelby and her best<br />

friend, Casey, are showing the world that<br />

there is so much love and respect between<br />

them and they are just normal best friends,<br />

despite Casey’s special needs.<br />

Kelby met Casey through their church<br />

seven years ago and had an “instant bond.”<br />

Casey is a few years younger than Kelby, but<br />

they share a deep connection with one<br />

another. “I love her so much. She is like a<br />

little sister. When we met, we quickly<br />

became best friends.”<br />

Casey’s mom, Rachel Roberts, said,<br />

“People like Kelby see the world with so<br />

much compassion. It is so easy to get lost in<br />

the hurdles of being a special needs parent.<br />

It can be so isolating and full of fear. She<br />

shows Casey how she is worthy of love and<br />

respect, and it is such an encouragement to<br />

us all. Even when Casey was mistreated by<br />

others, Kelby supported her. Her heart just<br />

doesn’t understand how others can be so<br />

hurtful.”<br />

Kelby added, “I am believer in what the<br />

Bible tells me which is to treat everyone with<br />

love and do unto others as you’d want them<br />

to do to you. I want everyone to treat Casey<br />

well and with the same respect as anyone<br />

else. We all need to be there for each other.”<br />

Robin added, “She has always loved<br />

helping. I had two strokes a few years ago<br />

and she stepped right in doing whatever I<br />

needed of her. Kelby just always wants to do<br />

the right thing by everyone. She is very much<br />

a rule follower. God knows our plans always<br />

and giving me Kelby, especially as an older<br />

mom, has been such a blessing. She has so<br />

much compassion for life, for church, and for<br />

God. I couldn’t be more proud of who she is.”<br />

Kelby grew up having a family member<br />

with a physical disability, and often went to<br />

work with mom, Robin, at Hudspeth<br />

Regional Center where she gained a true<br />

understanding of how people could be<br />

treated because they were different. This<br />

deepened Kelby’s love of people in general and<br />

she saw, early on, the value and importance of<br />

everyone, no matter their physical or mental<br />

challenges. Robin said, “She just simply has a<br />

good heart.” Kelby said, “It makes me think<br />

of my favorite Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11,<br />

which says, ‘For I know the plans I have for<br />

you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you<br />

and not to harm you, plans to give you hope<br />

and a future.’ Everyone should be treated the<br />

same, especially those with special needs.”<br />

Best friend Casey added, “Kelby is my<br />

friend and I love her.”<br />

Kelby’s former teacher, Ginger Plaisance,<br />

already knew she was “always willing to help<br />

a classmate” but noticed her more because of<br />

her friendship with Casey. Having a daughter<br />

with Down syndrome, Ginger admits the<br />

worry she feels about how her daughter will<br />

be treated. “Knowing that there are still kids<br />

like Kelby out there gives me hope for her<br />

future, a hope that she will also be seen and<br />

recognized and loved for the person she is<br />

rather than a label society sees.”<br />

When asked how she felt about being a<br />

role model for other young ladies who<br />

witness her love and compassion for others,<br />

she concluded, “I think it is great to be<br />

looked up to and it’s such an honor to be<br />

noticed. I think it is important to be yourself<br />

and to be nice and respectful to everyone<br />

you meet. I heard a quote once that I have<br />

always loved, ‘Be the woman who fixes<br />

another woman’s crown without telling the<br />

world it was crooked.’”<br />

Although only in the 8th grade, Kelby<br />

hopes to pursue a career in the law field one<br />

day and be an advocate for those who need a<br />

voice. Kelby is changing the lives of those<br />

around her and showing others the importance<br />

of grace and kindness towards others.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 45

BEST OF<br />

THE BEST<br />

46 • JANUARY 2024

Nominations were accepted in 108 categories,<br />

and online voting was used to determine<br />

the winner in each category.<br />

Winners will be announced at the<br />

gala on January 24th and 25th.<br />

Anyone in the top five of any category has<br />

clearly established themselves as a leader–<br />

and for that we congratulate you!<br />

We wish you continued success in 2024 and<br />

are honored to celebrate your achievements.<br />

Nominees<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 47

Dining<br />

ASIAN<br />

Osaka Japanese Restaurant<br />

Ichiban<br />

Fuji Japanese Sushi & Grill<br />

Asahi Sushi & Sake<br />

Sushi Village<br />

BAKERY<br />

Southern Sweetness<br />

SweetTee’s Treats and Design<br />

Sugar Magnolia Takery<br />

That Special Touch<br />

Turquoise Chandelier<br />

BAR<br />

The Gallows<br />

Shaggy’s on the Rez<br />

Sunset Grill<br />

Table 100<br />

Burgers & Blues<br />


Kenova Smokehouse<br />

Sonny’s BBQ<br />

Dickey’s Barbeque Pit<br />

Boo’s Smokehouse<br />

Little Willie’s BBQ<br />


A’ha Donuts & More<br />

Another Broken Egg<br />

Primos<br />

Jo’s Diner<br />

Donut Shop<br />

BURGER<br />

Foundation Burger<br />

Cross Roads Store & Grill<br />

Burgers & Blues<br />

Mug Shots<br />

Taste of Detroit<br />


Fresh Cut Catering & Floral<br />

Resa’s Place<br />

Bless This Food<br />

Georgia Blue<br />

McClain Catering<br />

CHEF<br />

Danny Eslava, Eslava’s Grille<br />

Jay Benson, Cerami’s Italian Restaurant<br />

Bridget Williams, Amerigo<br />

Jamie Patrick, Table 100<br />

Kendall Adkins, Kenova Smokehouse<br />


Chick-fil-A<br />

Mama’s Kitchen<br />

Abner’s Famous Chicken<br />

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers<br />

Genna Benna’s<br />


Mocha Mugs<br />

Bougee Coffee Shop<br />

Rollin’ Beans Coffee Company<br />

Bonnie Sue’s<br />

Cups<br />

DELI<br />

Frisco Deli<br />

McAlister’s Deli<br />

Newk’s Eatery<br />

Jersey Mike’s<br />

Firehouse Subs<br />


Table 100<br />

Crumbl Cookies<br />

The Yard Milkshake Bar<br />

Amerigo<br />

Tom’s Fried Pies<br />

DINNER<br />

Amerigo<br />

Table 100<br />

Half Shell Oyster House<br />

A’HA Crawfish Bistro<br />

Cerami’s Italian Restaurant<br />

LUNCH<br />

Nonna’s Cafe<br />

Mama’s Kitchen<br />

Genna Benna’s<br />

Grant’s Kitchen<br />

Chicken Salad Chick<br />


El Cabrito Mexican Restaurant<br />

Fernando’s Fajita Factory<br />

El Sombrero<br />

El Potrillo Mexican Restaurant & Grill<br />

Papito’s Mexican Restaurant<br />

PIZZA<br />

Lost Pizza Co.<br />

The Cleaners by Pizza Shack<br />

Soulshine Pizza<br />

The Pizza Shack, Pearl<br />

Mazzio’s Italian Eatery<br />


471 Nutrition<br />

Deep South Nutrition Café & Gifts<br />

Shake and Sip<br />

Rankin Nutrition & Hangout<br />

The Florence Nutrition<br />


McClain Lodge<br />

Outback Steakhouse<br />

Longhorn Steakhouse<br />

Table 100<br />

Boo’s Smokehouse<br />

Health<br />

& Wellness<br />


Megan McLeod, The Face Bar<br />

Stephanie Hodges, The Skin District<br />

Jamie Watson, The Skin Studio<br />

Kristen Bomar, High Society Aesthetics<br />

Trista Boles, The Relaxation Nook<br />


Julia Thompson, Merit Health<br />

Brett Bennett, Jackson Heart<br />

Donny Stokes, Jackson Heart<br />

Harper Stone, Jackson Heart<br />

Reid Cotton, Jackson Heart<br />


Chad Brown, Brown Chiropractic<br />

Chris Fowler, Fowler Chiropractic<br />

Haley Fortenberry, Brandon Family Chiropractic<br />

Clayton Pitts, Norville Chiropractic<br />

Brad Kennedy, Kennedy Chiropractic<br />

48 • JANUARY 2024


Lindsey Lemmon, mindFULL<br />

Allison Fulgham, New Path Counseling<br />

Hannah Beaver, Region 8 Mental Health<br />

Josh Haycraft, Thistleseed Counseling<br />

Ashley Franklin, Live Beyond Existing<br />


Dustin Pambianchi, Winning Smile<br />

Sara Langston, Dental Wellness<br />

Andrew Tran, Reservoir Dental<br />

Jason Cox, Belle Meade Family Dental<br />

Lee Herrin, Family Dental<br />


Allen Sheely, Merit Health<br />

Marc Hellrung, St. Dominic Family Clinic<br />

Carrie Nash, Baptist Medical Clinic<br />

Brannon Morris, Morris Family Medicine<br />

Scott Kelly, Baptist Medical Clinic<br />


Merit Health Medical Clinic, Flowood<br />

Baptist Medical Group, Reservoir Clinic<br />

On-Site Health<br />

Greenfield Family Healthcare<br />

Florence Family Clinic<br />


Planet Fitness<br />

Burn Boot Camp<br />

Complete Fitness<br />

The Barre<br />

Flowood Fit Body<br />


James K Chandler, Lakeland Surgical Clinic<br />

Steven Patterson, Lakeland Surgical Clinic<br />

Jason Murphy, Surgical Clinic Associates<br />

Pat Scanlon, Lakeland Surgical Clinic<br />

Reggie Martin, St. Dominic<br />


Tiffany Melton, Relaxation Nook<br />

McKenzie Dragoo, Graceful Effects<br />

Kerri Thomas, Elevated Wellness & Massage<br />

Lacey Clark, The Wellness Spa<br />

Kasi Sepulvado, The Wellness Spa<br />


Jack Moriarity, NewSouth NeuroSpine<br />

Lynn Stringer, NewSouth NeuroSpine<br />

John Davis, NewSouth NeuroSpine<br />

Adam Lewis<br />

Matthew VanLandingham,<br />

NewSouth NeuroSpine<br />


Roxi Odom, mindFULL<br />

Amanda Sullivan, Southern Women’s Health<br />

Donald Garrett, Greenfield Family Healthcare<br />

Karen Seago, Merit Health<br />

Ashley Shivers, Puckett Medical Clinic<br />

NURSE<br />

Emily Stingley, Florence Elementary<br />

Chelsea Papenburg, Fresenius Medical Care<br />

Lauren Ashworth, AccentCare Home Health<br />

Tammy Harvey, Baptist Medical Group,<br />

Reservoir Clinic<br />

Brittany Harris, Rankin Children’s Group<br />

OBGYN<br />

Missy McMinn, East Lakeland OB/GYN<br />

Chad Gnam, Women’s Health Associates<br />

Shea Moses, Southern Women’s Health<br />

Emily Johnson, Jackson Healthcare for Women<br />

Rhonda Sullivan Ford,<br />

Lakeland Premier Women’s Clinic<br />



Mark Allen, The Optical Shoppe<br />

Anna Taylor, Taylor Eyecare<br />

Tina Sorey, Eye Care Professionals<br />

Richard Pharr, Family Eye Care<br />

Precision Optical<br />

Anh Edwards, Professional Eyecare<br />


Richard Simpson, Simpson Orthodontics<br />

Albert Tutor, Tutor Orthodontics<br />

Dodd Brister, Brister Orthodontics<br />

Chandra Minor, Smile Design Studio<br />

Camille Sandifer, Sandifer Orthodontics<br />


Donald Baker, Merit Health Orthopedics<br />

Michael Dulske, Capital Ortho<br />

James Moss, Mississippi Sports Medicine<br />

Bradley Kellum, Capital Ortho<br />

Kerk Mehrle, Mississippi Sports Medicine<br />


Joe Edwards, Rankin Children’s Group<br />

Adam Adcock, The Children’s Clinic<br />

Alisha Vaughn, Rankin Children’s Group<br />

Sam Denney, The Children’s Clinic<br />

Joanna Storey, Children’s Medical Clinic<br />


Tiffany Hutchins, Flowood Drug Company<br />

Ryan Harper, Brandon Discount Drugs<br />

Anna Claire Roberts, Olde Towne Drugs<br />

Kenny Willoughby, Willoughby Pharmacy<br />

Davis Wilson, Polk’s Discount Drugs<br />


Blake Hobbs, Apex Physical Therapy<br />

Jonathan Josey, AccentCare Home Health<br />

Kristen Shivers, Merit Health<br />

Casie Peters, Performance Therapy<br />

Alyssa Fuller Martin, Elite Physical Therapy<br />


Shelby King, Capital Ortho<br />

Gavin Nowell, MEA Richland<br />

Justin Schoop, Mississippi Sports Medicine<br />

Allison Durr, Mississippi Sports Medicine<br />

Jenn Ainsworth, Mississippi Dermatology<br />

Associates<br />


William North<br />

Kenneth Barraza<br />

Shelby Brantley<br />

Scott Runnels<br />

Jeptha Cole<br />


mindFULL<br />

Capital Ortho<br />

Mississippi Sports Medicine<br />

Central Nephrology Clinic<br />

Southern Diabetes Care<br />


John Baten, Urogynocolgy Associates<br />

Allen M. (Neil) Haraway, Mississippi Urology<br />

Mark Runnels, Mississippi Urology<br />

Ramon Caballero, Merit Health<br />

Sujith Reddy, Urology Specialist<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 49

Skilled<br />

Services<br />

DJ<br />

David Steele<br />

Odie Bridges<br />

Angela Pittman<br />

Cody Hannah<br />

Mike Howington<br />


Chasity Wiysel, Barks and Bubbles<br />

Wayne Culipher, Tino’s Pet Grooming<br />

Haylee Cobb, Classy Canine<br />

Trisha King<br />

Amy Lee, Posh Paws<br />


Jeremy White, WhirlWind Electric<br />

Mike Windham, MW Electric<br />

Marty Cowden, Jim Cowden Electric<br />

Chase Campbell, Campbell Electric<br />

Richie Allen, B&A Electric<br />


Olivia Johnson, Firefly Salon<br />

Jessica Hudson, Meraki Studio<br />

Jamie Windham, Shear Shack<br />

Whitney Smith, LaCru Salon<br />

Susan Burell, Social House<br />


Carly Temple, Artistry by Carly<br />

Courtney Jamison, Makeup by C. Courtney<br />

Kayla Jones, Spray Tans by Kayla<br />

Alexis Coker, Reservoir Tan & Salon<br />

Morgan Wilmoth, Hair & Makeup by Morgan<br />


Infinity Nails & Spa<br />

Classic Nails<br />

Radiant Nails<br />

ZaZa Nails and Spa<br />

Monaco Nails<br />


New South Pest<br />

Central Mississippi<br />

Family Termite<br />

Jefcoat Pest<br />

Capital Pest<br />


Bert Wilmoth, Water Heater Pros<br />

Patrick Ferguson, Draingo Plumbing<br />

Brooks Yates, Plumtech<br />

Chris Roeder, Roeders Plumbing<br />

Ricky White, Complete Plumbing Maintenance<br />


Firefly Salon<br />

Meraki Hair Studio<br />

Glossary Salon<br />

Jane Thomas Salon<br />

The Social House Salon<br />



Lauren Messina, LGM Brandon<br />

Emily Wooten, Sweet Southern Occasions<br />

Elizabeth Johnson, Simply Splendid<br />

Carrie Taylor, Perfectly Taylor’d Events<br />

Kim Sharp, Kim Sharp Wedding Planner<br />

Professionals<br />


Kristi Thompson, Barlow & Company<br />

Zack Cooper, Southern Tax Solutions<br />

Kimberly Foreman, Kimberly Foreman CPA<br />

Jennifer Brown, Garret & Garret<br />

Josh Windham, Windham & Lacey<br />


The Village at Crossgates<br />

Ashford Place Apartment Homes<br />

High Pointe Apartments<br />

Harrell Apartments<br />

Laurel Park Apartments<br />


Jose Arellano, PryorMorrow<br />

Taylor Stewart,<br />

JH&H Architects, Planners & Interiors<br />

Adam Haver,<br />

JH&H Architects, Planners & Interiors<br />

Paul Bagley,<br />

JH&H Architects, Planners & Interiors<br />

Michael Rose, Clay Architecture<br />


Villa South Assisted Living<br />

Plain View Assisted Living<br />

Chateau Pines Assisted Living<br />

Cooperwood Senior Living<br />

The Blake at Flowood<br />


Jeffrey Arnold, Arnold Law Firm, LLC<br />

Connie Smith, Connie Smith & Associates<br />

Shannon Elliott, Elliott Law Firm<br />

Tameika Bennett, Bennett Law<br />

Mel Coxwell, Law Offices of Mel Coxwell<br />


A&M Auto Mechanic<br />

Dennis & McRee Auto Electric<br />

Darrell’s Auto Electric & Complete Auto Repair<br />

Gleason Tire & Service<br />

Rick Furr Pro Diesel & Automotive<br />


Vivian’s Cleaning<br />

Pace Cleaning<br />

Dunn Right Cleaning<br />

The Carpet Source<br />

Heavenly Helpers<br />


Railroad Center Daycare<br />

Miss Mandy’s Christian Daycare<br />

Circle of Friends Learning Center<br />

First Baptist Church Children’s Center<br />

Lake Village Learning Center<br />


Safeway Cleaners & Laundry<br />

Nu-Way Dry Cleaning<br />

The Cleaners on Old Fannin<br />

Martin’s Cleaners & Laundry<br />

Express Cleaners<br />


Matthew Miller,<br />

Benchmark Engineering & Surveying<br />

Chas Smithers,<br />

Smithers Engineers & Consultants<br />

Greg Bonds,<br />

Benchmark Engineering & Surveying<br />

Drew King, CGI Engineering<br />

William Dendinger,<br />

Smithers Engineers & Consultants<br />

50 • JANUARY 2024


K&M Rental<br />

Rankin Rental<br />

Brandon Rentall<br />

Mississippi Machinery<br />

United Rentals<br />


Jesse Nanney, Renasant Bank<br />

Tim Pickett, Community Bank<br />

Robert Dienelt, Raymond James<br />

Chas Gualano, Trustmark Bank<br />

Neal Broome, Power Financial Group<br />


Cornerstone Home Inspections<br />

Pinpoint Home Inspections<br />

Magnolia Inspections<br />

Pilgrim Home Solutions<br />

Chadwick Inspections<br />


Matt Dennis, Allegiant Insurance<br />

Don Bass, State Farm Insurance<br />

Josh Manning, Alfa Insurance<br />

Clancy Walker, Insurance Protection Specialists<br />

Brandy Gordon, The Insurance Center<br />


Tabatha Johnson, Local Real Estate<br />

Brandie Little, Three River’s Real Estate<br />

Triston Cowan, Cowan Realty<br />

Kim Edwards, Southern Homes<br />

Shannon Warren, Weichert Realtors<br />


Complete Exteriors<br />

Halo Roofing<br />

Southern Roofing Specialties<br />

Watkins Construction<br />

Rankin County Customs<br />


Shane Dubois, Community Bank<br />

Nick Whittington, Bank of Forest<br />

Kris Williams, Renasant Bank<br />

Rob Oates, PriorityOne Bank<br />

Chasity Dearman,<br />

Rivertrust Federal Credit Union<br />


PriorityOne Bank<br />

Community Bank<br />

Cadence Bank<br />

Origin Bank<br />

Bank Plus<br />


The A/C Doctors<br />

AirTech Heating & Cooling<br />

Southern Air Services<br />

Pure Air Consultants<br />

AKM Air Solutions<br />


Clark Builders<br />

C&B Properties<br />

Heart of the South Homes<br />

Lyles Signature Homes<br />

S&S Builders<br />


Pike Construction<br />

Xtreme Home Enhancements<br />

Squared Structures<br />

Blueline Construction<br />

JLS Rebuilders<br />


Murtagh Outdoor Services<br />

Ambiance Landscape<br />

Southern Elegance Outdoor Living<br />

Clean Cutz<br />

Murphy’s Lawn & Landscape<br />


Randall Harper, Planet Home Lending<br />

Kasey Finklea,<br />

Diversified Mortgage Corporation<br />

Sean Cornwell, Mississippi Mortgage<br />

Jessica Allen, The First Bank<br />

Savana Skelton, Origin Bank<br />


Briar Hill Rest Home<br />

Wisteria Gardens<br />

Brandon Nursing & Rehab Center<br />

Brandon Court Nursing<br />

Community Place Nursing Home<br />


Charlotte Stringer Photography<br />

Katelyn Anne Photography<br />

Debbie Steele Photography<br />

Tristan Duplichain Photography<br />

Watson Photography<br />


Pool Works<br />

Pool Care Plus<br />

Bob’s Pool Service<br />

P&P Pools<br />

Clearwater Pools<br />


David May, Animal Medical Hospital<br />

Rick Kirby, Hometown Veterinary Hospital<br />

Scott Houston, Brandon Animal Hospital<br />

Todd Sullivan, Crossgates Veterinary Clinic<br />

Staci Rhodes, Crooked Creek Animal Hospital<br />


Crossgates Veterinary Clinic<br />

Crooked Creek Animal Hospital<br />

Oakdale Animal Hospital<br />

Brandon Animal Hospital<br />

Hometown Veterinary Hospital<br />


Zach & Zach<br />

Kaylan Rivera<br />

Warren Brothers Media<br />

Justin Fortune<br />

Stephen Truhett<br />


Jennifer Burrell, Mickey’s Travel<br />

Crystal Black, McGehee Cruise & Vacation<br />

Jessica Allen, Magnolia Travel<br />

Jennifer Muse, Muse Magical Travel<br />

Mindi Phillips, Beloved Getaways<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 51

Retail<br />


Bob Boyte Honda<br />

Fowler Buick-GMC<br />

Gray Daniel’s Toyota<br />

Rogers-Dabbs<br />

Noel Daniels Motor Company<br />



Itty Bitty Kids<br />

Vintique’s<br />

Willow and Grace<br />

The Punky Rooster<br />

The Carousel<br />


Willow Blu<br />

Chapman’s Florist<br />

Green Floral<br />

Simply Southern Celebrations<br />

The Flower Suite<br />


Southern Glitz<br />

Mia Bella<br />

Tuxedo Junction<br />

Southern Grace Formals<br />

Renfroe’s Runway<br />


Miskelly Furniture<br />

Ross Furniture<br />

D. Noblin Furniture<br />

Purposely Imperfect<br />

T&D Furniture<br />


O! How Cute Gift Market<br />

Apple Annie’s<br />

Boudreaux’s<br />

Heart of the South Apparel and Gift<br />

Mockingbird Marketplace<br />


Ramey’s Marketplace<br />

Kroger<br />

Allen’s Super Value<br />

ALDI<br />

Fairway Foods<br />


Jackson Jewelers<br />

Crossgates Jewelers<br />

Cara Reese Designs<br />

Crown Jewelers<br />

Courtyard Jewelers<br />


River’s Greenhouse and Garden<br />

Lakeland Yard & Garden Center<br />

Doris Berry’s Farmers Market<br />

The Landing<br />

Cockrell’s Farmers Market<br />


Woods Equipment<br />

Van’s Sporting Goods<br />

Revell Outdoor Power<br />

Rankin Rental<br />

Frederick’s Sales & Service<br />


Great Southern Events<br />

Event Pro’s<br />

Ace Inflatables<br />

Fun Ventures<br />

Deep South Inflatables<br />


Brandon Discount Drugs<br />

Flowood Drug Company<br />

Polk’s Discount Drugs<br />

Olde Towne Drugs<br />

Rhodes & Robby Rexall Drug<br />


Pelahatchie Bay Trading Post<br />

Shell, Greenfield Road<br />

Circle K, Pearl<br />

The Service Station<br />

Eagle Post, Florence<br />


Charlotte’s Screen Printing<br />

Lucid Ink Printing<br />

The Decal Guys<br />

Hallett Group Marketing<br />

Pollchaps Custom Screen Printing<br />

and Embroidery<br />


Tassel Hair Shack<br />

The Beach Look<br />

Reservoir Tan & Salon<br />

Palm Beach Tan<br />

Sun Kissed Tanning Boutique<br />


042 Wine & Spirits<br />

Spillway Wine & Spirits<br />

Causeway Wine & Spirits<br />

Topper’s Fine Wine & Spirits<br />

Greenfield Wine & Spirits<br />



Ballyhoo Boutique & Gifts<br />

Highland Park by Material Girls<br />

Flawless Boutique<br />

The Beach Look Boutique<br />

AllyOops Boutique<br />

52 • JANUARY 2024

Miscellaneous<br />

BAND<br />

Stephens Bro’s<br />

The McGee’s<br />

Sweet Tooth Jones<br />

The Lonely Hearts<br />

Storage 24<br />


Southern Athletics<br />

Vibe Dance<br />

Central Mississippi Dance<br />

Studio Sole Dance<br />

Rhonda Whitehead Dance<br />


Bradley Park<br />

The Detective Dinner Theatre<br />

Stephens Bro’s<br />

Angela Pittman<br />

Jenni B<br />


BellaWood Venue<br />

McClain Lodge<br />

The Ivy<br />

West 40rty<br />

Magnolia Lake Venue<br />

Thanks to everyone who nominated<br />

the Vault Venue as a Top 5 venue.<br />

We are honored. Because the venue is<br />

owned and operated by the owners of<br />

Hometown Publishing and the producers<br />

of Rankin County’s Best of the Best, we<br />

respectfully withdraw our name from voting.<br />

Good luck to all these amazing venues!<br />


Spinner’s of Florence<br />

McClain Resort Safari<br />

Jellystone Park-Yogi on The Lake<br />

Brandon Amphitheater<br />

Mississippi Braves<br />


1-49 Employees<br />

mindFULL<br />

Three Rivers Real Estate<br />

MW Electric<br />

Local Real Estate<br />

Rankin County Co-Op<br />


50-100 Employees<br />

Mississippi HomeCare<br />

Netlink Voice<br />

MDB Health Services<br />

Watkins Construction<br />

Restoration 1<br />


100+ Employees<br />

Rankin County School District<br />

Merit Health<br />

USPFO-MS National Guard<br />

Southern States Utility<br />

Capital Ortho<br />


The Tower/Center for Violence Prevention<br />

5th Squad<br />

Baptist Children’s Village<br />

Ever Reaching Community Outreach<br />

Shannon’s Home of Hope<br />

...and the winner is...<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 53

54 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 55

56 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 57

58 • JANUARY 2024

Congratulations<br />


for being named<br />

“Top 5 Best of the Best Ob/Gyn”<br />

Thank you for recognizing her incredible<br />

dedication and commitment to her patients!<br />

291 East Layfair Drive, Flowood, MS 39232 (601) 936-9190 www.jhcfw.com<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 59

Serving the South with Top-Quality<br />

Trailers, Service, and Parts.<br />



1-800-844-9100<br />

www.ssutility.com<br />

Special THANKS to everyone who nominated and voted for us<br />

for “Rankin County’s Best Place to Work - LARGE BUSINESS.”<br />

60 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 61

62 • JANUARY 2024

Cosmetic Surgery | Non-Surgical Solutions | Skin Care Products | Full-Service Facial Clinic<br />

Natural. Refreshed. You.<br />

It’s time to do something beautiful!<br />

Aging is inevitable. Over time, skin begins to loosen on the face and neck, and facial<br />

bones and fat atrophy. Facial plastic surgery makes it possible to correct flaws and signs<br />

of premature aging that can undermine self-confidence.<br />

Pre-Procedure 1.5 Months After Pre-Procedure 3 Months After<br />

Dr. Cole specializes in deep-plane extended technical facelifts and<br />

is a double board-certified facial plastic surgeon<br />

Walk-in Injectables Clinic.<br />

No appointment needed. No kidding.<br />

Dr. Cole’s certified cosmetic injection specialists can see you today at our walk-in cosmetic<br />

injectables clinic. Waiting is so yesterday. Get the results you’re looking for — today.<br />

Injectable Happy Hour Monday–Thursday 1–5p<br />

$1 OFF per unit Botox®/Dysport® | 10% OFF Fillers<br />

Ashley Atkinson, NP<br />

Emilee Kahl, NP<br />

Botox® · Fillers · Wellness · Lunchtime Lifts · Private Botox® Parties<br />

204 E. Layfair Drive<br />

Flowood, Mississippi<br />

(601) 933-2004<br />

colefacialclinic.com<br />

20<br />

YEARS OF<br />

OVER<br />


CARE<br />


·<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 63

64 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 65

66 • JANUARY 2024

You Have Done It Again!<br />

We could not have done<br />

it without you.<br />

The Baptist Children's Village<br />

is listed as a top 5 nonprofit in<br />

Thank you to all the staff and friends who took<br />

time to vote for us. We love the ministry and<br />

we are so encouraged that so<br />

many of you do also.<br />

baptistchildrensvillage.com<br />

to our patients, community, and friends for nominating<br />

us in multiple categories for<br />

Hometown Rankin's Best of the Best 2023-2024!<br />

Best Orthopedic Surgeon - Dr. Dulske, Dr. Kellum<br />

Best Physician Assistant - Shelby King<br />

Best Specialty Clinic<br />

Best Place to Work, Large Employer<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 67

68 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 69

70 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 71

72 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 73

74 • JANUARY 2024

Merit Health extends heartfelt gratitude<br />

to our community for recognizing our<br />

exceptional medical professionals.<br />

Your trust and support inspire us to continue delivering<br />

outstanding healthcare with compassion and dedication.<br />


Donald<br />

Baker, MD<br />

Nominated for<br />

Best Specialty<br />

Medical Physician<br />

Ramon<br />

Caballero, MD<br />

Nominated for<br />

Best Urologist<br />

Karen<br />

Seago, CFNP<br />

Nominated for<br />

Best Nurse Practitioner<br />

Allen<br />

Sheely, MD<br />

Nominated for<br />

Best Family Doctor<br />

Kristen<br />

Shivers, DPT, PT<br />

Nominated for<br />

Best Physical Therapist<br />

Julia<br />

Thomspon, MD<br />

Nominated for<br />

Best Cardiologist<br />

Merit Health<br />

Medical Group<br />

Flowood<br />

Nominated for Best<br />

Family Medical Clinic<br />

Merit Health<br />

Nominated for<br />

Best Place to Work,<br />

Large Business<br />

MH Merit Health Best of the Best Nomination 2023 Ad 8x5 3.indd 1<br />

12/18/23 9:43 AM<br />

Congratulations!<br />

TO OUR OWN<br />





Richland Clinic<br />

1201 Highway 49 South, Suite 2<br />

Richland • (769) 233-8844<br />

Visit us at MYELITEPT.COM to request an appointment.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 75

L O C A L R E A L<br />

E S T A T E<br />

T O P 5<br />

B E S T S M A L L<br />

B U S I N E S S<br />

Thank you for your support & for making this<br />

recognition possible. It's truly an honor to be<br />

part of this wonderful community. Our goal<br />

has always been to provide exceptional service<br />

& exceed your expectations!<br />

We’re grateful for the opportunity to help you find<br />

your dream home or grow your business, and we look<br />

forward to continuing to serve you in the future!<br />

Sincerely, Edwayne, Layla & Tabatha<br />

T A B A T H A<br />

J O H N S O N<br />

T O P 5<br />

B E S T<br />

R E A L T O R<br />

76 • JANUARY 2024



2023<br />



Hometown RANKIN • 77

78 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 79

80 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 81

When Care at Home is Not Enough…<br />

We’re Here For You!<br />

Thank You for<br />

Voting Us<br />

TOP 5<br />

st of th st<br />

214 Spell Drive Richland, MS<br />

601-664-1966<br />

Committed to excellence in providing<br />

compassionate and quality senior care<br />

www.hickoryseniorliving.com<br />

82 • JANUARY 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 83

THANK YOU!<br />

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S<br />

D R . J A S O N C O X<br />


84 • JANUARY 2024



Origin is pleased to announce our very own Savana Skelton was nominated for<br />

Best Mortgage Lender, while we were named among the Best of the Best in Rankin County.<br />

After supporting our employees, customers and communities for more than 100 years, we<br />

look forward to continuing to build even greater relationships.<br />


NMLS# 1119600<br />

Origin Bank NMLS# 455990<br />

www.Origin.bank<br />

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Thank You<br />


Best Orthodontist<br />


Braces<br />

Ceramic Braces<br />

Clear Aligners<br />

Hometown<br />

Rankin’s<br />

Invisalign Top 5<br />

iTero<br />

TMJ Treatment<br />

(601) 724 - 8783 3007 Greenfield Road bristerorthodontics.com Monday - Thursday: 8AM - 4:30PM<br />

Pearl, MS 39208<br />

Friday: 8AM - 11:30AM<br />

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GOOD ON YA,<br />

MATES!<br />

Every time you dine with us, you’re helping local charities<br />

thrive with great food, good fun, and plenty of warm smiles<br />

through our “BLOOMIN’ IS BOOMIN’!” program.<br />

So, keep joining us for our Awesome food served with care<br />

and a BIG heapin’ helpin’ of Southern charm.<br />

Flowood Location:<br />

586 Park Way, Flowood<br />

601.992.4045<br />

@jrrestaurantgroup<br />

See how we’re Servin’<br />

the South & helping the<br />

community bloom.<br />


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serving your family<br />

with excellence<br />

IN 2024!<br />

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BEST OF<br />

THE BEST<br />



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Flowood Chamber<br />

& City of Flowood’s<br />

Chili Cook-Off<br />

December 7, 2023<br />

Winner’s Circle Park

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SALUTE<br />

to First Responders<br />

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

I wanted to work in law enforcement after riding with several<br />

friends who were police officers. I was immediately attracted<br />

to it because I saw that not only did law enforcement officers<br />

combat the criminal element, but they also helped members<br />

of the community.<br />

How long have you been with the Brandon Police<br />

Department?<br />

I have been with Brandon Police Department for a little over ten<br />

years. I’ve come to love it here and the people I work with have<br />

become family.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

I am engaged to Dr. Dava Sue Cleveland, and I have a fifteenyear-old<br />

daughter Lauren French. We have several rescue dogs<br />

and a parrot.<br />

Share some things you enjoy doing in your spare time.<br />

In my spare time I enjoy hiking, fishing, and gardening.<br />

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

Hiking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, salmon fishing<br />

in Alaska, and snorkeling in the Florida Keys.<br />

Chief<br />

Joseph<br />

FRENCH<br />


If you could give one piece of advice to a young person,<br />

what would it be?<br />

Invest your time wisely. Time is a commodity. We don’t know<br />

how much we will have, once spent we cannot get it back, and it<br />

can easily be wasted.<br />

What is your favorite thing about the city of Brandon?<br />

My favorite thing about the city of Brandon and Rankin County,<br />

both, is that they have become home to me. I enjoy the growth<br />

that Brandon has achieved, while still keeping the hometown<br />

feel.<br />

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ankin Performing Arts Presents<br />

December 15 - 16 - 17, 2023<br />

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Pearl Public School District<br />

PCSD hosted a holiday luncheon to express appreciation for our community partners who are making a positive impact on our school district<br />

and the lives of our students and their families.<br />

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McLaurin<br />

The Star Youth Association hosted their annual Rankin County Youth Association Jamboree on September 9th, 2023. Tiger Stadium opened their gates to Florence<br />

Eagles, Brandon Bulldogs, Richland Rangers, and the Pearl Pirates. Players ranging from the ages of 7-12 came together for a day of sportsmanship, integrity, and fun.<br />

The Jamboree was sponsored by Magnolia Federal Credit Union, Wiggles and Giggles LLC., George Paul’s Body Shop Inc., Toni P. Production, Walmart, and<br />

Snackadoodles Boutique. Stay connected and watch the next generation flourish with Tiger Pride.<br />

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Pisgah<br />

A Fiery A-Rating • Kelsey Treadwell<br />

At Pisgah High School, we believe the heart of a Dragon is exemplified by<br />

“Breathing F.I.R.E.” This is displayed through students and faculty that are<br />

Friendly and Fierce, Inquisitive and Involved, Respectful and Responsible,<br />

and Excellent and Engaged. This year, Pisgah High School received tangible<br />

proof of just how much we have been “breathing fire” in the classroom.<br />

We’re honored to have received an A-Rating for the 2022-2023 school year,<br />

becoming the first 7-12 school in the Rankin County School District to score<br />

an A-rating on the current accountability model. Some notable highlights of<br />

this achievement include first in the Rankin County School District in both<br />

seventh-grade math and Algebra I, and second place in the district in both<br />

eighth-grade science and seventh-grade English. Conclusively, our school<br />

grew in eight of the ten indicators determining a school’s rating. We’re<br />

beyond proud of our students and faculty for this great achievement and<br />

commemorated this success with a school-wide celebration. All students<br />

received a t-shirt and spent the day enjoying activities such as kickball,<br />

dodgeball, a mechanical bull, and much more. What was most notable about<br />

this day was the true display of Dragon Pride–from parents donating food,<br />

water, and money, as well as their time grilling lunch, to students engaging<br />

with one another in friendly competition, and our faculty creating invaluable<br />

memories with our students. This day showcased what it means to be a part<br />

of the Dragon Community. Our “A-Rating Celebration” was not only a<br />

testament to the hard work and dedication we have achieved academically,<br />

but to the relationships that are built in this unique community among<br />

students, faculty, and parents. It is evident that Dragon Nation is “breathing<br />

fire” this year!<br />

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Richland Elementary<br />

Richland Elementary is proud to be an A-rated school!<br />

Our success is possible because of our hard-working and<br />

dedicated staff and the wonderful students and families we<br />

serve. While our primary goal is to provide our students with<br />

a quality education, we strive to enrich their lives in a<br />

multitude of ways.<br />

At RES, we are preparing our students to be leaders in<br />

our school community and beyond. Each month one student<br />

from every class is chosen to be Leader of the Month. These<br />

students are recognized and celebrated monthly at the<br />

Leaders of the Month breakfast.<br />

During Start with Hello week, students dressed up<br />

according to a daily theme and were encouraged to be kind<br />

to others and make new friends. Students are also able to<br />

show their leadership skills through membership in our<br />

Kindness Club or Junior Tech Team.<br />

Involving our families and community is extremely<br />

important to Richland Elementary. Several events took place<br />

during the first semester. We were excited to honor many of<br />

our students’ family heritage by celebrating Hispanic Heritage<br />

Month. Several students dressed in traditional Hispanic garb<br />

while their parents served up delicious culinary items<br />

representing their culture.<br />

We held our annual book fair which featured a circusthemed<br />

parent night. Students and their families were able<br />

to shop the book fair and then enjoy dinner from a food truck.<br />

Veterans Day offered an opportunity to recognize parents<br />

and grandparents who served in the military. Veterans were<br />

treated to breakfast and a musical performance by a select<br />

group of RES students. This was a moving event for veterans<br />

and civilians alike.<br />

Teachers worked hard to prepare and present a plethora<br />

of helpful information for our Family Literacy Night. Parents<br />

left with a variety of strategies as well as activities to help<br />

their children at home.<br />

We are looking forward to what the new year brings!<br />

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TheTime COIN<br />

Camille Anding<br />

When Joseph, Mary and the Babe left the stable of Bethlehem that first Christmas,<br />

I imagine it as being a picture of simplicity.<br />

Their temporary dwelling had been a stable, so there had been no cleaning, dusting or polishing.<br />

There was no Christmas tree or decorations to pack, and the only brilliant star had faded with<br />

the sunrise. There were no plans to store boxes, make gift exchanges or return broken items.<br />

After their guests had left, there was no gathering of articles of clothing or gifts that had been<br />

left behind. Their guests had been lowly shepherds bringing nothing but their rods and staffs.<br />

Nor had there been any sad farewells. Those that had witnessed this first Christmas weren’t<br />

concerned about the New Year’s economy, inflation, interest rates, or unemployment.<br />

Why should they be? They had just witnessed and worshiped the answer to every problem<br />

that would ever face mankind. They left with the promise of victory in their hearts, and this<br />

overshadowed any gloom or doubt about the coming year.<br />

Our celebration doesn’t carry much resemblance to that first Christmas.<br />

The present day has brought us to an era where only our imaginations<br />

can relieve that first miraculous event as it is told in the Bible.<br />

Yet, the story in Luke remains the same. Time hasn’t changed or reconstructed<br />

the story of Christ’s birth. The love we share with family and friends is a<br />

continuation of that first love that God sent through His Son.<br />

January is a time to pack Christmas ’23 away- all the decorations and lights<br />

and find a space for the gifts. There’s always a trace of sadness as I dismantle<br />

the tree and return Christmas storage boxes to the attic. This year I’ve asked<br />

God to give me the joy that the shepherds had as they left the newborn<br />

Messiah. Like them, I want to experience peace, love, and joy in anticipation<br />

of the coming year. May God grant each of us the faith to live this year in<br />

the overcoming victory in Jesus that has never changed and never will.<br />

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