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V113<br />


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4 • MARCH 2024

Our seven<br />

health science<br />

schools are<br />

training the<br />

caregivers all<br />

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Hometown RANKIN • 5

6 • MARCH 2024


Rankin County has had a plethora of events since our last publication.<br />

We’ve enjoyed being a part of some of<br />

those and attending as many as we<br />

could. Enjoy pictures in this issue from<br />

the City of Brandon’s Princess Ball,<br />

Rankin Chamber and City of Brandon’s<br />

Mardi Gras Parade & Krewe de Roux<br />

Gumbo Festival, Flowood Chamber’s<br />

Winter Gathering, Pearl Main Street’s<br />

Masquerade, the Metropolitan Supper<br />

Club dance, and more!<br />

Hometown Magazines hosted the<br />

two-night Rankin’s Best of the Best<br />

Red Carpet Gala in the beautiful and<br />

spacious Muse Center. It was back-toback<br />

evenings of food, networking, and<br />

awards. We at Hometown Magazines<br />

express our sincerest thank-you to all<br />

the participating businesses that strive,<br />

daily, for excellence. We know that your<br />

businesses promote a lifestyle that<br />

focuses on the positive and makes for an<br />

environment of hometown blessings.<br />

Congratulations again to all the winners<br />

and all those who are dedicated to<br />

being a part of the Top 5 next year!<br />

We’ll see you again on the red carpet<br />

- January 29th and 30th.<br />

We thank you, our readers, for your<br />

constant encouragement and story<br />

ideas. And a special thank you to our<br />

advertisers who continue to make this<br />

possible. Let’s continue to support local<br />

businesses and be a blessing to others.<br />


Tahya Dobbs<br />


CFO<br />

Kevin Dobbs<br />


Mary Ann Kirby<br />


Barbie Bassett<br />


The Way We Were 10<br />

Reader Spotlight 15<br />

Hometown Family 18<br />

Rankin’s Red Carpet 25<br />

The Spot Downtown 46<br />

Woman of Impact 52<br />

The Blessing Box 58<br />

The 5th Squad 66<br />

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


Amy Forsyth<br />



Melissa Kennon<br />



Alisha Floyd<br />


Susan Wolgamott<br />


Daniel Thomas<br />

3dt<br />

STAFF<br />


Othel Anding<br />

STAFF<br />


Debby Francis<br />


Jodi Jackson<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 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 9

Sharon & Charlie Ross<br />

Camille Anding<br />

Connecticut was home to<br />

Sharon Ray – the only home she<br />

had ever known, so one can<br />

imagine her dismay and teenage<br />

anxiety when her parents decided<br />

to move back to their native soil of<br />

Mississippi. The parents’ homes<br />

had been in Webster County, so<br />

Sharon and her brother moved<br />

with their parents to Eupora.<br />

Sharon was a high school junior,<br />

moving into a culture that she<br />

recalls “being like moving to a<br />

different planet.”<br />

Church has always been a<br />

positive meeting place, and in<br />

Sharon’s case, it was that and much<br />

more. The uprooting from her<br />

friends and school was beginning<br />

to turn into blessings she never<br />

imagined. Charlie Ross, a senior at<br />

Eupora High School, was in<br />

attendance that Sunday and<br />

spotted Sharon sitting on the back<br />

row of the First Baptist Church.<br />

Sharon recalls, “We caught each<br />

other’s eye.”<br />

Within three weeks after<br />

moving, Charlie asked Sharon for a<br />

date. She gladly accepted his<br />

Saturday night invitation to go<br />

bowling. However, her parents had<br />

made family plans and told Sharon<br />

she would have to break her date.<br />

Sharon postponed telling Charlie,<br />

hoping plans would change, and<br />

she could still make the date. On<br />

Friday before the Saturday date, she<br />

shared her disappointment with<br />

Charlie, but he believed it was just<br />

an excuse to get out of the date.<br />

When Charlie’s mom got word<br />

that the Rays really were going out<br />

of town, he asked Sharon out again.<br />

They made this date to the bowling<br />

alley in Starkville. Even though<br />

Sharon out-bowled Charlie, a<br />

relationship begun that was to lead<br />

to marriage.<br />

Charlie’s acceptance into the<br />

Air Force Academy in Colorado<br />

initiated some major adjustments<br />

in the young couple’s romance.<br />

Sharon did not date anyone her<br />

senior year but anxiously awaited<br />

Charlie’s visits back to Eupora.<br />

After Sharon’s graduating high<br />

school and enrolling at the W, the<br />

couple decided to break up. Seeing<br />

other people would be the test of<br />

their love for each other.<br />

The long distance did not<br />

change; neither did their attraction<br />

to each other. When Charlie got to<br />

come home, he and Sharon would<br />

renew their dating pattern. After<br />

dating more than three more years,<br />

Sharon flew to Colorado to attend<br />

an Academy dance. She felt it was<br />

time for a serious talk. Did they<br />

love each other enough for a<br />

marriage commitment? How long<br />

did they plan to continue dating<br />

until marriage would be the next<br />

step? Their relationship was at a<br />

crossroad.<br />

The discussion was enough to<br />

send them to Denver the next day<br />

to purchase an engagement ring. It<br />

was 1977. On June 2nd, 1979, the<br />

Air Force Academy graduate<br />

married his beautiful bride, and<br />

together, they entered the unique<br />

experiences of military life. Charlie<br />

finished his pilot training in<br />

Columbus and then got orders to<br />

Minot Air Force Base in North<br />

Dakota.<br />

10 • MARCH 2024

“ Marriage isn’t<br />

always easy; you<br />

have to work at it.<br />

Couples have to<br />

learn to adapt.”<br />

They were there five years,<br />

experiencing the minus twenty- and<br />

thirty-degree temperatures but also<br />

the warmth of friendships among<br />

the military families. After his seven<br />

years with the Air Force, which<br />

included the family living in Florida<br />

and Massachusetts, it was time to<br />

make future post-military plans.<br />

The Academy offered him a<br />

teaching position, or he could<br />

continue his military flying, which<br />

he loved. He had also been interested<br />

in politics and law, so law school<br />

was another option. Since the<br />

flying choice would have meant<br />

moving every two years, the couple<br />

agreed that law school would be the<br />

best choice for family life. So, it was<br />

off to Harvard Law School for the<br />

family and weekend flying trips for<br />

Charlie to earn money for his<br />

family’s livelihood.<br />

After graduating from law<br />

school, the family moved back to<br />

Mississippi, and he joined the Wise<br />

Carter law firm. Politics continued<br />

to draw him, so he served as state<br />

representative for one year and<br />

senator for Rankin and Northeast<br />

Jackson for ten years. Charlie said,<br />

“Mississippi just isn’t a state, it’s<br />

more like a club where you learn to<br />

know so many people.”<br />

Before and after the birth of<br />

their third son, Sharon continued<br />

to branch out into her own areas of<br />

expertise, using her secretary<br />

administration degree in various<br />

employments. When all three of<br />

their sons showed interest and<br />

talent in soccer, she earned her<br />

soccer coaching license, so she could<br />

be a closer part of their athletic<br />

lives. Soccer was also the reason she<br />

began a transcription service from<br />

their home, so she could travel<br />

with their sons’ teams. Her last<br />

employment was membership<br />

services coordinator and event<br />

planner for the Jackson Yacht<br />

Club. She retired in 2019 and<br />

loves singing with her two friends<br />

in the trio they call JES. Horseback<br />

riding continues to be another<br />

favorite pastime.<br />

The addition of their first<br />

grandchild, Caroline, from their<br />

middle son David and wife Katie,<br />

has added the joys of grandparenting.<br />

David and his wife live in<br />

D.C., where he works as media<br />

consultant at the Department of<br />

Transportation. Their oldest son,<br />

Andy, lives in Memphis and is a<br />

curator of a blues museum. Steven,<br />

the youngest, lives in Brooklyn,<br />

New York, and is building a career<br />

as a film editor.<br />

Charlie and Sharon enjoy<br />

being a part of the membership<br />

at Lakeside Presbyterian Church<br />

and continue to relish living life<br />

together. “Marriage isn’t always<br />

easy; you have to work at it,” is the<br />

input from Charlie. Sharon adds,<br />

“Couples have to learn to adapt.”<br />

That is sound advice from a<br />

successful attorney and experienced<br />

planner.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 11


Thank you for your votes!<br />

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12 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 13

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14 • MARCH 2024

READER<br />


Penny<br />

WHITE<br />

Why did you decide to make Rankin County<br />

your home?<br />

Well, I married a Rankin County man, and he<br />

took me home with him!<br />

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

I moved to Rankin County January 1, 1996,<br />

when we married.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

My husband, John White, and I have three<br />

amazing daughters. Our oldest and her husband<br />

have four very energetic children, three of which<br />

attend Discovery Christian School in Florence.<br />

In 2017, my husband built his dream, Two Gun<br />

Tactical, which is located in Flowood, and I<br />

work for him as the office administrator.<br />

What is your favorite memory of living<br />

in Rankin County?<br />

Having all my family close by. Our life started<br />

out going to my in-laws home every Sunday<br />

after church and having lunch together. My<br />

precious mother-in-law has gone from us now,<br />

but we still all get together at her table almost<br />

every Sunday and have lunch with as many<br />

family members that will show up that day.<br />

Where are your three favorite places<br />

to eat in Rankin County?<br />

Lost Pizza in Richland is my favorite pizza.<br />

Mi Cabrito is my favorite Mexican restaurant,<br />

and the new Shivers Creek Catfish House<br />

drive-thru in Star is now giving Jerry’s and<br />

Barry’s a run for my fish cravings!<br />

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

County on the weekends?<br />

Well, of course I have to say shooting, shopping,<br />

and socializing at Two Gun Tactical (Ha!).<br />

Rankin County has some really nice movie<br />

theaters, which my granddaughters love for me<br />

to take them to. I also enjoy walking through<br />

the shops at Dogwood in Flowood and cruising<br />

the aisles of the flea markets in Florence and<br />

Flowood.<br />

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

spare time.<br />

I enjoy walking around shops and tackling<br />

various projects around my home and yard –<br />

thinking about what I need to change, sand,<br />

repaint, or get rid of. My most recent interest<br />

is baking breads and sweet rolls. I’m constantly<br />

looking on Pinterest for new ideas, projects,<br />

and recipes. I love to go on lunch dates with<br />

John and friends when we can, and having my<br />

grandchildren spend the occasional weekend<br />

with us. Grandchildren are so much fun! I also<br />

like feeding my chickens and collecting their eggs!<br />

Tell us about your occupation.<br />

I am the office administrator for Two Gun<br />

Tactical. I am not an instructor nor am I<br />

knowledgeable about guns or other merchandise,<br />

so when I’m not downstairs socializing<br />

with our customers, I hide upstairs doing<br />

office work stuff!<br />

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

I would love to go hiking/camping in the<br />

mountains. I hope that our country will soon be<br />

at peace again so I can travel to local and foreign<br />

places that I haven’t seen yet. Last, but not least,<br />

hang gliding; yes, I would love to hang glide!<br />

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

As I ponder this question, I realize I have<br />

met many people in my life that I admire.<br />

My husband is the first person that comes to<br />

mind then my mother, mother-in-law, and my<br />

pastors. They have all helped me to grow, and<br />

I have recently met several fabulous men and<br />

women through my gym, The Rankin County<br />

Republican Women organization, and the<br />

Center for Pregnancy Choices. These men<br />

and women haven’t always had it easy and that<br />

has made them strong, compassionate, and<br />

dedicated. They are powerful, and they love<br />

their families. They are morally grounded and<br />

tremendously passionate to stand for God’s<br />

creations as well as our country’s principles.<br />

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

Oh, it is exciting to think that I would be a<br />

great grandmother!<br />

What is your favorite childhood memory?<br />

I grew up in South Jackson, and many summers,<br />

my mom would take me to spend a week with<br />

my great aunt in Florence. Back then, that was<br />

“going to the country.” She had a huge doll<br />

collection. Her husband built her a doll house<br />

in her back yard, and I would love it when she<br />

would take me inside the doll house, so I could<br />

see all the many very old dolls she collected.<br />

Also, there was a train track beyond her back<br />

yard, and I would put pennies on the track.<br />

If you could give us one encouraging<br />

quote, what would it be?<br />

“Only God gives inward peace, and I depend<br />

on Him.” –Psalms 62:5<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 15

ms egg marketing board<br />

<br />

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16 • MARCH 2024

Is your roof<br />

storm ready?<br />

Call today for<br />

your<br />

free inspection!<br />


Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, but it’s also one<br />

of the most preventable. Fortunately, the rate of people diagnosed with colon<br />

or rectal cancer continues to drop because more people are getting screened<br />

earlier and changing their lifestyles to avoid health risks.<br />

And even more good news: St. Dominic’s Comprehensive Cancer Program is<br />

nationally accredited by the Commission on Cancer for our high-quality and<br />

comprehensive cancer care.<br />

If you have risk factors for colorectal cancer, such as being older, overweight,<br />

tobacco or alcohol use or family history, talk to your primary care provider<br />

about screening.<br />

Early detection is the best protection.<br />

stdom.com/colorectal<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 17

18 • MARCH 2024

the<br />

THomases<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

Jason & Marthesia Thomas We’ve been married for<br />

ten years. We are the parents of one smart, football loving,<br />

and outgoing son Jalen Carter (7). I graduated from<br />

from Florence High School and Marthesia from Pearl<br />

High. We enjoy attending car shows, watching our son<br />

play flag football, reading books, and attending FHS<br />

athletic events.<br />

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

been married?<br />

We met at a social gathering that I was hosting in the<br />

summer of 2007.She was invited by a mutual friend. We<br />

exchanged numbers and through extensive conversations<br />

and spending quality time, we knew our friendship would<br />

evolve into something more. Seventeen years later, we are<br />

happily married with a seven-year-old son.<br />

Do you allow time to be with your spouse<br />

for a date night?<br />

Date night is extremely important in a marriage; however,<br />

our date nights usually consist of a plus one. It is extremely<br />

important for us to exemplify a godly marriage in front<br />

of our son because we truly value trying to model what a<br />

healthy relationship should look like.<br />

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

The love and affection a child shows you is one of the<br />

greatest joys as a parent. To be loved unconditionally<br />

by someone so small and so dependent on you lets you<br />

know that you are doing something right.<br />

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

We both assume the responsibility of managing the<br />

household finances. This gives us both peace of mind<br />

and allows us to share the weight of the financial<br />

responsibilities.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 19

What is your discipline philosophy?<br />

With our son being only 7 years old, we try our best to<br />

always model desirable behavior around him. We focus<br />

on being consistent when handling disciplinary affairs.<br />

We always make sure to educate our child on any<br />

disciplinary actions whether it is big or small.<br />

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

benefit to your family?<br />

My role is to be a provider, protector, and God-fearing<br />

leader of my family. It is my job to be the best example<br />

of a man for my son. I try to accomplish that goal by<br />

being fair, firm, and transparent when making family<br />

decisions with my wife.<br />

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

And who does the cooking?<br />

Typically, Marthesia does all the cooking. Our quick,<br />

go-to meal that isn’t fast food would be hot wings and<br />

French fries.<br />

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

I grew up in Florence, but after graduating from high<br />

school, I moved to attend college. My family and I just<br />

recently moved back to Florence. It has always been a<br />

part of my plan to move back to this town to raise my<br />

child and be closer to family.<br />

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

Rankin County?<br />

Some of our favorite things are the incredible school<br />

district, family atmosphere, and safe environment.<br />

My wife and I both grew up in small towns. We’re<br />

blessed to be able to raise our son in the wonderful town<br />

of Florence, where residents are familiar with each other.<br />

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

Summer breaks are often spent catching up on home<br />

projects. We also utilize the summertime to plan<br />

family trips so that we can get away from the<br />

day-to-day, busy tasks.<br />

What accomplishments make you proud<br />

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

I am very proud to have been able to work in two<br />

schools within the Florence school zone, both of which<br />

I’ve attended. Growing up in Florence, I was very<br />

fortunate to have wonderful teachers and administrators,<br />

one of which, Tony Martin, encouraged me to<br />

pursue administration. Now that I am in an administration<br />

role, I take pride in trying to have an impact on<br />

my students’ lives.<br />

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

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

I am currently serving as an assistant principal at<br />

Florence High School. My drive comes from wanting<br />

to give back to youth in some manner. Teaching and<br />

coaching allows me to fulfill that passion. Plus, I have<br />

always had great respect for the teaching profession.<br />


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

Watch sports on television or go fishing with my dad.<br />

What’s your favorite restaurant?<br />

Buffalo Wild Wings.<br />

What’s your favorite TV show?<br />

I really do not have a favorite TV show. I do enjoy<br />

watching YouTube videos of the 49ers football games.<br />

20 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 21

22 • MARCH 2024


AS THE<br />

BEST OF<br />

THE BEST!<br />

Our Family Serving Your Family With Excellence<br />

miskellys.com<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 23


Bradley Kellum, MD<br />


Shelby King, PA-C<br />



601.987.8200 | CapitalOrtho.com<br />

24 • MARCH 2024

Seven years ago, the team at Hometown Publishing,<br />

publishers of Hometown Rankin Magazine, embarked<br />

on creating a red carpet event that would celebrate the<br />

outstanding business community in which we live and work.<br />

Rankin County’s Best of the Best Red Carpet Gala was born.<br />

This year, nominations were accepted in 108 categories,<br />

and online voting was used to determine the winner in<br />

each category. Winners were announced at the sold-out<br />

galas on January 24th and 25th.<br />

Anyone in the top five of any category has clearly established<br />

themselves as a leader–and for that we congratulate you!<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 25

Health<br />

& Wellness<br />


Megan McLeod, The Face Bar WINNER<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 MD, Merit Health<br />

Brett Bennett, MD, Jackson Heart<br />

Donny Stokes, MD, Jackson Heart<br />

Harper Stone, MD, Jackson Heart<br />

Reid Cotten, MD<br />

Jackson Heart Clinic WINNER<br />


Chad Brown, Brown Chiropractic<br />

Chris Fowler, DC WINNER<br />

Fowler ProChiropractic & Wellness Center<br />

Haley Fortenberry, DC,<br />

Brandon Family Chiropractic<br />

Clayton Pitts, DC, Norville Chiropractic<br />

Brad Kennedy, DC, Kennedy Chiropractic<br />


Lindsey Lemmon, LPC WINNER<br />

mindFULL, P.A. Mental Health Clinic<br />

Allison Fulgham, LPC<br />

New Path Counseling<br />

Hannah Beaver<br />

Region 8 Mental Health Services<br />

Josh Haycraft, LMFT, Thistleseed Counseling<br />

Ashley Franklin, LPC, Live Beyond Existing<br />


Allen Sheely, MD,Merit Health<br />

Marc Hellrung, MD, St. Dominic Family Clinic<br />

Carrie Nash, DO WINNER<br />

Baptist Medical Group<br />

Brannon Morris, MD, Morris Family Medicine<br />

Scott Kelly, MD, Baptist Medical Clinic<br />


Merit Health Medical Clinic<br />

Flowood WINNER<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 WINNER<br />

Complete Fitness<br />

The Barre<br />

Flowood Fit Body<br />


James K Chandler, MD, Lakeland Surgical Clinic<br />

Steven Patterson, MD WINNER<br />

Lakeland Surgical Clinic<br />

Jason Murphy, MD, Surgical Clinic Associates<br />

Patrick Scanlon, MD, Lakeland Surgical Clinic<br />

Reggie Martin, MD, St. Dominic<br />


Tiffany Melton WINNER<br />

The Relaxation Nook<br />

McKenzie Dragoo, Graceful Effects<br />

Kerri Thomas, Elevated Wellness and Massage<br />

Lacey Clark, The Wellness Spa<br />

Kasi Sepulvado, The Wellness Spa<br />


Roxi Odom, PMHNP, LPC mindFULL<br />

Amanda Sullivan, CFNP<br />

Southern Women’s Health<br />

Donald Garrett, FNP WINNER<br />

Greenfield Family Healthcare<br />

Karen Seago, CFNP, Merit Health<br />

Ashley Shivers, FNP, Puckett Medical Clinic<br />

NURSE<br />

Emily Stingley, RN, Florence Elementary<br />

Chelsea Papenburg, RN<br />

Fresenius Medical Care<br />

Lauren Ashworth, RN<br />

AccentCare Home Health<br />

Tammy Harvey<br />

Baptist Medical Group, Reservoir Clinic<br />

Brittany Harris, RN WINNER<br />

Rankin Children’s Group<br />

OBGYN<br />

Missy McMinn, MD, East Lakeland OB/GYN<br />

Chad Gnam, MD, Women’s Health Associates<br />

Shea Moses, MD, Southern Women’s Health<br />

Emily Johnson, MD WINNER<br />

Jackson Healthcare for Women<br />

Rhonda Sullivan Ford, MD<br />

Lakeland Premier Women’s Clinic<br />



Mark Allen, OD WINNER<br />

The Optical Shoppe<br />

Anna Taylor, OD, Taylor Eyecare<br />

Tina Sorey, OD, Eye Care Professionals<br />

Richard Pharr, MD<br />

Family Eye Care Precision Optical<br />

Anh Edwards, OD, Professional Eyecare<br />


Dustin Pambianchi, DMD, Winning Smile<br />

Sara Langston,DMD, Dental Wellness<br />

Andrew Tran, DMD,Reservoir Dental<br />

Jason Cox, DMD WINNER<br />

Belle Meade Family Dental<br />

Lee Herrin, DDS, Family Dental<br />


Jack Moriarity, MD, New South NeuroSpine<br />

Lynn Stringer, MD, New South NeuroSpine<br />

John Davis, IV, MD WINNER<br />

NewSouth NeuroSpine<br />

Adam Lewis, MD<br />

Matthew VanLandingham, MD<br />

New South NeuroSpine<br />


Richard Simpson, DMD WINNER<br />

Simpson Orthodontics<br />

Albert Tutor, DDS, Tutor Orthodontics<br />

Dodd Brister, DDS, Brister Orthodontics<br />

Chandra Minor, DMD, Smile Design Studio<br />

Camille Sandifer, DMD, Sandifer Orthodontics<br />

26 • MARCH 2024


Donald Baker, MD, Merit Health Orthopedics<br />

Michael Dulske, MD, Capital Ortho<br />

James Moss, MD, Mississippi Sports Medicine<br />

Bradley Kellum, MD WINNER<br />

Capital Ortho<br />

Kerk Mehrle, MD, , Mississippi Sports Medicine<br />


Joe Edwards, MD, Rankin Children’s Group<br />

Adam Adcock, MD WINNER<br />

The Children’s Clinic<br />

Alisha Vaughn, MD, Rankin Children’s Group<br />

Sam Denney, MD, The Children’s Clinic<br />

JoAnn Story, MD, Children’s Medical Clinic<br />


Tiffany Hutchins, Flowood Drug Company<br />

Ryan Harper WINNER<br />

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, DPT, Apex Physical Therapy<br />

Jonathan Josey, DPT<br />

AccentCare Home Health<br />

Kristen Shivers, DPT, Merit Health<br />

Casie Peters, DPT WINNER<br />

Performance Therapy<br />

Alyssa Fuller Martin, DPT, ATC<br />

Elite Physical Therapy<br />


Shelby King, PA-C, Capital Ortho WINNER<br />

Gavin Nowell, PA-C, MEA Richland<br />

Justin Schoop, PA-C<br />

Mississippi Sports Medicine<br />

Allison Durr, PA-C, Mississippi Sports Medicine<br />

Jenn Ainsworth, PA-C<br />

Mississippi Dermatology Associates<br />


William North, MD<br />

Kenneth Barraza, MD<br />

Shelby Brantley, MD<br />

Scott Runnels, MD WINNER<br />

Jeptha Cole, MD<br />



mindFULL, P.A.<br />

Capital Ortho<br />

Mississippi Sports Medicine WINNER<br />

Central Nephrology Clinic<br />

Southern Diabetes Care<br />


John Baten, MD, Urogynocolgy Associates<br />

Allen M. Haraway, MD, Mississippi Urology<br />

Mark Runnels, MD WINNER<br />

Mississippi Urology<br />

Ramon Caballero, MD, Merit Health<br />

Sujith Reddy, MD, Urology Specialist<br />

Dining<br />

ASIAN<br />

Osaka Japanese Restaurant<br />

Ichiban WINNER<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 WINNER<br />

That Special Touch<br />

The Turquoise Chandelier<br />

BAR<br />

The Gallows WINNER<br />

Shaggy’s on the Rez<br />

Sunset Grill<br />

Table 100<br />

Burgers & Blues<br />


Kenova Smokehouse WINNER<br />

Sonny’s BBQ<br />

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit<br />

Boo’s Smokehouse<br />

Little Willie’s BBQ<br />


A’ha Donuts & More<br />

Another Broken Egg<br />

Primos WINNER<br />

Jo’s Diner<br />

Donut Shop<br />

BURGER<br />

Foundation Burger<br />

Cross Roads Store & Grill<br />

Burgers & Blues<br />

Mugshots WINNER<br />

Taste of Detroit<br />


Fresh Cut Catering & Floral<br />

Resa’s Place<br />

Bless This Food WINNER<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 WINNER<br />

Jamie Patrick, Table 100<br />

Kendall Adkins, Kenova Smokehouse<br />


Chick-fil-A WINNER<br />

Mama’s Kitchen<br />

Abner’s Famous Chicken<br />

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers<br />

Genna Benna’s<br />


Mocha Mugs WINNER<br />

Bougee Coffee Shop<br />

Rollin’ Beans Coffee Co<br />

Bonnie Sue’s<br />

Cups<br />

DELI<br />

Frisco Deli WINNER<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 WINNER<br />

Tom’s Fried Pies<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 27

DINNER<br />

Amerigo<br />

Table 100 WINNER<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 WINNER<br />


El Cabrito Mexican Restaurant<br />

Fernando’s Fajita Factory<br />

El Sombrero<br />

El Potrillo Mexican Restaurant & Grill WINNER<br />

Papito’s Mexican Restaurant<br />

PIZZA<br />

Lost Pizza Co.<br />

The Cleaners by Pizza Shack WINNER<br />

Soulshine Pizza<br />

The Pizza Shack, Pearl<br />

Mazzio’s Italian Eatery<br />


471 Nutrition WINNER<br />

Deep South Nutrition Café & Gifts<br />

Shake and Sip<br />

Rankin Nutrition & Hangout<br />

The Florence Nutrition<br />


McClain Resort WINNER<br />

Outback Steakhouse<br />

Longhorn Steakhouse<br />

Table 100<br />

Boo’s Smokehouse<br />

Miscellaneous<br />

BAND<br />

Stephens Bro’s Music WINNER<br />

The McGee’s<br />

Sweet Tooth Jones<br />

The Lonely Hearts<br />

Storage 24<br />


Southern Athletics WINNER<br />

Vibe Dance<br />

Central Mississippi Dance<br />

Studio Sole Dance<br />

Rhonda Whitehead’s Studio<br />


Bradley Parker<br />

The Detective Dinner Theatre<br />

Stephens Bro’s Music<br />

Angela Pittman, Krazy Karaoke WINNER<br />

JenniB<br />


BellaWood Venue<br />

McClain Lodge WINNER<br />

The Ivy<br />

West 40rty<br />

Magnolia Lake Venue<br />


Spinners of Florence<br />

McClain Resort Safari<br />

Jellystone Park- Yogi on The Lake<br />

Brandon Amphitheater WINNER<br />

Mississippi Braves<br />


mindFULL P.A.<br />

Three Rivers Real Estate<br />

M W Electric<br />

Local Real Estate<br />

Rankin County Co-Op WINNER<br />


Mississippi HomeCare<br />

Netlink Voice WINNER<br />

MDB Health Services<br />

Watkins Construction<br />

Restoration 1<br />


Rankin County School District WINNER<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 WINNER<br />

Baptist Children’s Village<br />

Ever Reaching Community Outreach<br />

Shannon’s Home of Hope<br />

Skilled<br />

Services<br />

DJ<br />

David Steele WINNER<br />

Solid Steele Sounds Entertainment<br />

Odie Bridges, DJBig O<br />

Angela Pittman, Krazy Karaoke<br />

Cody Hanna, DJ Too Tall<br />

Mike Howington, Mike the Party Guy<br />


Chasity Wiysel, Barks and Bubbles<br />

Wayne Culipher,Tino’s Pet Grooming<br />

Haylee Cobb, Classy Canine<br />

Trisha King WINNER<br />

Doodles & Dineros/The Rustic Pup<br />

Amy Lee, Posh Paws<br />


Jeremy White, WhirlWind Electric LLC<br />

Mike Windham, M W Electric LLC WINNER<br />

Marty Cowden, Cowden Electric<br />

Chase Campbell, Campbell Electric LLC<br />

Richie Allen, B&A Electric LLC<br />


Olivia Johnson, Firefly The Salon<br />

Jessica Hudson, Meraki Hair Studio<br />

Jamie Windham, The Shear Shack<br />

Whitney Smith, LaCru Salon<br />

Susan Burell, The Social House WINNER<br />

28 • MARCH 2024


Carly Temple, Artistry by Carly<br />

Courtney Jamison, Makeup by C Courtney<br />

Kayla Jones, Spray Tans by Kayla WINNER<br />

Alexis Coker, Reservoir Tan & Salon<br />

Morgan Wilmoth, Hair & Makeup by Morgan<br />


Infinity Nails & Spa WINNER<br />

Classic Nails<br />

Radiant Nails<br />

ZaZa Nails and Spa<br />

Monaco Nails<br />


New South Pest Control<br />

Central MS Termite & Pest Control<br />

Family Termite and Enviornmental<br />

Jefcoat Pest Control WINNER<br />

Capital Pest Control<br />


Bert Wilmoth, Water Heater Pros<br />

Patrick Ferguson, DrainGo Plumbing<br />

Brooks Yates WINNER<br />

Plumtech Plumbing & Drains<br />

Chris Roeder, Roeders Plumbing Services<br />

Ricky White, Complete Plumbing<br />

and Maintenance Service LLC<br />


Firefly The Salon<br />

Meraki Hair Studio<br />

The Glossary Salon WINNER<br />

Jane Thomas Salon<br />

The Social House Salon<br />



Lauren Messina, LGM Weddings<br />

Emily Wooten WINNER<br />

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, CPA,<br />

Barlow & Company PLLC<br />

Zack Cooper, Tax Consultant WINNER<br />

Southern Tax Solutions LLC<br />

Kimberly Foreman, CPA, PC<br />

Jennifer Brown, CPA, Garret & Garret PC<br />

Josh Windham, EA, Windham & Lacey, PLLC<br />


Village at Crossgates<br />

Ashford Place Apartment Homes<br />

Highpointe Apartment Homes WINNER<br />

Harrell Apartments<br />

Laurel Park Apartments<br />


Jose Arellano, AIA<br />

Principal Architect, PryorMorrow PC<br />

Taylor Stewart, CSI<br />

JH&H Architects Planners & Interiors<br />

Adam Haver<br />

JH&H Architects Planners Interiors<br />

Paul Bagley, AIA, LEED AP WINNER<br />

JH&H Architects Planners Interiors<br />

Michael Rose, AIA, Clay Design Build<br />


Villa South Assisted Living<br />

Plain View Assisted Living<br />

Chateau Pines Assisted Living<br />

Cooperwood Senior Living<br />

The Blake at Flowood WINNER<br />


Jeffrey Arnold, Arnold Law Firm, LLC<br />

Connie Smith, Connie Smith & Associates PLLC<br />

Shannon Elliott, Elliott Law Firm WINNER<br />

Tameika Bennett, Bennett Law<br />

Mel Coxwell, Law Offices of Mel Coxwell<br />


A&M Auto Mechanics<br />

Dennis & McRee Auto Electric<br />

Darrell’s Auto Electric & Complete Auto Repair<br />

Gleason Tire & Service WINNER<br />

Rick Furr Pro Diesel & Automotive<br />


Vivian’s Cleaning<br />

Pace Cleaning WINNER<br />

Dunn Right Cleaning<br />

The Carpet Source<br />

Heavenly Helpers<br />


Railroad Center Daycare WINNER<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 WINNER<br />

Nu-Way Dry Cleaning<br />

The Cleaners on Old Fannin<br />

Martin’s Cleaners & Laundry<br />

Express Cleaners<br />


Matthew Miller, P.E., P.S.<br />

Benchmark Engineering & Surveying<br />

Chas Smithers<br />

Smithers Engineers & Consultants<br />

Greg Bonds, P.E., LEED AP BD+C WINNER<br />

Benchmark Engineering & Surveying<br />

Drew King, CGI Engineering<br />

William Dendinger, P.E., LEED AP BD+C<br />

Smithers Engineers & Consultants<br />


K&M Rental<br />

Rankin Rental WINNER<br />

Brandon Rentall<br />

Mississippi Machinery<br />

United Rentals<br />


Jesse Nanney, Renasant Bank<br />

Tim Pickett, Community Bank<br />

Robert Dienelt, Raymond James WINNER<br />

Chas Gualano, Trustmark Bank<br />

Neal Broome, Power Financial Group<br />


Shane Dubois, Community Bank<br />

Nick Whittington, Bank of Forest<br />

Kris Williams, Renasant Bank<br />

Rob Oates, PriorityOne Bank WINNER<br />

Chasity Dearman<br />

Rivertrust Federal Credit Union<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 29


PriorityOne Bank<br />

Community Bank WINNER<br />

Cadence Bank<br />

Origin Bank<br />

Bank Plus<br />



The A/C Doctors WINNER<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 WINNER<br />

S&S Builders<br />


Pike Construction<br />

Xtreme Home Enhancements WINNER<br />

Squared Structures<br />

Blueline Construction<br />

JLS Rebuilders<br />


Cornerstone Home Inspections<br />

Pinpoint Home Inspections<br />

Magnolia Inspections WINNER<br />

Pilgrim Home Solutions<br />

Chadwick Inspections<br />


Matt Dennis, Brandon, Allegiant Insurance<br />

Don Bass, Richland, State Farm Insurance<br />

Josh Manning, Alfa Insurance<br />

Clancy Walker, Insurance Protection Specialist<br />

Brandy Gordon WINNER<br />

The Insurance Center<br />



Murtagh Outdoor Services<br />

Ambiance Landscape WINNER<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 Cornwel, Mississippi Mortgage<br />

Jessica Allen, The First Bank<br />

Savana Skelton, Origin Bank WINNER<br />


Briar Hill Rest Home<br />

Wisteria Gardens<br />

Brandon Nursing & Rehab Center WINNER<br />

Brandon Court Nursing<br />

Community Place Nursing Home<br />


Charlotte Stringer Photography WINNER<br />

Katelyn Anne Photography<br />

Debbie Steele Photography<br />

Tristan Duplichain Photography<br />

Watson Photography<br />


Pool Works WINNER<br />

Pool Care Plus<br />

Bobs Pool Service<br />

P&P Pools<br />

Clearwater Pools<br />


Tabatha Johnson, Local Real Estate<br />

Brandie Little WINNER<br />

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 WINNER<br />


David May, DVM, Animal Medical Hospital<br />

Rick Kirby, DVM WINNER<br />

Hometown Veterinary Hospital<br />

Scott Houston, DVM, Brandon Animal Hospital<br />

Todd Sullivan, DVM<br />

Crossgates Veterinary Clinic<br />

Staci Rhodes, DVM<br />

Crooked Creek Animal Hospital<br />


Crossgates Veterinary Clinic<br />

Crooked Creek Animal Hospital<br />

Oakdale Animal Hospital<br />

Brandon Animal Hospital WINNER<br />

Hometown Veterinary Hospital<br />


Zach & Zach<br />

Kaylan Rivera<br />

Warren Brothers Media WINNER<br />

Justin Fortune<br />

Stephen Truhett<br />


Jennifer Burrell, Mickey’s Travel<br />

Crystal Black, McGehee Cruise & Vacation<br />

Jessica Allen, Magnolia Travel WINNER<br />

Jennifer Muse, Muse Magical Travel<br />

Mindi Phillips, Beloved Getaways<br />

Retail<br />


Bob Boyte Honda<br />

Fowler Buick-GMC<br />

Gray Daniel’s Toyota<br />

Rogers-Dabbs<br />

Noel Daniels Motor Company WINNER<br />



Itty Bitty Kids<br />

Vintique’s<br />

Willow and Grace<br />

The Punky Rooster WINNER<br />

The Carousel<br />


Willow Blu<br />

Chapman’s Florist WINNER<br />

Green Floral<br />

Simply Southern Celebrations<br />

The Flower Suite<br />


Southern Glitz<br />

Mia Bella WINNER<br />

Tuxedo Junction<br />

Southern Grace Formals<br />

Renfroe’s Runway<br />

30 • MARCH 2024


Miskelly Furniture WINNER<br />

Ross Furniture<br />

D. Noblin Furniture<br />

Purposely Imperfect<br />

T&D Furniture<br />


O! How Cute Gift Market<br />

Apple Annie’s WINNER<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 WINNER<br />

ALDI<br />

Fairway Foods<br />


Jackson Jewelers<br />

Crossgates Jewelers WINNER<br />

Cara Reese Designs<br />

Crown Jewelers<br />

Courtyard Jewelers<br />


River’s Greenhouse and Garden<br />

Lakeland Yard & Garden Center WINNER<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 WINNER<br />


Great Southern Events WINNER<br />

Event Pro’s<br />

Ace Inflatables<br />

FunVentures<br />

Deep South Inflatables<br />


Brandon Discount Drugs<br />

Flowood Drug Company<br />

Polk’s Discount Drugs WINNER<br />

Olde Towne Drugs<br />

Rhodes & Robby Rexall Drug<br />


Pelahatchie Bay Trading Post WINNER<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 WINNER<br />

Hallett Group Marketing<br />

Pollchaps Custom Screen Printing<br />

and Embroidery<br />


Tassel Hair Shack<br />

The Beach Look<br />

Reservoir Tan & Salon WINNER<br />

Palm Beach Tan<br />

Sun Kissed Tanning Boutique<br />


042 Wine & Spirits WINNER<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 WINNER<br />

AllyOops Boutique<br />

...see you next year!<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 31

32 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 33

34 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 35

36 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 37

Our fully equipped survey crews and technicians<br />

provide quality services across the Southeast.<br />

Services<br />

Hydrographic, Topographic & Geodetic Surveys • Mapping<br />

Subsurface Utility Engineering • LiDAR (Mobile, Aerial, and<br />

Terrestrial) • Boundary Surveys • ALTA/NSPS Land • Title Surveys<br />

Photogrammetric Control • Construction Layout<br />

Legal Descriptions • Plats • ROW Surveys<br />

CAD Tech 3D Modeling Formats<br />

Carlson • AutoCAD • Microstation • Geopak<br />

Chris Pesnell | cdpesnell@maptech-survey.com<br />

601.622.0768 | www.maptech-survey.com<br />

38 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 39

Rankin County Young Professionals<br />

Seeds have the ability to grow where they are planted, whether that is on purpose by a farmer or accidentally by<br />

a bird or even the wind. People have the same ability as seeds. They can flourish where they are planted, dropped,<br />

or have fallen. Although a lot of young adults dream of moving out of their hometown upon college graduation,<br />

Rankin County has been blessed with many young professionals who have decided to plant their businesses or<br />

trades here and grow within the community.<br />

40 • MARCH 2024

By taking advantage of the opportunities they have in their lives, they have been able to establish their roots here.<br />

These steps will help build a foundation to launch the next chapter in their lives and the community. With their skills<br />

they will care for us, make us beautiful, comfort us, and give us hope for the future. These young professionals are<br />

the future and upcoming business leaders and health providers who have chosen to make Rankin County a better<br />

place and call it their home.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 41

Morgan Bailey<br />

Employer<br />

The Blake at Flowood<br />

Alma Mater<br />

Mississippi State University<br />

Favorite thing about Rankin County<br />

My favorite thing about Rankin County is it has<br />

the small town feel to it. You always see someone<br />

you know no matter where you are and when the<br />

good and bad of life hit there are always people<br />

to rally around you.<br />

Favorite place to eat in Rankin County<br />

El Sombrero, The Cleaners, and OEC.<br />

Hobbies<br />

Working out at Burn Boot Camp, hanging out<br />

with my friends and family, and shopping!<br />

Faith Dillon<br />

Employer<br />

Rankin County School District<br />

Alma Mater<br />

Hinds Community College & William Carey<br />

University<br />

Favorite thing about Rankin County<br />

The feeling of home it brings. I love being<br />

surrounded by my loving family and supportive<br />

friends. Rankin County has a little bit of<br />

everything from my favorite stores and<br />

boutiques to unique food choices.<br />

Favorite place to eat in Rankin County<br />

Chick-fil-A in Brandon, Georgia Blue in<br />

Flowood, and Mugshots in Pearl.<br />

Hobbies<br />

Painting, watching movies, and writing. I also<br />

enjoy traveling to new places, and photography.<br />

Sam Hawkins<br />

Employer<br />

Brandon City Government<br />

Alma Mater<br />

Mississippi State University<br />

Favorite thing about Rankin County<br />

The people<br />

Favorite place to eat in Rankin County<br />

Burgers and Blues<br />

Hobbies<br />

Fly fishing and turkey hunting<br />

Kaylynn Buskirk<br />

Employer<br />

Florence Elementary School<br />

Alma Mater<br />

The University of Mississippi<br />

Favorite thing about Rankin County<br />

How welcoming the people are. No matter<br />

what you’re doing in your life or what stage<br />

you’re in, the entire community gets behind<br />

you to support and encourage you! Everyone<br />

is super loving, encouraging, and friendly!<br />

Favorite place to eat in Rankin County<br />

Genna Benna<br />

Hobbies<br />

Traveling, reading, spending time with family.<br />

Spencer Cole<br />

Employer<br />

Provident Medical Solutions<br />

Alma Mater<br />

Hinds Community College and University<br />

of Mississippi<br />

Favorite thing about Rankin County<br />

The people. Rankin County has been home<br />

my entire life and the people I’ve met and the<br />

relations I’ve built are what make it special.<br />

Favorite place to eat in Rankin County<br />

Soulshine and The Cleaners<br />

Hobbies<br />

Playing soccer at Flowood YMCA, volunteering<br />

at Pinelike Church high school ministry, and<br />

spending time with family and friends.<br />

42 • MARCH 2024

Laine Marler<br />

Employer<br />

Brandon High School<br />

Alma Mater<br />

University of Mississippi<br />

Favorite Thing About Rankin County<br />

There is always something to do. Whether it’s<br />

Friday night lights, baseball, basketball,<br />

volleyball, soccer, tennis, or track, the crowd can<br />

be found cheering their favorite team to victory.<br />

The addition of the Brandon Amphitheater<br />

offers various styles of music and has been a<br />

great addition to our community. While all<br />

these things provide something for everyone,<br />

I love how Rankin County still provides the<br />

hometown feel that makes it so special.<br />

Favorite Place to Eat in Rankin County<br />

Amerigo<br />

Hobbies<br />

Coaching Volleyball, Shopping (Dirt Cheap<br />

binging), tennis, spending time at the beach.<br />

Wyatt Adcock<br />

Employer<br />

Connector Specialists Inc.<br />

601 Drones<br />

Small Business Owner<br />

Alma Mater<br />

Mississippi State University<br />

Favorite thing about Rankin County<br />

It’s home. I spent the last year getting to know<br />

the great people of Rankin County while my<br />

mother ran for political office. I’m glad I chose<br />

to return here to start my career.<br />

Favorite place to eat in Rankin County<br />

Rankin County has many great food places, but<br />

my favorite is Table 100. It’s hard to beat the<br />

consistency of great food and service.<br />

Hobbies<br />

In my free time, I enjoy surrounding myself in<br />

nature through outdoor activities and hunting.<br />

I’m also passionate about serving at The Way<br />

Church and traveling the country as a sideline<br />

technician for the Gridiron Radio Network.<br />

Kate Gualano<br />

Employer<br />

Rankin County Chamber of Commerce<br />

Alma Mater<br />

Mississippi State University<br />

Favorite thing about Rankin County<br />

I love the hospitality and the people. This<br />

community is always willing to help, celebrate,<br />

and lift each other up.<br />

Favorite place to eat in Rankin County<br />

Mudbugs 042<br />

Hobbies<br />

I love to play golf and be surrounded by family<br />

and friends.<br />

Onsby Vinson<br />

Employer<br />

University of Mississippi Medical Center;<br />

Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit<br />

Alma Mater<br />

Mississippi State University<br />

Favorite thing about Rankin County<br />

I love the family feel. Growing up in Brandon,<br />

I felt so connected to my community through<br />

school, church and extracurricular activities.<br />

I know I will always have a group of people<br />

that will support and encourage me.<br />

Favorite place to eat in Rankin County<br />

The Cleaners<br />

Hobbies<br />

Playing tennis, reading, exercising, spending<br />

time with family and friends.<br />

Terrance Steele Sr.<br />

Employer<br />

Pearl Public School District<br />

Alma Mater<br />

East Central Community College<br />

& Mississippi Valley State University<br />

Favorite thing about Rankin County<br />

There is a togetherness feeling about the<br />

people in Rankin County. It is a great place<br />

to live, raise a family and work.<br />

Favorite place to eat in Rankin County<br />

Seafood Grille & McAlister’s Deli<br />

Hobbies<br />

Gym, fishing, binge watching TV<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 43

Welcome<br />

Alfredo Figueroa, MD<br />


1040 River Oaks Drive • Suite 100 • Flowood, MS 39232<br />

601-203-6202 MyMeritDoctor.com<br />

Now accepting new patients and existing patients<br />

for follow up. No physician referral required.<br />

MHMG Merit Health Medical Group Figueroa Ad 8x5.indd 1<br />

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44 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 45

46 • MARCH 2024

In recent years,<br />

downtown Brandon has<br />

welcomed many new businesses,<br />

making the district a popular destination<br />

for dining and shopping. Just a stone’s throw<br />

away from historic College Street, in a beautifully<br />

restored 1930’s home, is The Spot Downtown, a<br />

coffee and art shop that provides the perfect setting<br />

to gather with friends or find the perfect gift. Offering<br />

an assortment of coffee creations and other beverages, as<br />

well as tasty treats like their homemade pound cakes, there<br />

is something for everyone to enjoy. While The Spot Downtown<br />

has all the charm of a cozy coffee shop, the employees are what<br />

make it truly special.<br />

The Spot Downtown opened in March of 2022 and is operated by<br />

the Rankin County School District to house the Aspire program.<br />

Aspire is a transition program which offers community-based<br />

instruction and vocational skills training to high school students<br />

with disabilities. The goal is to support future transition to<br />

employment and adult living through hands-on activities<br />

and meaningful, real-life experiences. Summer Lewis is the<br />

Aspire program teacher and oversees the day-to-day<br />

operations of the shop. “Through their work here,<br />

students learn customer service, inventory processes,<br />

cleaning, working through daily checklists, and<br />

all the various skills needed to run the shop,”<br />

Summer says. “Our goal is to see these<br />

students go on to be competitively<br />

employed as adults.”<br />

Students in the<br />

RCSD Strive program also<br />

contribute to The Spot Downtown<br />

as they create the beautiful art available<br />

for purchase at the shop. Strive is the<br />

district’s transition program for students with<br />

disabilities who are ages 18-21. Like the Aspire<br />

students, students in the Strive program gain functional<br />

skills which will help them become gainfully<br />

employed and enjoy independence as adults. Where the<br />

Aspire students work in the coffee shop, Strive students get<br />

hands-on work experience in local businesses who have<br />

partnered with the program. “Community partnerships are<br />

what make this program the success it is,” says Tricia Bennett,<br />

Strive program teacher. “The businesses that allow us to bring<br />

students in to learn real-world skills not only make it possible<br />

for students to enter the workforce, but often these same<br />

businesses hire our students.” The beautiful landscaping around<br />

The Spot Downtown is made possible by the Brandon Garden<br />

Club, one of the Aspire program’s biggest supporters. Garden<br />

Club members spend countless hours with students, teaching<br />

them valuable gardening and plant maintenance skills as<br />

they work side-by-side. Students even have their own<br />

greenhouse located just behind the coffee shop.<br />

“Not only do they learn landscaping skills,” says<br />

Summer, “but through their work with the<br />

Brandon Garden Club, students develop an<br />

understanding of the power of community<br />

and giving to others.” To show their<br />

appreciation, students host<br />

an annual tea for<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 47

Brandon Garden Club<br />

members at The Spot, and they<br />

also assist in setting up for the<br />

Garden Club’s popular Tablescapes event.<br />

There are many success stories of students who<br />

have gone through the Aspire and Strive programs<br />

and are now employed in the community. One student<br />

has worked at Bob Boyte Honda for nearly fifteen<br />

years, and others have gone on to work at Goodwill,<br />

McAlister’s, Hometown Veterinary Hospital, and<br />

Bouquets of Pearl, just to name a few. For Summer Lewis,<br />

one of the most special experiences has been seeing one<br />

of her students go on to work for the school district.<br />

“Each year, all school district employees meet with a<br />

benefits representative. As I was leaving the district office<br />

after my meeting, this student was walking in to have<br />

his meeting,” she says. “It was just really special to see<br />

him go from a former student to now a co-worker.”<br />

Because of the success of the Rankin County<br />

School District’s Aspire and Strive programs,<br />

which includes The Spot Downtown and<br />

on-the-job training for students, school<br />

districts from around the state are<br />

coming to Rankin County to<br />

learn more about implementing<br />

similar programs.<br />

“We don’t want to keep these ideas<br />

to ourselves,” says Summer. “We want to<br />

share what we’ve learned with districts, and<br />

hope to see many other success stories across<br />

Mississippi.” Special Education Coordinator<br />

Annette Varner agrees and adds, “The RCSD transition<br />

programs are the premier programs in the state<br />

for successful transitioning of students. This is due to<br />

the unwavering support of our superintendent and<br />

the leadership team in the district, who are staunchly<br />

committed to fulfilling the mission of the Aspire and<br />

Strive programs.”<br />

The Spot Downtown, located at 223 Tamberline Street<br />

in Brandon, invites you to visit Monday-Friday,<br />

from 8am-2pm, during the school year. You are also<br />

invited to their first ever “Pound Cake Day” on<br />

March 22nd. Stop by to purchase a homemade<br />

pound cake and cup of coffee.<br />

Follow The Spot Downtown<br />

BThe Spot Downtown a Rankin County<br />

School District Program<br />

Vthespotdowntown_rcsd<br />

48 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 49

50 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 51

2024 METRO JACKSON<br />

Woman<br />

of IMPACT<br />

The American Heart Association, Metro Jackson, is proud to be<br />

celebrating the Woman of Impact Class of 2024, a complement<br />

to the Metro Jackson Go Red for Women movement. Over the<br />

past few months, AHA received nominations for a select group of<br />

local women to be recognized for their passion and drive in building<br />

stronger communities. The areas of impact were limitless – from<br />

healthcare to philanthropy, from business to faith. If they “lead<br />

with heart,” they were eligible for nomination.<br />

Women of Impact are changemakers, dedicated to making a<br />

lasting impact on the health of the Metro Jackson community;<br />

women who lead by example, improving the well-being of those<br />

around them. By joining the Go Red for Women movement as a<br />

Woman of Impact, each honoree has assembled their own team of<br />

volunteers, set a fundraising goal, and made a meaningful impact<br />

on the health and wellbeing of the Metro Jackson community.<br />

Teresa Boutwell<br />

GI Associates<br />

Teresa Boutwell describes herself as a born<br />

and raised Mississippi girl. She was born in<br />

Jackson and has lived in Rankin County since<br />

1976. She serves as the director of human<br />

resources at GI Associates in Flowood.<br />

She and husband Michael are parents to<br />

three children – Lindsey Shearer, Kevin<br />

Boutwell, and Kelly Coleman, and have six<br />

beautiful grandchildren, ranging from two to<br />

fifteen years old. Spending time with family is<br />

what makes Teresa happy, “Nothing brings me<br />

greater joy than having them all together and<br />

just hanging out with them.” Working with the<br />

American Heart Association to combat heart<br />

disease is close to her heart. In 2008, she<br />

suffered a heart issue which resulted in<br />

quadruple bypass, “Just at the time I was about<br />

to have my first grandchild! My daughter,<br />

Lindsey suffered a heart attack in February<br />

of 2023. I want to help educate women<br />

across the state about heart disease and the<br />

importance of taking care of our bodies.”<br />

For more information about<br />

Teresa’s campaign, go to<br />

www2.heart.org/goto/TeresaBoutwell<br />

For more information on how you can get involved with the<br />

Metro Jackson American Heart Association, please visit<br />

new.event.gives/jxngored<br />

For more information about the Go Red for Women Movement,<br />

visit MetroJacksonGoRed.heart.org<br />

52 • MARCH 2024

Amanda Keith<br />

Blog, Red Lips and Vino Sips<br />

Mobile-native Amanda Keith is a blogger (Red<br />

Lips and Vino Sips) and shares all about wine,<br />

food, and travel. She and her husband, Peter,<br />

have been married for thirteen years. They<br />

met in high school but did not date until after<br />

college. Amanda says their two yorkies Gibbs<br />

and Bosch “are my heart,” and she finds joy<br />

in spending time with them plus friends and<br />

family. She shared that, unfortunately, heart<br />

disease touches the majority of families in<br />

some way. Her first experience with heart<br />

disease was with her maternal grandfather.<br />

“He had a long battle with heart disease for<br />

many years and underwent open heart surgery<br />

when I was very young. In his later years,<br />

congestive heart failure eventually took his life.”<br />

The next time heart disease would change<br />

Amanda’s family was the day her mother<br />

underwent quadruple bypass surgery. “After<br />

watching her recover from that amazing<br />

surgery, I knew I had to do everything I could<br />

to prevent others from suffering through such<br />

an excruciating and scary experience. I want to<br />

encourage others to take the best care of their<br />

hearts as possible, get their checkups, and<br />

encourage others to do the same!”<br />

For more information about<br />

Amanda’s campaign, go to<br />

www2.heart.org/goto/AmandaKeith<br />

Mindi Kern<br />

The Winning Smile Dental Group<br />

Mindi Kern is the director of marketing for The<br />

Winning Smile Dental Group, a multi-location<br />

dental practice with five offices in the Metro<br />

area. A Corinth native, her family has lived in<br />

Madison for the last thirteen years. Husband<br />

Joey is the chief risk officer for PriorityOne<br />

Bank. They have two children, son Everett (11)<br />

and daughter Mirren (8). The kids’ schedules<br />

keep them busy with tournament baseball,<br />

football, competitive cheer, and tennis. They<br />

recently added a new puppy to the family<br />

named Duffy. The Kerns are active members<br />

at St. Joseph Catholic Church. All of this brings<br />

them joy and Mindi adds, “So does being with<br />

our extended family on vacation, reading a<br />

good book in the bathtub, watching the<br />

sunset at the lake, learning to push myself<br />

and challenge myself through activities; most<br />

recently, learning to play tennis with a fun<br />

group of women!” She said that heart disease<br />

does not directly impact her life currently, but<br />

statistics show that it will eventually, “whether<br />

me or a loved one.” Mindi went on to share,<br />

“As a woman, I know how much we take care<br />

of others in our lives and often don’t prioritize<br />

our own health and put our well-being last.<br />

When I learned that heart disease is the #1<br />

killer of women, it was a harsh reality check<br />

that my heart health doesn’t only affect me,<br />

but my children and husband as well. Joining<br />

the mission of heart health awareness helps<br />

better our community and our loved ones.”<br />

Carla Kirkland<br />

The Kirkland Group<br />

Carla Kirkland is the CEO of The Kirkland<br />

Group, an educational consulting company.<br />

She is a native of Carthage and was married<br />

to the late Malcoln Kirkland Sr. for 36 years.<br />

Joy for Carla is found in travel, dance, and<br />

gospel music. She is mom to daughter, Alexia,<br />

and son, the late Malcoln Kirkland Jr. Carla’s<br />

eight-year-old grandson Collin Malik Stanton<br />

calls her “Gigi.” The fight against heart disease<br />

has become very personal for her. She says,<br />

“On February 4, 2023, I lost my thirty-threeyear-old<br />

son to heart disease. As a mom,<br />

nothing makes one fight harder than something<br />

that affects our children. We found out<br />

about his diagnosis of an enlarged heart ten<br />

years before, while he was playing college<br />

basketball at Arkansas State University. At age<br />

twenty-three, this was devastating to our family<br />

and heart disease ended his basketball career<br />

early and brought about a deep sadness that<br />

he never seemed to overcome. I fight this<br />

disease because it ends lives too early.”<br />

For more information about<br />

Carla’s campaign, go to<br />

www2.heart.org/goto/CarlaKirkland<br />

For more information about<br />

Mindi’s campaign, go to<br />

www2.heart.org/goto/MindiKern<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 53

Dr. Catherine Lowe<br />

Jackson Heart Clinic<br />

Dr. Catherine Lowe is an interventional<br />

cardiologist at Jackson Heart Clinic. She and<br />

her husband met in medical school and have<br />

been married for seven years. Catherine said,<br />

“He makes me laugh daily!” They are parents to<br />

two “wonderful little boys, ages one and three<br />

years old, that keep us on our toes. We also<br />

have two adorable pups that just add to the<br />

fun.” When asked what brings her joy, she said<br />

“Honestly, the dynamic of seeing my kids grow<br />

and the honor of getting to be their mom<br />

paralleled with getting to care for my patients<br />

and forming connections that allow me to take<br />

better care of them. I am glad to have stayed<br />

in the state where I was born and raised and<br />

provide care to those who need it most in our<br />

state. Outside of home and work, I enjoy<br />

water skiing, any activity outdoors, and a good<br />

murder mystery.” What is Catherine’s why?<br />

“I have joined the fight against heart disease<br />

because I have seen too many women care<br />

for others while missing the warning signs of<br />

their own bodies. Heart disease is the number<br />

one killer of women, and yet it is the most<br />

overlooked. I want to provide awareness and<br />

education so that if even one woman starts<br />

taking preventative measures, then it will make<br />

a difference.”<br />

For more information about<br />

Catherine’s campaign, go to<br />

www2.heart.org/goto/DrCatherineLowe<br />

Dr. Ardarian Gilliam Pierre<br />

University of Mississippi<br />

Medical Center<br />

Dr. Ardarian Gilliam Pierre grew up in Verona<br />

and completed her undergraduate studies at<br />

Mississippi University for Women with a degree<br />

in microbiology. In 2012, she completed her<br />

medical degree and returned to Jackson to<br />

complete a residency in family medicine<br />

followed by a fellowship in geriatrics and<br />

gerontology at University of Mississippi<br />

Medical Center. Because she has a passion<br />

for education, she remained at UMMC as an<br />

attending physician to train future physicians.<br />

Dr. Pierre and her husband Dr. David C. Pierre<br />

met in medical school. They enjoy serving in<br />

the community with their beautiful children<br />

- Arden, Avery, Dylan, and Aubry. In her free<br />

time, she enjoys family time, playing the piano,<br />

and traveling. She claims that her family “is the<br />

best part of me! We are a nuclear family of six,<br />

and we are adventurous. You can find us<br />

anywhere between home watching movies,<br />

to sporting events and traveling.” Day-to-day<br />

connections with humankind are what bring<br />

her immense joy. Ardarian joined the fight<br />

against heart disease years ago before<br />

embarking on her medical journey, saying<br />

“A number of my family members suffered<br />

from hypertension, strokes, and heart attacks.<br />

I began seeing the need to educate people<br />

about their health risks and the importance of<br />

daily habits like eating appropriate foods and<br />

exercise. As a physician, I often teach my<br />

patients that prevention is key!”<br />

Jennie Simmons<br />

Simmons Erosion Control, Inc<br />

Lake, Mississippi, native Jennie Simmons is the<br />

president of Simmons Erosion Control, Inc.<br />

She and husband Chris have been married for<br />

over twenty-five years and have three daughters,<br />

Katie Beth Simmons who is engaged to Bailey<br />

McDill, Kariana Simmons, and Krissi Joe<br />

Simmons. Jennie says, “Faith brings me great<br />

joy, and I love learning about God through<br />

His word. I love spending quality time with my<br />

family. I am an avid reader. I love to volunteer<br />

in the community, and at my daughter’s<br />

school. I am a huge MSU Bulldog fan/alumnae,<br />

and I love to attend Bulldog sporting events.”<br />

Jennie has a family history of heart disease<br />

through her father, her paternal grandfather,<br />

and her maternal grandmother. She admits<br />

that heart disease “isn’t something that a<br />

person thinks about when they are younger.<br />

However, as I grow older, I have begun to<br />

realize that I should have been thinking about<br />

it and taking proactive steps to make sure that<br />

I remain healthy. Our younger generation<br />

needs to become aware and remain vigilant,<br />

especially if they have a family history of heart<br />

disease.”<br />

For more information about<br />

Jennie’s campaign, go to<br />

www2.heart.org/goto/JennieSimmons<br />

For more information about<br />

Ardarian’s campaign, go to<br />

www2.heart.org/goto/DrArdarianPierre<br />

54 • MARCH 2024

Cathy Lott Northington<br />

Mississippi Economic Council, State Chamber of Commerce<br />

Jackson native Cathy Lott Northington is the<br />

COO for the Mississippi Economic Council,<br />

State Chamber of Commerce. She is the<br />

mother of three, Matt (Macie), Courtland, and<br />

Jordan, and grandmother to Amelia. Cathy<br />

said that, “Being a parent at such an early age<br />

(21) helped me develop a profound work ethic<br />

characterized by resilience, adaptability, and a<br />

steadfast commitment to provide for someone<br />

other than myself.” The joy of becoming a<br />

grandparent to Amelia has further heightened<br />

Cathy’s motivation, giving her a renewed<br />

sense of purpose and responsibility. She said,<br />

“My family’s unwavering support and inspiration<br />

continue to fuel my dedication to serving<br />

others.” What is Cathy’s why? “I am fighting<br />

for heart health to unmask the myth of the<br />

superwoman and advocate for a healthier,<br />

heart-conscious approach to life. I am living<br />

proof that our strength lies not in shouldering<br />

unrealistic expectations but in taking charge<br />

of our heart health — a far more enduring<br />

and meaningful power. As women, we often<br />

find ourselves juggling parenting, career, and<br />

everyday life roles. I was no exception until a<br />

pivotal moment changed everything.<br />

Exhausted by a headache for almost three<br />

days, I brushed off the warning signs, believing<br />

I could power through. A good friend urged<br />

me to check my blood pressure. Unaware of<br />

what was considered high, I was shocked to<br />

discover that my numbers were at stroke<br />

levels. I quickly realized the importance of<br />

knowing our numbers for heart health,<br />

especially for black women. This realization<br />

reshaped my perspective on what it means<br />

to be a strong, capable woman. I now do my<br />

best to urge any woman sharing my story,<br />

especially those who might see me and<br />

assume I’m a superwoman, to embrace the<br />

true superpower of knowing their heart health<br />

numbers. It’s a declaration of empowerment,<br />

a commitment to prioritizing our well-being<br />

over the unrealistic demands of modern life.”<br />

For more information about<br />

Cathy’s campaign, go to<br />

www2.heart.org/goto/CathyNorthington<br />

Since 2004, the American Heart<br />

Association’s signature women’s<br />

initiative, Go Red for Women, has<br />

addressed the awareness and clinical<br />

care gaps of women’s greatest health<br />

threat, cardiovascular disease.<br />

At the Heart Association, we are<br />

prepared to meet the evolving needs<br />

of women now, and at every age,<br />

every stage, and every season of their<br />

lives as their trusted, relevant source<br />

for credible, equitable health solutions.<br />

The Woman of Impact is an inclusive<br />

initiative to drive awareness and raise<br />

funds for women’s heart health in our<br />

community. Together, our Women of<br />

Impact are a relentless force, using their<br />

voices to advocate for women’s heart<br />

health and raise awareness that<br />

cardiovascular disease is the<br />

number one killer of women.<br />

For more information about the 2024<br />

Jackson Women of Impact campaign<br />

or to support one of our nominees<br />

with a donation, use this QR code.<br />


2024 Metro Jackson Go Red for Women Luncheon<br />

Friday, June 7 / Jackson Convention Center<br />

The event chair is Debra McGee, senior vice president for BankPlus.<br />

The luncheon includes a health fair and a heart disease survivor fashion show.<br />

For more information, email our Go Red Director Katherine Byrd at katherine.byrd@heart.org<br />

or go to heart.org/jxngored<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 55


SAVANA!<br />

Cheers to Savana Skelton for being<br />

named Best Mortgage Lender in<br />

Hometown Rankin’s Best of the Best.<br />


Bank NMLS# 455990<br />

Savana NMLS# 1119600<br />

www.Origin.bank<br />

56 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 57


STARTS<br />

AT HOME<br />

Sarah Rein<br />

At the time Charles Dickens lived in Victorian<br />

England, social inequality and poverty were<br />

pervasive. It was a bleak time, and hope was hard to<br />

come by. In addition to the novels for which Dickens<br />

is famous, he also authored the novella Dr. Marigold<br />

- the story of a peddler who adopts a deaf girl who<br />

has been orphaned and creates a system of sign<br />

language to teach her to read and communicate.<br />

Besides telling a moving story, Dickens was making<br />

a social commentary on how the less fortunate were<br />

being treated in England at the time.<br />

While the peddler in the tale certainly did not try<br />

to right society’s wrongs on a large scale, what he<br />

did made all the difference for his adopted daughter.<br />

It changed the entire course of her life. Perhaps, the<br />

best-known line from the novella is, “No one is useless<br />

in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”<br />

Scripture phrased it better, and earlier, when the<br />

author of Hebrews wrote, “And let us watch out for<br />

one another to provoke love and good works.”<br />

(10:24) It is a teaching that Stacey Bennett and her<br />

husband Thad grew up seeing in action. She grew<br />

up in Clinton, while he was raised in Quitman, but<br />

both came from devout Christian homes with<br />

parents whose marriages have lasted over fifty years.<br />

Service was part of their families’ legacies. “I always<br />

remember that my maternal grandmother had such<br />

a servant’s heart. She was feeding people when she<br />

didn’t have enough for herself,” Stacey recalls.<br />

When she and Thad married in 2006, they<br />

decided to make Flowood home and became active<br />

members at Pinelake. They welcomed their daughter<br />

Breelynn in 2008, and both pursued rewarding<br />

careers in education. Stacey has been teaching<br />

kindergarten for nineteen years, sixteen of which<br />

have been at Highland Bluff. Thad has been at<br />

Northwest Rankin High for twenty-one years, and<br />

Breeylnn has now joined her dad as a freshman at<br />

the school where she plays tennis and is involved in<br />

various clubs.<br />

Stacey shares that they consider themselves a<br />

low-key family. Thad enjoys hunting, and they all<br />

love attending the baseball games her dad coaches.<br />

The Bennetts also have family in the area and spend<br />

lots of time together socializing. They also have<br />

hobbies that might take you by surprise. Since<br />

Breelynn was quite young, they have been<br />

volunteering at assisted living homes on the<br />

weekends. “I had her calling bingo and passing out<br />

snacks when she was in elementary school,” Stacey<br />

laughs, but Breelyn does not seem to mind. “I just<br />

love being around that generation,” she shares.<br />

“They are so wise and it’s interesting listening to<br />

them and being around them.” Stacey works the<br />

front desk at Cooperwood Senior Living every other<br />

weekend. “It’s really just my way in so I can be with<br />

the residents, but anyone can just call and come<br />

socialize with them. They’re always willing to have<br />

you.” As the Bennetts lived in and enjoyed the<br />

Flowood community, they were on the lookout for<br />

avenues of service. “I’ve always wanted to instill in<br />

Breelynn that we are so blessed. I mean, we certainly<br />

aren’t rich but we are comfortable and have what we<br />

need. But so many don’t.”<br />

One day, while scrolling Facebook, Stacey saw a<br />

post about a “blessing box” at the Madison police<br />

station and the idea stayed with her. “The concept<br />

was just a small pantry where people could stop and<br />

grab a couple of things they needed.” Stacey prayed<br />

about it, and she and Breelynn found themselves<br />

discussing whether Flowood could use something<br />

similar. They didn’t discuss it for long. Stacey is the<br />

take-action type, a characteristic she hopes to instill in<br />

her daughter. “I always tell her that, if you feel led to<br />

do something, just do it.” Breelynn adds, “You can’t<br />

be worried about what people will say when there<br />

are so many people in need.” So, they purchased a<br />

plastic three-drawer box from Walmart and began to<br />

think of potential locations for their blessing box.<br />

They wanted a high-traffic area so people would feel<br />

less conspicuous going in to get what they needed.<br />

58 • MARCH 2024

When Stacey reached out to the branch manager<br />

at Flowood’s G. Chastain Flynt Memorial Library, she<br />

said that he never blinked an eye before agreeing.<br />

“David has been wonderful to us these last five and a<br />

half years. They’ve been nothing but supportive,”<br />

Stacey recalls. When they placed the little box in the<br />

library lobby in 2018, it was a simple step of<br />

obedience. “I didn’t know how it would be received,”<br />

Stacey said, “but it soon became clear God was<br />

behind this.”<br />

Almost from the beginning, Flowood’s Blessing<br />

Box has needed very regular refilling. Stacey’s<br />

co-workers at Highland Bluff were among the first to<br />

donate food staples. Over time, they paid attention to<br />

what items were most in demand, and they talked to<br />

other relief organizations like the Pinelake Care<br />

Center and Shower Power to see what they used the<br />

most. Breeylnn notes, “It’s mainly food items that<br />

people can make a meal out of without other<br />

ingredients like soup, rice, or mac-n-cheese cups.”<br />

As the need grew and more people wanted to<br />

get involved, Stacey created a Facebook and<br />

Instagram page for the Flowood Blessing Box and an<br />

Amazon wish list so people could easily contribute.<br />

People will also just regularly drop off canned goods<br />

and hygiene products, and they have recently added<br />

toilet paper and detergent to their list. Stacey was<br />

elated. “The response has been unbelievable,” she<br />

shares. “We probably get three or four Amazon<br />

deliveries a day. It almost stays empty.” She has an<br />

area in her home stacked with supplies that they<br />

regularly replenish the box with. Soon the box was<br />

overflowing with donations, and they had to add a<br />

metal rack to accommodate the need.<br />

Then in November of 2023, Miskelly Furniture<br />

found out about their work and gladly donated a<br />

large, beautiful cabinet with ample room for their<br />

supplies. The Blessing Box Facebook page is now up<br />

to 1,800 followers, and Stacey has had car decals<br />

made to slowly continue spreading the word about<br />

the resource. “We certainly don’t do it for the<br />

followers, and it’s not a popularity thing,” Stacey<br />

emphasizes. “There are much larger organizations<br />

doing the same thing, but they do it on a completely<br />

different scale. And they do so much good. But I also<br />

want people to know that it doesn’t have to be<br />

something big. It can be a twenty-dollar Walmart box<br />

that’s just grown over the years. Anyone can walk in<br />

faith and do something, but it’s not doing any good<br />

to just talk about it.”<br />

Their work seems to be having a ripple effect.<br />

Already, Blessing Boxes have been added to libraries<br />

in Brandon and Pearl. Stacey and Breelynn are<br />

getting to experience, first-hand, how God is using<br />

their obedience. “I get 15-20 messages a day on<br />

Facebook from people who have used the box<br />

and just want to say they are grateful. Just today,<br />

I received a message from a lady who lost her job<br />

and was trying to feed her two children that night.<br />

She said that she’d been trying to find work for some<br />

time and that when she got back on her feet, she<br />

hoped to donate and help others who are in her<br />

situation.” Breelynn also relates, “We’ve heard from<br />

hospice nurses who see that their patients don’t have<br />

enough food so they come and use the box to help<br />

them out.” One of the best benefits for Stacey is<br />

seeing the lessons their endeavor is teaching<br />

Breelynn and others. “I want her and her friends to<br />

know how blessed they are, but there are people you<br />

might be sitting next to in class who don’t know<br />

where their next meal is coming from,” she explains.<br />

Breelynn echoes, “That’s one thing this has shown<br />

me - you don’t know who is in need. It could be your<br />

next-door neighbor or a person you’re in class with.”<br />

And let us<br />

watch out for<br />

one another<br />

to provoke<br />

love and<br />

good works.<br />

Hebrews 10:24<br />

Statistics estimate that around twenty percent<br />

of the state’s population is what is termed “food<br />

insecure.” In the child population, one in four are<br />

affected. Stacey cannot help but think about that<br />

when she looks around her kindergarten classroom.<br />

Breeylnn agrees. “Some people may be nervous to<br />

participate in helping at a young age, but my mom<br />

has shown me that you can help people regardless.<br />

It’s made me much more grateful for what I have,<br />

and I’m so happy every time I see that people are<br />

using the Blessing Box. It’s made my faith deeper<br />

for sure,” she shares, “as I’ve watched God work,<br />

and I’ve prayed for the people using the box.<br />

You wouldn’t have guessed it, but that box brings<br />

people a lot of light.”<br />

To learn more about Flowood’s Blessing Box,<br />

please follow their Facebook or Instagram pages<br />

“Blessing Box Flowood.”<br />

If you feel led to help, you can access the<br />

Amazon wish list on their page or send them<br />

a Facebook message or e-mail. Most of all,<br />

please spread the word!<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 59



At The Blake at Flowood, it’s all about community.<br />

That’s why we want to show our gratitude to all of<br />

the members of our community who voted and<br />

recognized us as the Best Assisted Living in the<br />

Flowood area. We thank you for your support and<br />

we look forward to giving you another year of chefprepared<br />

dining, exciting activities, 24-hour<br />

nursing, and an atmosphere of warmth and<br />

excellence! Schedule your personal tour today and<br />

see what makes us the Best of the Best in Rankin!<br />

CALL (601) 258-3944 TO SCHEDULE YOUR TOUR!<br />

350 Town Center Way Flowood, MS 39232<br />

blakeseniorliving.com/flowood<br />

60 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 61

62 • MARCH 2024


Aly Vancor<br />

Mistie Desper<br />

ALYSSA “ALY”<br />

VANCOR,<br />







JOHN 15:12. “THIS IS MY<br />




From an early age, Aly has shown a love<br />

for giving to others in need. Parents<br />

William and Jennifer revealed that she has<br />

always been “a leader in class, in sports, and<br />

an all-around great kid who wants no<br />

recognition at all for efforts.” “I have an<br />

older sister, and my parents have always been<br />

involved with helping others, so it was<br />

something I grew up seeing, and I have just<br />

always wanted to help out.” Aly revealed that<br />

her grandmother lives with her and her<br />

family, so she has always been around older<br />

people and has a deep love for them and the<br />

wisdom they bestow. While in the ninth<br />

grade, she began volunteering at Cooperwood<br />

Senior Living in Flowood, where she<br />

spends her time playing games, calling bingo<br />

numbers, popping popcorn, and visiting<br />

with the residents. It was not long before<br />

Aly became close to several of those with<br />

whom she was spending time. “I love<br />

hearing all of their stories, and they get<br />

invested in my life and what I have going on.<br />

They are so deserving of conversation and<br />

for someone to sit with them.”<br />

Along with her passion for helping<br />

others, she is dedicated to her academics,<br />

sports, and church. Last year, she was the<br />

recipient of the NWR Principal’s Award<br />

and the Cougar Award for school spirit.<br />

Aly is also in HOSA, part of the Health<br />

Science Academy, and an active member<br />

of the Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta, and<br />

Key Club, among others. She has also been<br />

awarded the Service Award twice for<br />

volunteering more than fifty hours in her<br />

community while maintaining a 4.0 grade<br />

point average.<br />

Beginning soccer at age three, she has<br />

loved the sport for most of her life. “I love<br />

the sport, but I love my teammates the most.<br />

We really are a big family and when we are<br />

out there on that field, it takes all the stress<br />

of life away. We are also taught in soccer to<br />

set an example for our peers. I am well<br />

aware that others, especially those younger<br />

than me, watch me, and I want to be the<br />

best person I can be. I’m always thinking<br />

about that.” In addition to assisting with<br />

soccer camps at NWR, she is the starting<br />

goalkeeper at her school along with playing<br />

club soccer for Rush United.<br />

Aly’s love of being involved and offering<br />

herself and her time so selflessly allows her<br />

to remain active at her home church of<br />

Pinelake Baptist Church as well. “My faith<br />

definitely helps me in my overall, everyday<br />

life. At church, I enjoy helping with all the<br />

camps whenever I can.” With such a full<br />

and busy life serving others and enjoying<br />

sports and academics, Aly still finds time<br />

to babysit, dog sit, and offer dog walking<br />

services for those in her community. “I just<br />

love being around kids and being able to<br />

babysit is so fun for me. I also am a huge<br />

dog person.” It’s a natural fit for her.<br />

As a junior, Aly is looking ahead to her<br />

future. She knows she wants to do something<br />

in the medical field and hopes to be<br />

able to play soccer throughout her college<br />

years. “William and I are so proud of Aly in<br />

her awareness of the community around her<br />

and that she is always looking for ways to<br />

make everywhere a better place. She never<br />

seeks to be recognized for anything she does,<br />

and she serves with humility and is very<br />

humble preferring not to be in the spotlight,”<br />

concluded Jennifer.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 63

64 • MARCH 2024

R O B O A T E S<br />

B E S T F I N A N C I A L L E N D E R<br />

2 0 2 3 - 2 0 2 4<br />

R A N K I N ’ S R E D C A R P E T<br />

B E S T O F T H E B E S T<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 65

66 • MARCH 2024

Veterans<br />

Helping<br />

Veterans<br />

“And the truth is that<br />

all veterans pay with their<br />

lives. Some pay all<br />

at once, while others pay<br />

over a lifetime.” - JM STORM<br />

Each year, Hometown Magazines is privileged<br />

to honor local non-profits at their Best of the<br />

Best Red Carpet event. After community voting,<br />

this year’s Best Non-Profit winner was 5th<br />

Squad, an organization whose mission is to assist<br />

veterans across the state of Mississippi.<br />

The idea for 5th Squad began in 2016 with<br />

four members of the 184th Sustainment<br />

Command. One of those men, 5th Squad<br />

President and Co-Founder Lee Stringer, has<br />

served in the Army for more than twenty-three<br />

years and is currently a sergeants major with the<br />

184th SC and defense movement coordinator<br />

for the Mississippi National Guard. “The idea for<br />

5th Squad developed one weekend at Camp<br />

Shelby, after a situation where a fellow soldier<br />

needed help with a utility bill,” says Stringer.<br />

“Several of us pooled our money to pay the bill,<br />

but it got us thinking that it would be great to<br />

start an organization to provide assistance to<br />

service members in need so they don’t have to<br />

swallow their pride and ask friends for help.<br />

We knew there were other organizations that<br />

provide assistance to veterans, but often, the<br />

help doesn’t arrive in time to meet immediate<br />

needs. 5th Squad provided us with a way to not<br />

only help service members like our friend, but<br />

others across the state. It gives us the means to<br />

help and gives veterans an organization to turn<br />

to, since asking for help can be a difficult thing<br />

for them to do.”<br />

5th Squad became an official 501c3 in 2018<br />

and has had tremendous support. They have<br />

indeed been able to assist veterans in a timely<br />

manner, just as they had hoped, without the red<br />

tape that is sometimes unavoidable with other<br />

organizations. Veterans connect with them in<br />

many ways; some contact them directly, and<br />

some are referred from Veterans Affairs or other<br />

organizations that feel 5th Squad could better<br />

serve the need at hand. “Once we receive a request<br />

for assistance, we verify that the applicant is an<br />

active service member, or a veteran who completed<br />

his or her initial enlistment and was discharged<br />

honorably,” says Stringer. “Upon verification,<br />

we move forward with determining how we can<br />

help with life-sustaining issues, such as money<br />

for housing, groceries, or utilities.”<br />

Through partnerships with other organizations<br />

and the generous support of individuals, 5th<br />

Squad has also been able to provide wheelchair<br />

ramps, roofs, a van with wheelchair lift, and an<br />

electric wheelchair, among other things. Last fall,<br />

Keesler Federal Credit Union provided rolling<br />

duffle bags with dental kits and other necessities<br />

for over 650 homeless veterans. 5th Squad<br />

distributed those bags to homeless and needy<br />

veterans on the coast and in Jackson.<br />

One of the biggest events of the year for 5th<br />

Squad is Ruck for Rugrats. This communitywide<br />

event gives 5th Squad and its supporters<br />

the opportunity to provide patients at Children’s<br />

of Mississippi with gifts and Christmas cheer.<br />

Participants walk approximately four and a half<br />

miles to the hospital, their rucksacks filled with<br />

toys. “Soldiers understand being away from<br />

home during the holidays, and while we don’t<br />

compare our situation to theirs, we can<br />

understand how these children may be feeling<br />

being away from home during Christmas,” says<br />

Stringer. “This event is truly a community effort.<br />

The first year, we had approximately thirty<br />

people walking, and $6,000 worth of toys<br />

donated. Last year, we had 450 walkers and over<br />

$120,000 in toy donations.”<br />

As defense movement coordinator, Lee<br />

Stringer coordinates deployments for service<br />

members in Mississippi, so he is very familiar<br />

with the long hours spent at the 172nd Airlift<br />

Wing as they wait for flights taking them to<br />

their assignment. “As these men and women<br />

wait, they are often filled with nervousness and<br />

anticipation, and 5th Squad is there to provide<br />

snacks and drinks and just spend time with<br />

them,” he says. ”This is just one more way we<br />

support service members.”<br />

Like any non-profit, 5th Squad relies on<br />

donations and volunteers to achieve its mission.<br />

Thankfully, they have been blessed by both, and<br />

Stringer points out that there are many ways for<br />

community members to help servicemen and<br />

women and their families. “Bring the garbage<br />

can in for the family of a deployed service member,<br />

offer to cut their grass,” Stringer says. “Small<br />

gestures can mean the world to these families,<br />

and for those wanting to support 5th Squad<br />

monetarily, a monthly donation of just $10 can<br />

do so much to assist with immediate needs.”<br />

As the organization continues to grow, those<br />

involved have the same mindset they did in the<br />

beginning stages of 5th Squad, which is to help<br />

veterans however they can. “If we can provide<br />

something,” Stringer says, “why wouldn’t we?”<br />

For more information about the mission<br />

of 5th Squad, visit www.5thsquad.com or<br />

follow them on Facebook @5thsquadMS.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 67

68 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 69

Peaches & Cream<br />

Pound Cake<br />

• 2 sticks of butter<br />

• 2 cups sugar<br />

• ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt<br />

• 3 large eggs<br />

• 1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract<br />

• 3 cups flour<br />

• 1 tsp. baking powder<br />

• 1 tsp. kosher salt<br />

• 2 cups diced fresh peaches<br />

Preheat oven to 325. In a large<br />

bowl, cream butter and sugar until<br />

light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.<br />

Add Greek yogurt, eggs and vanilla,<br />

beating on low until combined.<br />

Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt.<br />

Fold in diced peaches. Pour into<br />

a greased loaf pan and bake<br />

until a toothpick inserted<br />

into center comes out<br />

with just a few<br />

crumbs, 68 to<br />

70 minutes.<br />

70 • MARCH 2024<br />

Easy Old Fashioned<br />

Chocolate Pound Cake<br />

• 2 cups all-purpose flour<br />

• ¾ cup Dutch process cocoa<br />

(or unsweetened cocoa)<br />

• ½ tsp. salt<br />

• 1½ cups softened butter<br />

• 3 cups white granulated sugar<br />

• 5 eggs<br />

• 3 tsp. vanilla extract<br />

• ¼ cup liquid coffee<br />

• 1 cup buttermilk<br />

Preheat oven to 325 and grease and<br />

flour a 10-inch pan. Add flour, cocoa,<br />

baking powder, and salt to a medium<br />

bowl and mix. Add butter to a large<br />

bowl, add sugar and mix well. Add<br />

eggs, vanilla extract, and coffee to<br />

the sugar mixture and combine.<br />

Alternate adding the dry ingredients<br />

and butter milk and mix until<br />

combined. Pour cake mixture into<br />

the bundt pan and bake for 60-70<br />

minutes or until a cake tester comes<br />

out clean. Allow the cake to cool for<br />

about 20 minutes. Then, place the<br />

cake stand on the cake pan and<br />

gently flip it over. Frost the cake<br />

and enjoy!<br />

Twix Pound Cake<br />

• 11 oz. soft caramels, unwrapped<br />

• 2 Tbsp. heavy cream<br />

• 1 Sara Lee pound cake, defrosted<br />

and kept in aluminum tin<br />

• 2 cups chocolate chips<br />

Keep the pound cake in its aluminum<br />

loaf tin. Press against the tin so that<br />

each of the four sides are flush with<br />

the pound cake. (You want to create<br />

a seal to prevent caramel from<br />

leaking down sides.) In a medium<br />

saucepan over low heat, melt<br />

caramels. When beginning to melt,<br />

add the heavy cream. Stir occasionally,<br />

and cook until the caramels<br />

melt completely. Immediately<br />

remove from heat, and pour over<br />

cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until<br />

caramel hardens. When caramel is<br />

set, cut around the aluminum pan<br />

to reveal the cake. Remove the<br />

caramel-topped pound cake from<br />

the tin completely. Place a medium<br />

glass bowl over a pot of barely<br />

simmering water to create a doubleboiler.<br />

Add chocolate, and heat until<br />

melted through completely, stirring<br />

occasionally. Turn off heat, and pour<br />

melted chocolate over the pound<br />

cake to cover completely. Let cool<br />

until chocolate hardens.

Million Dollar Pound Cake<br />

• 1 lb. unsalted butter, softened<br />

• 3 cups sugar<br />

• 6 large eggs<br />

• 4 cups all-purpose flour<br />

• ¾ cup milk<br />

• 1 tsp. almond extract<br />

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract<br />

Preheat oven to 300. Grease a 10- inch<br />

tube pan with vegetable shortening or<br />

butter, getting every nook and cranny<br />

covered. Sprinkle a light coating of<br />

flour over the greased surface. Beat<br />

butter at medium speed with an<br />

electric mixer until creamy. The butter<br />

will become light yellow; this is an<br />

important step as the job of the mixer<br />

is to incorporate air in the butter so<br />

the cake will rise. It will take 1 to 7<br />

minutes, depending on the power of<br />

your mixer. Gradually add sugar,<br />

beating at medium speed until light<br />

and fluffy. Again, the time will vary,<br />

and the butter will turn to a fluffy<br />

white. Add eggs, one at a time, beating<br />

just until yellow yolks disappear. Add<br />

flour to creamed mixture alternately<br />

with milk, beginning and ending with<br />

flour. Beat at low speed until blended<br />

after each addition. Batter should be<br />

smooth and bits of flour should be<br />

well incorporated; to rid batter of<br />

lumps, stir gently with a rubber spatula.<br />

Stir in extracts. Pour into a greased<br />

and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake 1<br />

hour and 40 minutes or until a long<br />

wooden pick inserted in center comes<br />

out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack<br />

10-15 minutes. Remove from pan,<br />

and cool completely on a wire rack.<br />

Cinnamon Roll Pound Cake<br />

• 1 cup butter, softened<br />

• 3¼ cups sugar, divided<br />

• 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt<br />

• 1 tsp. vanilla<br />

• 3 Tbsp. heavy cream<br />

• 6 eggs<br />

• 3 cups flour<br />

• ½ tsp. baking soda<br />

• 1 Tbsp. cinnamon<br />

Preheat oven to 350. Line two 9x5<br />

loaf pans with nonstick foil, spray<br />

heavily with cooking spray. In a large<br />

bowl, beat butter and sugar until light<br />

and fluffy. Add yogurt, cream and<br />

vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, mixing<br />

well after each egg. In a separate bowl,<br />

mix flour and baking soda, add to wet<br />

ingredients, and mix until combined.<br />

In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup sugar and<br />

cinnamon. Pour ⅓ of batter into loaf<br />

pans. Sprinkle half of cinnamon<br />

sugar mixture into pan. Repeat with<br />

remaining batter, then cinnamon<br />

sugar, ending with batter. Bake 50<br />

minutes or until edges brown and<br />

toothpick comes out clean. If not<br />

ready at 50 minutes, check every<br />

5-10 minutes. Allow to cool.<br />

Icing<br />

• 2 Tbsp. butter, softened<br />

• 2 oz. cream cheese, softened<br />

• ¼ cup heavy cream<br />

• 1 tsp. vanilla<br />

• 1½ cups powdered sugar<br />

Mix butter and cream cheese. Add<br />

cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar<br />

and mix. Pour over cooled loaves.<br />

Allow to cool one hour before slicing<br />

and serving.<br />

Pecan Pound Cake<br />

• 2 cups butter, softened<br />

• 1 cup granulated sugar<br />

• 1½ cup brown sugar, packed<br />

• 6 large eggs room temperature<br />

• 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract<br />

• ¼ tsp. table salt<br />

• 1½ tsp. baking powder<br />

• 4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted,<br />

spooned, and leveled<br />

• 1 cup buttermilk, room<br />

temperature<br />

• 4 cups chopped, toasted pecans<br />

Preheat oven to 325. In a small bowl<br />

toss pecans with ¼ cup flour. Beat<br />

butter on medium speed with a stand<br />

or hand mixer. Gradually add in<br />

granulated and brown sugar, and beat<br />

until light and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes).<br />

Add eggs in one at a time, beating<br />

until just blended. Stir in vanilla.<br />

In a medium bowl, stir together<br />

baking powder, salt, and 3¾ cups<br />

flour. Add this flour mixture to the<br />

butter mixture, alternating with<br />

buttermilk. Begin and end with flour<br />

mixture until just combined. Do not<br />

over mix. Gently stir pecans into<br />

batter. Spray a 10-inch tube or 10 to<br />

12 cup bundt pan with baking spray<br />

or butter and flour pan. Pour batter<br />

into the pan, and smooth the top with<br />

spatula. Bake for 70 to 90 minutes or<br />

until a toothpick comes out clean.<br />

Check at about 45 minutes and if the<br />

cake is browning too quickly, add foil<br />

over the top and finish baking. Cool<br />

in pan for 15 minutes, and then turn<br />

onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.<br />

Sweet Potato Pound Cake<br />

• 1 package cream cheese, softened<br />

• ½ cup butter, softened<br />

• 2 cups granulated sugar<br />

• 4 large eggs<br />

• 2½ cups cooked, mashed sweet<br />

potatoes<br />

• 3 cups all-purpose flour<br />

• 2 tsp. baking powder<br />

• 1 tsp. baking soda<br />

• ¼ tsp. salt<br />

• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon<br />

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract<br />

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour<br />

a 10-inch tube pan. Beat cream cheese<br />

and butter at medium speed with a<br />

heavy-duty electric stand mixer until<br />

creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating<br />

until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at<br />

a time, beating to combine between<br />

each addition. Add sweet potatoes,<br />

and beat well. Stir together flour,<br />

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

ground cinnamon in a medium bowl.<br />

Gradually add flour mixture to butter<br />

mixture, beating to combine. Stir in<br />

vanilla. Spoon batter into a prepared<br />

tube pan. Bake for 1 hour and 5 to<br />

10 minutes or until a toothpick<br />

comes out clean. Cool in pan on a<br />

wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove<br />

from pan to wire rack and cool<br />

completely (about 1 hour).<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 71

72 • MARCH 2024


for voting us<br />



Hometown RANKIN • 73

SALUTE<br />

to First Responders<br />

What made you decide to work as a first responder?<br />

A friend of mine and I began as volunteer firefighters with the<br />

Reservoir Fire Department in 1996. I continued into the fire<br />

service full-time and attended paramedic school. I eventually<br />

ended up in the EMS world full-time.<br />

How long have you been with the Pafford EMS?<br />

I joined Pafford EMS in 2016. I worked alongside the Pafford<br />

AirOne (Air Medical) program while I was with another<br />

company for a few years before coming to Pafford.<br />

Tell us about your family.<br />

I have been married to my wife Lauri for twenty years.<br />

We met at a local hospital emergency department where she<br />

was a nurse. We have two sons, Reeves (19) and William (16).<br />

Reeves is currently in school at USM. He is also a nationally<br />

registered EMT and works regularly on the ambulance.<br />

William is a tenth grader at Hartfield Academy.<br />

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

in your job?<br />

The toughest thing is experiencing a loss to a family. Unfortunately,<br />

there is nothing in a textbook to prepare a first responder<br />

for those situations. Maintaining your own composure and<br />

comforting a family after a loss is quite challenging at times.<br />

Director of Operations<br />

Freddie<br />




74 • MARCH 2024

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

spare time.<br />

Our family loves to travel, and we try to experience new<br />

places all the time. Most recently, we went kayaking with<br />

manatees in Crystal River, Florida. We also attend a<br />

different major league baseball game every summer.<br />

Most importantly, my wife and I have date night every<br />

Friday night without fail.<br />

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

My pilot’s license, seeing the northern lights, and an<br />

around-the-world cruise voyage.<br />

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

My dad. Growing up, I watched my dad work countless<br />

hours taking care of his patients. He treated all of them<br />

like his own family. I strive to do the same and lead others<br />

to do that as well.<br />

If you could give one piece of advice to a young<br />

person, what would it be?<br />

Follow your heart and live out your dreams. Don’t give<br />

up on something you want to do. Always treat others<br />

how you want to be treated.<br />

What is your favorite thing about Rankin County?<br />

The consistent growth and the sense of community -<br />

Rankin County is growing with all kinds of great businesses<br />

and restaurants. It is exciting to watch it grow, and it is an<br />

honor and privilege to be a small part of the team that<br />

provides emergency care for all of the citizens and visitors<br />

of Rankin County.<br />

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78 • MARCH 2024

Celebrating<br />

the launch of<br />

Merit Health’s<br />

Comprehensive<br />

Heart & Vascular<br />

Services<br />

February 20<br />

Merit Health<br />

River Oaks<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 79

80 • MARCH 2024<br />

Heart Ball<br />

February 17<br />

Country Club of Jackson

Hometown RANKIN • 81

Help a child<br />

While you shop.<br />

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

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

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

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

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

© Copyright 2023 BankPlus.<br />

Member FDIC.<br />

82 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 83

The Chamber of Flowood’s 2024<br />

Winter<br />

Gathering<br />

& Top of the Community Awards<br />

FEBRUARY 1<br />



84 • MARCH 2024

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86 • MARCH 2024

Registration<br />

NOW OPEN<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 • 87

City of Brandon<br />

Princess<br />

Ball<br />

February 2<br />

Brandon<br />

Municipal Complex<br />


Miss Teen Mississippi<br />

Nataleigh Nix<br />

88 • MARCH 2024

City of Brandon<br />

Princess<br />

Ball<br />

February 3<br />

Brandon<br />

Municipal Complex<br />


Miss Volunteer America<br />

Hannah Perrigin<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 89

90 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 91

Service Is<br />

Our Legacy<br />

From our beginning in a one-room building in<br />

Mississippi, to the well-diversified, global<br />

organization we have grown to become, our mission<br />

has always been to meet needs, support families<br />

and serve customers. We proudly represent the<br />

state we call home as we continue to expand our<br />

footprint and live out this mission around the world.<br />

Read our story at ergon.com.<br />

Energy & Specialty Solutions<br />

Pavement & Coating Resources<br />

Integrated Services & Logistics<br />

Exploration & Production<br />

Thanks to all our<br />

readers and advertisers.<br />

We appreciate you!<br />

92 • MARCH 2024

Mardi Gras<br />



Hometown RANKIN • 93

Official Mississippi Women’s Club Luncheon Honoring<br />

First Lady Elee Reeves<br />

January 25 • The Country Club of Jackson<br />

94 • MARCH 2024

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Krewe de Roux<br />

parade & block party<br />

February 17<br />

Sponsored by Rankin County Chamber<br />

and City of Brandon<br />

February 9 / Downtown Brandon<br />

Sponsored by Rankin County Chamber & City of Brandon<br />

98 • MARCH 2024

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February 10<br />

Sponsored by Rankin County Chamber & City of Brandon<br />

100 • MARCH 2024

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Pearl Public School District<br />

Capes, masks, and excitement filled the Pearl Early Childhood<br />

Education Center as students and staff celebrated their<br />

100th day of school with a Superhero Day.<br />

Pearl Lower Elementary students and staff enjoyed singing, dancing,<br />

and reading books with Pete the Cat and the staff from the Pearl branch<br />

of the Central Mississippi Regional Library System.<br />

Coach Calhoun brought a wave of energy to Northside Elementary with<br />

Move to Learn, motivating both students and staff to get up and get moving.<br />

Pearl Upper Elementary 5th-grade science teachers rolled into<br />

a fun new unit, rolling on scooters and skates to share their<br />

enthusiasm for teaching force and motion.<br />

The Pearl Junior High School PTSO spread love on Valentine’s Day<br />

with bundt cakes and coffee to show appreciation for the PJHS staff.<br />

Members of the Pearl Pirate Band had the incredible<br />

opportunity to perform alongside the United States Navy Band<br />

during their concert hosted at Pearl High School.<br />

102 • MARCH 2024


Steens Creek Elementary received a grant this year from the MS Department of Environmental Quality for Bayou Town Productions to perform an educational puppet show.<br />

This sparked an idea for a day filled with theater, puppets, snacks, goodies, and more!<br />


Mrs. Reddoch, our librarian, set up an<br />

Outdoor Story Walk. This is an innovative way for<br />

classes to enjoy reading and the outdoors simultaneously!<br />

Starting at Station 1, page one of Some Smug Slug by<br />

Pamela Edwards, teachers led their students on a walk<br />

through the story and around our outdoor classroom,<br />

ending at the last station and the end of the book.<br />


Our cafe crew created amazingly delicious<br />

desserts and more featuring our swampy theme.<br />

Giggles were heard over the intercom when<br />

students announced the silly menu: swamp soup<br />

(veggie soup), marsh melts (grilled cheese),<br />

tiny trees (broccoli), crunchy bog bites (baby carrots),<br />

dirt pudding cups, and pond slime Jello.<br />


Along with PTO and community volunteers, we made it<br />

a day full of swamp-themed adventures! MDEQ Mobile<br />

Classroom performed “The River Town Story,” a puppet<br />

show that teaches about water pollution. Students sang<br />

along, created a “thunderstorm,” and received snacks<br />

and coloring books from Rankin County Soil and Water<br />

Conservation District all at no cost to our school!<br />


Ms. Hosey, our P.E. coach, set up<br />

“Swampstacle Courses’’ around the building.<br />

Classes traveled through the Boggy Boogie<br />

Freeze Dance in the Mud Marsh Music Room,<br />

the Leaping Lily Pads in P.E.,<br />

and Lizzie’s Library Lizard Crawl.<br />


Ms. Clanton, our music teacher, directed<br />

the second graders in their “Swamped” musical.<br />

Students performed for the entire school<br />

and their families.<br />

Hometown RANKIN • 103


Highland Bluff<br />

Highland Bluff Elementary hosted its first academic pep rally<br />

this year to celebrate the hard work of our staff and students<br />

on state subject area assessments. During the 2022-2023<br />

school year, students were told about several ways they could<br />

earn tickets for the 2023-2024 pep rally. The criteria for earning<br />

tickets were attending each day of testing, showing growth,<br />

or scoring proficient or advanced. The tickets would then be<br />

drawn for a variety of prizes provided by sponsors.<br />

The Northwest Rankin High School dance team kicked off the<br />

event by performing and leading some cheers for the students.<br />

The students were able to see the school’s academic rating<br />

and then the administrators drew for prizes. Highland Bluff’s<br />

PTO donated over $2,000 worth of prizes to celebrate our<br />

students. 91% of the students who tested were able to earn<br />

at least one ticket for a drawing. Every student who attempted<br />

a state test received a Blow Pop. Additionally, the school was<br />

able to give out over fifty prizes, which included gift cards,<br />

board games, scooters, and even a drone.<br />

The school hopes to continue the academic pep rally next year<br />

and further expand how we recognize the incredible effort our<br />

staff and students put in each day.<br />

Brandon Middle<br />

In 1829, Seminary Square in Brandon was<br />

set aside and designated to be used for<br />

“educational purposes.” Over the years,<br />

spanning from 1829 to present, the school on<br />

the hill has grown to become the foundation<br />

and home of Brandon Middle School.<br />

much to be proud of. They were awarded state<br />

runner-up in their division. Our volleyball team<br />

earned the title of 2023-2024 Little Six<br />

Champions. Our show was named grand<br />

champions of the Jackson Preparatory School<br />

Master Competition.<br />

With recent new construction, Brandon<br />

Middle now consists of over 85 classrooms<br />

including a state of the art library, performing<br />

arts room, school news-media room, field<br />

house, multi-purpose room, gymnasium, and<br />

auditorium. Students are taking advantage<br />

of the new opportunities the school’s growth<br />

has provided for them.<br />

Our students are well rounded individuals.<br />

With numerous educational opportunities set<br />

before them as they prepare for high school,<br />

they are also involved in an abundance of<br />

clubs and extracurricular activities.<br />

In December the dance team won the state<br />

championship for both Game Day and Hip<br />

Hop. This title makes them three time double<br />

state champions! BMS cheer team also has<br />

From the Tuesday morning Trivia Team<br />

competitions in the library, to food trucks at<br />

the Big Event, the opportunities are endless<br />

for students. Brandon Middle school leaders<br />

desire to provide a safe educational learning<br />

environment where students are able to excel<br />

in academic, social and extracurricular<br />

activities as they begin their journey<br />

leading and learning in life.<br />

104 • MARCH 2024

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TheTime COIN<br />

Camille Anding<br />

There is a verse in Matthew that says, “When you enter into your closet and shut the<br />

door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward<br />

you openly.” I realize that the word “closet” could mean any secluded, private place, but it was<br />

my closet that brought the conviction.<br />

Recently, I was frustrated over the size of our bedroom closet and the way my clothes suffered<br />

from suffocation with the crowded space. My closet housed more shoes than I really needed,<br />

and the overhead shelves just gave room for more articles of clothing.<br />

The solution was obvious. I could give a lot away and make a neat, welcoming closet.<br />

Instead, I wished for a room-to-run-in closet that would hold four seasons of<br />

clothing. A closet the size of a small bedroom would be perfect.<br />

It was in the midst of my closet dreaming when I thought about the missionary<br />

from Honduras. He told about the poor families in his home country, living happily<br />

in single room dwellings with leaky roofs and outdoor water hoses for showers.<br />

I did not recall his mentioning closets. Perhaps, it was because a single pair<br />

of shoes and a couple of T-shirts do not require a room of their own.<br />

It was a piercing conviction. I realized I could never refer to our closet as a<br />

prayer closet until I made some changes. I would need to do some cleaning<br />

out and giving away.<br />

My own closet evaluation, I regret to say, is like a lot of other American closets.<br />

Greed, excess, and hoardings are the culprits that infiltrate our closets. “Staying in style”<br />

not only crowds our closets but can also drain our incomes.<br />

God is not an outdated figure, galaxies away, and unconcerned with our lives. He desires to<br />

wean us away from our self-centered lives. The world continually asks, “What’s in your wallet?”<br />

I believe God asks, “What’s in your closet?”<br />

106 • MARCH 2024

Hometown RANKIN • 107

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