Page 1


[ Ta b l e o f C o n t e n t s] Welcome ..................................... Page 2 Our Communities ......................... Page 5

Hattiesburg .............................. Page 7 The Area Development Partnership City of Hattiesburg Hattiesburg Public Schools

Lamar County ...................... Page 11 Oak Grove community Lamar County Economic Development Lamar County Schools Purvis - Sumrall - Lumberton

Petal

........................................ Page 16

Playing in the Pine Belt .............. Page 42

City of Petal Petal Public Schools Petal Chamber of Commerce

Long Leaf Trace .................. Page 44 Area golf courses ................ Page 46

Camp Shelby ........................ Page 18 Univ. of Southern Miss ...... Page 19 William Carey University .. Page 22 Area schools ........................ Page 23

Retirement in the Pine Belt.......... Page 48

Our Medical Community ............ Page 27

Hattiesburg Publishing ...... Page 58

Wesley Medical Center .... Page 28 Forrest General Hospital .. Page 31 Hattiesburg Clinic ................ Page 30 Rural Health Co-op ............ Page 30

Advertiser’s Index........................ Page 60

Things to do in the Pine Belt ...... Page 32

Downtown Hattiesburg ......Page 36 Our Libraries ..........................Page 38 Hattiesburg Zoo ....................Page 39 Convention Center ..............Page 40

Made in the Pine Belt.................. Page 50

Stonewood Studio .............. Page 54 Bonner Analytical ................ Page 56

Š 2010 Hattiesburg Publishing, Inc. publisher David Gustafson editor Beth Bunch writers Dana Gower advertising manager Kim Rayborn advertising representatives Lauren Caldwell  Missy Pickering production manager Bill Benge production assistant Jean Prine


Page 2

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Welcome] The Pine Belt boasts many popular activities, attractions and comforts. You’ll find a refreshing spirit and genuine southern hospitality, which make Hattiesburg and the surrounding area a welcoming destination. The Pine Belt is truly your complete package for culture, recreation and quality of life. Within the area are several towns and communities, each with its own certain charm. The Longleaf Trace is Mississippi’s first and only Rails-toTrails project and south Mississippi’s premier recreational attraction. The 10-foot wide asphalt trail winds approximately 37 miles between two points, Prentiss and Hattiesburg. The conversion of this historic railway into a recreation trail provides a beautiful setting for biking, walking, roller blading, and horseback riding. The beauty of the trail also makes it a perfect location for other activities such as outdoor photography, bird watching, and picnicking. For horseback riding enthusiasts, a 23-mile equestrian trail runs parallel to the paved trail between the historic communities of Carson and Epley. An environmental asset, the Longleaf Trace offers it users the perfect opportunity to

enjoy warm southern hospitality and the unique towns of Sumrall, Prentiss, Bassfield, Carson and Hattiesburg. The area is home to countless eateries and memorable dining experiences. In fact, hundreds of restaurants, cafés and delis call this area home, providing a large selection of cuisine to delight every taste bud. Whether you are hungry for Japanese, Italian, Mexican, Chinese or Cajun/New Orleans style, you’ll find a place at the table for you. World famous barbeque, steakhouses and fine dining establishments call this area of the south home. Shopping opportunities abound in the area from upperscale boutiques to discount stores for treasure hunters. With two malls and hundreds of other retail establishments both large and small, Pine Belt residents and visitors enjoy shopping that rivals that of cities several times its size. Throw in the addition of two major universities and one of the south’s largest military installations, the Pine Belt truly offers something for everyone. Whether you live here year around or are just passing through, we encourage you to seek out the best of what the Pine Belt has to offer. We know you won’t regret it.


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 3


Page 4

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 5

[Our Communities] One of the most unique qualities of the Pine Belt is the presence of so many diverse communities. Whether you’re looking for a quaint little town or a bustling urban setting, the greater Hattiesburg area has something for you. From Sumrall in the north to Camp Shelby in the south and from Petal in the east to Purvis in the west, there are more than a dozen different communities to choose from. Hattiesburg is the educational, retail and medical center for more than a quarter of a million people who live throughout the southeast Mississippi region. Known as the "Hub City" because it is located at the intersections of Interstate 59 and U.S. Highways 49, 98 and 11, Hattiesburg is centrally located less than 100 miles from the state capital of Jackson as well as the Gulf Coast, New Orleans and Mobile. This growing micropolitan area that includes Hattiesburg, Forrest and Lamar Counties, was designated a Metropolitan Statistical Area in 1994 with a combined pop-

ulation of more than 100,000 residents. In addition to the cities and towns that residents have to choose from, several other “communities” are proud to call the Pine Belt home including the University of Southern Mississippi, William Carey University, and Camp Shelby. The region’s medical community is unparalleled for an area of this size boasting some 465 physicians per 100,000 people, while the national average is less than 200 physicians per 100,000 people as reported by Sperling's Best Places. Growth is visible throughout the Pine Belt thanks to a pro-business attitude that is deeply rooted in a strong and diverse economy. This area has a superb business climate for the small business owner as well as the corporate citizen. More and more companies are discovering that the Pine Belt is a place with the ability and the desire to make things happen.


Page 6

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 7

[Hattiesburg] Positioned at the fork of the Leaf and Bouie Rivers - the heart of south Mississippi's rolling piney woods - greater Hattiesburg provides a unique blend of affordability and high standard of living for more than 100,000 residents. Hattiesburg is the educational, retail and medical center for more than a quarter of a million people who live throughout the southeast Mississippi region and is also the home of the University of Southern Mississippi, William Carey University, and Camp Shelby. Known as the "Hub City" because it is located at the intersections of Interstate 59 and U.S. Highways 49, 98 and 11, Hattiesburg is centrally located less than 100 miles from the state capital of Jackson as well as the Gulf Coast, New Orleans and Mobile. This growing micropolitan area that includes Hattiesburg, Forrest and Lamar Counties, was designated a Metropolitan Statistical Area in 1994 with a combined population of more than 100,000 residents. Livability During the last several years, Hattiesburg has been recognized nationally for its livability including the following areas:  Healthcare  Most Popular Destinations  Retirement Communities  Business Relocation Continued economic expansion during the past few years has made Hattiesburg one of the most dynamic and fastest growing areas in the Southeast. With its economic beginnings in the timber industry of the late 1800s, to the mobilization of the military in 1915 and World War II at Camp Shelby, to the prosperous growth of the 1990s, Hattiesburg stands ready to move forward in the new century as a progressive, economically healthy community that nurtures a quality of life second to none. History Hattiesburg was founded in 1882 by Captain William H. Hardy, pioneer lumberman and civil engineer. Early settlers to the area were of Scottish, Irish, and English desent who came from Georgia and the Carolinas, attracted by the vast acreage of virgin pine timberlands. This was an area of rich promise at a time when renewed development of the South was getting under way. The City of Hattiesburg was incorporated in 1884 with a population of approximately 400. Originally called Twin Forks and later Gordonville, Hardy gave the city its final name of Hattiesburg, in honor of his wife Hattie. Also in 1884, the railroad, known as the Southern Railway System, was built from Meridian through Hattiesburg to New Orleans. The commercial value of the great virgin timber stands was quickly recognized and, for a time, timberland was available for as little as 50 cents to $1.50 an acre. Mills

sprang up; naval store plants came on the heels of the timber industry, and turpentine stills became as numerous as the sawmills. The completion of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad from Gulfport to Jackson, now part of the Illinois Central System, ran through Hattiesburg and ushered in the real lumber boom in 1897. Though it was 20 years in the building, the railroad more than fulfilled its promise. It gave the state a deep water harbor, more than doubled the population of towns along its route, built the City of Gulfport and made Hattiesburg a railroad center. After World War I, Hattiesburg found a new way of life became necessary. The people of the region were able to adjust themselves and proved willing to find new and diverse ways of making a living - bringing with them further population booms. The Area Development Partnership The Area Development Partnership (ADP) is a regional organization dedicated to providing chamber of commerce, community and economic development services to the Pine Belt area including Forrest, Lamar and Perry Counties, the City of Hattiesburg and the City of Petal. The Area Development Partnership's mission is to stimulate economic growth through the resources of its members and partners leading to an improved economic well-being and quality of life for Greater Hattiesburg Area citizens. With more than 1,100 members, the ADP is successful in uniting businesses and individuals all focused on one goal the betterment of the Pine Belt.


Page 8

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Chamber of Commerce The ADP is focused on helping businesses grow and prosper through several regular networking and professional development opportunities. Listed below are some of the many programs and events hosted by the ADP throughout the year that focus on bringing the ADP membership together for social, networking and educational opportunities.  Leadership Pinebelt  Business Advisory Seminars  Professional Development Series  Pine Belt Young Professionals  Pastries & Politics  First Friday  Business After Hours  SE Mississippi Community Investment Corporation  Retirement Connectors  Ambassadors  Ribbon Cuttings & Ground Breakings  HUBFEST  The Great Pine Belt Expo  The Annual Corporate Golf Challenge  …and more! Leadership Pinebelt is celebrating 22 years of nurturing emerging leaders from the area. Each year, following a competitive application process, 20 individuals are selected and participate in workshops, programs and project development to grow their leadership skills. Pine Belt Young Professionals is a recent addition to the program of work of the Area Development Partnership, focused on developing and retaining young talent in the area with regular community involvement, networking and professional development opportunities specifically geared for individuals between the ages of 20 and 40. The Area Development Partnership strives to ensure that the quality of life for the Pine Belt region is enhanced through economic progress. HUBFEST, the Corporate Golf Challenge and the Great Pine Belt Exposition are other examples of how the Area Development Partnership is helping grow this community. Each are annual events with a different focus. HUBFEST is a large, outdoor festival that brings thousands of individuals to downtown Hattiesburg for art, music, food and fun. The Corporate Golf Challenge is a way for business leaders in the community to spend a day with each other and celebrate existing industry. The Great Pine Belt Exposition, celebrating 20 years in 2010, brings area businesses to one location to showcase their products and services to area citizens. Economic and Community Development The Greater Hattiesburg Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has something to offer everyone - from large businesses to individuals. With a low cost of living, great business climate, complete package of quality of life, recreation and leisure activities as well as community and social services, there's nothing missing in the Greater Hattiesburg Area. Our region boasts a diverse economy with strength in a variety of industries including Military, Manufacturing, Medical, Retail and other services, and Education. Facts and Figures

Hattiesburg Publishing

 The population is expected to grow 5.74% between 2009 and 2014.  There are currently approximately 140,925 citizens residing the in the Greater Hattiesburg MSA.  Persons age 16 and older, an age group of interest to employers, consists of approximately 108,203 persons or 76.8% of the population.  The current MSA labor force is about 62,721 people strong with an Average Household Income (AHI) of $52,265  The region contains more than 25,000 college students. The Greater Hattiesburg MSA labor market is quite competitive, but there are several hidden markets that offer recruiting potential. One of these hidden markets is second income earners. They provide many flexible, part-time and full-time jobs to employers. Another hidden market is college students. There are two four-year universities in the MSA with college students available for high quality, part-time, moderate cost labor for employers. Several institutions of higher learning, including The University of Southern Mississippi, William Carey University and area community colleges such as Pearl River Community College and Jones County Junior College constantly provide a stream of young, bright minds into the Pine Belt region. Pearl River Community College's Advanced Technology Center continues to drive workforce development and training for individuals seeking to start or grow their career in a specific field. Visit www.theADP.com or call 601.296.7500 for more information on events, how to become a member, or any other questions regarding the Area Development Partnership. Hattiesburg Public Schools


Page 10

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Located in the heart of Hattiesburg, the Hattiesburg Public School District has an enrollment of about 4,500 students. The mission of the school district – whose hallmark is commitment to diversity, quality and continuous improvement in partnership with an engaged and supportive community – is to enable all of its students, through innovative teaching in a safe, nurturing environment, to become creative and analytical thinkers, self-directed lifelong learners and effective communicators who are productive citizens of a dynamic, global community. Dr. Annie Wimbish, superintendent of the Hattiesburg School District, said the district has a number of strong programs, such as the high school forensic team, a string program that begins in the fifth grade and a Spanish program that also begins in elementary school. "I love seeing the talents and skills of our students," she said, adding that she expects the school district to continue to distinguish itself. “We are excited to be blessed with the opportunity to work to help children succeed. Each new year bring us so many avenues for academic and social enrichment,” she said. “The Hattiesburg Public Schools are a wonderful place to learn. Our mission is to enable ALL of our students to become self-directed, life-long learners and productive citizens.” The district already offers more advanced placement classes than many districts, Wimbish said, and is looking into offering dual high school/college classes. Some of the district's accomplishments on the national, state and regional level include:  The No Child Left Behind 2005 American Star Teacher recipient  Project Assist grant recipient

   

Hattiesburg Publishing

$7 million-plus technology grant from Cisco Systems 2006 Class 5A State Baseball Championship NASA Explorer School grant recipient 21st Century School site

Schools in the district include: Lillie Burney Elementary ................601-582-5291 Deborah Bradley Smith, Principal Grace Christian Elementary............601-583-0662 Debra Large, Principal Rowan Elementary .........................601-583-0960 Michelle Johnson, Principal Hawkins Elementary ................601-583-4311 Malcom Cobb, Principal Thames Elementary.........................601-582-6655 Carrie Hornsby, Principal Woodley Elementary........................601-583-8112 Felicia Morris, Principal N.R. Burger Middle School ............601-582-0536 Robert Williams, Principal Mary Bethune Alternative Center....601-584-6311 Cassundra Brown, Principal Hattiesburg High School ................601-544-0811 Robert Sanders, Principal


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 11

[Lamar County] The Lamar County Economic Development District Inc. was organized in May 1980 as a result of the vision of the Lamar County Board of Supervisors and leading businesspersons in the county. The district was formed to answer the need for an organization within county government that could address diverse public and private sector projects requiring expertise in site analysis and selection, financial packaging, incentive negotiation and real estate acquisition and management. The district is made up of five board members appointed by each Lamar County supervisor from each of the districts. This board meets once a month to discuss the promoting of the county's industrial areas to enhance the quality of life by job creation. At this time, the Lamar County Economic Development District has five industrial parks throughout the county with locations in Lumberton, Purvis and Sumrall. About four years ago, the board of supervisors and the LCEDD board felt economic regionalism would be a large part of promoting the area, as well as surrounding areas. At that time, the supervisors and the LCEDD entered into a partnership with the Area Development Partnership, which now works with the LCEDD board promoting the Lamar County area and its industrial parks. Growth in Lamar County continues to accelerate, with population estimates and projections up nearly 60 percent since 1990. The current population figures are up nearly 25 percent from just seven years ago. The Lamar County region maintains a cost of living level considerably lower than the national average. In fact, the area is 10 percent below the national average. Included in this index are costs associated with housing, utilities, transportation and health care, among others. Residents in the area can enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities. Little Black Creek Water Park is a 1,300-acre state operated park located between Purvis and Lumberton. Longleaf Trace, with more than 40 miles between its two points of origin, Prentiss and Hattiesburg, is a recreation trail providing a beautiful setting for biking, walking, roller blading and horseback riding. There are also a number of public and private golf clubs in the area. Lamar County residents are fortunate to have the conveniences of one of Mississippi's largest progressive cities, yet maintain the quiet serene surroundings and the quality of life the county offers. The area has gained national prominence in a variety of areas, from science and technology to sports and healthcare. All facets of a community that constitute quality of life – low cost of living, a favorable business climate, recreation and leisure activities and community and social services – make Lamar County one of the most progressive communities in the state. Home to some of the state's top schools and scholars, the area continues to build a solid education system through programs such as Tech Prep. The University of Southern Mississippi, located in Hattiesburg, is part of the state university system, which has produced the sixth highest number of

Rhodes Scholars in the nation. The Lamar County labor shed region has a labor force in excess of 104,319. Work ethic and after-work ethic is extremely high, giving a sense of pride to the area employees and employers. State-sponsored training programs can be customized to meet the individual needs of new and expanding businesses. Training can be provided in vocational technical centers located within the region, in mobile units near business facilities, at plant sites or a combination if desired. With the Lowery Woodall Center, Lamar County has proven to be one of the area's most recognized for workforce training. These services are provided to qualified industry and businesses at no cost. The Lamar County region offers direct north-south and eastwest commercial rail service. Interstate 59 and U.S. Highway 49 provide four-lane north-south access, and U.S. Highway 98 provides four-lane east-west access. In addition, the east-west corridors of I-10 and I-20 are located to the immediate south and north of the region, respectively, and the north-south corridor of I-55 is located to the immediate west. Water transportation is available to the east through the Tennessee- Tombigbee Waterway and south at the deep-water ports of New Orleans, Gulfport, Pascagoula and Mobile, Ala. Lamar County Schools The Lamar County School District has a distinguished tradition of pride and success, reflected in a thriving, supportive community; high-achieving students; an award-winning, welltrained, devoted faculty; strong visionary leadership and an out-


Page 12

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

standing record of excellence and achievement in academics and activities. The mission of the Lamar County School District is "to empower all students with the knowledge and skills to create their own futures; to become passionate lifelong learners; and to contribute cooperatively to a diverse and changing world." To this end, curriculum and programs are developed to meet the needs of the student population: Special Services, ESL, Gifted Dyslexia/Reading, After School/In School Tutoring, Visual Arts, Theater, Music/Choir and Band, a rigorous college prep curriculum, state of the art technical programs and an array of extra-curricular activities which showcase special skills and talents. "In an effort to incorporate the tools necessary for success in the 21st Century into the curriculum, Lamar County is committed to securing additional resources which will allow each student to participate in a world class education," Dr. Ben Burnett, Lamar County's superintendent, said. Students complete a senior exhibition of achievement, a culminating activity to integrate overall learning experiences to connect, make meaning of and effectively use discrete knowledge and skills. Four new elementary schools opened in the 2007-2008 school year: one each in Sumrall and Purvis and two in the Oak Grove area, providing space for about 3,000 students. Even with these additional classrooms, the district continues to be near capacity.

Schools in the district include: Baxterville School............................601-796-4483 Martha Smith, Principal

Hattiesburg Publishing

Purvis Lower Elementary................601-794-3302 Rita Downs, Principal Purvis Lower Elementary................601-794-1068 Linda Greer, Principal Purvis High School..........................601-794-2708 C.H. Bryant, Principal Sumrall Elementary........................ 601-758-4935 Danny Sumrall, Principal Sumrall Middle School................ ....601-758-4416 Jamie Jones, Principal Sumrall High School.........................601-758-4730 Jennifer Ward, Principal Oak Grove Primary......................... 601-264-9764 Dahlia Landers, Principal Oak Grove Lower Elementary......... 601-268-3862 Teresa Jenny, Principal Oak Grove Upper Elementary........ 601-264-6724 Debbie Dabbs, Principal Oak Grove Middle School.............. 601-264-4634 Terry Ingram, Principal Oak Grove High School.................. 601-264-7232 Wayne Folkes, Principal


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 13


Page 14

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Lum be r ton] The announcement at the beginning of the year of a major expansion to the industrial park and strong sales tax revenues are positive signs that Lumberton officials hope will be continue through the year. The industrial park at Lumberton has grown by about a third after 130 acres were acquired on Old Highway 11. With the addition of the land that was formerly a pecan orchard, the industrial park now includes about 360 acres, with about 270 acres in prime condition for development. Business officials announced that, with the addition of the new acreage, efforts to certify the industrial park are now back on track. According to the most recent U.S. Census figures, the median income for a household in the city is $23,178, and the median income for a family is $26,603. Males have a median income of $26,563 versus $16,821 for females. The per capita income for the city is $11,384. Census figures report 2,228 people in Lumberton as of 2000, although that figure was expected to grow due to displacement of families following Hurricane Katrina. Located just 49 miles from Gulfport and 82 miles from New Orleans, Lumberton is ideally situated to take advantage of a shifting coastal population. Census figures also show 829 households, and 602 families residing in the city. Lumberton's school district draws from both Lamar and Pearl River counties. In 1911, Lumberton High School became the first agricultural high school in the state. Nearby Baxterville School, part of the Lamar County

School District, provides additional education facilities in the area. Bass Memorial Academy, which provides a SeventhDay Adventist Christian education, is located just a few miles north of town. For those seeking recreational activities, the Little Black Creek Water Park also is located nearby. City officials include Mayor Miriam Holder and aldermen Bobby Gibson, Kent Crider, Rebecca Hale, Quincy Rogers and Timothy Johnson. Important numbers to call include:  Lumberton City Hall, 601-796-7000  Police Department, 601-796-7002  Police Dispatch, 601-796-8891  Fire Department, 601-796-8901  Public Works, 601-796-3600  Lumberton High School, 601-796-2451  Lumberton Elementary, 601-796-3721

[ Pur v is] Purvis, the county seat for Lamar County, has managed to experience both residential and commercial growth while maintaining its friendly small-town charm. As of the census of 2000, there were 2,164 people, 786 households, and 577 families residing in the city. Census figures report a total of 786 households, out of which 34.9 percent have children under the age of 18 living with them. The median income for a household in the city is $30,938, and the median income for a family is $35,000. Males have a median income of $27,571 versus $17,500 for females. The per capita income for the city is $13,727. Purvis also is home to the Lamar County Fairgrounds and Multipurpose Center, which hosts events ranging from rodeos and fairs to truck shows and bluegrass. Events are scheduled at the facility almost every weekend, and other days throughout the week. The Lamar County Museum also is located in Purvis at the old train depot. The museum houses thousands of documents, photographs and other memorabilia. Convenient to Hattiesburg, Purvis is located just 56 miles from Gulfport and 92 miles from New Orleans. The city is the highest point between New Orleans and Meridian. Before it became known as Purvis, the area was known as Steep Hill, the name that appears on the land deed of Thomas Melville Purves, for whom the city is named. It became a thriving town with the arrival of the rail-

road. City officials include Mayor Roger Herrin and aldermen Milton Bourn, Nancy Pylant, Leon Vernon Hartfield, Alen Stuart and Jon W. Jordan Sr. Numbers to call include:  Purvis City Hall, 601-794-2472  Police Dept, 601-794-6512  Public Works, 601-794-8900  Purvis High School, 601-794-6221  Purvis Middle School, 601-794-1068  Purvis Elementary School, 601-794-2959.


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 15

[ Sumra l l ] Combining old-time charm with a quickly-growing population, Sumrall offers Lamar County's most positive features in microcosm. U.S. Census figures from 2000 show Sumrall with a population of 1,005 people, 406 households and 265 families residing in town, but those numbers are expected to change drastically following this years census, in part due to a major annexation since that time. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.0 males, according to the 2000 census. The median income for a household in the town was $25,800, and the median income for a family was $37,784. Males had a median income of $29,500 versus $16,786 for females. The per capita income for the town was $14,715. Area employers include educational, health and social services, as well as retail and manufacturing opportunities. An attractive, compact downtown business area is expected to be even more festive this spring with the addition of rose bushes along the city's roads. "The goal is, in the next year or two, for people coming through town to be overwhelmed with roses," Heather Stringer, chairman of the Committee for Excellence in Sumrall, said when the project was announced at the beginning of this year. Among the annual events held throughout the year, the town is known for its parades, including those held at Christmas and the Fourth of July.

Sumrall also is the site of Lamar County's annual Relay For Life fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society, which continues to break records in donations each year. Sumrall, named after Union soldier Daniel Sumrall, celebrated is Centennial in 2003. It is located just 77 miles from the state capital in Jackson and 106 miles from New Orleans. City officials include the mayor, Gerolene Rayborn, and members of the Sumrall Board of Aldermen, Jerry Reed Weatherford, Shirley Barnard, Cecil Allen Coulter, Brad Sullivan and Darrell Hall. Numbers to call include:  Sumrall City Hall, 601-758-3591  Fire and Police Departments, 601-758-3531  Sewer Department, 601-758-4719  Sumrall Middle and High School, 601-758-4730  Sumrall Elementary, 601-758-4289


Page 16

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Petal] Petal officials had much to be pleased with – from increased sales tax revenues to a number of new and soonto-be-announced businesses – as the new year got underway. About nine businesses either opened or moved to new locations since the fall of last year, Deborah Reynolds, president of the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce, said in January, while noting that a number of others were on the horizon. One factor that has contributed to the area's growth is the completion of the Evelyn Gandy Parkway, which connects Highway 42 in Petal to Interstate 59. Reynolds pointed out that the continuing trend of sales taxes coming in above the prior year's totals is a positive sign, especially at a time when many cities are struggling. In January, the city was notified it would be receiving $174,423.12 in sales tax reimbursements for November's sales, which is about $12,000 higher than the city received the same month a year earlier. "I think people are seeing how important those sales taxes are to the city," she said. "That's the bulk of the city's budget." Reynolds sees a number of reasons for the increase in sales, ranging from new businesses that provide more variety to a positive shopping atmosphere. "Families come from other communities to shop here," she said, noting that shoppers appreciate the city's easy flow of traffic and safe, friendly environment. The city's friendly atmosphere is one of the selling tools Reynolds has to offer businesses that are considering locating in Petal. Separated from Hattiesburg by the Leaf River, Petal functions as a trading, educational and medical center for south Mississippi. Its retail trade area is separated from Hattiesburg by the Leaf River on the west and south, and extends north in Jones County and east into Perry County. A recent survey showed that 85 percent of shoppers were from Forrest, Jones and Perry counties. The city also is centrally positioned between Jackson (89 miles), Mobile (95 miles), New Orleans (98 miles) and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (70 miles). Dallas, Atlanta, Memphis, St. Louis and Charlotte are all within a day's drive. Petal Schools The Petal School District has a longstanding reputation for high quality schools in Mississippi and throughout the nation. Because of the cooperation and support of the Petal community and the team spirit that exists among students, staff and parents, the school district is able to achieve academic and extra-curricular success. The district is committed to achieving their mission: To empower all students with the attitudes, knowledge and lifelong learning skills essential to thrive as responsible citizens in an ever-changing global society. The Petal School District officially began in 1976 after

community members decided they wanted to create a school district separate from the county school system. The city of Petal was incorporated specifically to form the new school district - a step signifying how important excellent education opportunities were to the citizens of this community. Since that time school employees have worked hand in hand with the community to ensure the schools reflect the local values and quality of life inherent in the citizens of the Petal School District. While retaining its positive small-town atmosphere, Petal has become state and nationally known for its quality schools and award-winning athletic and performing arts programs. Five schools make up the Petal School District: Petal Primary School (K-2), Petal Elementary (3,4), Petal Upper Elementary (5,6), Petal Middle School (7,8) and Petal High School (9-12). Each school offers superior academic instruction as well as enrichment classes. Students at Petal Middle School and Petal High School have numerous academic courses and electives available to enhance their educational experience. In addition to the five schools, the Petal School District also operates the Petal Education Center which functions as the alternative school and the Petal Center for Families and Children which offers educational resources and support services in coordination with other area agencies for the families of the Petal community. Superior academic success has become a long standing expectation in the Petal School District. The Level 5 ratings that our schools continually achieved in the previous state accountability model were an indication that we are one of


Hattiesburg Publishing the best school districts in the state. That tradition of academic success continues on the new accountability rating system. Petal High School achieved the highest status possible, “Star School”. Only 29 schools in Mississippi achieved this prestigious title. This rating indicates that this school compares to top performing schools nationwide. The rating of “High Performing” indicates that Petal Middle School and Petal Upper Elementary that students are performing above the national average. Some specific recent accomplishments of the school district include:  In 2009, 104 PHS seniors met the rigorous academic criteria to graduate as Mississippi Scholars  Petal High School was named a bronzelevel school by U.S. News and World Report in its America's Best High Schools list  Five additional employees became nationally board certified in 2009. The district is proud to have a total of 41 nationally board certified employees  New facilities have been added in recent years: in 2008 a new primary school, softball complex, performing arts building and access road were added. In 2009, a new baseball complex and a new football stadium were begun with construction expected to be complete in 2010.  The 2009 graduating class had an ACT composite score class average of 21and was awarded over $1.5 million in scholarships Under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. John Buchanan who began his tenure in July 2009, work is progressing to further advance the instructional process by revising curriculum, conducting meaningful professional development and recruiting and retaining the best qualified teachers. These efforts along with the support of parents and the community will enable staff to meet the challenges of the advanced standards necessary for our students to remain competitive on a state and national level. Recognizing the importance of longrange planning, school district personnel, with the involvement of community members, designed and implemented two cycles of strategic planning to guide the district through the past 11 years. Community members, school district personnel and students meet annually to revise and update the plan to keep it current and applicable. Because of their vision and the combined efforts of the entire Petal community, the Petal School District has been able to achieve remarkable results in recent years. More information about the Petal School District can be accessed at www.petalschools.com or by calling 601-5453002.

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 17


Page 18

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Camp Shelby] Camp Shelby, nestled amongst the pines off Hwy. 49 12 miles south of Hattiesburg, is the largest state-owned and operated field training site in the United States. The post encompasses more than 134,832 acres. It is a training ground for the Abrams M1Tank, Howitzers and home to the 3rd Brigade 87th Division Training Support. Camp Shelby was established in 1918. The post was named in honor of Isaac Shelby, Indian fighter, Revolutionary War hero and the first governor of Kentucky, by the 38th Division, the first troops to train at the post. In 1934, the state of Mississippi acquired the site for use as a summer camp by the National Guard. Because of its natural advantages of climate, terrain and location, it was reopened in 1940 as a federal installation. The famous Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Battalion trained here in preparation for World War II. Women’s Army Corps (WAC) units also trained here. The post contained a large convalescent hospital and had a prisoner of war camp which housed members of the German Afrika Corps. The post closed shortly after the end of Word War II. During the Korean Conflict, Camp Shelby was established as an Emergency Railhead Facility. In the summer of 1954, non-divisional National Guard units trained at Camp Shelby and in 1956, it was designated a permanent training site by Continental Army Command (now Forces Command). More than 5,000 troops were processed through Camp Shelby during Desert Storm Operations. On July 6, 2006, Camp Shelby Training Site stood up as a Title 10 USC mobilization center to train deploying troops for oversees missions supporting Operation Iraq Freedom. Now, throughout the year, more than 100,000 troops from all branches of the United States military train in South Mississippi. Numerous non-DOD and civilian agencies also conduct activities at the site. Mobilization Center Shelby, now known as Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, has trained tens of thousands of troops and successfully deployed the 278th Regimental Combat Team and the 155th Brigade Combat Team to areas in CENTCOM’s area of operation. The success of this training is the result of “Theater Immersion” training. This training concept, developed by LTG Russell Honoré of First Army immerses the soldier into a training environment that simulates the battlefield. In April of 2005, the post reawakened with the Reveille, the first post newspaper in 60 years. With the assistance of Hattiesburg Publishing, the newspaper is published and distributed exclusively at racks around the post every two weeks. Camp Shelby’s Public Relations Office originally published the Reveille during WWII, but it had been out of publication since the end of the war. In 2010, Reveille was honored by the Mississippi Press Association as “Best Niche

Publication.” One of the highlights of the post is the Armed Forces Museum which features more than 16,000 square feet in exhibit space, a theater, gift shop, Medal of Honor tower, a central courtyard, a library and archive and row of monuments dedicated to units that trained at Camp Shelby and Mississippi veterans groups. The museum facilities can readily accommodate groups including veteran’s association reunions. The museum serves as the military history museum for the state and honors the service and sacrifices of Mississippi’s servicemen and women of all branches and those from other parts of the country that trained in Mississippi during times of war. The museum’s state-of-the-art exhibits tell personal stories of the heroes and heroines and serves to educate future generations about the price paid for the freedom and prosperity Americans enjoy today. The museum, which is interactive and immersive, holds more than 17,000 artifacts in its collection ranging from large military vehicles, weapons and equipment to archival materials relating to the history of Mississippi’s veterans and training facilities. “You can listen to the history on some exhibits and read from others, while feeling the sensations, hearing the noise, seeing flashes of ‘gunshot’ and even smelling the war throughout various displays,” said Museum Director Chad Daniels. Exhibits honor 19th Century Conflicts, World War I, World War II, Cold War, Korean War, New World Order and Gulf War. Most of the items housed in the museum are property of the state of Mississippi through the willingness of friends and relatives to honor or memorialize loved ones who have fought in the various battles of our nation through their donations. The museum library has more than 4,500 volumes relating to United States military history. The museum archives contain more than 2,000 historic documents including materials relating to German Prisoner of War Camps in Mississippi. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. It is closed on Sunday and Monday. There is no admission charge. Camp Shelby is located 12 miles south of Hattiesburg on Hwy. 49 South.


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 19

[ Universi t y of Souther n Mississippi ] At The University of Southern Mississippi the college experience is about top-flight educational opportunities where ambitious students, outstanding scholars, world-class researchers and creative artists thrive in an environment of exploration and discovery. For 100 years, The University of Southern Mississippi has been educating students to become successful and productive citizens. Built upon a foundation of perseverance, loyalty and the inspired dreams of its founders, Southern Miss begins its second century emerging as the premier research university of the Gulf South. Across the university, faculty and students are engaged in scholarly pursuits and relevant research which impacts the community and addresses challenges affecting education, the environment, health and security. Southern Miss prepares students for leadership roles in an interdependent global society. Armed with a vision to transform its world in service to the greater good, Southern Miss is preparing graduates to make a difference wherever they are. Centennial Celebration Throughout 2010, The University of Southern Mississippi will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of its legislative founding. In just 100 short years, Southern Miss has grown from a local teaching college into a comprehensive research institution of higher learning that educates thousands of students at multiple locations. With the theme of “A treasured past, A golden future,” the university has organized a number of events during the year commemorating this milestone. From concerts to lectures, a full slate of Centennial events is scheduled throughout the year with a highlight to come on Founder’s Day March 30. For a full schedule and more information, go to the Centennial Web site at www.usm.edu/centennial. Academics The only dual campus university in Mississippi, Southern Miss provides educational opportunities in Hattiesburg,

Long Beach and six teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It is enriched by the diverse perspectives of more than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 70 countries. Southern Miss offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs to students through the Colleges of Arts and Letters, Business, Education and Psychology, Health, and Science and Technology. In addition, the Honors College offers high-achieving students special academic opportunities, regardless of their field of study. Southern Miss also operates study-abroad programs in nearly 20 countries worldwide, and the British Studies program is one of the largest summer programs for Americans in London. International Education at Southern Miss is extending its outreach by forging new partnerships with universities in Panama to support student exchanges and research collaborations in conjunction with the new Center for Logistics, Trade and Transportation. The expansion of the university’s mission of training teachers has not diminished the vision of its founders, as today more than half of all the state’s public schoolteachers hold Southern Miss degrees. In addition, other innovative programs provide education and training in a variety of unique areas.  Sports and High Performance Materials major educates students to create the next generation of sporting equipment.  The Entertainment Industry program prepares students for careers in the production and promotional aspects of the music and entertainment industry.  The Health Care Marketing program, the only one of its kind in the region, trains students for careers in the health care industry. Research Founded simply to train Mississippi’s teachers, Southern Miss has evolved into a comprehensive research university, reaching far beyond the Magnolia state.


Page 20

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Recognized as a Carnegie RU/H: Research University (high research activity), Southern Miss generates annual research funding of more than $90 million that supports a variety of projects from homeland security to aquaculture. Southern Miss has taken a leadership role in safety and security awareness at major sporting events with ongoing work at the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security. The first of its kind nationwide, the center has received more than $7.8 million in funding for security management processes, risk management curriculum, Webbased sports venue training curriculum and evacuation simulation systems. Research and development in marine aquaculture at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory is focused on creating new technology to meet the global demand for seafood. New Campus Developments Three major campus construction projects in Hattiesburg will come online during 2010, impacting students, programs and the community. The Trent Lott Center The university will celebrate the completion of the Trent Lott National Center for Excellence in Economic Development and Entrepreneurship with a dedication ceremony March 5. The Trent Lott Center is home to the Department of Economic and Workforce Development, the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security, the Center for Logistics, Trade and Transportation, and the offices of University Advancement. The 53,000-square-foot building embodies a Greek

Hattiesburg Publishing

Revival style of architecture. This style contains elements of persistence and strength. The glass staircase encapsulated in the rotunda is truly the focal point of this magnificent structure. The Accelerator Slated for opening in March, the Accelerator is the first building to open in The Garden, the university’s innovation and commercialization park, located on Classic Drive, just off U.S. 49 in Hattiesburg. At nearly 60,000 square feet, the building will house early-stage company incubator laboratory and office space, the National Formulation Science Laboratory and the Mississippi Polymer Institute. The building will be the focal point of entrepreneurship for which Southern Miss and Hattiesburg are recognized. In 2009 the city was ranked by Fortune Small Business magazine in the top 10 best places to start a new business, and this building will further increase that capacity. Century Park Residential Community This student housing facility is slated for completion and occupancy by fall 2010. The $40 million development, the largest in the history of the university, will consist of four, four-story buildings surrounding a one-story Learning Center placed within the context of a gated community. Century Park will be an 864-bed, living-learning residential community located on the 1,090-acre main Hattiesburg campus. The project is a continuation of the University's comprehensive master plan with the goal of being a LEED certified residential complex in keeping with the university’s focus on sustainability.


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 21


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 21


Page 22

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[W i l l i a m C a re y Uni v e r s i t y ] William Carey University sees 2010 as the year of “Achieving the Impossible.” As WCU blends faith and learning with living, the future is promising for students on the Hattiesburg, Biloxi and New Orleans campuses. Designated one of “America's Best College Buys,” the ranking honors Carey for its impressive ACT scores and high school grade point averages of incoming freshmen. Both were above the national average, while the cost of tuition was below the national average for private colleges. Other accolades include being named a “Military Friendly School” and being named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which recognized the university for exemplary community service. Reaching out to a global community, WCU has signed an agreement with LinYi Normal University in China to establish teaching and learning exchange programs for educators and students from both countries. Other international travel opportunities include a study program in Spain, travel classes to Biblical lands, and numerous mission trips to Peru, Africa, Canada, and other countries. WCU Carey Scholars, freshmen who meet stringent scholastic criteria, receive 30 hours of tuition per year and a room waiver. Carey also has the highest number of Rotary Scholars in the southeast. The new $14 million 58,559 square feet Tradition Campus opened in August 2009 in Harrison County on Hwy 67. Phase I includes beautiful administrative and classroom buildings which house nursing labs, a student lounge, library, classrooms, and offices. The Tradition Campus was honored with an Associated Builders and Contractors Award for Excellence in Construction. Other recent construction includes the expanded SmithRouse Library which houses the Clarence Dickinson Collection. The collection features music and memorabilia from the “Father of American Church Music,” including a desk purported to have been owned by his cousin, the American poet Emily Dickinson. A new wing to the Joseph and Nancy Fail School of Nursing was dedicated in 2008. The Hattiesburg nursing

school addition features a 104-seat auditorium, and state of the art classrooms, study rooms, offices and conference area. The nursing program maintains an impressive pass rate on the NCLEX-RN examination, which provides licensure for nurses. New College of Osteopathic Medicine (COM) buildings will open in Fall 2010. The inaugural class of 100 will work toward the doctor of osteopathy degree in the nation’s 26th COM. Doctors of osteopathy (D.O.s) focus on a system of diagnosis and treatment that considers the whole person. Training of D.O.s emphasizes primary care areas of family medicine, internal medicine, OBGYN and emergency medicine. The Joe and Virginia Tatum Theatre, scheduled for completion in the summer of 2010, will host the 35th season of Carey Dinner Theatre. The theatre features a catwalk, high ceilings and a serving area for dinner theatre. The nationally recognized theatre produces three major plays and a series of student directed one acts during the academic year and dinner theatre in the summer. Dedicated in 2009, the new Sarah Ellen Gillespie Museum of Art houses the largest collection of artwork by Mississippians in the state. As a vital part of Hattiesburg, the university has committed itself to cleaning up and maintaining the environment. The Green Committee, organized to research ways the institution can conserve energy and help the environment, offers ecofriendly information to students, faculty and staff and organizes recycling drives. Other initiatives include using environmentally safe cleaning products, installing additional trash cans around campus, and monitoring climate thermostats. Carey offers baccalaureate degrees in the areas of arts and letters, education, natural and behavioral sciences, business, religion, music, and nursing. The M.B.A., M.Ed., M.S. in psychology, M. A. in music education, and M.S.N. degrees and a specialist degree in elementary education are also offered. A doctor of osteopathic medicine will be offered in fall 2010.


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 23

[Jones County Junior C o l lege ] The nearly one-hundred year old campus at Jones County Junior College is thriving like never before with more services, classes and students. However, as with every state agency, JCJC will be doing more with less money in the budget. JCJC administrators and faculty have renewed their efforts to better meet the needs of students as more people are looking to community colleges to provide a better future. “The search for jobs or different training and education continues as the economy continues to lag,” said JCJC President, Dr. Jesse Smith. “At Jones, we are providing students with more opportunities to meet their goals and overcome their challenges during this time.” As the college enrollment numbers continue to shatter records, faculty and staff are trying to meet the demands of the more than 5000 students taking classes. Some of the new services and opportunities, as well as new facilities, include the new Student Success Center (SSC). The success center houses the counseling center and is located on the first floor of the Terrell Tisdale Library. The SSC offers specialized services for students including career counseling and workshops to assist students in transitioning to college life. It also provides a place for students to relax between classes. The two-year college enjoyed an enrollment surge of 11 percent with 5,573 in the fall 2009 semester. Spring enrollment figures show 4,974 students registered for traditional

and online classes, which is an 11.4 percent increase from spring 2009. JCJC is a vibrant and growing institution with more students of all ages discovering the endless opportunities offered through traditional and on-line classes. The college enjoys unequaled support from the community, state, region, and generations of proud alumni, who, along with the JCJC Foundation, award more than $265,000 in scholarships annually. For more information about Jones County Junior College, call 601-477-4000 or visit the college's website at www.jcjc.edu

[Pearl Ri v e r C ommunity College] Soaring enrollment and shrinking state funding present challenges as officials at Pearl River Community College continue meeting the educational needs of students at three campuses. Fall 2009 enrollment hit a record 5,137 students, a 13.6 percent increase over fall 2008, and the trend continues with spring 2010 enrollment at 4,800, a 12.7 percent increase over last spring. As more and more students were enrolling at PRCC, the state’s lagging revenues forced Gov. Haley Barbour to order all state agencies to cut budgets. Community college budgets have been cut by 8 percent this fiscal year, a $1.3 million cut at PRCC. "Rising enrollments and diminishing appropriations don’t paint a pretty picture," said Dr. William Lewis, PRCC president. Through careful management of reserve funds and increases in tuition revenue generated by more students, PRCC has not laid off personnel. Officials believe much of the increase in enrollment can be attributed to the poor economy. The Forrest County Center continues to attract so many students that parking is a permanent challenge and classroom space is at a premium. Spring enrollment there is 1,853, up almost 300 from last spring. "In the daytime, we’re utilizing every bit of space we have," said Dr. Cecil Burt, dean of the Forrest County Center.

PRCC’s growth was noted in the Nov. 30 issue of Community College Week, which ranked PRCC’s the 25th fastest-growing institution among 50 colleges of comparable size. Additional developments at PRCC include:  A new athletic field house opens this spring at the south end of Dobie Holden Stadium. The building includes a weight room, coaches’ offices, training room, dressing room and meeting room.  A federal grant of $200,000 will upgrade instructional technology and the required infrastructure to support it. The grant will also fund installation of a portal to give students a single sign-on point.


Page 24

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Presb y te r i a n Ch r ist i a n School] Presbyterian Christian School was established 32 years ago with an initial enrollment of 23 students in grades K2. The primary objective was to build an elementary school in Hattiesburg that would be able to educate children from a distinctively Biblical perspective. Since that time the Lord has continuously blessed PCS, which has a current enrollment of just under 1,000 students in grades pre-K through 12 who are housed on three campuses. However, the mission of the school has remained constant in that PCS strives to provide a “comprehensive college preparatory education distinguished by a Biblical worldview to equip students with the moral integrity, intellectual capacity, and social conscience to impact the world for Christ.� The elementary curriculum features a phonics-based reading program; Saxon mathematics; Christian-based science, social studies, and language arts programs; and Bible. In addition, the elementary offers opportunities in art, music, computer, and physical education, with the upper elementary students also having the opportunity to participate in school-sponsored football and basketball. This curriculum not only produces achievement test scores well above the national average but also prepares our students for the extensive and challenging academic programs on the secondary campus. In addition to the normal college prep courses, the secondary curriculum features a full range of Advanced Placement (AP), dual credit and honors courses, three foreign languages, modern technology and fine arts. The commitment to academic excellence is reflected by a 100 percent college attendance rate over the last three years. PCS students have been accepted to the top colleges and universities including the Air Force Academy, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Belhaven, Brown, Duke, Emory, Florida, Georgia Tech, LSU, Millsaps, Mississippi College, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Rice, Samford, Texas, Tulane, Southern Miss, Vanderbilt, and Wheaton. In the last six years PCS graduates have been offered scholarships and other financial aid of more than $14 million, which is an average of

$49,000 per student. Since 2004, PCS has been blessed 16 National Merit Scholars, 14 finalists, 2 semi-finalists and 2 commended students. The Class of 2009 achieves a composite ACT score of 25.7, with a high score of 34 and 29 percent of the class scoring 29 or better; well above national and state averages. PCS is also committed to providing students with access to an excellent fine arts program that includes art, chorus, and drama. In the last six years the Drama Department has put on top quality performances that include Oklahoma, Grease, The Jungle Book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Wizard of Oz. In addition to an art department which teaches drawing, printmaking, painting, 3-D design and photography, PCS also has a Debate and Forensic Team. PCS also offers a well-rounded, competitive sports program and competes in the Class AAA Division of the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS). Student athletes may participate in football, girls' and boys' soccer, girls' and boys' cross-country, girls' and boys' basketball, girls' fast pitch softball, swimming, baseball, tennis, golf, and track. At the current time numerous PCS alumni participate in athletics from the

Junior College to the Division I-A level. Students also have the opportunity to be involved in numerous student organizations and academic teams. The achievements of our students are a tribute to an outstanding faculty and staff. With enthusiasm, energy, creativity, and individual attention, PCS teachers seek to ignite the spark of curiosity in every student. Equally important, they inspire students to develop a love of God, truth, wisdom, goodness, and beauty. The Lord has blessed PCS with an experienced, highly degreed, and certified faculty. Our faculty has an average of more than 15 years experience with over 50 percent holding advanced degrees (Masters and Doctorates). PCS also holds the highest accreditation rating of the MAIS. the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and The Southern Association of Independent Schools. Undoubtedly PCS offers students a unique opportunity for excellent academics and a wide variety of co-curricula programs. For more information or a personal tour of PCS you may contact Scott Griffith, elementary principal, 601-2683867; Chip Jones, secondary principal, 601-582-4956; or Dr. Allen Smithers, head of school, 601-582-4956.


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 25


Page 26

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 27

[O u r M e d i c a l Communi t y] The Pine Belt is the medical hub of a 17-county area serving nearly half a million people. Healthcare as a whole is the largest employer in the area providing a major economic impact to area businesses and citizens and serving as Your Complete Package for healthy living. Today, the Greater Hattiesburg Area has 464.7 physicians per 100,000 people, while the national average is only 169.7 physicians per 100,000 people as reported by Sperling's Best Places. The healthcare industry employs over 8,200 people generating almost $400 million in labor income and almost $21.6 million in state general fund revenue. Secondary employment contributes an additional 3,800 jobs, $138.8 million in labor income and $7.6 million in state general fund revenue. Economic activity associated with this industry accounts for about 17% of the total Greater Hattiesburg Area economy. Planned construction over the next five years will result

in direct and secondary investments of $375.2 million. This investments will create approximately 5,476 jobs, with a labor income of almost $140 million and general fund revenue of $7.7 million. Local Physicians, along with area colleges and universities, who graduated 336 RN's and granted 43 graduate degrees in nursing in 2006, and many other medical professionals, provide support for our healthcare industry. The human capital found within the healthcare sector ensures that our 835 hospital beds and 136 healthcare entities, representing nearly 200 locations, provide quality care. The Greater Hattiesburg Area is home to two state-ofthe-art hospitals, Forrest General Hospital (www.forrestgeneral.com) and Wesley Medical Center (www.wesley.com), and the largest multi-specialty clinic, Hattiesburg Clinic (www.hattiesburgclinic.com), with approximately 230 specialty physicians representing every field of medicine.


Page 28

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[ Wes l ey Medi c a l C enter ] It's one thing to say, “We're the best..” but when you can back it up with data collected from, and rated by, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) it's just that much sweeter. Wesley Medical Center achieved top status for providing the recommended care known to get the best results in four areas: heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and prevention of surgical infection. While the hospital is excited about its statistical accomplishments and its standing as a leader in the state, what really makes their staff proud is the outstanding care they offer the people of the Pine Belt every day. The medical professionals at Wesley Medical Center know you have a choice when it comes to your healthcare, which is why they work tirelessly everyday to provide their patients with the utmost in quality care and compassion. At Wesley, a commitment to excellence in advanced technology, cutting edge medical services, compassionate nursing care, a beautiful campus environment, countless wellness opportunities and health education is the standard. In addition to acute and intensive care services, Wesley Medical Center offers diagnostic cardiac catheterization, 24hour emergency services, pediatric and neonatal intensive care, the Institute for Wellness and Sports Medicine, rehabilitation services, the Hip and Knee Surgery Center, Work Well (occupational health services), 24-bed sub-acute Transitional Care Unit, obstetrics, general surgery, ear, nose and throat surgery, endoscopic surgery, lithotripsy, gynecological surgery, Women's Services, The Birth Center, Urological Services, Forever Young Senior Services, Home Health Services, neurosurgery, gastroenterology services, radiology, outpatient surgery and VA Clinic. Excellent Work Environment Wesley Medical Center is at the top of its class for employee experiences. The hospital has recently been recognized with an Excellence through Insight award for Overall Employee Satisfaction & Engagement in the Large Hospital Category as ranked by HealthStream Research. The nearly 1,300 employees of Wesley Medical Center employee satisfaction scores exceeded their parent company's averages as well as national averages in all categories. The employee satisfaction survey, administered in March of 2009 by Healthstream Research, asked 23 questions, which evaluated several key areas related to employees work environment, pay and benefits, supervision, hiring and promotion practices, leadership and quality. Survey results showed that Wesley Medical Center employees were more satisfied than the national norm. Based on a four-point scale with four being the most favorable score and one being the least, Wesley rated 3.47 in overall employee satisfaction, well above the the 3.11 national average. “We were so pleased with this year's survey results,” said Wesley Medical Center CEO Ron Seal. “Our employees' job satisfaction is key to the success of our hospital. If we have

employees who like what they do, enjoy coming to work and are proud of the organization for which they work, that pays off in a positive way for the patients they serve.” Cutting Edge Medical Services Weight loss surgery can change your life. At Wesley's Bariatric and Weight Loss Center, the staff is ready to help patients gain life through medically supervised weight loss surgery. With experience in most major surgical procedures, the bariatric team can help you gain confidence and knowledge as you discover a whole new you. Duncan Donald, M.D.; Wes Girod, M.D. and Lee Turner, M.D.; are all Wesley surgeons trained in the Lap Band procedure. These surgeons are backed by a team of healthcare professionals ready to assist patients in the process of weight loss. The team includes nurses, dietitians and exercise physiologists who can help develop a program for life changes, which will make the process of weight loss easier and more manageable. For more information about Wesley's weight loss information sessions call 601-2962090 or visit www.wesley.com. Wellness and Health Education Wesley Medical Center offers a unique wellness aspect to the Pinebelt community. The Institute for Wellness and Sports Medicine (IWSM), located on the Wesley campus, is full-service fitness facility offering fitness classes, cardio equipment, weight training, full-court basketball, racquetball, swimming, biking, nutrition assistance and dance classes. IWSM is connected to the hospital so that patients can eas-


Page 28

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[ Wes l ey Medi c a l C enter ] It's one thing to say, “We're the best..” but when you can back it up with data collected from, and rated by, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) it's just that much sweeter. Wesley Medical Center achieved top status for providing the recommended care known to get the best results in four areas: heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and prevention of surgical infection. While the hospital is excited about its statistical accomplishments and its standing as a leader in the state, what really makes their staff proud is the outstanding care they offer the people of the Pine Belt every day. The medical professionals at Wesley Medical Center know you have a choice when it comes to your healthcare, which is why they work tirelessly everyday to provide their patients with the utmost in quality care and compassion. At Wesley, a commitment to excellence in advanced technology, cutting edge medical services, compassionate nursing care, a beautiful campus environment, countless wellness opportunities and health education is the standard. In addition to acute and intensive care services, Wesley Medical Center offers diagnostic cardiac catheterization, 24hour emergency services, pediatric and neonatal intensive care, the Institute for Wellness and Sports Medicine, rehabilitation services, the Hip and Knee Surgery Center, Work Well (occupational health services), 24-bed sub-acute Transitional Care Unit, obstetrics, general surgery, ear, nose and throat surgery, endoscopic surgery, lithotripsy, gynecological surgery, Women's Services, The Birth Center, Urological Services, Forever Young Senior Services, Home Health Services, neurosurgery, gastroenterology services, radiology, outpatient surgery and VA Clinic. Excellent Work Environment Wesley Medical Center is at the top of its class for employee experiences. The hospital has recently been recognized with an Excellence through Insight award for Overall Employee Satisfaction & Engagement in the Large Hospital Category as ranked by HealthStream Research. The nearly 1,300 employees of Wesley Medical Center employee satisfaction scores exceeded their parent company's averages as well as national averages in all categories. The employee satisfaction survey, administered in March of 2009 by Healthstream Research, asked 23 questions, which evaluated several key areas related to employees work environment, pay and benefits, supervision, hiring and promotion practices, leadership and quality. Survey results showed that Wesley Medical Center employees were more satisfied than the national norm. Based on a four-point scale with four being the most favorable score and one being the least, Wesley rated 3.47 in overall employee satisfaction, well above the the 3.11 national average. “We were so pleased with this year's survey results,” said Wesley Medical Center CEO Ron Seal. “Our employees' job satisfaction is key to the success of our hospital. If we have

employees who like what they do, enjoy coming to work and are proud of the organization for which they work, that pays off in a positive way for the patients they serve.” Cutting Edge Medical Services Weight loss surgery can change your life. At Wesley's Bariatric and Weight Loss Center, the staff is ready to help patients gain life through medically supervised weight loss surgery. With experience in most major surgical procedures, the bariatric team can help you gain confidence and knowledge as you discover a whole new you. Duncan Donald, M.D.; Wes Girod, M.D. and Lee Turner, M.D.; are all Wesley surgeons trained in the Lap Band procedure. These surgeons are backed by a team of healthcare professionals ready to assist patients in the process of weight loss. The team includes nurses, dietitians and exercise physiologists who can help develop a program for life changes, which will make the process of weight loss easier and more manageable. For more information about Wesley's weight loss information sessions call 601-2962090 or visit www.wesley.com. Wellness and Health Education Wesley Medical Center offers a unique wellness aspect to the Pinebelt community. The Institute for Wellness and Sports Medicine (IWSM), located on the Wesley campus, is full-service fitness facility offering fitness classes, cardio equipment, weight training, full-court basketball, racquetball, swimming, biking, nutrition assistance and dance classes. IWSM is connected to the hospital so that patients can eas-


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

ily transition to their daily workouts or rehabilitation sessions. IWSM is open to the public and has several membership options. Wesley also reaches out to the community through health education, health screenings and health fairs. For a tour of the facility call 601-268-5010. Wesley's health educators teach CPR training, babysitting courses and birthing classes along with providing screenings such as blood pressure, bone density and stress levels. For more information on available classes or upcoming health fairs, call 601-268-5056. Campus Environment At Wesley Medical Center we recognize that a typical hospital environment can give patients and their families great apprehension, which is why we are always working on upgrades and services to make their time in our hospital and on our campus very pleasant. We have completed the last phase of room renovations throughout the hospital, which focused on improved aesthetics and comfort for patients and their families. The boutique atmosphere provides easy access to medical offices, a walking track, dining options, test and treatment areas, and comfortable waiting areas. Looking Toward the Future Wesley Medical Center is already planning for the future by anticipating the growing needs of Hattiesburg and the surrounding areas. The hospital is planning for a 100-bed addition, which will allow for expanded services while maintaining its quality of care for patients and their families. As one of the fastest-growing regional medical facilities in Mississippi with more than 300 physicians on staff, Wesley offers state-of-the-art technologies, dedicated employees and specialized services while always employing its mission of Loving God, Serving Others, Excelling in Healthcare.

Page 29


Page 30

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Hattiesburg Clinic] In 1963, Hattiesburg Clinic was founded by ten physicians who were passionate about providing quality health care to the residents of the Pine Belt. Since then, the clinic has grown to be the largest multi-specialty clinic in Mississippi and one of the largest in the Southeastern portion of the United States. Today the clinic's nearly 220 physicians and 2,000 staff members provide family medicine, pediatric and specialty services in 46 locations throughout Covington, Forrest, George, Jasper, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Marion, Lamar, Pearl River, Perry, Simpson, Stone, Walthall and Wayne counties. In late 2008, Hattiesburg Clinic broke ground on a twostory, 20,000 square foot imaging expansion, which is slated to be completed in March 2010. The expansion is expected to improve imaging efficiency and provide a more comfortable experience for patients. The Breast Center at Hattiesburg Clinic has been designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology, a recognition that is awarded to facilities accredited in mammography, breast ultrasound and stereotactic biopsy. In addition, The Breast Center was the first facility in Mississippi to be considered a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, and is currently one of three in the state with this designation. The Breast Center offers digital mammography, breast ultrasounds, bone density testing, breast MRI,

ultrasound and MRI guided breast biopsies, stereotactic biopsies and houses Mississippi's only accredited dedicated Breast MRI equipment. Hattiesburg Clinic's cardiology services have recently been expanded to serve residents in Richton and Waynesboro. Clinic cardiologists are available to see patients at Perry County Hospital in Richton and Wayne General Hospital in Waynesboro. In addition to those locations, Hattiesburg Clinic cardiologists are available to treat patients in Collins, Hattiesburg, Laurel, Magee, Picayune, Seminary and Wiggins. For more information about a location near you, call 601-268-5800.

[SE Mississippi Rural Health Initiative] Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. was organized for the purpose of improving the health status of the residents of a predominantly rural area of southeast Mississippi. A rural healthcare delivery system was established to help alleviate the lack of healthcare resources in the Pine Belt area. The organization began delivering primary care services in 1980 at its first clinic in Sumrall. Later that year, a second clinic was opened in New Augusta, followed by a third clinic the next year in Seminary. In 1994, SeMRHI received approval for a major expansion of services to Hattiesburg. Services began in 1995 and new clinic sites were added in 1997 and 1998 in the Brooklyn and Lumberton. The Hattiesburg Community Dental Center opened for business in 2000. A permanent facility became a reality in 2007 when SeMRHI announced the opening of a cuttingedge facility. The enhanced commitment to women’s health services began in 1997 with the assumption of full perinatal services. The Women’s Health Center opened in 2000. Hattiesburg Family Health Center/Downtown was opened during the summer of 2001. The center services the PACE Head Start Program and the general public. Beaumont Family Health Center was opened in 2002. In 2003, SeMRHI began negotiations with the Hattiesburg Public Schools to implement a healthcare program geared toward well-student assessments. In 2004, the Hattiesburg Public School and Community Clinic was opened. In late 2004, SeMRHI was able to implement the same programs with the Forrest County and Perry County school

systems. The Pharmacy Assistance Center opened an in-house 340b pharmacy in 2004. The Hattiesburg High School and Community Clinic opened in 2005 on the campus at Hattiesburg High. The assistance of USDA and local financial institutions has proven to be a great asset for SeMRHI, making possible the construction of permanent buildings for Brooklyn and New Augusta Family Health Centers. SeMRHI was also able to construct permanent, up-to-date, state-of-the-art facilities for Seminary in 2005 and Sumrall in 2006. In 2007, SeMRHI was awarded $600,000 to add staff, renovation and additional space to the Hattiesburg Family Health Center. A Minor Care Clinic opened in 2007 in an effort to accommodate patients needing primary care services. SeMRHI now boasts 14 community health centers that serve the Pine Belt area and the surrounding communities, providing access to much-needed healthcare. An additional 19 part-time school clinics are also listed in SeMRHI’s scope of services. Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, Inc. has provided healthcare services to more than 40,000 individuals in the past few years. Sixty-four percent of SeMRHI patients are made up by the female patient population. More than 100,000 health visits have been recorded during each of the past few years for the patient population served by SeMRHI. Full prenatal care is being provided to more than 500 women annually.


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 31

[ For rest Gene r a l Hospi t a l ] Forrest General understands that a patient's experience begins from the moment they know they are coming to the campus. Forrest General has embraced a philosophy and commitment to C.A.R.E., by every employee, for every patient, every time. The “We C.A.R.E.” philosophy is designed to create positive patient experiences, equipping each employee to focus on C.A.R.E.ing moments in their daily work. Forrest General and its staff is committed to putting each of these concepts into action every day, in order to continue providing the best possible care for patients and their families and foster the sense of loyalty that exists between Forrest General and the communities it has served for decades. In response to this commitment to C.A.R.E., Forrest General has also developed new Vision and Mission statements that embody the concepts found within the “We C.A.R.E.” philosophy. This commitment to creating positive patient experiences through C.A.R.E.ing is the very heartbeat of the character and culture of Forrest General. We C.A.R.E. stands for: C: Communicate with Compassion and Courtesy A: Acknowledge and take Action R: Respect and Reassure the patient E: Empathize and Explain what is taking place Forrest General is a 512-bed facility providing regional health services to a 17-county area. Generations of Pine

Belt residents have counted on Forrest General, and today's generations continue to rely on the comprehensive care offered through the hospital's constantly expanding range of health care services. Forrest General provides excellence in healthcare through a wide range of services including:  Emergency and Trauma Services  Heart and Vascular Services  Surgical Services  Family Birthplace & Women and Children's Services  Forrest General's Spirit of Women  Pine Grove Behavioral Health  Neuroscience and Orthopedic Services For more information about Forrest General, call FGH OnCall at 1-800-844-4445 between the hours of 2 - 10 p.m., 7 days a week, or visit forrestgeneral.com.


Page 32

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[ Things to Do in the Pine Belt] Pine Belt residents enjoy a program of arts events that one might expect only in much larger cities. A cultural, artistic and diverse palette of talent can be found throughout the Pine Belt, from the sounds of a university symphony to the simple brushstrokes of area artists. The University of Southern Mississippi:  The University Forum series brings expert speakers on a variety of topics important to life in the U.S.  The School of Music has a year-round calendar of events that includes symphony, choral and band concerts, opera productions and solo and small ensemble recitals. Well-know guest artists are frequently featured.  The Theatre and Dance Department presents theater productions and dance concerts throughout the year.  The Art Department showcases local and travel exhibitions in the art gallery on campus throughout the year.  The university is the proud home of the oldest symphony orchestra in the state. The group has performed with such notables as Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Denyce Graves, Placido Domingo, Dionne Warwick, Patti LaBelle and Patti Austin. The 70-member group has members rep-

resenting more than 13 countries who present an average eight public performances each season. William Carey University:  The School of Music has a year-round program of vocal and instrumental concerts by guest artists, faculty and students.  The Carey Dinner Theater delights audiences of all ages with a full season of theatre productions augmented in the summer by a professional dinner theatre troupe.  Art exhibits by Lucile Parker and other well-known artists are shown in the Lucile Parker Art Gallery on campus. Hattiesburg Civic Light Opera (HCLO) presents three musical Broadwaystyle theatre productions throughout the year. Founded as a volunteer community performing group, HCLO was instrumental in helping restore the Saenger Theater. Just Over the Rainbow Theater (JORT) delights audiences with dinner theater produc-


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

tions. In 2010 the group is celebrating its 26th year entertaining Hattiesburg audiences. JORT is community theater at its best, with intimate settings and diversity. Proceeds from its children’s production, presented each summer, benefit the Abbie Rogers Civitan Camp. For more information call 601-583-7778. Hattiesburg Concert Band Now in its 26th year, the City of Hattiesburg Concert Band offers four free concerts throughout the season. This professional arts organization is under the direction of Dr. Sherman Hong and performs throughout the year at the Saenger Theater. The group provides an outlet for individuals beyond their high school and college band experiences. Performances are free to the public. Call 601-729-2020 for more information. South Mississippi Art Association The Asssociation has two major exhibits each year and presents workshops by well-known artists. The SMAA was established in 1964 by a group of Hattiesburg area artists who had a passion and a dream to further develop their talents and to display art to the public in order to increase awareness of the benefits of art and beauty around us. They host annual juried art shows and participate in festivals and Art Walks in Downtown Hattiesburg. Their artists donate work for silent auctions for many non-profit agencies. They are currently helping to raise funds to help restore artwork from William Carey University’s Sarah Gillespie Gallery on the Gulf Coast which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. For more information, write P.O. Box 15713, Hattiesburg, MS 39404 or visit www.southmsart.org. Hattiesburg Arts Council The Hattiesburg Arts Council (HAC) maintains a gallery featuring works of Mississippi artists in the Hattiesburg Cultural Center, 723 Main St. This gallery features a permanent collection of works by noted Mississippi artists including Walter Anderson, Marshall Bouldin, Bill Dunlap, Marie Hull, Ed McGowin, Theora Hamlett, George Thurmond, Amy Giust and others. The HAC Gallery presents periodic special exhibits. Open 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday - Friday. For more information call 601-583-6005. Hattiesburg Train Depot A $10 million renovation of the Hattiesburg train depot – a project that has spanned three mayoral administrations – was completed in recent years. The 2007 ribbon-cutting and gala marked the depot as a true transportation anchor for downtown Hattiesburg. Among the highlights of the restoration project were the renovation of a grand hall that has a capacity of 400-500 people. The hall can be rented for weddings, large meetings and other major events. A community room, which is open during regular work hours, will also serve as a museum for the city's train history. The offices of the Hub City Transit, Metropolitan Planning Office staff and the Transportation Division of Urban Development also will be located at the depot. The renovation project includes 924 feet of outdoor

Page 33

canopy space, which covers passengers getting on and off the train and can also be used for outside gatherings. The central portion of the canopy, covering about 600 feet, is basically wood and clay tile, which also is used for the depot roof. On each side, there is an additional roughly 150 feet of metal canopy. A fountain takes the place of the traditional goldfish pond, which served as a popular meeting place in the 1940s. "I don't know when the pond was built, but it was there during the war years," Pat Smith, secretary of the Newman-Buschman Railroad Historic Neighborhood Association, said. "I read somewhere that it was filled in in 1949." The neighborhood association formed nearly a decade ago and has been active in raising money to help restore the goldfish pond, which was about 15 feet across and had a large stone obelisk in the middle that shot water into the air. "From the time it started, our plan was to have the goldfish pond, but we were told the fountain was already in the plans," Smith said of the renovation project. With the resurgence of downtown development, Mayor Johnny DuPree has said that he hopes the renovated depot will serve as a meeting place for public functions and as an "intermodal transportation facility," where buses, limousines, taxis and trains may one day be centralized through the depot. The rail junction literally served as the town's hub when Hattiesburg was incorporated in 1884 and the city limits were established at one mile in all directions except for the eastern border at the Leaf River. For information about the depot and reserving space for events, call the city at 601-545-4501 or 601-545-4593.


Page 34

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 35


Page 36

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[ Downtown Hattiesburg ] Hattiesburg was founded in 1884 by Capt. William Hardy as a railroad junction in the great virgin, yellow-pine forests of South Mississippi. The railroad brought the lumber companies and a booming economy. While "trains and timber" defined the early days, by the turn of the century, Hattiesburg had emerged as a bustling and vibrant "Hub City" for the entire region. The city quickly became a center of business and industry, educational and medical institutions with two universities, hospitals and clinics, army training base, and a variety of retail, work and industrial opportunities. Hattiesburg is the county seat of Forrest County, and Downtown is the center for city, county and federal government facilities. The Downtown of today also is a center for arts, culture and heritage, anchored by a restored Saenger Theater for performances and Hattiesburg Cultural Center with an art gallery and historic museum. The historic Hattiesburg Depot, renovated as the Hattiesburg Intermodal Center for transportation, includes space for public functions in its classic Grand Hall. Downtown today is the place for unique retail and for dining and live music, plus periodic events celebrating arts, culture and entertainment. Housing choices are increasing with new and historic lofts and traditional apartments as well as single-family residences in adjacent historic districts. Downtown is a place of high-style architecture reflecting the City's past in its landmark buildings. Today, however,

Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association is facilitating economic development in this unique district while preserving its heritage. Downtown is where you can explore the past, see the present and help mold the future of Mississippi's Hub City. Downtown continues to be a hot nightspot for clubs and restaurants. The downtown restaurant association initiated weekend street closings and has added a fun Pub Crawl the second Friday night each month. Live entertainment continues to attract crowds after dark. The downtown experience Visitors will find a treasure of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences, plus unique residential choices and choices for worship. Add to the mix government, professional services and parks and recreation. Housed in preserved architectural treasures and in new buildings are retail shops, office, studios, restaurants, galleries, cafes, a spa, salons and coffee shops. Downtown offers a blend of casual and fine dining, fine art and Mississippi crafts, antiques, live entertainment and theatrical productions, special gifts, an independent bookstore and natural foods store and cafĂŠ. Unique residential opportunities-some in upper floors of renovated buildings, others in new ones- add to the downtown mix. Special events enliven downtown in addition to gallery walks and street festivals, other organizations present theatrical and music productions.


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 37


Page 38

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Our Librar ies] Library of Hattiesburg, Petal & Forrest County 329 Hardy Street Hattiesburg 601-582-4461 Mon.-Thurs., 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Fri., Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The library is home to a circular 167-foot mural called “The Spirit That Builds,” which was painted by internationally-renowned artist and Hattiesburg resident William Baggett.

Petal Library 714 South Main Street Petal 601-584-7610 Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat., 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Purvis Public Library 122 Shelby Speights Drive Purvis 601-794-6291 Mon., Tues., Wed., Fri.- 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Thurs.-9 a.m.-7 p.m. Closed Sat. and Sun. Donna Fite, manager

Lumberton Public Library 106 Main Street Lumberton Phone/Fax: 601-796-4227 Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Closed Sat. and Sun. Melinda Carli, manager

Oak Grove Public 4958 Old. Hwy. 11 Oak Grove 601-296-1620, 601-296-1704 Mon., Wed., Fri.– 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tues., Thurs.–10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sat.–9 a.m.-Noon Michael DeVries, manager

Sumrall Public Library/L.R. Boyer Memorial 103 Poplar Street Sumrall 601-758-4711 Mon., Wed., F ri.–8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tues., Thurs.– 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Closed Sat and Sun Bridgette Broom, manager

USM Cook Library

Main Library at USM USM-McCain Library, Archives Genealogical Library 601-266-4345 Mon.-Thurs., 7:30 am.-12 a.m. Fri., 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat., 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun., 10 a.m.-12 a.m.

Dumas L. Smith/I.E. Rouse Library William Carey University 498 Tuscan Ave., Hattiesburg 601-318-6169 Mon.-Thurs., 7:30 a.m. -10 p.m. Fri., 7:30 a.m.-5 .p.m. Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun., 1:30 p.m.-5 p.m .

DeGrummond Children’s Library University of Southern Miss campus Hattiesburg Home to more than 65,000 children’s books Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Terrell Tisdale Library Jones County Junior College Campus Ellisville 601-477-4055 Mon.-Thurs., 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri., 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Garvin H. Johnston Library Pearl River Community College P.O. Box 5660, 101 Hwy. 11 North Poplarville 601-403-1332 Mon.-Thurs., 7:45 a..-9 p.m. Fri., 7:45 a.m.-3 p.m.


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

[Hattiesburg Zoo] The Hattiesburg Zoo is nestled in Kamper Park amongst a grove of oak and pine trees. The 40-acre park has landscaped walking trails, grassy picnic areas, playgrounds (including Adam's Place, a handicap accessible playground) and a 12-acre zoological garden. A stroll down the promenade will take one to face-to-face encounters with prairie dogs, and the African Veldt features monkeys, zebras, ostriches, servals and antelope. The South American exhibit houses tapir, llamas, capybara, macaws, howler monkeys and a jaguar, and the Tiger Overlook affords a bird'seye view of the largest cat on earth. Additionally, the Tiger Boardwalk leads to an up-close view of American alligators. While the Hattiesburg Zoo already has a wide variety of wildlife with which to attract visitors, a new exciting addition of three zoo family members. Three African servals have joined the zoo just in time to spend the holidays in Hattiesburg. Servals are mediumsized African cats with long legs for jumping and small heads with large eyes and ears. Their coats are yellow-brown with black spots and stripes. Among the most swift and agile of cats, servals can jump up to ten feet in the air. They are active and athletic animals that are beautiful to see and entertaining to watch. Kids of all ages enjoy riding the carousel or taking a peaceful train ride around the zoo, both for the low price of $1.25 per ride. If you find the weather a bit warm, stop by the concession stand and cool off with an Icee, slush or soft drink. Crackers, popcorn, chips, candy and other snacks can also be purchased at the concession stand. The Hattiesburg Zoo also features a gift shop that is stocked full with souvenirs, toys, stuffed animals, music and T-shirts. Admission is $2 for adults (13 to 61 years of age), $1 for senior citizens (62 years of age and up) and $1 for children (4 to 12 years of age). Children under the age of three and Hattiesburg Zoological Society members get in free. Zoo grounds and exhibits are open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The carousel, train, gift shop and concession stand are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The zoo is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. For more information or to inquire about rentals and group reservations, call 601- 545-4576.

Page 39


Page 40

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Lake Terrace Convention Center] Since its opening in 1998, the Lake Terrace Convention Center has been recognized as Mississippi’s Premier Meeting Facility. It has consistently topped not only other convention centers in the state in number of events held, but also significantly out-performs like centers in similar markets elsewhere in the Southeastern United States. Over the past 12 years, more than one million people have attended conventions, consumer shows, performances and special events, all contributing new dollars into the local economy and enjoying the wealth of hospitality that Hattiesburg offers. These one million new friends have spent nearly $100 million new dollars in the local economy, sampling that special place we call home. "The success of the Convention Center shows that Hattiesburg must continue to grow,” said Andy Stetelman, chair of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission. “The success also shows that we need to build all public projects with a view to the future. These new dollars added to the Hattiesburg economy for the past eight years would not have been possible without the professional staff and the Convention Center’s many customers.” A wide range of events serving all segments of our state and community are held at the center. Some highlight events include the Mississippi Early Intervention Conference, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Convention, Mississippi Health Information Association Convention and the Mississippi Turfgrass Association Convention. Also, this year ConventionSouth Magazine named Anita Wright, the deputy director of the Convention Center, as one of their “Meeting Professionals to Watch” in 2007. Wright was nominated because she “goes above and beyond to help clients with their individualized needs that make a successful event,” according to the magazine. During her years at Lake Terrace, Wright has helped streamline the logistics of event coordination and food service, helping to create a unique experience for each client.

"Hattiesburg and the Lake Terrace Convention Center are fortunate to have someone of her energy, professionalism and creativity,” said Rick Taylor, executive director of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission. As the center moves into its thirteenth year of operation, the outlook is bright. For more information about the Lake Terrace Convention Center or other Hattiesburg Convention Commission facilities, please call 601-268-3220. Hattiesburg Visitors Center Located at the intersection of I-59 and Hwy 49 on the same campus as the Lake Terrace Convention Center, the Hattiesburg Visitors Center welcomes our visiting friends! Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., professional and friendly Tourism Ambassadors are ready to assist with directions, lodging needs and itinerary suggestions. Also, visitors will find that the Hattiesburg Visitors Center houses a one-ofa-kind Logo Shop featuring affordable specialty products relevant to the unique culture of South Mississippi. Traveler conveniences:  Friendly Tourism Ambassadors  Refreshingly clean restrooms  Free official Visitors Guide  Free Mississippi highway maps  Free gourmet coffee  Hattiesburg postcards  Local art  Picnic area  Dog walking area  Free RV dump station The Hattiesburg Visitors Center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.Monday – Saturday Online:visithattie.com Phone: 601-866-4Hattie or 601-296-7475


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

[Multipurpose Centers] Forrest County Multipurpose Center The old saying, "time flies when you're having fun," rings true for the J. L. Cartlidge Forrest County Multipurpose Center (FCMPC). This year, the event center celebrates its tenth anniversary. In the 11 short years the facility has been in operation, it has proven to be one of the best entertainment and recreational facilities in the Southeast. The 160-acre complex is responsible for bringing a significant amount of new faces and new dollars to Hattiesburg, Forrest County and the surrounding Pine Belt area. Since the FCMPC opened in 1999, the facility has hosted more than 2,000 events and has seen more than 1.5 million visitors walk through its gates. The facility has also added a 147-site RV Park and now boasts a total of 11 buildings. The FCMPC truly does have something for everyone. From horse and livestock shows to gun shows, carnivals and fairs, the entire family can enjoy an event at the center. One of the biggest events at the Forrest County center is the annual MayFest, which draws an average of 12,000 people to the complex. Live music concerts, mixed martial arts, an outdoor rock band contest with thousands in cash and prizes, rides, games and various fundraising efforts are some of the attractions scheduled for the annual celebration. Lamar County Multipurpose Center From horse shows and monster truck exhibitions to a variety of festivals and other events, the state-of-the-art Lamar County Fairgrounds and Multipurpose center serves as a center for family fun in Lamar County. For equine and livestock events, there is a building with 100 hose stalls and another designed for a variety of purposes, including livestock shows. The facility is also one of the area's largest sites equipped for recreational-vehicle activities, and includes a washroom and houses laundry services, along with a concession area and conference room. A few of this year's highlights include: March – Tractor Pull, March 14; SMEA Horse Show, March 27-28 April – Four-Wheeler Mud Bog for Relay for Life, April 3-4; Lions Club Car Show, April 11; Easter Egg Hunt sponsored by Lamar County Board of Supervisors, April 11; High School Rodeo, April 17-18; SMEA Horse Show, April 24-25 May – NBHA Barrel Show, May 1; Turners and Burners, May 2; All Breed Horse Show, May 9; SMEA Horse Show, May 22-23; NBHA Barrel Show, May 30 June – All Breed Horse Show, June 13; NBHA Barrel Show, June 19-20; Monster Trucks, June 26-27 July – Fireworks, July 4; NBHA Barrel Show, July 11; SMEA Horse Show, July 17-18; Bluegrass Festival, July 24-25; Fourth Annual Lamar County Fair, July 30-Aug. 1 August – County Fair continues, Aug. 1; Lamar County ATV Mud Bog Benefitting Lamar County Volunteer Fire Department, Aug. 7-8; NBHA Barrel Show, Aug. 14-15; SMEA Horse Show, Aug. 21-22; NBHA Barrel Show, Aug. 28-29 September – Tractor and Engine Show, Sept. 11-12; All Breed Horse Show, Sept. 19; SMEA Horse Show, Sept. 25-26 October – Garden Seminar, Oct. 2; SMEA Meeting, Oct. 9; All Breed Horse Show, Oct. 10; High School Rodeo, Oct. 23-24

For more information about the fair or other events, call 601-543-9590.

Page 41


Page 42

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Playing in the Pine Belt] Several opportunities await the outdoors enthusiast in the Pine Belt – from waterparks to canoeing expeditions to hiking trails and more.  Pep’s Point is a spring-fed lake facility and includes a waterslide, swimming and picnic areas and waterfront camping sites. Miniature golf, basketball, volleyball courts, paddleboats, a game room with video games, ping pong and pool tables are just a few of the things you might enjoy. 382 Pep’s Point Road, Hattiesburg, 601-582-8461.  Grand Paradise Waterpark in Collins, is a 7-acre blast of water excitement. An 850-foot lazy river winds along and there are four major slides. Food court. 50 Grandview Drive in Collins. Grand Paradise is located approx. 30 minutes north of Hattiesburg and 60 min. south of Jackson, on Hwy. 49 at the intersection of Hwy 84. Grand Paradise is located behind the Best Western Collins Inns & Suites For the RV’er, sites and tent sites, laundry facilities, a fishing point, propane and pool pavilion welcome those who like to travel the open roads at the Shady Cove RV Park. Many of the opportunities below also offer sites for campers.

 Longleaf Trace – A rails-to-trails conservancy project spanning three counties with 42 miles of paved trailway for biking, walking, outdoor photography, bird watching and many other outdoor recreational activities. A 23-mile equestrian trail parallels the paved trail. Hattiesburg to Prentiss, 800- 638-6877, www.longleaftrace.com  Paul B. Johnson State Park – This 744-acre park provides fishing and water sports in the 296-acre spring-fed Geiger Lake, a visitors' center with game room, 16 cabin units, 108 RV sites, 25 tent sites, and a self-guided nature trail. 319 Geiger Lake Road, Hattiesburg, MS 39401, 601582-7721  Soggy Bottom Canoe & Kayak – Located in the Black Creek Wilderness Area of the Desoto National Forest, Soggy Bottom offers canoe and kayak rentals, cabins, RV sites, camping, hiking, and river trips. 1651 Hwy 29, Brooklyn, 601-598-2745, www.soggybottomcanoe. com  South Mississippi Canoe Rental – The Floating Canoe Rental offers a variety of trips on the Leaf River, Bowie River and Red Creek. There is something to suit the experienced, as well as novice paddlers. Day trips or overnight trips are available and all are within 50 miles of


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg, 23 Old Hwy 49 West, Brooklyn 39425, 601544-4207, www.southmscanoe.com  Black Creek Canoe Rental – Designated a National Wild and Scenic River, adventure lovers can enjoy hiking and day and overnight canoe trips on the Black Creek, Off Highway 49 Brooklyn, 601-582-8817 , www.blackcreekcanoe.com  Okatoma Outdoor Post – Okatoma Outdoor Post offers canoe and kayak rentals for day and overnight trips on Mississippi's only Class 1 whitewater river. If you love the outdoors, don't miss the primitive camping and cabins offered along the Okatoma, off Highway 49, Sanford, 601722-4297 or 888-Okatoma, www.okatoma.com  Seminary Canoe Rental – Day and overnight canoe trips along Mississippi's only whitewater river are available at this popular spot, also offering a Trading Post and picnic areas. Hwy 49 North Seminary, 601-722-4301  Little Black Creek Water Park, Pat Harrison Waterway District Waterparks. This water park offers 600 acres for swimming, fishing, hiking and boating. Scenic campsites, cabins, bungalows, a convenience store and picnic areas are available to make the most of your trip to Little Black Creek. Located between Purvis and Lumberton, 601-794-2957, www.waterparkin.com  Flint Creek Water Park, Pat Harrison Waterway District Waterparks. This waterpark features four giant waterslides, as well as 600 additional acres for fishing, swimming, water skiing, hiking and boating. Primitive camping, RV camping and cabins are also available. Highway 29, Wiggins, 601-928-3051, www.waterparkin.com

Page 43

 Kamper Park – Home of the Hattiesburg Zoo, David Anthony Tennis Complex, Exchange Club baseball fields and a walking and exercise area, this park features a covered pavilion, playgrounds and picnic areas. Open dawn to dusk. Free admission. Corner of Hardy Street and 17th Ave, 601-545-4576.


Page 46

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Area Golf Courses] Year-round golf is one of the reasons retirees move south. Low fees and available tee times are the norm at the area golf courses Other top-rated courses are located within 30 miles of Hattiesburg in Laurel, Wiggins, Collins, Prentiss, and Columbia. Hattiesburg Country Club ......................18 holes Private course - For more info, call(602) 264-5078 Timberton Golf Club ..............................27 holes Semi-Private - For more info, call (601) 584-4653 Twin Pines County Club ..........................9 holes Semi-Private - For more info, call (601) 544-8318 Dixie Golf Club ...................................... 18 holes Private - For more info, call (601) 649-3384 Canebrake Golf Club ..............................18 holes Semi-Private - For more info, call (601) 271-2010

Hillsdale Golf Course ............................18 holes Public course - For more info, call (601) 796-9005 Pine Belt National Golf Club ................18 holes Semi-Private- For more info, call (601) 584-6531 Pine Burr Country Club ..........................18 holes Public course - For more info, call (601) 928-4911 Pine Creek Golf Club ..............................18 holes Public course - For more info, call (601) 794-6427 Shadow Ridge Golf Club ........................18 holes Semi-Private - For more info, call (601) 296-0286 Tennis is also a favorite sport of area citizens. Matches and tournaments are held year-round on over 50 public/private tennis courts around the Pine Belt.


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 47


Page 48

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Retirement in the Pine Belt] The Greater Hattiesburg Area has distinguished itself as a retirement destination for those looking for a place to retire. Hattiesburg has been designated a “Certified Retirement Community” by Hometown Mississippi Retirement, a statesponsored program designed to recruit retirees to the State. This program has identified the best cities and towns in Mississippi that have the necessary amenities and services retirees are looking for in a place to call home. Hattiesburg was the first city to be certified (1995) and has recruited more than a thousand retiree households to the area since inception of the program in 1993. Retirement living should be a colorful palette of things to see and do every day. Greater Hattiesburg, Mississippi offers you the perfect blend of climate, convenience and affordability with a rainbow of opportunities for year-round recreation, continuing education and community involvement. Nationally recognized for high quality of life with low cost of living, Hattiesburg, Mississippi is your "Dream Community." According to “Where To Retire” magazine, Hattiesburg is one of the 100 Best Retirement Towns in America . Magazine editors traveled across the country visiting chambers of commerce, residential neighborhoods, commercial districts, colleges and universities. They assessed the availability of medical care, recreational offerings, continuing education, airports, shopping and dining, and cultural and social organizations – all top priorities for today’s active, involved retirees. The editors also gathered data on taxes, climate, housing and costs of living. Most importantly, they talked to retirees who had relocated from out of state and could give honest, insightful comments about their new hometowns. Hattiesburg is listed among well-known retirement destinations such as Boca Raton, Florida; Scottsdale, Arizona and Asheville, North Carolina. To date, the Area Development Partnership (ADP) has identified more than 1,000 new retiree households to locate here since the ADP's Retirement Program began in 1993. In “America's 100 Best Places to Retire”, Hattiesburg is named in the Top 10 Best Budget Towns . The 5th edition of Retirement Places Rated ranked Hattiesburg 143 out of the top 187 of 20,000 towns in America. In Where to Retire: America's Best and Most Affordable Places , Hattiesburg has been ranked among the top 150 communities in the country desirable for retirement living. In June of 1997, Hattiesburg's retirement program was featured on NBC's Nightly News. And the May 24, 1997, edition of The New York Times featured Hattiesburg as a place to retire touting the high quality of life, cultural opportunities, and state-of-the-art medical facilities. Hattiesburg also landed two listings in the 1997 Places Rated Almanac by David Savegeau and Richard Boyer and was one of five cities listed as "Best Cities for Retirement" as well as "Best Small Metro Areas." Hattiesburg's retirement program was featured in the November 22, 1996, issue of the "Kiplinger Washington Letter" and was named one of the 20 Top Retirement Towns

in North America by MoneyExtra , a publication of Money Magazine . Even retirement destinations such as St. Petersburg, Florida are sitting up and taking notice. An article published by The St. Petersburg Times in April 1999 discusses the success of Hattiesburg's Retirement Development Program. Since that time, Hattiesburg has appeared in National Mature Market Magazine articles as a great place to retire. Serving as the educational, retail and medical center for more than a quarter of a million people throughout southeast Mississippi, it is easy to see why more and more retirees are deciding to call Hattiesburg home.


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 49


Page 50

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Made in the Pine Belt] Shoppers looking for unique gifts that are available at a single convenient location have to go no farther than the Hattiesburg Visitors Center next to the Hattiesburg Convention Center. “Our primary mission is to greet visitors to the Hattiesburg area,” Kristie Fairley, visitors center manager, said. “As an added bonus, we have some products that people may be interested in” for sale at the gift shop, she said. “Our mission with the gift shop is to give visitors a taste of what they can find in our community,” Fairley said. “If they see some things in the gift shop, maybe they’ll decide to shop in Hattiesburg. It’s a great way to showcase what’s available in our area.” Available exclusively at the gift shop are a variety of gifts bearing the official Hattiesburg logo, including such items as coffee and travel mugs, T-shirts, caps, pocket knives and key chains. Garden tote bags with garden tools and hats bearing the “Hattie” theme, unveiled in 2003, also are available, as are mugs with the logo in the shape of flowerpots. Hattiesburg also is well represented at the gift shop by

Robert St. John’s recipe books and cayenne garlic hot sauce. Hard-to-find copies of Oseola McCarty’s book also can be found. Christmas ornaments in the shape of historic downtown buildings are available, as well as a Hattiesburg coloring book, complete with crayons, by local cartoonist Rickey Nobile. Unique gifts from area businesses are available at the gift shop, Fairley said. Anyone who finds something of interest can then be directed to local stores that carry larger and more diverse inventories, she added. One example, she said, are hand-made wood carvings by Moselle resident Roland Pimm. A Gallery in Hattiesburg has a more extensive line of Pimm’s wood carvings available. Ceramic gift items made by students at Ellisville State School are available at the gift shop, with proceeds going back to the school’s art program. Magnolia-themed ceramics are available year-round. Ellisville also is represented at the gift shop by Candle CONTINUED, Page 52


Page 52

Creations by Melinda, which sells scented candles in various shapes and sizes, and SoapMasters, which manufactures homemade soaps in shapes ranging from magnolias to the state of Mississippi and Christmas-themed items. A wide variety of food items also is available. Flathau’s Fine Foods is the creation of Heather and Jess Flathau of Petal. The company’s products, which are sold nationwide, are still made in Petal. One of the gift shops most popular items is ‘snaps’ in such flavors as peppermint, key lime, butterscotch and raspberry. Robicheaux’s Specialty Candy Inc. in Poplarville also is sold nationwide. One of the popular items at the gift shop is a candy topped with a representation of the state of Mississippi made of white chocolate. The gift shop also carries Robicheaux’s peppermint candy. The gift shop has gift baskets and bags available, and does complimentary gift wrapping of items purchased there. Tourism ambassadors are available at the gift shop from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday with information about restaurants, hotels and other interesting things to see and do

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 53


Page 54

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Stoneworks Studio] You may have never heard of Stoneworks Studio in downtown Hattiesburg. If so, owner Erik Eaves would not be surprised. Chances are good, however, that you have seen examples of his work around town. Despite the fact that he did the limestone engraving on the massive electronic sign for Southern Miss at the intersection of Hardy Street and Hwy. 49, and has created a variety of stone markers for subdivisions and private residences and routinely creates works of art that are greedily snatched up by collectors, Eaves remains elusive. There is a running theme with Eaves and his work. One feels a seemingly discordant sensibility fuming off of his speech and mannerisms. He is young, but has a weathered baby face. His glasses hang thoughtlessly from his nose and his head is crowned by a wild burst of curly brown hair. As he speaks, he often looks away, and at times he seems to be daydreaming, but his words are carefully chosen and his wit is sharp. He has a habit of interrupting you to say something shockingly direct if he feels like the audience needs edification. Although he is a man who, quite literally, deals in the stone cold reality, he seems intangible and aloof. Perhaps this is why he chose the art of sculpting and engraving as a way of coalescing his nebulous persona into something solid, immovable and fixed. Eaves came to Hattiesburg from Jackson to study at Southern Miss. He soon dropped out and quit his job doing engraving for a tombstone company to start his business. Ten years later, he not only owns a successful studio, but also a well-known bar next door called The Thirsty Hippo and a few apartments nearby. When he began both the studio and the bar, downtown Hattiesburg consisted primarily of medical and legal offices having been all but abandoned by private businessmen. Somehow, The Thirsty Hippo changed all that. As the years went by, and the Hippo became a regular hangout for Hattiesburg’s neo-beat poet subculture, the attitude of the area seemed to be infected by that of Eaves and his community of friends. A new, non-corporate, laid-back, intelligent vibe seemed to fuel new restaurants, a bookstore and a series of art galleries. In 2006, the momentum has built for rapid change to take place around the section of town Eaves calls home. An

attractive upscale restaurant has appeared close by, the old Coca-Cola building is becoming an elaborate two-story venue and the once deserted train depot a few blocks behind him is receiving a $10 million renovation. Eaves is reluctant to take credit for all this. “Obviously, there was nothing down here when I opened The Thirsty Hippo, and people told me I would fail,” he said. “I just wanted a place to hang out that was simple with a low overhead. That’s the way I like it.” Eaves admits that this is a business, and he is a businessman – a savvy one too. He doesn’t fear the new businesses sprouting around him; he welcomes them. He’s just happy that they aren’t franchises, but even if they were he might just welcome that as well. “I’ve sunk my whole life into downtown. I’m a believer in it,” he laughed. “I’m the only republican, sculptor, liberal, bar-owning golfer you will ever meet.” Eaves is right. Everything he touches defies any attempt at pigeonholing into a known category. Without having to say anything, one can tell that he avoids cliché’s and all things prefabricated. Such would be the death of his character and livelihood. The fact that the two are so intertwined probably contributes to his success. Then again, much of his success comes from the fact that he does impressive, quality work. Stone-works doesn’t advertise, has no website and no parking spaces. “People find out about us through word of mouth,” Eaves said. “We’ve been here 10 years and have done a lot of furniture, commercial signage and sculptures.” In fact, he is now branching out into a new venture with his two sculpting partners. Dubbed Mumbling Brothers, it will focus on high-end sculpted art. Their first project was a 7-foot-tall bronze gargoyle for a collector’s fountain. Soon, he will begin work on a four- foot tall bronze bullfrog for a museum. Inside his studio on 113 Newman Street, a spacious dusty, well-used area with machinery and piles of raw material, Eaves pointed out a small bronze statue that his 7-yearold daughter had recently sculpted. A shiny metal character from “Monsters, Inc.” smiled back at him as he considered his business. “It’s exactly where it needs to be right now. I’m steadily 10 weeks behind.”


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Page 55


Page 56

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[Bonner Analytical] nside Bonner Analytical, a testing laboratory along Oak Grove Road, there are young men and women scuttling from room to room, checking equipment and giving reports while strange mad-scientist contraptions bubble and hum in every corner. People sit at computers that display charts and number sequences surrounded by devices that look as if they belong in the background of a science fiction movie. Amidst all the rushing and concentration one occasionally finds an artifact of geeky pride like a Johnny Bravo magnet on a refrigerator full of samples. The atmosphere is busy, professional and surprisingly casual, much like Mike Bonner himself. You might think that after almost 25 years of pursuing the American dream that Mike Bonner would seem a bit frazzled. He founded one of the largest and most complex testing facilities in the country out of an 8x10-foot trailer in his own backyard, collecting samples and doing all the lab work and paperwork on his own. Now, his company does rigorous testing for the EPA and employs more than 30 people, including top scientists in chemistry and biology. Yet, somehow, Bonner has a disarming, breezy attitude about his success. “It’s a challenge to do contract work for a government agency,” said Bonner. “The margins are very slim. You have to do a lot of testing, and you have to do it right.” Bonner is the kind of man who likes to challenge the people he talks to in subtle games of wit. Every statement he makes and story he tells has a lightly hidden element of humor that he reveals by punctuating with a wry grin that often breaks into a full-on snicker. You don’t have to catch on to the joke hanging in the air, because Bonner will move the conversation along anyway. The smile and the caprice seem to keep him focused by preventing him from worrying about the little things. At 56 years old he still has a youthful face hiding behind a well-manicured white beard, and his somewhat careless hair and bright, whimsical eyes give off the impression that he might have been an early member of the Bee Gees. If it wasn’t for all the chemicals and testing equipment, he probably would go barefoot as he moved from room to room checking on the progress of his employees. His office is littered with artifacts and keepsakes ranging from spare guitar parts, from his time working with Peavey, to a device for collecting soil samples stored in a display case as if it were a priceless porcelain doll. Behind a mountain of paperwork is a bookshelf overstuffed with books on chemistry and guidelines for research. Occasionally something odd juts out like a coffeemaker he once used in court to describe to a jury how filtration worked, and for some inexplicable reason, above the strange rocks and tennis paraphernalia there sits a bright, red and gold full-sized crown fit for a king. He never expected to have a nice office in a vast laboratory. In fact, he enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1966 with aspirations to be a dentist. After having difficulty in an organic chemistry class taught by Shelby Thames, he had to ask Thames to be readmitted to the school. “He asked me if I was going to study this time,” said Bonner. “I told him, ‘Oh yeah,’ and later on I became the second person to graduate from the polymer science program.”

I

After graduating from Southern Miss in 1977 he turned down a nice-paying job with GE to teach at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville. He taught general and organic chemistry there for five years. “That may be the true highlight of my career right there,” he said. “You don’t make a lot of money, but if you can have positive impact on a person’s life. Well, you can’t measure that.” He soon left teaching to work for a commercial lab, but soon quit. In 1981 he approached his pregnant wife with $30,000 in the bank and no job. “I remember the conversation,” he laughed. “She stood there in all her pregnant glory, and I told her I was going to start a lab. She told me that I was 33 years old, she was pregnant, and we had a house to pay for.” “I told her that Colonel Sanders was 67 when he started making chicken, and when I’m 67 I might just try my hand at making chicken too, but for right now I’m going to start a lab.” So, Bonner Analytical was born and began testing water samples out of a makeup trailer. Bonner’s brother had bought the trailer from a film unit that had been shooting a Muhammed Ali movie in Natchez and didn’t want to take the trailer home with them. It didn’t take long to run out of money. “The funny thing is, I had just taken the last $600 out of our account, and that month the lab made $600. We wouldn’t have survived another three months.” Bonner Analytical soon moved into a larger trailer, then a house, and eventually into a refurbished restaurant that nearly burned to the ground soon after he moved in around 1992. Currently the lab recently completed a new expansion. “My plan was to do the very best testing I could do,” Bonner recalled. “When we would get to 70-80 hours of work a week, we would realize that we needed to hire people. When we added a biological lab we needed to hire biologists.” “I never sat down and said that I wanted to be a $1 million dollar lab by this time, or a $2 million by this time. I’ve


Hattiesburg Publishing

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

always just worked hard to provide quality data, and the result was that we grew.” Bonner said his current roster of employees was the best group of talented people that he had the pleasure to work with, and his two sons are primed to carry the torch of his success. His two boys, one 33 and the other 23, both work at the lab. Currently, Bonner Analytical tests water, soil and organisms such as fish for contaminants. They handle contracts for the EPA and for industries that produce wastewater runoff that needs to be tested regularly for environmental safety. The lab had to expand after picking up several EPA contracts because the EPA requires that their testing facilities have specific equipment, equipment that Bonner said was expensive, but worth it. The first contract with the EPA that the lab won was competed for by 31 laboratories. Only two labs were accepted, and one of those labs was unable to complete the contract. WIth that, Bonner Analytical entered a new phase of growth. Bonner said that his company is graded by the EPA every month, and has always been rated at 100 percent. “This isn’t because of me; it’s because I surround myself with good people,” he said. “I tell people who I interview that if they didn’t walk through my door with integrity, then please turn around and walk out. I’ll never ask anyone to cheat. Most people appreciate that.” Bonner said that he once asked someone in an interview if they would ever lie about when a sample was taken in order to meet a deadline. The potential employee said that

Page 57

he would do whatever Bonner told him to do. Bonner sent him out the door. “The key to our success is quality work with integrity, beyond that we are putting black marks on white paper,” said Bonner, then he leaned in and cocked a smirky eyebrow. “Quality black marks.”


Page 60

Best of The Pine Belt 2010

Hattiesburg Publishing

[ Advertiser’s Index] A Gallery ......................................Page 34 Abundant Life ..............................Page 47 Area Development Partnership ......Page 3 After Hours Clinic ........................Page 49 Angelles ..................................Inside Front Bancorp South ............................Page 37 Bellevue Florist ............................Page 13 Belmont Apartments ....................Page 13 Bridal Corner @ Walnut Square....Page 35 Care PT ...................................... Page 26 Carterville Baptist Church ............Page 49 Cheryl Cranford ReMax ..........Back Cover Citizens Bank ..............................Page 55 CMB Financial Services................Page 34 Columbia Block and Brick..............Page 3 Community Bank ........................Page 41 Covington Ridge ..........................Page 26 Downtown Hattiesburg ................Page 34 Duane Roanes ............................Page 25 Economy Supply..........................Page 35 Exit Realty....................................Page 20 Farm Depot..................................Page 20 First Baptist Church of Purvis ......Page 57 First Southern Bank ....................Page 25 Forrest General Hospital ..............Page 43 Grill and Grocery ..........................Page 34 Hattiesburg Clinic ..........................Page 4 Hattiesburg G.I.............................Page 53 Hattiesburg Public Schools ..........Page 53 Hubfest ........................................Page 51

Jones County Junior College ......Page 49 Krispy Kreme ................................Page 3 Lamar Christian School................Page 55 Lamar County Economic Dev.......Page 31 Lamar Co. Board of Supervisors..Page 33 Magnolia Bank ..............................Page 4 Main Street Books ......................Page 34 McKenzie’s on Main ....................Page 35 Mike Keith Water Flow ................Page 37 Mike’s Tire & Wheel......................Page 39 Moore Funeral Home ..................Page 55 Movie Star Restaurant..................Page 13 Pearl River Community College....Page 25 Presbyterian Christian School ......Page 21 Rayners Catfish............................Page 25 Sacks ..........................................Page 35 Sacred Heart ..............................Page 26 Saenger Theatre ..........................Page 35 seMRHI........................................Page 37 Southbound Bagel ......................Page 35 Southern Windows & Doors ........Page 55 State Farm - Todd Schwebel ......Page 15 The Doll House ............................Page 34 The Lamar Times ........................Page 58 Thomas Tax ............................Inside Back Vasley’s ........................................Page 47 Walnut Grill ..................................Page 35 Wesley Medical Center ..................Page 7 William Carey University ..............Page 57 Window World ..............................Page 4


2010 Best of the Pine Belt  

Our annual guide to all things Pine Belt - our communities, our schools, our businesses, and more...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you