FOR MEMBERS OF COAHOMA ELECTRIC POWER ASSOCIATION
THE ALLURE OF A
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Logo & Address
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outdoors today picture this my opinion grin ‘n’ bare it
Welcome to 2021 We made it! Can you believe it? The year 2020 seemed to go on and on because of the unique challenges we faced — the COVID-19 pandemic, an active hurricane and storm season and an especially bitter and divisive political election. But today we can say that was then and this is now. You are holding the first 2021 issue of Today in Mississippi right now and we couldn’t be happier. The magazine is also our first full January issue of the publication’s run. Before, we produced a combined January/February issue. Beginning this year, our members will receive 12 separate issues annually. That makes us happy as well because it’s our pride and joy to bring you stories and photos each month that give you a look at the people and places that make Mississippi special. We also want to make sure you stay on top of news and announcements about your electric cooperative — and Today in Mississippi is the statewide publication that features that important information. Our first issue of the year is the one we always dub our “Legislative Issue.” When you look at your local pages this month, you will see the names, photos and contact information of the Mississippi lawmakers and your elected officials in Washington D.C., who represent you. Our outstanding government relations team stays in close contact with them while they monitor state and national legislation that affects the electric power industry.
This month, for our cover story, we visited with Elee Reeves, the first lady of Mississippi. It’s been one year since Elee Reeves and Gov. Tate Reeves moved into the Governor’s Mansion in Jackson. During our interview, Elee discusses her family, her full-time job, her service to her home state and what Mississippi residents have taught her about compassion and kindness. We also spoke to a Mississippi man who has made history at Harvard University about his ties not only to Mississippi but to one of our state’s electric cooperatives — Pearl River Valley EPA. Finally, we recently conducted and concluded a reader survey where you told us what you like about Today in Mississippi and what we need to improve on. Thank you for your time and feedback. We take it seriously because we want to make sure our publication is one of your favorite monthly reads. The feedback is not limited to that survey either. Feel free to reach out to editor Steven Ward anytime with your story ideas, questions or thoughts. Email him at email@example.com. Thanks again for being part of Mississippi’s electric cooperative community and we wish everyone a great 2021!
by Michael Callahan Executive Vice President/CEO Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi
Mississippi is... “Let’s go.” Thunder and Trixie dart over the doorstep. The balmy heat of summer fades. Mornings turn crisp with a gentle breeze. Coolness covers your skin with an energizing tingle. Low, the sun is smiling, relaxed with less effort of blazing the day away. The early shine of summer’s harshness now muted. I love the fall! Woodland birds caw and shriek, diving and fluttering amongst the tall pines. They swoop and challenge the labyrinth through the timber in chase of another, barnstorming with skill. Not far off, a faint and slow tap. The noise of a woodpecker whose heart isn’t into searching for a bug for breakfast. My dogs and I sit for a while, enjoying nature’s wonders before I hear a scratching sound. “It’s a bunny!” The dogs go nuts. A gray and white-tailed rabbit takes spirited hops across the lawn towards the woods. Trixie and Thunder, held back behind our fenced patio, bellow, roar and grunt till the forest’s undergrowth swallows the bunny’s tush. They grow hungry and stare at me with black glossy eyes, their hanging tongues drawing deep breaths. Trixie tilts her head, holding my notice while Thunder labors up to the house door and hits it with his paw. “Ok.” I yield to their pleasure. “Let’s go in and eat.”
Our easy-to-use mobile app provides information on Mississippi’s state and federal elected officials. Look for “Mississippi Legislative Roster” in the Apple App Store. An Android version is also available through Google Play.
by Jonney Scoggin, a resident of Taylorsville and a member of Southern Pine Electric
What’s Mississippi to you? What do you treasure most about life in our state? Send your brief thoughts to Today in Mississippi, firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158
JANUARY 2021 | TODAY 3
in this issue
5 southern gardening Cool season colors of pansies
8 scene around the ‘sip A look at special people and places around Mississippi
outdoors today A gentleman’s pursuit: Quail hunting
14 local news 18 feature
A visit with Mississippi’s first lady, Elee Reeves
The Official Publication of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi
Vol. 74 No. 1
OFFICERS Kevin Bonds - President Eddie Howard - First Vice President Randy Carroll - Second Vice President Ron Barnes - Secretary/Treasurer Michael Callahan - Executive Vice President/CEO EDITORIAL STAFF Ron Stewart - Senior VP, Communications Steven Ward - Editor Chad Calcote - Creative Director/ Manager Elissa Fulton - Communications Specialist Rickey McMillan - Graphic Designer Kevin Wood - Graphic Designer Chris Alexander - Administrative Assistant EDITORIAL OFFICE & ADVERTISING 601-605-8600
Acceptance of advertising by Today in Mississippi does not imply endorsement of the advertised product or services by the publisher or Mississippi’s electric power associations. Product satisfaction and delivery responsibility lie solely with the advertiser. • National advertising representative: American MainStreet Publications, 800-626-1181
Circulation of this issue: 473,099
24 on the menu
Puffy pot pies and soup
27 mississippi seen
Non-member subscription price: $9.50 per year. Today in Mississippi (ISSN 1052-2433) is published 12 times a year by Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi Inc., P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300, or 665 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, MS 39157. Phone 601-605-8600. Periodical postage paid at Ridgeland, MS, and additional office. The publisher (and/or its agent) reserves the right to refuse or edit all advertising. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. (See DMM 507.1.5.2) NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: send address corrections to: Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300
Hopes for 2021
On the cover Elee Reeves, Mississippi’s first lady, at the Governor’s Mansion. Photo by Chad Calcote.
FELINEFriends Share photos of you and your cat or just your cat.
Photos must be high-resolution JPG files of at least 1 MB in size. Each entry must be accompanied by photographer’s name, address and co-op. Also, the cat’s name. Attach digital photos to email and send to email@example.com Deadline: March 5. Select photos will appear in the April 2021 issue.
4 TODAY | JANUARY 2021
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pansies are great cool-season colors
Flowers with dark blotches such as these are thought of as a more traditional pansy, but pure color selections called clear are available in the Matrix series.
violet and smooth, pale-yellow shades While visiting a garden center are very much reminiscent of their actual upstate, I was reminded that if you wine and cheese namesakes. This mix is haven’t done so already, now is the hard to find, and when I do find it, I buy, time to get your pansies planted for buy, buy. great cool-season color. Delta pansies have freely branching Stop in your favorite garden center growth characteristics and will get now to find all kinds of colorful pansies 8 inches tall and wide. Delta pansies ready for their new home landscapes. produce more flowers, and they bloom Pansies are among my go-to annuals, much earlier than other pansies. As with and there are some great selections the Matrix pansies, Delta pansies have available in the market. huge flowers that are held above the My all-time favorite pansies belong Delta pansies such as these Fire selections produce more flowers foliage by strong stems that allow the to the Matrix and Delta series. and bloom much earlier than other pansies. petals to flutter in a light breeze. I think Matrix pansies are some of Be sure to maintain a consistent soil moisture, and feed your the toughest annual, cool-season color plants, which should be planted in everyone’s garden and landscape. For several years, the pansies with a water-soluble fertilizer, even during the winter months. Pansies are a great choice for winter flowering as the Matrix group of pansies has been a great choice for gardeners in plants can freeze solid and thaw with little damage. In response to Mississippi. the cold, the leaves will be tinged purple. Matrix offers a huge range of colors and styles. Flowers with When the plants freeze, the flowers are nipped back, but once dark blotches are thought of as a more traditional pansy. For pure it gets a little warmer, the flowering gets revved up again. color, though, there are blotchless selections that are called clear. Matrix and Delta pansies will give you nonstop color to get A nice feature of the clear flowers is that the throat of each has a you through the winter. The short, sturdy stems resist stretching, small, yellow eye. which means the plants will look good long after the days begin Matrix pansies are also available in color-coordinated mixes warming up in the spring. instead of the traditional random color mixes. Buy your Matrix and Delta pansies now so you get the best Matrix pansies have freely branching growth habits and will selection. In no time at all, your flower beds and containers will be reach about 8 inches tall and wide. When massed together as pansying and ready for months to come, and they will continue pansies were meant to be planted, they create an impressive, looking good into spring. colorful landscape carpet. Matrix pansies flower earlier, and the huge flowers are held above the foliage by strong stems. This structure allows the petals to flutter in the slightest breeze. Delta is another group of pansies that will be a sure thing in by Dr. Gary your landscape. Bachman A favorite of mine has been Delta Beaconsfield, which features brilliant yellow flowers with blotches that range in warm colors Gary Bachman, Ph.D., Extension/Research Professor of Horticulture at from burgundy to rusty red and orange. the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in My newest must-have is Delta Wine and Cheese. I love the clear Biloxi. He is also host of “Southern Gardening” radio and TV programs. flower colors that have no dark blotches. The mix of primrose, red, He lives in Ocean Springs and is a Singing River Electric member. 6 TODAY | JANUARY 2021
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JANUARY 2021 | TODAY 7
scene around the ‘sip
HARVARD HISTORY AND HIS CO-OP PROUD by Steven Ward Mississippian Noah Harris recently made history when he became the first Black man elected by students to the office of student body president of Harvard University. After the news broke, Noah was fielding interview requests from CNN, MSNBC, Good Morning America and USA Today. Not just a product of Mississippi, Harris, 20, grew up in and around the electric cooperative family of his home state. Harris’ father, Anthony Harris, is the district manager of the Hattiesburg office of the Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association. Anthony, 52, has worked at the co-op for 27 years. “I’ve spent my entire life at Pearl River Valley,” Noah said recently in a phone call from his apartment in Boston. “The thing about electric cooperatives is, it’s a big family. Growing up around a co-op taught me about service to others. Having an impact on people, even when it’s not convenient,” Noah said. Noah said he remembers when there were big outages due to weather disasters, how he was expected to go out and help neighbors with the cleanup and aftermath. “It (co-ops) definitely played a large role in who I am and what I want to do,” Noah said. Noah’s father said his son is a leader who wants to come back to Mississippi to make a difference in his home state. “Noah knows Mississippi is a great state and he loves it. He’s passionate about it,” Anthony said. Noah is a junior at Harvard studying political science, a major known as Government at the Ivy League institution. Before he was elected student body president in November, Noah cochaired the Undergraduate Council’s Black Caucus and served as the body’s treasurer. 8 TODAY | JANUARY 2021
Noah and his vice president, Jenny Gan of Cleveland, Ohio, were elected Nov. 12 and were sworn in Dec. 6. Noah’s road to Harvard was paved with hard work, determination and a strong desire to succeed. Noah graduated from Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg in 2018 where he played baseball and basketball, played violin and piano, and served as an Eagle Scout. “I remember Noah getting home from an out of town baseball game at 1 a.m. and then breaking out his calculus homework he had to do,” Anthony said. Noah also served as an intern for Mississippi U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and authored and published a children’s book, “Successville” about setting and reaching goals. Noah said he wants to become an attorney so he can help people who need it most. The historic nature of his election is not lost on Noah. “I realize this is a big deal and I know and appreciate what it means. But I believe we were elected because of our platform, our vision and our campaign,” Noah said. Anthony said he, Noah’s mother Frankie and Noah’s 14year-old sister, Peyton Ashley are all very proud of Noah. “Noah is a humble young man. He has the right attitude,” Anthony said. Part of that attitude comes from the electric co-op. “Growing up, he was always at the office with me. Also, Noah knows that Pearl River Valley is committed to family. Family comes first,” Anthony said. “Pearl River Valley allowed me to be flexible for my family. I could help coach Noah when he was young.” Anthony said, with Noah, “the sky is the limit.” “He is such a blessing.”
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mississippi seen events
on the menu
scene around the â€˜s co-op involvement
mississippi marketplace u outdoors today d the ‘sip picture this my opinion ement
grin ‘n’ bare it
when needed and maintain kennels filled with eager and While an assortment of hunting seasons are now open, perfected dogs. All the hunter must do is show up and enjoy the coming of a new year brings notice that these will the day. gradually fade into the past, closing until things start up Preserves come in various forms. There are some with again next fall. Turkey season is a clear exception; it is a exquisite lodges, housing and meals. These are most grand. spring affair. But the fall/winter offerings will dwindle with Easily worth the cost of admission, but expensive. And there the first two months of 2021. That said, there is little need are those that offer a basic hunt, maybe to fret. There are yet some good days a lunch thrown in. Most often a half-day ahead. And some of those good days enterprise. And these latter are likely in can be built around a truly grand bird, easy driving distance of any spot across the Bobwhite quail. the state. Costs are certainly reasonable. Some hunters will shake their heads Four preserves that I visit each year at the mention of quail, for these require no more than two hours of drivmost special of game birds and the ing, some half that. And while these are makings of a very fine country supper not the only ones, I know these and have are in short supply. It is no secret that no hesitation recommending them. They quail across the Southeast have fallen are the following: Bouie Creek Quail Farm on hard times. This tragic trend began and Preserve, Magee; 601-849-4415, 601to evidence itself at the beginning 506-1790. Dancing Rabbit Quail Preserve, of the 20th century and seemed to DeKalb; 662-803-0614. Full Flight Quail have reached super-sonic speeds of Preserve, Collins; fullflighthuntingpreserve. decline in the 1960s. Much theorizing com. And Trout Valley Quail Preserve, has gone into why this happened, but Ballet in the quail fields. There is nothing more striking than a skilled bird dog on point. Charleston; troutvalleyquail.com. habitat changes must surely rise to So as hunting seasons end, don’t neglect a trip to a quail the top. The countryside is not what it once was. preserve. Doing so will allow you to experience a gentleThere are areas that have adequate and expansive blocks of habitat, and these spots still have quail. But for the most man’s outdoor pursuit. In memory of Travis Lindsey. part, that lonesome and haunting whistle seldom if ever is heard. Hopes are still high that research and management will rectify the loss, but this remains to be seen. Still, the idea of a quail hunt is not destined to a faint by Tony Kinton dream. Such activity is available on preserves, and several are scattered about the state. I have long been a proponent Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in of the preserve and employ such services regularly. The folks Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit www.tonykinton.com for more information. operating these are congenial and have modes of transport
JANUARY 2021 | TODAY 11
P.O. BOX 188 • 340 HOPSON STREET • LYON, MS 38645 662-624-8321 • FAX 662-624-8327 • www.coahomaepa.com • firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Robert L. Jackson
District 11: Coahoma, Panola, Quitman and Tunica counties Address: P.O. Box 383 Marks, MS 38646
Sen. Derrick T. Simmons
District 12: Bolivar, Coahoma and Washington counties Address: P.O. Box 1854 Greenville, MS 38702
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Rep. Cedric Burnett
District 9: Coahoma, Quitman, Tate and Tunica counties Address: P.O. Box 961 Tunica, MS 38676
Rep. Dan Eubanks
District 25: DeSoto County Address: P.O. Box 184 Walls, MS 38680
Rep. Orlando W. Paden District 26: Bolivar and Coahoma counties Address: P.O. Box 1626 Clarksdale, MS 38614
Notice to Members
Statement of Nondiscrimination
Coahoma Electric Power Association’s
Coahoma Electric Power Association is an equal opportunity provider and employer. If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call (866)632-9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, by fax (202) 690-7442 or email at email@example.com.
Annual Meeting of Members Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021, at 10 a.m. Coahoma Electric’s Training Center, Lyon, MS. 12 TODAY | JANUARY 2021
It’s easy to know your elected officials A free, interactive legislative app for Mississippi
ONLINE VERSION AVAILABLE AT
The Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi offers free versions of the 2021 Mississippi Legislative Roster app. We hope they will be helpful in your involvement with state government. Our easy-to-use mobile app provides information on Mississippi’s state and federal elected officials. Look for “Mississippi Legislative Roster” in the Apple App Store. An Android version is also available through Google play.
IMPORTANT NOTICE to our agricultural account holders
ROGER WICKER United States Senator
TRENT KELLY First District
CINDY HYDE-SMITH United States Senator
BENNIE G. THOMPSON Second District
Coahoma Electric Power Association needs to receive a Utility Exemption Affidavit from all agricultural account holders. The Affidavit ensures that all accounts that are agricultural in nature are being taxed at the appropriate rate. The Mississippi Department of Revenue requires an Affidavit to be filed and maintained at the electric cooperative to verify compliance. The forms can be found in the web page of the Revenue Department at www.dor.ms.gov or at the Association’s office at 340 Hopson Street, Lyon, MS.
Should anyone have a question, all calls can be directed to our Customer Service Representatives at 662-624-8321. JANUARY 2021 | TODAY 13
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Here are five easy ways to stay cozy this winter: by Abby Berry Baby, it’s cold outside! When you’re feeling chilly at home, there are several budget-friendly ways you can keep comfortable without turning up the thermostat.
1. Whether you’re experiencing extremely cold winter temps or you simply “run cold,” an electric blanket can deliver quick warmth like a regular throw or blanket cannot. Electric blankets can include a variety of features, like timers and dual temperature settings (if your cuddle buddy prefers less heat). This winter, consider an electric blanket instead of turning up the heat, and your energy bill will thank you. 2. One of the easiest ways to stay cozy at home is to keep your feet warm. Our feet play a critical role in regulating body temperature, so when your feet are warm, your body automatically feels warmer. Try a pair of comfortable wool socks or house slippers to stay toasty. 3. On winter days when the sun is shining, take advantage and harness natural warmth from sunlight. Open all curtains, drapes and blinds in your home to let the sunshine in — you’ll be able to feel the difference.
Adding humidity inside your home can make the air feel a little warmer.
4. Another way to make your home cozier is to use a humidifier. Cold air doesn’t hold water vapor like warm air, so by adding humidity inside your home, you can feel a little warmer. A favorable level of humidity inside your home can also help clear sinuses, soften skin and improve sleep. 5. Beyond adding visual appeal to your home, area rugs can also provide extra insulation and a warm surface for your feet on cold winter days. Use large area rugs in rooms where you spend the most time. You’ll enjoy the new colors and textures of the rug, and the additional warmth will help keep your home comfortable.
Electric blankets deliver quick warmth and include a variety of features like timers and dual temperature settings.
14 TODAY | JANUARY 2021
These are just a few ways you can stay cozy this winter without turning up the thermostat. Don’t forget the hot chocolate! Abby Berry writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives.
TREES by Susan Collins-Smith Tradition, aroma and appearance are not the only good reasons to choose real Christmas trees. They also support local economies and are sustainable. When the season is over, real trees can be recycled in several ways. “Someone spent a lot of time and resources growing the tree, and recycling is a good way to reuse the tree that benefits people and the environment.,” said John Kushla, professor and forestry specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. “Not everyone will have a way to recycle their tree, but it’s a great choice if you can.”
Kushla said there are three common ways to recycle trees: • Buy a live Christmas tree. Live trees are grown in a pot. It can be transplanted into the landscape once the holiday season is over. Most real trees are adaptable to dry sites with good drainage and full sunlight. • Use municipal recycling services. Some large cities collect trees and shred them into mulch. To find out if a city offers curb-side pick-up or drop-off, call its public works department. • Sink the tree in a pond or lake to provide habitat for fish. Keep in mind tree species commonly used as Christmas trees decompose quickly. Wes Neal, Extension fisheries specialist, said hardwood species are better suited for fish habitat because they decompose more slowly. “I generally recommend using other types of trees for fish habitat, but Christmas trees will work for a short time,” he said. “Some folks use cedar trees for decoration. These last longer as habitat than other species commonly used as Christmas trees but may float and require anchoring.” “Christmas trees can also provide wildlife habitat in the home
landscape,” said Adam Rohnke, Extension urban wildlife specialist. “Trees can be propped up or placed on the ground away from high-activity areas, such as walkways and driveways. “Christmas trees make a great base for creating a wildlife brush pile,” Rohnke said. “Brush piles not only provide cover from the elements for wildlife, but also attract food sources such as worms, insects and other invertebrates. “If the tree is used standing up, families can have fun making and hanging homemade suet feeders or pine cones rolled in peanut butter and black oil sunflower seeds,” he said. Both Neal and Rohnke warned that people should be sure to remove all decorations and tinsel before recycling for wildlife. “We want to reduce the chance of entanglement or consumption of the used decorations,” Rohnke said. “We do not want to create a wildlife trap: an attractant that then poses a risk to the very animals we are trying to help or attract.” Visit realchristmastrees.org for more information on recycling Christmas trees. Susan Collins-Smith is a writer for the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
Real Christmas trees are not only good choices for tradition, aroma and appearance but they can be recycled to benefit wildlife and the environment.
JANUARY2020 2021 | TODAY 15 DECEMBER
For Indianola doctor, small-town medicine delivers by Gary Pettus If she could be a character from a movie, it would be Mary Poppins. “Mary Poppins would reach into her bag and pull out a solution,” said Dr. Katie Patterson of Indianola, who, like many rural family medicine doctors in the course of a day’s work, encounters broken lives as well as broken bones. “Sometimes, patients get angry and they say that I don’t understand: ‘You have a car. You have a good place to live. You make a good living.’ And I try to tell them I do understand, and that I do love them.” For the people who have no one else to talk to, nowhere else to turn, she wishes she could reach into a magic bag of prescriptions and fix everything. And sing a song while she’s doing it. One of a half-dozen physicians seeing patients at Indianola Family Medical Group, Patterson, who once performed in high school musicals, actually can sing. She can also fix problems, but there aren’t enough songs and spoonsful of sugar to make the medicine go down for every resident who needs help, physically and emotionally, in underserved areas like Sunflower County, a throne-shaped swath of Mississippi that has lost nearly 4,000 of its subjects in the last decade alone. In the 2020 County Health Rankings, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Sunflower County, population 25,000-plus, claimed one primary care physician for every 2,930 residents in 2019, compared to one per 1,900 for Mississippi and 16 TODAY | JANUARY 2021
one per 1,050 for the top U.S. performers. Some counties are worse off. Like her colleagues in Indianola, Patterson has seen patients with heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease and stroke. There’s no other place she would rather be. She decided this the first time she saw the Indianola clinic, which was, in fact, the first time she saw Indianola. “I was a medical student on an externship,” said Patterson, who graduated in 2003 from the School of Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. “I delivered my first baby on Day Two. I knew then that this was something I had to do. I was going to be Doc Hollywood.” Unlike the fictional physician sentenced to community service in a small-town hospital, Patterson didn’t need a court order to send her where she was needed, or a conspiracy hatched by townspeople to keep her there — here where she and husband David Patterson are bringing up four sons. She knew this was where she belonged long before a pandemic with an 8,000-mile-long arm reached the heart of the Mississippi Delta and tried to pull it out. She realized something Dr. Wahnee Sherman, executive director of the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program, has been telling medical students and residents for years now. If you want to change the world as a physician, this is where you go: rural America, said Sherman, who leads MRPSP’s quest to award scholarships to medical students who pledge to practice smalltown, primary care in the state for several years.
Certainly, Patterson helped change the world of JaQuana Sparks moved to Olive Branch from Indianola eight years Haley-Williams, 38, who has lived in the town of Sunflower ago, but his medically-related allegiance remained in Sunflower all her life. County, where Patterson delivered the youngest of his children Earlier this year, she was 37 weeks pregnant when she arrived before the family moved. at the clinic, an eight-mile drive from her home. There’s no “She’s the best doctor I’ve ever had since my own pediatrcians,” physician in Sunflower to take care of her during her pregnancy, Sparks said. “You have to love them because they give you a and the next-nearest is in Ruleville, about 15 miles north of there, sucker. Katie won’t give me a sucker. But she did try to give me a Haley-Williams said. Brussels sprout.” As a family physician, Patterson Unlike Sparks, most of Patterson’s is one of only two in Mississippi patients don’t drive 140 miles to see who still delivers babies; the other her; for some, she’s just a phone call is in Waynesboro, Sherman said. away, even in the middle of the night. Some of the greatest things Haley-Williams was 17 weeks “It’s a small town,” Patterson said. I’ve learned from her (Mom) pregnant and fully dilated when “It doesn’t take much to find my cell are endurance and faith. she first met Patterson a year phone number.” earlier at Sunflower County She got a preview of this dotor-onHospital. She lost the baby — her demand performance from her own second miscarriage. father when she was a little girl. Several months later, pregnant An “Army brat” born the oldest of again, she came back to Patterson. three children in College Station, Texas, “She has taken very good care of Patterson was in eighth grade when me. She does exactly what she says her family moved to Hattiesburg, she’s going to do,” Haley-Williams where her native-Greek grandfather said. “I love that about her.” started the Coney Island restaurant This time, Patterson was able to and where her father, Dr. Arthur Fokakis, refer her patient to a doctor who was the only allergist in town. does cervical cerclage, a stitch to It was her father’s personal touch as a treat a condition which can cause physician that drew her to the practice either a late miscarriage or of medicine. As did her mother’s a preterm birth. struggle with multiple sclerosis. This time, Haley-Williams had a “Some of the greatest things I’ve baby girl. learned from her are endurance and “God is divine,” Patterson said. faith,” Patterson said of Mary Virginia Haley-Williams’ baby was one Fokakis. All her folks have shown her of the 250 or so Patterson and her how important family is. And how colleagues deliver here each year. important a doctor can be to family. It was here, as a medical student, That hit home with her, in particular, back when future doctors may when she delivered one patient’s first have had more hands-on training, son. During an exam, Patterson learned that Patterson learned how to do that the baby had not been alive for a C-section. When you practice some time. medicine here, you’re harking back Two days later, the patient returned. to the days of doctors’ black bags “She brought me a plaque inscribed and house calls. with a poem,” Patterson said. “We’ve been dinosaurs a long time,” said Patterson, who has “It was about gratitude. She was telling me how grateful she made house calls. “Our relationship with our patients, we hope, was for my love in a terrible period in her life.” starts pre-pregnancy and goes on throughout their lives. And we That was years ago, sometime before the woman became may gain a grandmother or grandfather along the way.” pregnant again. On the same day Patterson delivered Haley-Williams’ daughter, The plaque is still on Patterson’s desk. It reminds her of the another patient was waiting for Patterson to deliver him — from grateful patient, whose first son passed away and whose second pre-diabetes: Stephen Sparks, 49, a United Methodist pastor who one lived. traveled about 140 miles from his home in Olive Branch. Gary Pettus is a University of Mississippi Medical Center writer “I’ll drive 2 1/2 hours for a good steak,” he says, “so I’ll drive and editor that far for a good doctor.” JANUARY 2021 | TODAY 17
MISSISSIPPI F I R S T L A DY E L E E R E EV E S:
‘An honor to serve’
JANUARY 2021 | TODAY 19
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Elee Reeves enjoys leading her daughter Maddie’s girl scout troop, Troop 5577.
by Steven Ward Mississippians. It is a great honor to serve them and I’m On a recent Friday morning in December, Mississippi immensely blessed each day,” she told Today in Mississippi. first lady Elee Reeves is waiting in the Governor’s Mansion Reeves said people always ask if she’s still working for her picture to be taken. full-time. Reeves, 45, admits she’s not a big fan of posing for “I’m lucky to have a good group of co-workers that are photos. able to manage the stock market and help with my clients Still, she is smiling, kind and accommodating while she when I’m not there. I really do enjoy my job. I also plan to poses for a portrait near the giant mirror hanging on the continue my volunteer work and wall behind the desk in her office. serve on the various boards that I’m Reeves said the mirror is known a part of,” she said. as the “First Lady Mirror” and has “I hope some of this will inspire been there for years. I hope some of this will inspire young women that you can try to do Hanging near the top of the left young women that you can try it all — manage a family, work, volunwall of the office is a portrait of to do it all — manage a family, teer — we all want to better our lives Reeves and her three daughters. work, volunteer — we all want and our communities and I hope to The painting was commissioned to better our lives and our shine a light on some of that.” for a “first lady’s tea” event that communities and I hope to Her job and duties aside, Reeves was held almost a year ago as is passionate about the Girl Scouts. part of her husband Tate Reeves’ shine a light on some of that. She and all three of her daughters inauguration as governor. have been heavily involved in the organization since they There’s no doubt that the portrait of Reeves and her were old enough to participate. daughters signifies much more about Mississippi’s first lady “I love working with children and I hope to be a positive than the mirror over her desk. role model to all but especially young girls. Growing up, my Family means everything to Reeves and being a mother Girl Scout leader was a huge force in my life who instilled a and wife hasn’t taken a back seat to her duties as first lady love for the program,” Reeves said. or the full-time job she still holds in the financial industry. Reeves worked with her first troop right after graduating However, because of family, official duties and her job, a day in the life of Elee Reeves is “hectic,” she said. from Millsaps College in Jackson. “A friend at the bank I was working at told me that Girl “As every working mom knows, we juggle responsibilities Scouts of Greater Mississippi was looking for troop leaders daily, and being first lady is no different. I try to work and I jumped at the chance. Those young women taught half a day at Coker & Palmer where I am an investment me more than I ever thought of teaching them. They are advisor. The other half of my day is devoted to serving as successful in their respective careers now — dentists, first lady by attending luncheons and receptions while occupational therapists, community developers and also providing a safe environment for our guests, managing teachers,” she said. life at the governor’s mansion and listening/learning from
Elee Reeves photos in the Governor’s Mansion by Chad Calcote
“Since then, I have loved having all three daughters in my troops and I also had the honor of serving on the board of directors for GSGMS. Logistically, having different troops is a little crazy, but I have so enjoyed seeing my daughters and their friends grow in leadership, teamwork and most importantly self-confidence,” Reeves said. Reeves is currently the troop leader of her youngest daughter Maddie’s Girl Scout troop. Beautification is another issue that’s important to Reeves. “Back in February, we had the historic flooding of the Pearl River that left trash in its wake. I partnered with Keep Mississippi Beautiful to help organize community clean-ups. The first one was scheduled at Jim Hill High School in downtown Jackson. It was amazing to see students engaged and excited about bettering their neighborhood,” Reeves said. Although the COVID-19 pandemic interfered with other clean-up plans and they had to take a break, Reeves and the group recently started back with area clean-ups and hope to increase volunteer numbers as they continue working throughout the state. Reeves also loves to read to young students in Mississippi’s schools. “I love to see the excited faces and exclamations of surprise when you read a book aloud. Since COVID, 20 TODAY | JANUARY 2021
we’ve been reading to schools virtually. Although that’s always a treat, it’s not the same as being with little ones in the classroom and I long for the days we can get back to being with them in person,” she said. Reeves’ love of mentoring children, whether in the Girl Scouts or promoting literacy in Mississippi’s schools, stems from her parents.
Elee Reeves working with volunteers at a Keep Mississippi Beautiful clean up in early 2020 following historic flooding of the Pearl River.
Reeves grew up in Tylertown and later moved to McComb. “Both my mom and my dad were (and still are) very active mentors in my life. I was very active in Show Choir and the theatre department. I had the joy of playing Cinderella in the Pike County Little Theatre’s musical my senior year. My parents both went to Millsaps College and I was grateful to follow in their footsteps,” Reeves said. Millsaps, where Reeves was a member of the Millsaps Singers and the Kappa Delta Sorority, is also the place where she met her future husband during her freshman year. “I met Tate in the Else School of Business, and we often joke that he taught me how to use a financial calculator in our Money and Banking course. We both received the Mississippi Society of Financial Analyst award a year apart during our senior years and both landed jobs with Deposit Guaranty Bank as financial analysts,” she said.
The couple recently celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary. “I am blessed to call Elee my wife and to have her with me for all of these adventures for 19 years. She serves the people of Mississippi as first lady with all of her heart — because she cares about all of them. I couldn’t imagine doing this without her by my side,” Gov. Tate Reeves told Today in Mississippi. After a year in office, Reeves said the people of Mississippi have taught her that residents know how to care for one another during rough times. “I always knew that Mississippians were special, but I think that has really shown during this past year. This pandemic has left people hopeless, alone and scared. I am amazed at the outpouring of love for those in need. To see others give hope and kindness in such dark times is truly a ray of light. We are family in Mississippi and it certainly shows,” Reeves said.
I always knew that Mississippians were special, but I think that has really shown during this past year. This pandemic has left people hopeless, alone, and scared. I am amazed at the outpouring of love for those in need. To see others give hope and kindness in such dark times is truly a ray of light. We are family in Mississippi and it certainly shows.
A family portrait: Elee and Gov. Tate Reeves. From left, daughters Maddie, 8; Emma, JANUARY 13 and Tyler, 16. 2021 |
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Comforting puffy pot pies and easy soups for cold winter months On cold nights a warm pot pie or a steaming bowl of soup with a hunk of cornbread can take the chill out of your bones. Keeping a batch of blonde roux or “thickener” as we call it in the fridge can bring just about any lot of random leftovers, pantry staples or bags stashed in the freezer to the dinner table. Whether tucked under a store-bought pastry crust or spooned into a bowl, this quick addition can make the most 24 TODAY | JANUARY 2021
humble of thin mixtures luxuriously rich. The basic idea is to make a mixture of melted butter and flour, then cook it just enough to take out the raw flour taste. Once you have a batch made and cooled, a few tablespoons can be used to thicken a sauce, filling or soup. Just remember the rule: Cool thickener into hot pot.
Shrimp and Poblano Pepper Puffy Pot Pie
FILLING INGREDIENTS 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning or Cajun seasoning 1 cup peeled finely chopped carrots 1 cup finely chopped celery 1 large poblano pepper seeded, stemmed, and finely chopped 1 cup sliced green onions 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic 1 ½ cups shrimp stock or vegetable broth 1 ½ cups heavy cream ¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese 3 tablespoons thickener 1 12-ounce bag frozen (41/50) cooked medium peeled, deveined shrimp, thawed, tails removed 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Unfold one pastry sheet, floured side down. Roll the pastry sheet into a 12-inch square. Press the pastry into a 2-quart round casserole dish. Fold edges and crimp around the rim of the dish. Prick the pastry thoroughly with a fork. Place aluminum foil onto the surface of the pastry. Bake for 25 minutes. (Prepare the filling while the bottom crust is baking.) Remove the aluminum foil. And set aside. While the bottom crust is baking, in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the Old Bay seasoning. Add the carrots, celery, poblanos, and cook, frequently stirring, for five to seven minutes until the vegetables are slightly tender. Add the green onions and garlic and cook for one minute. Add the stock and cream. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes. Stir in the cheese and cook until melted. Lower the heat to medium. Stir in three tablespoons of the thickener, and simmer, frequently stirring, for three minutes. If needed, stir in a little more thickener until the mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Add the shrimp and the peas, lower the heat and simmer for five minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Keep warm. Fill the bottom crust with the shrimp mixture. Roll the remaining sheet of thawed puff pastry into a 12-inch square. Top the shrimp filling with the pastry and fold the overhanging edge back over the top of the pie. Cut four slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. Brush the surface of the pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle with a little more seasoning, if desired. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is a shiny deep golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Allow to cool five minutes, slice and enjoy
Easy Big Pot of Soup
INGREDIENTS 1 quart vegetable broth 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes 1 24-ounce bag frozen vegetables for stew 1 16-ounce bag frozen vegetables for gumbo 1 15.5-ounce can mixed beans for chili 1 11-ounce can corn 3 tablespoons thickener
Melt 12 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add one cup plus two tablespoons of all-purpose flour all at once and whisk vigorously until smooth. When the mixture thins and starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low. Cook five minutes, whisking slowly until the mixture smells nutty and toasty and is still lightly colored. Cool at least to room temperature before adding to hot liquids. This yields a bit more than one cup. The thickener stores well, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Heads-up: plan on thawing the frozen puff pastry sheets overnight or for at least six hours in the refrigerator. A refrigerated boxed pie crust can be substituted and doesn’t require any advanced planning. CRUST INGREDIENTS 1 package (17.3 ounces) Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed in the refrigerator overnight 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Bring the water to a boil in a large soup pot over high heat. Add the vegetables, beans and corn. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Stir in the thickener and simmer for five minutes, stirring frequently.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Martha Hall Foose, the author of “Screen Doors & Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales of a Southern Cook,” won the James Beard Award for American Cooking. Her latest collaboration is “A Good Meal is Hard to Find: Storied Recipes from the Deep South” with Amy C. Evans. Martha makes her home in the Mississippi Delta with her husband and son. She is a member of Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association.
JANUARY 2021 | TODAY 25
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HAPPY Many years ago, a “must have” talk show guest this time of year would have been a psychic predicting things coming up in the new year. Some of their predictions were pretty funny. Perhaps the most famous psychic of the late 20th century was Jean Dixon. She predicted World War III would break out in 1958 and the Russians would be the first to land a human on the moon. My younger brother has been in broadcasting in Memphis for many years. He told me that one of those psychic telephone outfits was running ads on his radio station years ago and they called him while he was on the air and wanted to know when their next commercial was going to run. He told them, “You tell me…” I don’t think anyone in late 2019 could have possibly, in their wildest dreams, seen 2020 coming. What a ride! Here’s hoping that 2021 is the big change that we are counting on it to be. Back in the old days when you could still have big family gatherings for the holidays, Mama told me she preferred company at New Year’s rather than Christmas. I never asked her why. I suspect I knew. Christmas takes care of itself. Christmas is packed with plenty of trappings: food, lights, decorations, music, presents (if you’ve been good) and always people. But New Year’s was just a big blast at midnight followed by a huge black hole of the unknown. Company on New Year’s Day gave her something she could look forward to. No wonder people want predictions — they want to feel like they have some kind of grip on what’s coming next. Well, I’m not a psychic. But let me tell you what I hope is
coming up in 2021. I hope the vaccine works and people will take it. Let’s start getting the pandemic out of our lives and into the history books. I hope Mississippi will take advantage of some progressive legislation we set in motion in 2020 and build on it and take the rest of the country by surprise while they are still bickering over leftovers from 2020. Let’s woo some industry and educational opportunities here that never gave us a second glance before. Mainly, I hope all of us will rediscover the rich culture we have in Mississippi. Much of what the rest of the world sometimes takes credit for has roots in the hearts, souls and creativity of our people. Music and literature are good examples. The inspiration for that culture and art comes from where we live — both geographically and who we are individually. So, here’s to 2021. Hopefully, by the end of the year we will be using our face masks as dust rags and social distancing will go back to meaning how far you stay away from people you don’t get along with.
by Walt Grayson Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at email@example.com.
JANUARY 2021 | TODAY 27
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