Today in Mississippi January 2022 North East

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scene around the ‘sip co-op involvement southern gardening

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picture this my opinion grin ‘n’ bare it Continuing

to change the quality of life in Mississippi

In the 1930s, farmers created electric cooperatives to bring electric power to rural areas across Mississippi. Now 80 years later, our electric cooperatives are bringing high-speed internet to rural areas, once again changing the quality of life for rural Mississippians. The Broadband Enabling Act became legislation in January 2019; in less than three years, the electric cooperatives collectively have done a substantial amount of work to bridge the digital divide. Our co-ops are setting an example for the rest of the nation in deploying high-speed internet and providing quality internet service. Seventeen electric cooperatives are working on implementing reliable highspeed internet in some capacity in their service territory and have formed subsidiaries to offer the services. These subsidiaries are securing and continuing to seek low interest financing and grants. In 2020, The Mississippi Legislature awarded 15 electric cooperatives with grants provided through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) for the purpose of pilot projects in their service areas. Of that investment, $160.1 million benefitted extremely rural areas and was funded as a match through the CARES Act — $73.2 million in CARES Act money from the state and $86.9 million matched by the cooperative subsidiaries. These grants allowed the co-ops to test the viability of offering high-speed internet in some of the most rural areas of the state. It worked. In a brief 12 months, co-op subsidiaries strung 5,747 miles of fiber, passed 39,332 buildings, and connected 19,020 homes and businesses with high-speed internet. Another 900 plus customers are in the queue for service. More than 50% of the Mississippians who had access to the service took it. With the success of the pilot projects, the subsidiary companies are currently

installing high-speed fiber technology across our state. Our co-ops are building the most reliable, technologically advanced high-speed internet systems possible. The subsidiaries have spent $255.9 million, in addition to the CARES Act, totaling a $416 million investment so far. As of November 2021, more than 14,500 miles of fiber were installed, passing 148,352 homes; 46,823 homes are taking service, and 15,507 homes are in the queue to receive service, which is a 42% take rate and exceeds the goal of 32%. Currently, we have a proposed plan in front of state lawmakers for grant funds that include 17 co-op subsidiaries expanding high-speed internet through 57 projects for a total cost of $451 million between 2022 and 2026. The funds we are seeking are federal dollars earmarked for rural infrastructure projects and are slated for distribution through the states. Ask your legislator to help co-ops continue to bring true, affordable high-speed internet to rural Mississippi. I would like to thank our state legislators for their support over the past two years. They have shown great commitment to their constituents by supporting the cooperative subsidiaries’ projects with funding, which has improved distance learning, telemedicine, and work from home opportunities. The feature story for the magazine this month highlights the efforts made to bring electric power to rural Mississippians during the Great Depression. You will recognize the similarities in what took place 80 years ago, and our continued commitment to change the quality of life in rural Mississippi.

by Michael Callahan Executive Vice President/CEO Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi

Riding off into the sunset Longtime Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi Graphic Designer Rickey McMillan has moved on to the next phase of his life. Following 21 years of professional and exemplary service, Rickey has retired. A key player in the creativity and hard work that makes Today in Mississippi a special statewide publication, to say Rickey will be missed by the co-op community is an understatement. Ron Stewart, senior vice president of communications, has worked with Rickey for his entire time at ECM and known him ever longer. “He’s more of a friend instead of ‘just’ a co-worker. I’ve known Rickey since childhood as we were involved in the same church in the 1970s. We lost touch, so I was happy to get reconnected when he applied for a job in 2000,” Ron said. “He’s very talented and has been a dedicated and loyal employee. He totally understands the cooperative network and served as an outstanding member of our electric cooperative family. He played a vital role in the success of Today in Mississippi and his willingness to put in extra time and effort to help us meet deadlines has demonstrated his commitment to excellence. Thanks for being such a valuable member to our team.” Following stints as the marketing director of the Metro Center Mall in Jackson, advertising manager at Gayfers, and fashion illustrator at McRae’s, Rickey came to the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi to work as a graphic artist in 2000. A stellar graphic artist and editorial page and advertisement designer, Rickey’s skills stretched into the world of video. In 2014, Rickey won two separate awards for his work on a 75th anniversary video for Singing River Electric. One of those awards came from the Southern Public Relations Federation and the other from the Public Relations Association of Mississippi. Rickey said he’s going to miss working at ECM because of the people. “I know it sounds like a cliché, but it really is like a family here. I’m going to miss being with everybody. But I just think it’s time,” Rickey said. Rickey’s retirement will include time spent playing guitar (which he’s done since he was 13), fishing and watercolor painting. Rickey is also looking forward to spending more time with his family. Rickey is married to Harriet McMillan. The couple has three children: Rachel, Daniel, and Rebecca as well as one 16-year-old grandson, Andrew. “This never felt like work. I always enjoyed the job and I will miss it,” Rickey said.


in this issue

5 southern gardening It’s time for winter vegetables

7 scene around the ‘sip A look at special people and places in Mississippi


9 outdoors today Everyone has a beginning, and an ending

12 local news 16 feature

A look at the Great Depression in Mississippi and the origin of co-ops

22 22

picture this Readers sent us photos of Mississippi churches

24 on the menu

The Official Publication of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi

Vol. 75 No. 1

OFFICERS Eddie Howard - President Randy Carroll - First Vice President Ron Barnes - Second Vice President Tim Perkins - Secretary/Treasurer Michael Callahan - Executive Vice President/CEO EDITORIAL STAFF Ron Stewart - Senior Vice President Lydia Walters - VP, Communications Steven Ward - Editor Chad Calcote - Creative Director/ Manager Rickey McMillan - Graphic Designer Kevin Wood - Graphic Designer Alan Burnitt - Graphic Designer Courtney Warren - Graphic Designer Chris Alexander - Member Services Coordinator 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: 491,080

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

A tale of two shrimp po’ boys

27 mississippi seen

Pearl Harbor history in Mississippi

On the cover 27

Ora Baptist Church in Collins. This submitted photo was part of this month’s Picture This feature, Places of Worship. The photo was taken by Southern Pine Electric member Rhonda Wade of Collins.

READER SURVEY NOTICE Today in Mississippi is conducting a readership survey this month, so please be aware that you may receive the survey in the mail or by email. The survey gives you an opportunity to give us feedback on the job we’re doing. It’s always our goal to deliver a quality publication filled with content that is timely, informative and — most of all — of interest to you!


Plant cole crops now for This red cabbage is in the same family as broccoli, kale, and other cole crops. It grows in winter gardens after summer crops succumb to freezing weather.

I never have to worry about my plants having wet feet. Even though I still have tomatoes and peppers producing While we want good soil drainage, we can’t let the plants dry in my home garden, I know these summer vegetables are on out. These plants need consistent soil moisture to be productive. borrowed time. It’s the time of year to appreciate the great We’re likely to have droughty weather during the winter months cool-season vegetables we can grow. in Mississippi. In my Ocean Springs garden, we received less than From broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and collards to cabbage and 2 inches of rain in November. Brussels sprouts, these vegetables are commonly called crucifWinter cold can rapidly deplete soil moisture. Apply mulch erous or cole crops. I think they are delicious, especially after to help retain moisture, but be prepared to water as needed. a freeze takes out my tomatoes and peppers. And here’s a heads up: After The variety of shapes, sizes, and watering, don’t leave the hose colors within this group of attached to the spigot. Freezing vegetables is amazing. But what is temperatures can burst pipes even more amazing is that these pretty quickly. vegetables are all closely related For best growth of cruciferous genetically. In fact, they have a vegetables, do not neglect common ancestor. fertilizing the plants. Wild cabbage is a little plant These vegetables are heavy from the region around the feeders all through the winter Mediterranean. Because of its crop season. I like to add slownutritious foliage, farmers grew release fertilizer at transplanting and domesticated selected plants to get the plants off to a great based on their desired traits. Broccoli performs well in winter gardens. It is part of the Brassica oleracea family start. Then I use a water-soluble Over many, many thousands domesticated for what are actually flowers. fertilizer on a monthly schedule of years, we have developed to keep the plants healthy and growing strong. leafy versions — kale and collards; buds — cabbage and Brussels Now is the time to pick up some transplants at your favorite sprouts; and flowers — broccoli and cauliflower. independent garden center. Follow these tips to enjoy nutritious As a group, they’re known botanically as Brassica oleracea, and and tasty vegetables all through the winter gardening season. each has its own varietal designation: broccoli, B. oleracea var. italica; cauliflower, B. oleracea var. botrytis; kale, B. oleracea var. sabellica; collards, B. oleracea var. viridis; cabbage, B. oleracea var. capitata; and Brussels sprouts, B. oleracea var. gemmifera. Because these vegetables are so closely related, they have similar growing needs and conditions. by Dr. Gary The first is they don’t like wet feet. Like so many of our landBachman scape and garden plants in Mississippi, good soil drainage is a must. Raised beds are a great choice for good drainage, and Gary Bachman, Ph.D., Extension/Research Professor of Horticulture at adding composted materials creates an optimum planting bed. the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in I really like growing these plants in containers because of the Biloxi. He is also host of “Southern Gardening” radio and TV programs. He lives in Ocean Springs and is a Singing River Electric member. superior growing media available that allows for good drainage. JANUARY 2022 | TODAY 5

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scene around the ‘sip

Crosby Arboretum: An ecological paradise in our backyard by Steven Ward There are so many places to visit and “see the sights” in Mississippi that, sometimes, both tourists and locals need a reminder of all the hidden gems just waiting for discovery or rediscovery. One of those gems sits on 64 acres in Picayune near Interstate 59. The Crosby Arboretum is a public garden owned by Mississippi State University and operated by the MSU Extension Service and is a unit of the Coastal Research and Extension Center. The site offers both recreational and educational opportunities and is dedicated to educating the public about their environment as well as serving as a scientific and educational organization that documents and shares information about nature to the public. The Arboretum manages acreage in seven associated natural areas and supports over 300 species of plants. The Crosby site functions as a celebration of local native flora. The Arboretum’s mission is to preserve, protect, and display plants native to the Pearl River Drainage Basin ecosystem. The American Society of Landscape Architects awarded the site an ASLA award in 1991 calling it the “first fully realized ecological garden in the U.S.” “Many times we’ve heard our visitors say, ‘I’ve always known you were here, but I never stopped in.’ Or, ‘I wish I had come 20 years ago, so I could have been enjoying it all this time.’ Visits to the Arboretum are much like peeling back the layers of an onion. No two days are alike. New creatures, blooms, and experiences are always waiting for you just around the

bend in the path,” Arboretum Director Pat Drackett said. One of the highlights of the site is the award-winning Pinecote Pavilion designed by architect E. Fay Jones of Fayetteville, Arkansas. The structure received an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects in 1990 and was recognized by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History as a Mississippi Landmark. Some of the more recent visitor draws at the Arboretum include, The Gum Pond Bridge, a bridge spanning the headwaters inlet of the site’s gum pond and The Rosen Memorial Pavilion, accessed by a crisscrossing boardwalk that extends from the bulkhead of a new pond overlook. A visit to the Arboretum means moving through exhibits on the pathways, or “landscape journeys.” Visitors to the public garden who walk the three-mile trail system will travel through three main exhibits: a woodland exhibit, an aquatic exhibit, and a Savanna exhibit. Along the pathways, interpretive signage focuses on various coastal ecosystems and their values, and native plant communities and the species within them. “My favorite area is the south pitcher plant bog, where changes are dynamic, plant populations, patterns, and textures are continually shifting due to fluctuations in moisture and are never the same from year to year,” Drackett said. Drackett said the bog changes in color constantly. “The bog will change from the blackened landscape following a prescribed fire, to the yellow pitcher plant blooms in early spring to the pinks and yellows of delicate spring ephemeral blossoms and orange and purple milkweeds,” Drackett said. “This constant change is the reason behind the stories we hear about the magic experienced in visitors’ journeys — each walk brings unexpected and delightful discoveries.”

Visit or call 601-799-2311 for more information. JANUARY 2022 | TODAY 7


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everyday life!

AN END The old year just ended; the new year just began. All entities restricted to this temporal existence have a similar cycle — beginnings that eventually lead to endings. This realization prompts some measure of contemplation should we afford our thoughts the opportunity of mining the depths and looking into shadowed corners that may too often be neglected in favor of comfort. I recently found myself on such an expedition. The episode was my annual October woodcock hunt in Vermont. This is a challenging regimen and one closely monitored. Three birds Spur (left) sleeps on his master’s leg. Finn daily, not much bounclaimed his favorite chair! Photo courtesy of Bob Rose. ty for the effort some might say, but to go, do, and see firsthand changes the perspective. It really is about the totality of experience. My first hunt, close to a decade past, found me in the presence of a new acquaintance, Bob Rose. He was at that time a pilot for American Airlines and chose his schedules to keep October open. That was woodcock-hunting month. He is now retired. Bob employs Old Hemlock Setters as his chosen canine companions. The history of this breed is far too expansive for a treatise of this length, so I shall refrain. But one important element is that on that first hunt, Bob had a new dog, a dog that was just beginning his second season. Fionn Mac Cumhail, his registered name and the Old Irish pronounciation. Finn McCool in modern English. He answers to Finn.

Finn was a true marvel. A gentleman. A professional. A dog with perfect discipline and demeanor. I was mesmerized. And that remains the case even now. Finn is 11, not finished yet, but closer to the end than to the beginning. On this most recent trip, Bob had added another Old Hemlock. Hotspur. He answers to Spur. He is 11 months old. And the makings are there. Spur is destined to the same levels of greatness as Finn has already achieved. This first season Spur still fumbled with the occasional puppy blunder, but not much. I watched and participated in three days of pure wonderment. And during that watching and participating, I found myself mining those depths. I concluded I was more like Finn than I was like Spur. I am not finished, but I am definitely closer to the end than the beginning. I considered my admiration for Finn and felt a peculiar bond with him, we two on the same path of winding down. I celebrated with Spur, young, ready, and excited as I once was — just beginning an exhilarating life. And, in all this thinking, I came to some point of resignation. Things would end, some more quickly than others. Regardless, life had been a spectacular experience. Finn knows that; Spur will know that. And I now give a nod of appreciation to both in the varying steps of their journeys.

by Tony Kinton Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit for more information.

Autumn in Vermont is spectacular. Colors, even in their brilliance, suggest an end. Spring will bring new life.


Next in Picture This:

We want to see your children! Send us photos of your children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews. Make sure to let us know their names and how they are related to you. The photos must be high-resolution JPG files of at least 1 MB in size. Please attach the photo to your email and send it to Each entry must be accompanied by photographer’s name, address, and co-op.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Feb. 25. Select photos will appear in the April 2022 issue.

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North East Mississippi ELECTRIC POWER ASSOCIATION For more information about Today in Mississippi, contact Sarah Brooke Bishop or Marlin Williams at 662-234-6331





LOOKING BACK ON 2021 As we reflect on 2021, I am happy to return to some sense of normalcy within the communities we serve. Ole Miss students were back for in-person classes. Fans got to enjoy baseball and football this year. People started getting out of the house and traveling again. North East Mississippi Electric Power Association accomplished many things over the last year to better serve our members. NE SPARC is near completion with 1,500 miles of primary fiber lines run, and all our zones scheduled to be open by the end of the month. This project brings high-speed fiber broadband service to members in our most rural territories. We are still actively working to connect more than 80 homes per week. We hope our members are proud of how reliable and cost-effective SPARC is — you own it. I am pleased with employee philanthropic efforts through the year as we strive to be even more relevant in the communities we serve. Employees have held donation drives and volunteered time with organizations such as The Pantry, CASA of Lafayette County, United Way, and many other deserving organizations. Concern for the Community is one of the Seven Cooperative Principles that provides the framework for North East Power.

As we start to look ahead to the winter and temperatures dropping, we hope our members will be mindful of usage. North East Power has been a winter peaking system for the last five years, which means more electricity is used during that time. We have a strong system that can handle the load but due to the increase in usage, bills can be higher during those colder months. By helping to monitor your thermostat and how much the heat is running, you are in control of what is used in your household. According to, 68 degrees is the ideal thermostat temperature for winter. However, for every degree lower you set your thermostat, you could save on your power bill. As we begin 2022, we wish all of you a prosperous new year. As always, we remain committed to serving our members and improving the quality of life in the communities we serve.

by Keith Hayward General Manager/CEO

will be closed on Monday, January 17, 2022, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. In case of a power outage or emergency, please call 662-234-6331. Dispatchers are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.



HIGHLIGHTS Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, North East Mississippi Electric Power Association’s Annual Meeting was held virtually on December 11, 2021 at 1 p.m. The virtual meeting covered topics such as a financial update, NE SPARC, and Board elections.

Director elections At NEMEPA’s Annual Meeting, three of the cooperative’s directors were reelected to the board. Ray Gallagher of Waterford (District 1), James Downs of Myrtle (District 3), and Danny Russell of Thaxton (District 5). A special election was held to fill the empty District 8 seat. John Briscoe of Oxford was elected.

Congratulations to our winners! Members who watched the Annual Meeting live through our virtual meeting link were eligible for prizes, as well as those who sent in their mail-in ballots. Prize winners from voting in the election were randomly selected by our accounting firm, Franks, Franks, Wilemon, and Hagood.

The winners of the mail-in ballots are as follows:

The winners who watched the Annual Meeting online are as follows:

Hugh Turner - Myrtle, 55” TV Julien Tatum - Oxford, $500 NEMEPA/SPARC Bucks Tula Baptist Church - Oxford, $250 NEMEPA/SPARC Bucks Rodney Edwards - Oxford, $250 NEMEPA/SPARC Bucks Thurman Montgomery - Pontotoc, $100 NEMEPA/SPARC Bucks Joseph Abide - Oxford, $100 NEMEPA/SPARC Bucks Lynn Hewlett - Oxford, $100 NEMEPA/SPARC Bucks

Earnie Mullins - Oxford, 55” TV Sean Allen - Oxford, $500 NEMEPA/SPARC Bucks Jerry Allen - Oxford, $250 NEMEPA/SPARC Bucks Lindsey Ann Hill - Oxford, $250 NEMEPA/SPARC Bucks Debra Downs - Oxford, $100 NEMEPA/SPARC Bucks James Foster - Oxford, $100 NEMEPA/SPARC Bucks Matthew Maples - Oxford, $100 NEMEPA/SPARC Bucks

John Briscoe elected to serve on NEMEPA’s board During NEMEPA’s Annual Meeting on December 11, 2021, John Briscoe of Oxford was elected to serve on the Board of Directors for District 8. Briscoe was born in Tupelo and graduated from Tupelo High School. He moved to Oxford in 1983 to help his grandfather and father on their family farm. The Briscoes farm cotton, corn, soybeans, cattle, and have some forestry land. Briscoe is married to Dana Briscoe. They have 3 children — Bradley (Kelli Mize), Sarah Grace (Will Hollowell), and Mabrey — and one granddaughter, Olivia. “I am excited for the opportunity to represent my district on the Board and support the great work they do at North East,” said Briscoe.


New Albany




Recognition for achievement of broadband internet service At the Annual Meeting, board member John Davis (center) presented General Manager/CEO Keith Hayward (right), and Randall Abel, COO, with a proclamation from the Board of Directors recognizing the achievement of broadband internet service. The proclamation also recognized the employees of North East Mississippi Electric Power Association and NE SPARC for their dedication, commitment, hard work, and success in implementing broadband service to the region. “I am very proud of North East and all the staff. We knew they were capable but didn’t realize how fast they would take charge and get NE SPARC established. We are one of the larger co-ops in the state and have done an outstanding job working on budget and ahead of schedule. To be where we are today is quite the accomplishment and the Board wanted to acknowledge the efforts towards SPARC in a special way,” said James Downs, board president.



NE SPARC is excited to announce that all the primary fiber is on schedule to be completed for the service territory by the end of the month. This completion allows all fiber zones to be open. This project is coming in on budget and ahead of schedule by roughly a year. SPARC fiber passes 25,000 homes and offers the availability of high-speed broadband internet to any North East Mississippi Electric Power Association member. “I would have never thought in 2019 when the Legislature passed the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act that by January 2022, every single location would have the capability to get fiber installed to it,” said Keith Hayward, General Manager/CEO of North East Power and NE SPARC. “I would like to commend our employees from the front office to the back on their hard work and patience, Randall (Abel) for taking on this project, and the Legislature for their help in passing the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act in 2019. And, last but certainly not 14 TODAY | JANUARY 2022

least, a big thank you to our membership for participating and turning a 36-month project to a 24-month project.” Only one other co-op in the state has completed construction on their fiber-to- homes project. SPARC has surpassed 6,400 customers and continues to grow daily. SPARC offers residential and business internet and voice services to meet the needs of any member. NE SPARC’s lightning-fast speed allows members to “cut the cord” on cable costs. Cutting the cord means discontinuing traditional television viewing and beginning to stream live TV and movies on the internet. To find out which streaming service would work best for your family, visit and use the free Suppose TV service to enter the channels you watch most. If you haven’t signed up for NE SPARC, you can bring the speed of fiber boradband internet to your home or business by calling our office at 662-238-3159.

Meet your 2022 Mississippi Elected Officials


North East Mississippi Electric Power Association salutes Mississippi’s senators and representatives who represent our state in Washington, D.C., and at our state capitol in Jackson. We appreciate their dedication and willingness to serve in the spirit of public service to help shape the future of our state.

A free, interactive legislative app for Mississippi


The Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi offers an easy-to-use mobile app of 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. ONLINE VERSION AVAILABLE AT WWW.ECM.COOP

Sen. Kathy L. Chism District 3: Benton, Pontotoc, and Union counties

Sen. Nicole Akins Boyd District 9: Lafayette and Panola counties

Sen. Neil Whaley District 10: Marshall and Tate counties


Rep. John Faulkner District 5: Benton, Lafayette, Marshall, and Tate counties

Rep. Brady Williamson District 10: Lafayette, Panola, and Tallahatchie counties

Rep. Clay Deweese District 12: Lafayette County

Rep. Steve Massengill District 13: Benton, Lafayette, Marshall, and Union counties

for a job well done to all our representatives and senators who represent constituents residing in our service area. Rep. Sam J. Creekmore IV District 14: Union County

Rep. Mac Huddleston District 15: Pontotoc County


by Miranda Boutelle

Q: Do energy-saving measures in my home make a big difference? A: For the average household, it depends on your home’s efficiency and your habits. Your energy use is based on your home’s equipment and how you use it. You might already have an efficient home and good energy use habits, or you might have room for improvement. Energy keeps us comfortable in our homes, and our monthly

bill is the associated cost for this energy use. To make energysaving measures work in your home, it comes down to preventing energy waste while maintaining personal comfort in your home. Let’s take it back to the basics and see if we can find opportunities to save energy in your home. Filters, LEDs, and thermostat settings are great places to start..

Miranda Boutelle of Efficiency Services Group writes on energy efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Upgrade to LEDs

Replace filters

Adjust your thermostat

Upgrading your lighting to LEDs is a simple, low-cost way to cut energy use. Depending on your budget, you can do it all at once or change bulbs out over time. If you are going to replace a few at a time, prioritize the lights you use the most. There are many LED options available. One major variation is the color temperature, which is listed on the packaging in Kelvin. I recommend 2700K because it is similar to incandescent lighting. I also suggest ENERGY STAR®-rated products because they meet strict quality and efficiency standards, use up to 90% less energy, and last 15 times longer than standard bulbs.

If your home has a forced-air system, you have a filter. The filter needs to be checked regularly and replaced when it’s dirty. A dirty filter can cause heating and air-conditioning systems to use 15% more energy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Since heating and air conditioning make up almost half of your energy use, replacing your filter when it looks dirty is a habit that can reduce energy waste.

It’s amazing how much difference a few degrees can make. By adjusting your thermostat to your home habits, you can save year-round on heating and cooling costs. For winter months, the DOE recommends setting your thermostat to 68 degrees when you are home and dialing it back 8 to 10 degrees when you leave the house or go to sleep. For summer, the recommendation is 78 degrees when you are home and 8 to 10 degrees warmer when you are away. Using a programmable or smart thermostat will allow you to set it according to your schedule. Making these small changes in your routine will help improve your energy efficiency while maintaining comfort in your home.


by Bonnie A. Coblentz For every reason to eat excessively, someone is pushing a diet plan to reverse the scales, but there’s more to a healthy weight than consuming fewer calories and burning more energy. Weight gain can be brought on by the holiday season, the “freshman 15,” or the first year of marriage. In recent months, many have struggled with COVID-19 weight gain brought on by mental health struggles and isolation.

Good health includes physical activity and eating more vegetables and fruits, consuming less processed foods and sugar, and drinking more water. David Buys, state health specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said there is a clear connection between stress and weight gain. Millions of people have been stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “In a lot of ways, our struggle to stay physically healthy is connected to our mental health and well-being,” Buys said. He said living through the pandemic has caused nearly everyone to experience a loss of some kind, and those losses bring a heavy toll. “There’s been loss of routine, income, health, and friends and loved ones,” Buys said. “It’s upended our confidence and led many people to experience unusual levels of stress, anxiety, or depression. “When that happens, some of us turn to comfort foods or just more convenient ways of eating that are not as nutritionally robust. In other cases, we may have a loss of appetite or will to be active,” he said. Qula Madkin, MSU Extension instructor and registered dietitian at the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Raymond, said people sometimes get caught in

an unhealthy loop that leads to weight gain, and they need to take positive action. “Health is wealth, and I would like everyone to focus on their health — both gaining health and maintaining good health — rather than emphasizing weight loss,” Madkin said. Getting healthier requires an individual approach, she said, but being active whenever possible is a great starting place. “I encourage people to go outside more often and do more activity outdoors,” Madkin said. Rather than recommending that people follow restrictive diets, Madkin suggests making lifestyle changes one small step at a time, focusing more on personal longevity and quality of life. “In my opinion, people should really think less about weight loss and more about their health,” Madkin said. “My goal is for people to be healthier. If I can help someone understand what that looks like for them, it can lead to weight loss, but weight loss does not necessarily equal health.” Madkin defined health as being physically active, drinking more water, eating more vegetables and fruits, and consuming less sugar and processed foods. It also includes self-care and having a complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being. When trying to set a weight loss goal, Madkin urged people to try for 5-10% of their body weight. For a 160-pound person, that would mean a goal of losing 8 to 16 pounds over a month or two. “That is an excellent place to start,” she said. “Set doable, relatable and reachable goals. Make sure they are goals that you can meet, and then you can push yourself to meet another goal after you have succeeded in your first goal.” In addition to healthy eating choices, good physical exercise is the next necessary component to losing weight and keeping it off. “Find physical activity and movement opportunities that work for you,” Madkin said. “Remember, you’ve been through a pandemic, so don’t be so hard on yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back and make health happen for you.” Bonnie A. Coblentz is a writer/editor for the Mississippi State University Extension Service. JANUARY 2022 | TODAY 17

The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was a progressive and controversial agency advocating government planning and economic intervention to improve living conditions in rural America. The FSA sponsored this “Know your Farmer” tour. Shown here are participants stopping at the home of a tenant purchase borrower in Lowndes County.

Until the Great Depression, soil erosion was not a national concern. However, the connection between the eroded land and impoverished people came into focus and New Deal programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration created jobs that included natural resource projects like the National Industrial Recovery Act of June 16, 1933, which permitted work on erosion control. The red clay hills of Alabama and Mississippi had the worst erosion.

Looking back: The Great by Steven Ward Electric power in rural Mississippi is the direct result of reading about the Greatest Generation and flourished while federal and state politicians working to stop suffering and writing my biography, “The Inspiring Life of Eudora Welty” and hunger during the Great Depression. my regional non-fiction book, “Lauderdale County, Mississippi: President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order A Brief History,” both of which featured the Great Depression on May 11, 1935, that created The era,” Putnam said recently. Rural Electrification Administration “So many New Deal projects still as part of the Emergency Relief exist in and around my Meridian Without electricity, perishable food Appropriation Act. community, such as the Meridian spoiled, and sanitation suffered. Urban Federal Building, the Meridian High The Great Depression tested the areas enjoyed electric lights, washing resolve of Mississippi’s population School Stadium, and Ross Collins machines, and refrigerators, but rural and people who lived all over the U.S. Vocational School (Ross Collins Career The nation’s reaction and fortitude to Mississippians struggled through grueling and Technical Center). persevere during the mass disaster “Entering the Depression, Mississippi days with only sunlight and kerosene was the catalyst for what is known had already suffered greatly from in their primitive environment. today as, “The Greatest Generation.” the 1927 flood. Extreme soil erosion How the people of Mississippi and the nation responded to resulted from soil depletion due to massive cotton cultivation the Great Depression was something that fascinated Meridiand the cutting of the state’s once-grand forests for financial an author Richelle Putnam and led to her new book, “Images gain. The 1930 Mississippi Valley drought added to an already of America: Mississippi in the Great Depression” (Arcadia), a tragic situation. Through research, I realized the many and more than 200-page history with 70 photos from that era. much-needed contributions of Roosevelt’s New Deal “In America, it brought forth the Greatest Generation to Programs that provided jobs and targeted solutions to which we often refer when reminiscing perseverance, strength, the consequences of financial greed and the neglect of and triumph over adversity. My initial interest built from natural resource conservation,” Putnam said. 18 TODAY | JANUARY 2022

Here, the owner scoops pine resin from a settling vat and then pours it into barrels for shipment to various locations. However, for many lumber companies selling stumps from cutover lands, like Crosby Lumber and Manufacturing Company, the Naval Stores Conservation Program drastically reduced the buyers to few or none. In 1937, Crosby built a plant in Picayune, and Crosby Naval Stores grew to 600 tons of stumps a day, the third-largest in the United States.

The sharecropping system in Mississippi was the subject of many Farm Security Administration images. Photographs detailed city street scenes, extravagant brick, and rustic wooden churches, cotton picking in the Delta fields, payday at plantation commissaries, and the lives of poor whites and black sharecroppers and their families.

Depression in Mississippi America’s rural population was at its most disadvantaged Electrification Administration, which offered loans to during the Great Depression. Only 10% of rural Americans had rural farmers and community leaders to provide power electricity, and the number was 1% in Mississippi. in rural areas. “Without electricity, perishable food spoiled, and sanitation Today, the TVA and, in south Mississippi, Cooperative suffered. Urban areas enjoyed electric lights, washing maEnergy generate and deliver power to the state’s 25 elecchines, and refrigerators, but tric cooperatives. Cooperative rural Mississippians struggled Energy, formally known as the through grueling days with only South Mississippi Electric Power sunlight and kerosene in their Association, formed in 1941. primitive environment. They lit Two key Mississippi movers their lanterns before sunrise, and and shakers behind bringing when darkness fell to begin and power to rural Mississippi were finish their labor,” Putnam said. U.S. Sen. Pat Harrison from the Although the need for rural Gulf Coast and U.S. Rep. John electrification was evident, Rankin of Tupelo. private investors and compa“Sen. Harrison and Rep. Known by his colleagues as “The Old Fox,” referring to backroom nies didn’t want the task and Rankin advocated heartily for persuasive power and strategic maneuverings, U.S. Sen. Pat Harrison of expense of running lines into electric power distribution in Mississippi helped shape much of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s rural Mississippi without reaping New Deal legislation. Mississippi. They would also a profit. And rural residents didn’t make enough money to welcome President Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor to do it themselves, even with pooling their money. Mississippi to tour New Deal projects, like the new homesteads The Roosevelt administration created the Tennessee Valley and the TVA, which began rural electrification in Mississippi. Authority (TVA), a federal electric company and the Rural JANUARY 2022 | TODAY 19

Due to Mississippi U.S. Rep. John Rankin’s position in Congress, Tupelo became the first municipality to purchase TVA power and officially became the “First TVA City” in 1934. Pictured here left to right: U.S. Sen. George W. Norris and Rankin photographed at the White House in 1935.


In 1936, the state of Mississippi established the Rural Electrification Authority of Mississippi and passed the Electric Power Association Act, a law that created electric cooperatives. That law was updated in 2016. Mississippi was among the first states in the nation to pass adequate laws for forming electric cooperatives, according to the definitive state electric cooperative history, “Rural Electrification in Mississippi 1934-1970” by Winnie Ellis Phillips. Alcorn County Electric Power Association in Corinth was the nation’s first rural electric cooperative. Rural power wasn’t the only cooperative effort from Roosevelt’s New Deal. Credit unions came about as the result of The Federal Credit Union Act of 1934. Putnam said each Great Depression photo in the book tells a different story. “The images are so diverse. Each tells its personal story. However, the historical narrative expands when the combined photos and captions encompass the more extraordinary story of the Great Depression in Mississippi,” Putnam said. The research, writing, and acquiring the photos took Putnam over a year. “Thanks to other New Deal Programs, photographers employed by the Farm Security Administration and the Works Progress Administration, which included Mississippi’s Eudora Welty, took around 80,000 photos of life during the Great Depression. The Library of Congress, where these photos are archived, provided most of the images in the book,” Putnam said.

Two months after the approval of the TVA Act by President Roosevelt in May of 1933, U.S. Rep John Rankin of Mississippi, TVA Chairman David Lilienthal, and the Tupelo Journal reported that implementation of public power in northeast Mississippi was a distinct possibility as early as the fall of 1933. TVA, the prime investor in nuclear power and the principal user of coal, was the leading producer of electric power in the country. On February 7, 1934, Tupelo became the first municipality in the U.S. to receive TVA power.

Other Great Depression-era improvements to Mississippi included action by Gov. Mike Connor, who initiated measures to improve the treatment of inmates at Parchman Prison in the Delta. Women also played an active role. The Natchez Garden Club successfully spurred tourism by starting the state’s first pilgrimage in 1932. Mississippians found employment through the Public Works Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps, which stimulated economic development through new and add-on construction in urban and rural areas and the construction of nine state parks. When asked if there were any lessons learned or to be learned by Mississippi from the Great Depression, Putnam said the power and influence of Roosevelt and the New Deal was immense. “There was political, social, economic, and cultural cooperation for the common good of all Americans and, of course, Mississippians. President Franklin D. Roosevelt served four terms in office and is still considered one of America’s most influential and beloved presidents. We can argue all day about the pros and cons of his administration’s New Deal. However, the fact remains that the American people, including over 90% of Mississippians, voted him into office more than any other president in American history,” she said.

Visit for more information about the book. Author Richelle Putnam JANUARY 2022 | TODAY 21

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1. Brooklyn Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Greenwood by Angela Jones of Laurel; Dixie Electric member.

5. Old Advance Church in Lamar County by Sandy Lindsey of Sumrall; Pearl River Valley Electric member.

2 . First Christian Church in Columbus by Jean Bailey of Columbus; 4-County Electric member.

6. The Village Chapel at Landrum’s Homestead in Laurel by Evelyn King of McComb; Magnolia Electric Power member.

3. Evangel Temple Church in Meridian by Jason Dyess of Meridian; EMEPA member.

7. Antioch Baptist Church in Kemper County by Barbara Bishop of Meridian; EMEPA member.

4. First Presbyterian Church in Tupelo by Robbyn Rogers of Tupelo; Tombigbee member.

8. First Baptist Church in Starkville by Jay Reed of Starkville; 4-County Electric member.


9. Lockhart Methodist Church in Lauderdale by Melinda Goff of Lauderdale; EMEPA member.




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10. Presbyterian Church in Toccopola by Sherry Sledge of Pontotoc; Pontotoc Electric member.

15. French Camp Presbyterian Church in French Camp by Larry Littlejohn of French Camp; 4-County Electric member.

11. Albans Church in Bovine by Denise Jackson of Wesson; Southern Pine Electric member.

16. St. Pierre’s Episcopal Church in Gautier by Scott Lenoir of Gautier; Singing River Electric member.

12. St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Raymond by Margaret Wilson of Byhalia; Northcentral Electric Cooperative member.

17. Christ Church in Christ Hill by Teresa Lott of Perkinston; Pearl River Valley Electric member.

13. China Grove Church in Kokomo by Renee Timmons of Kokomo; Pearl River Valley Electric member.

18. Gillsburg Baptist Church in Gillsburg by Donna Williams of Osyka; Magnolia Electric Power member.

14. Bethel Black Jack Baptist Church in Vaughan by David Shipp of Midway; Yazoo Valley Electric member.


Delta Delicious Serves two This is the po’ boy I turn to when I want a quick, saucy seafood sandwich. This is not to be confused with the pour on pulled pork barbecue sauce. This is a garlic and Worcestershire buttery sauce with fresh thyme and smoked paprika. It soaks down into the crisp bread and gives the shrimp a lemony, glistening sheen. Roll

INGREDIENTS 2 (8-inch) po’ boy loaves sliced lengthwise 2 tablespoons mayonnaise 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, divided 2 cloves finely chopped garlic 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce ½ teaspoon smoked paprika ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves Pinch dark brown sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Salt and cracked black pepper 1 pound medium (41/50) peeled, deveined shrimp


up your sleeves and toast-up some extra bread just for sopping up any sauce that is left in the skillet. I sometimes make this BBQ shrimp and toss it with angel hair pasta or ricotta ravioli with a side salad for a fast dinner.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread cut side of bread with mayonnaise and toast until brown and crisp. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter. When the butter has melted add the garlic, Worcestershire, lemon juice, pepper sauce, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook and

stir for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and increase the heat to high. Cook stirring occasionally for 4 minutes until the shrimp are pink and very slightly curled. Remove from heat. Stir in the remaining butter until melted. Fill each po’ boy with shrimp and a big spoonful of the buttery sauce.

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.

Serves four I love a big po’ boy on a Saturday for lunch. By frying the onion rings before the shrimp, the oil gets seasoned and gives the shrimp a special savory fl vor. I like to use a blend of flou , cornstarch, and seafood breading mix to coat the shrimp and onion rings. The flour oats them well. The cornstarch gives extra crunch, and the seafood seasoning adds some southern-style cornmeal fl vor without any grittiness.

INGREDIENTS 2 large, sweet onions (Vidalia or Walla Walla) cut into rings 2 cups all-purpose flou 3/4 cup corn starch 3/4 cup fish fry seafood breading mix (I like Louisiana or Zatarain’s brands made with corn flour) 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning blend 1 cup yellow mustard 2 large eggs 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (I like Crystal) 2 pounds large (31/35) peeled, deveined shrimp 1 quart oil for frying 4 (8-inch) French bread loaves or po’boy rolls sliced lengthwise 1/3 cup mayonnaise 1/3 cup cocktail sauce 1/2 cup shredded iceberg lettuce 1/2 cup shredded cabbage

Using a combination of prepared yellow mustard and eggs to act as a “glue” to hold the coating in place works wonderfully well. The mustard does not impart a strong fl vor because the vinegar and water in the mustard evaporates when fried. I like a combo of shredded iceberg and fresh cabbage to provide a fresh crunch.

Soak onion rings in a large bowl of ice water for 30 minutes. Drain the onions. Carefully remove the thin membrane from the inner wall or each piece of onion. Pat onions dry with paper towel. Return the onion rings to the bowl.

Coat onion rings with flour mixtu e. Shake off any excess coating. Fry onion rings until golden brown. Remove to drain on paper lined sheet pan. Pour any leftover mustard mixture from the onions into the remaining mustard mixture.

In a medium shallow bowl, combine the flou , cornstarch, breading mix, and Creole seasoning and set aside.

Working in batches, take the shrimp from the mustard mixture allowing excess to drip off and coat with the flour mixtu e pressing the shrimp into the mixture to coat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, egg, and hot sauce. Pour 1 cup of the mustard mixture over the onions. Toss to coat. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour mixture over the rings and toss to coat. Toss occasionally to keep the onions coated. Add the shrimp to the remaining mustard mixture and toss to coat. Heat oil to 400 degrees. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with crumpled brown paper sacks. Working in small batches, take onion rings from mustard mixture allowing extra to drip back into remaining onions.

Fry the shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly curled and golden brown. Drain on paper lined sheet pan. Spread the cut sides of each piece of bread very lightly with mayonnaise. Toast in oven cut side up until crusty and browned. Spread bottom of each cut side with cocktail sauce. Top with shrimp, lettuce, and cabbage. Spread each top with mayonnaise and stack the sandwiches. Serve with onion rings.


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mississippi marketplace The Inspirations in concert. Jan. 21. Petal. First Baptist Church of Runnelstown today will host the onEvents the menu outdoors open to the public will be group at 7 p.m. A love offering will be received. Mississippi’s published free of charge as space allows. 9211 Highway 42. Details: 601-583-3733. scene the ‘sip picture this Submit details ataround least two months prior to Lowest 2nd Annual Melodies of Bluegrass Festival. the event date. Submissions must include a Feb. 25-26. Morton. Bands include: Patchwork my opinionLife Insurance co-op involvement phone number with area code for publication. String Band, Catahoula Drive, The Pilgrim Family, Email to Events are subject

Fair River Station, Tyler Carroll and Pineridge Bluegrass, Southern Gentlemen, and The Tennessee Bluegrass Band. Show starts at 1 p.m. daily. Roosevelt State Park, 2149 MS 13. Details: 601-604-4234 or 601-527-9127.

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A piece of Pearl Harbor history at home So, after the first of January, how long did it take before you wrote the correct year on your papers at school? Or finally put the right date on a check the first time? Year-long habits are hard to break. It’s funny the snippets you remember from childhood. Daddy had a brother who lived with us off and on. I don’t remember much about him. But I vividly recall one day he grabbed a page of the kitchen calendar and announced he was going to make it into a new month and ripped it off. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. Can you do that? Does changing the calendar make time change? Or does the passing of time change the calendar? Later, when I’d recall this episode, I figured it was probably the first of the month, anyway. I think all of his verbosity was an attempt to put one over on a little kid — that he had some superpower over time and the cosmos. Maybe it was even a subconscious rebellion over the inevitability of the passing of time. But he wanted to make it look like it was his idea. Like he controlled it instead of the other way around. Another byproduct of time passing is museums. You don’t put new stuff in a museum. It has to age and take on the patina and esteem that only the passing of time can give it. We were shooting another “Mississippi Roads” show the other day at the Laurel Veterans Memorial Museum. There are exhibits there from the Civil War all the way through both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf Wars, and more. One of the artifacts they have is an actual piece of the superstructure from the USS Arizona that was sunk in the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 (80 years ago last month) that culminated in bringing the United States into World War II. When the Arizona Memorial was constructed in the 1960s, some of the superstructure

was removed from the ship, and the Navy donated some pieces of it to qualified veteran’s organizations. One of those pieces is in Mississippi. The wooden case in which it is housed is sort of a museum piece itself. The case was built by Ben Napier from wood removed from the deck of the USS Missouri, as well as Piney Woods pine from Mississippi. You will recall Ben and his wife Erin host the HGTV show “Home Town” featuring the fantastic renovations they have been doing with the homes and buildings in Laurel. I suppose that’s another by-product of time passing — renovations. If time stood still, we wouldn’t need to remodel what deteriorated over time. But we might end up like “The Chronicles of Narnia,” where it was always winter but never Christmas. So, since it is going to happen anyway, enjoy the passing of time. Remember the things you choose to and impress your grandkids by making the month change every now and again.

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.” Walt is also a reporter and 4 p.m. news anchor at WJTV in Jackson. He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at