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FOR MEMBERS OF MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC POWER

2020 YOUTH

LEADERS WHAT’S THE

NEW TEA? HEALTHY SWEETS FOR YOUR SWEET FEBRUARY 2021


on the menu

outdoo scene around the ‘sip

Sacred Stone of the S Stone of the Sacred outhwest is on the S is on the Bouthwest rink of Extinction ago, Persians, Brink of Extinction Tibetans and Mayans Centuries

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enturies ago, Persians, considered turquoise gemstone Tibetans and a Mayans of the heavens, the considered turquoisebelieving a gemstone striking blue stones were sacred of the heavens, believing the pieces of sky.stones Today, thesacred rarest striking blue were and most valuable turquoise pieces of sky. Today, the rarest is found in the turquoise American and most valuable Southwest–– but the future of is found in the American the blue beauty unclear. Southwest–– butisthe future of the beautytrip is unclear. Onblue a recent to Tucson, we spoke with fourth generation On a recent trip to Tucson, we turquoise traders who explained spoke with fourth generation that less traders than five turquoise who percent explainedof turquoise mined that less than fiveworldwide percent can of be set intomined jewelryworldwide and only about turquoise can twenty inand theonly Southwest be set intomines jewelry about supplymines gem-quality turquoise. twenty in the Southwest Once agem-quality thriving industry, many supply turquoise. Southwest mines have run dry Once a thriving industry, many and are now closed. Southwest mines have run dry and now aclosed. Weare found limited supply of C. turquoise Arizona We found afrom limited supply and of C. snatched itfrom up for our Sedona turquoise Arizona and Turquoise Collection. Inspired snatched it up for our Sedona by the work of thoseInspired ancient Turquoise Collection. craftsmen designed by the workand of those ancientto craftsmen andexceptional designed blue to showcase the showcase the stabilized exceptionalvibrant blue stone, each stone, each features stabilizeda vibrant cabochon unique, features aYou unique, one-of-a-kind matrix surroundedcabochon in Bali metalwork. could one-of-a-kind matrix in Bali metalwork. You could26 drop over $1,200 on asurrounded turquoise pendant, or you could secure drop $1,200 on a turquoise pendant, or $99. you could secure 26 caratsover of genuine Arizona turquoise for just carats of genuine Arizona turquoise for just $99. Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed. If you aren’t completely Your is 100% guaranteed. you aren’t completely happysatisfaction with your purchase, send it back If within 30 days for a happy withrefund your purchase, send it back within 30 days for a complete of the item price. complete refund of the item price. The supply of Arizona turquoise is limited, don’t miss your chance The supply Arizona turquoise limited, don’tCall misstoday! your chance to own the of Southwest’s brilliantisblue treasure. to own the Southwest’s brilliant blue treasure. Call today! Jewelry Specifications: Jewelry Specifications: • Arizona turquoise • Silver-finished settings • Arizona turquoise • Silver-finished settings

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outdoors today picture this my opinion grin ‘n’ bare it

Our history and future leaders show us the way Mississippi is a state bursting with rich stories of its history – some tales well known and others waiting still to be revealed. Stories about our state’s history are some of our favorites to feature in Today in Mississippi. Readers have told us over the years that stories about our history are some of their favorites as well. Telling those stories are a tradition we intend to carry on well into the future. This month our main feature delves into the Mississippi history of a place and a small group of people who are trying to preserve a landmark in that location. Rodney, a tiny Jefferson County community in Southwest Electric’s territory, has been a popular tourist destination because of its reputation as a “ghost town.” I’m not sure there’s any actual spectral presence in Rodney, but the picturesque locale is a spot with two ancient churches, houses built decades ago and a cemetery that all tell stories about the people who populated the once busy and booming Mississippi River port town. The Rodney History and Preservation Society is a nonprofit group that is trying to restore the 200-year-old Rodney Presbyterian Church. The group’s reasons for trying to save

the church is one of the cornerstones of why history is so important to all of us. Our February issue is also special because, for most of our electric cooperatives, we have highlighted the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi’s 2020 Youth Leadership Class. These future student leaders, like many of us, will never forget the year that caused different kinds of challenges and disappointments. The students were forced to cope with the cancellation of the group’s annual trip to Washington D.C. for health reasons. The good news is the 2020 crop of youth leaders stepped up to the challenge and persevered – a strong and crucial trait in any leader We congratulate all of our youth leaders this year and look forward to discovering how you will change the world in your future endeavors. The Class of 2020 has convinced me of this: I can assure our members that the future looks bright and we are going to be in good hands as the years progress!

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

Mississippi is... “A Reason to Sing!” As I gaze out my window Watch the leaves fall to the ground, My ears perk up with “Joyful” As I hear the familiar sounds! It’s the sound of the geese honking The cows mooing in the fields, The hummingbirds fluttering The sights and sounds that nature yields! I drive along the country road Take my pups out for a ride, We breathe in all the beauty That Mother Nature does provide! Flowering trees along the roadside Bales of hay lined up so neatly, The sounds of children playing Their voices resound so sweetly! When I add it all together The true pleasures that it brings, Each day in Mississippi Is one reason my heart sings!

by Kathleen Busch, a resident of Poplarville and a member of Coast Electric

What’s Mississippi to you? What do you treasure most about life in our state? Send your brief thoughts to Today in Mississippi, news@ecm.coop or mail to P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158


in this issue

5 southern gardening The art of intentional gardening

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

5

11 outdoors today History of a hickory tree

12 local news 18 feature

Saving a church in the “ghost town” of Rodney

18

24 on the menu

Valentine’s Day sweets can be healthy

27 mississippi seen Sunrises and sunsets

24

The Official Publication of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi

Vol. 74 No. 2

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: 473,638

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

www.facebook.com/TodayinMississippi www.todayinmississippi.com

On the cover Church cover: The 200-year-old Rodney Presbyterian Church. Photo by Chad Calcote. Youth tour cover: Members of ECM’s 2020 Youth Leadership Class. Note: The photos were shot in February 2020 before the COVID-10 pandemic began.

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 news@ecm.coop Deadline: March 5. Select photos will appear in the April 2021 issue.

4 TODAY | FEBRUARY 2021


Resolve to be an intentional gardener It’s February but it’s still enough of a new year to say Happy New Year! Boy, oh boy, what a number COVID laid on us in 2020. It was clearly demonstrated how ill-prepared we are for disruptions in many supply chains. Who can forget the short supplies of toilet paper, and who has not put away a couple of extra rolls just in case? One positive COVID outcome that occurred in 2020 — if it’s OK to say COVID and positive in the same sentence — was the tremendous increase and interest in consumer horticulture. But even this caused shortages of many gardening and horticultural essentials, from seeds to transplants, and from hoses to fertilizers. These shortages occurred because no one could have predicted the demand. Now I’m not complaining. My goal as a Mississippi State University Extension Service consumer horticulture specialist is to promote the home garden and landscape and create excitement in them. So, I’ll take any help I can to get more people gardening and receiving the benefits from it. As I look at the 2021 gardening year that has already started, I would like to see home gardeners become intentional gardeners. Now this is different than simply having good intentions for the garden. Calling ourselves gardeners implies that we have good intentions of having a successful garden. But in reality, good intentions don’t mean much. For example, I meant to pull some pesky weeds, but the latest episode of “The Mandalorian” was just released. That’s such a 2020 COVID excuse. I’m talking about gardening with a purpose. This does not mean you have to have a huge garden. Being an intentional gardener has nothing to do with the size of your garden. Whether your garden is 10,000-square feet or a set of

containers on the porch or patio, intentional gardeners act on their intentions to have a successful gardening experience. Now is the perfect time to start thinking about and planning what you would like to accomplish this year in your garden and landscape. Like me, you may already be receiving a pile of gardening and seed catalogs, as this is the traditional garden-planning time of year. These catalogs are great resources to help plan an intentional garden. Many good gardening intentions are made while thumbing through catalogs and creating a mental wish list for a glorious garden. The beautiful images of flowers and gorgeous fruits and vegetables are like a siren’s song — so alluring — but it is important to avoid going overboard. Unrealistic expectations for the coming garden harvest can happen to even the most experienced Extension consumer horticulture specialist. (In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m talking about myself here.) Over the next several Southern Gardening columns, I’m going to discuss becoming an intentional gardener. I will share tips to give us the power to fight the garden’s siren song. So, here’s to having our best intentional gardens possible in 2021.

by Dr. Gary Bachman Gary Bachman, Ph.D., Extension/Research Professor of Horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. He is also host of “Southern Gardening” radio and TV programs. He lives in Ocean Springs and is a Singing River Electric member.

FEBRUARY 2021 | TODAY 5


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by Elissa Fulton Growing up on a catfish farm in Yazoo City, Chat Phillips has affection for entrepreneurship and his rural roots. He attended a small boarding school in Chattanooga, Tennessee before attending the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. As part of his liberal arts education, he was required to take a foreign language. He chose Japanese and picked it up rather easily before studying abroad in Japan. It was his first time out of the United States, and after traveling more than 30 hours to his destination in the northern mountains of Japan, in a climate very much like a summer in Mississippi without air conditioning, he was exhausted and hot. His host family immediately offered him a cold beverage which, for their culture, parallels sweet tea for Mississippians. The drink, made from a barley seed and blended into a tea called mugicha, was unlike anything he had ever had. When Phillips graduated, he moved back to Mississippi and began working in economic development in Tupelo. Phillips met his wife, Stevie, in Tupelo before the newlyweds moved to Jackson and Chat begin working for a state agency, and then moved into the private sector. With his career, he’s made many trips back to Japan. Because mugicha is not common in the states, when he would visit, he always drank his favorite beverage and would pack his suitcase with it before he returned. “This drink couldn’t be found in Mississippi and I missed it so much, I just started buying raw grains and roasting it for myself,” he said. Because of the health benefits, Chat and Stevie started making it for their friends and families as an alternative to caffeinated teas and coffee. It wasn’t long before the young couple decided since it wasn’t available locally, and they were already providing it for many people they knew, they might just have a business opportunity that could combine Chat’s love of mugicha and the Japanese culture. It was then that

Inaka Tea Company was born. “We just started experimenting, and as far as we know, we are the first U.S. company to brew and bottle it,” said Chat. “And I believe we are the first company in the world to brew and blend it with flavors.” Inaka Tea Company offers three flavors: original, mint and ginger. Chat and Stevie had to build the supply chain from scratch. They researched and visited with more than 30 grain roasters and finally one of them agreed to take a chance. They worked on perfecting the product for more than six months. In addition to being a unique product, the tea has great health benefits. There are many antioxidants and helps to regulate blood sugar and cholesterol, with calming agents such as melatonin and tryptophan. The company name and logo are also quite inspiring and took time to perfect. “Inaka is a Japanese word that means countryside, hometown or place of origin,” said Chat. “The reason I chose that name was because one, the first time I had it I was literally in the countryside of Japan, but two, I wanted to appreciate our roots as a company and a family.” Chat said he grew up on a farm in Mississippi and the couple intends to stay in Mississippi. “I wanted those two things together as our brand.” The company was set to launch in the spring of 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic halted those plans. Though the Phillips admit that launching a business in the middle of a pandemic has not been ideal, the Mississippi-based Corner Market in Hattiesburg took a chance on Chat’s dream and is now carrying the product in three Hattiesburg stores and three Jackson stores. They are expecting a statewide launch in the near future. For more information about Inaka Tea Company visit inakatea.com. FEBRUARY 2021 | TODAY 7


8 TODAY | FEBRUARY 2021


scene around the ‘sip

Youth students continue to lead in challenging times by Elissa Fulton and had a photo session and breakfast with their state legisFor 34 years, Mississippi’s electric cooperatives have been lators before touring the Mississippi State Capitol. Along with supporting young students through the Youth Leadership legislators, Gov. Tate Reeves, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann and Program. This program includes a year-long selection process Secretary of State Michael Watson all attended the workshop at local cooperatives to select the participants for a leadership and encouraged these students to follow their dreams. workshop in Jackson in February, and a week-long tour of Unfortunately, as with many other Washington, D.C. in June each year. events this past year, the 2020 Youth The program is supported locally by Tour of Washington, D.C., was canceled. electric cooperatives, statewide through When the global coronavirus pandemic the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi began, our cooperative advisors felt and nationally through the National Rural certain we would be able to continue Electric Cooperative Association. Since the with a local program later in the year. 1960s, the program has inspired leadership As the COVID-19 virus showed no signs qualities, introduced first-hand knowledge of slowing down, a decision was made of state and national politics and encourto cancel the remaining 2020 activities. aged relationships that many of these The safety of the students has and will students will foster throughout their lives. Curry Black accepts the overall Youth Leadership Award from Ron Stewart, senior vice president of the always be a priority. The students are selected based upon Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi. The organizers of this program have their academic achievements, participating in student organizations and volunteerism Curry Black receives worked tirelessly to offer a comparable solution for these students by providin their schools, churches and communischolarships ing scholarships. Though we believe ties and participation in local cooperative Curry Black, representing East Mississippi scholarships can in no way replace the activities and/or interviews. Electric Power Association, was selected as the opportunity of seeing our nation’s capMississippi’s students are recognized 2020 Youth Leadership Council (YLC) member. ital, experiencing politics firsthand and He is the son of Lori and Stefan Black of Louiseach year in Today in Mississippi in the ville and attends Winston Academy. As a YLC making lifelong relationships, the CEOs, April issue following the workshop in student, Curry was awarded the $1,000 Youth board directors and program directors of Jackson, and again in the August issue Leadership Award and scholarship, as well as the participating cooperatives hope that after the summer tour, where they appear additional scholarships from EMEPA and ECM. Black’s future goals are to attend law school, this scholarship will aid in these student’s on the cover of the magazine. become involved in politics and eventually future educational goals. “Our 2020 students possess the qualibecome President of the United States. We The classes of 2020 and 2021 have ties that define great leadership and have congratulate Black on his accomplishments! undergone many disappointments as a vision for the future,” said Ron Stewart, their senior years have been disrupted by this global crisis. ECM senior vice president. “They are energetic young people The resiliency that we have seen in these students has been who lead by example and are willing to step forward to make both remarkable and encouraging. They have found ways to a difference, even while facing difficult challenges. They are connect with each other safely, to continue with their studies problem solvers and, with great enthusiasm, are dedicated to and to follow rules set in place by leading officials. All of these working together to achieve success.” qualities have shown an insurmountable desire to succeed. There were 87 students from the Class of 2020 who participated in the annual Youth Leadership Workshop in Jackson Feb. These students have overcome much in this past year and been 27 – March 1, 2020. They participated in team-building exercises, challenged in ways that few have in the past. We are excited to see what their futures will hold. heard speeches from motivational speakers and public officials FEBRUARY 2021 | TODAY 9


mississippi seen events

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on the menu

scene around the ‘s co-op involvement

southern gardening


mississippi is...

grin ‘n’ bare it

FEBRUARY 2021 | TODAY 11

Revisions Requested Approved

STEVEN Date_____ Revisions Requested Approved

Hunting comrade Neal Brown found the old hickory This past season I elected that proud hickory. Neal told me of its fate, for he had already visited its position on the long before I, several years in fact. The tree stood proudly bluff. I went anyway. The situation was dire. Lightning we just at the edge of an east-west ridge overlooking a tanassumed. I felt a pang of grief. Even considered clearing gled hollow through which a deer trail wended its serpensome debris from the tree’s base and employing it one tine route annually. It, this trail, was generally considered a last time, but outsized limbs far overhead had begun sure thing. Neal introduced it to me. cracking and falling. Too risky. I moved He had also found a similar-sized over to the side of that bastion of hope oak that held an identical station on a and grand memories. A sentinel that had north-south ridge a few hundred yards seen far more nature and cold and hot to the west of that hickory. Same sitand howling wind and rainstorms than I uation: a sure thing. Cradle quietly in had or ever would. Now a mere skeleton, the embrace of either tree’s behemoth waiting for one final crash that would roots long enough and sit still; deer leave it in decay. will trickle along respective ridges or But it had not been wasted. It had hollows. provided in grand form for the wild things We came to identify these two and for two hunters who would miss efficacious locales by truly clever and its grandeur. And 30 yards away stood creative titles: the Big Oak and the another, smaller and younger and growing Big Hickory! They became our into its own destiny as a colossal guardian most-visited sites when deer hunting, and resting place for any visitor. It likely and who got which when depended was the offspring of that once-proud upon who spoke first. A coin toss hickory. I nodded respect for both, regret would settle the matter if we claimed for the old and celebration for the new. the same simultaneously. We are The once-proud hickory that hosted two hunters I hope to visit next December. friends and fellow hunters after all. for 20 years is now a ghostly figure, but a new Both trees had been kind to each of one is growing nearby. us, so there was no cause for squabble. Beside that big oak six years back, I took my last buck while using my beloved wooden bow. Shoulders and neck, strategic players in the game of old age, preclude me from doing so again. I have since been unable to convince by Tony Kinton myself to gravitate toward wheels and cables, so that chapter is closed. Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in And three years ago, Neal took a particularly fine Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit www.tonykinton.com for more information. specimen from that same spot while using his big Sharps rifle and black-powder cartridges. If a ledger had been kept and consulted, results would show similar success and balanced accounts for both hunters and both trees during two decades.

CHAD Date_____

Approved

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RON Date_____

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Revisions Requested

mississippi marketplace u outdoors today d the ‘sip picture this my opinion ement

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Notice of 2021

Board Elections and 2020 Annual Report

by Darrell Smith General Manager

During the January Magnolia Electric Power board meeting, the 2021 Annual Meeting was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic and the Executive Order called by Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves restricting the number of people who can meet. We want to follow Governor Reeves’ directives and we cannot plan ahead to have our Annual Meeting due to the restrictions on the number of people who can gather. However, our board of directors election process will go on as normal. Throughout this entire year, the safety of our members, employees and board members has Brookhaven been our highest priority. Our Annual Meeting brings in nearly 200 people 84 and we do want to continue to do LINCOLN everything we can to keep everyone COUNTY as safe as possible. FRANKLIN Bogue Chitto COUNTY We appreciate everyone’s 98 patience during this difficult time. Smithdale PIKE We have kept the power on through AMITE COUNTY Summit COUNTY some quite trying times during 2020, including tornadoes in the McComb spring and a hurricane in the fall. After the election results have 24 Liberty been made official, we will give a Osyka report on the election and share information that we would normally discuss at the Annual Meeting. We would ask that our members look for the proxies that will be dropped in the mail in early February and be a part of our election process by sending in your proxies. We appreciate our members and we will get through this difficult time together. 12 TODAY | FEBRUARY 2021

Look for this brochure in early February.

84

LAWRENCE COUNTY

Jayees

WALTHALL COUNTY 98

MARION COUNTY

Tylertown


ANDERSON & MARTIN RETIRE FROM MEP

by Lucy Shell The new year found that Magnolia Electric Power had two long-time employees retiring. Both Tony Martin and Skipper Anderson, each with at least 40 years of dedication to MEP, have made the decision to retire. Both men have always gone above and beyond the call of duty as team members of the company. As with any good employee, you are always sad to see them leave the company. “I have had the pleasure of working with Skipper and Tony throughout most of my career at Magnolia Electric. They are the kind of employees you hate to see leave your workforce. They have been dedicated to their jobs, dependable and always among those I could depend on to respond during times of outages on our system. Although I’m sorry to see them leave MEP, at the same time I wish them both a long and happy retirement,” said General Manager Darrell Smith.

Tony Martin On December 3, 2020, Martin officially retired from Magnolia Electric Power after 40 years, three months and one day on the job. Martin began his career at Magnolia Electric Power Association on Highway 98 East beginning on September 2, 1980, and continued through the name change to Magnolia Electric Power and the utility’s move to Highway 98 West of Summit. At his time of retirement, Martin had worked well over 25 years as a MEP serviceman, where he took many nightly call-outs to get someone’s electric power restored for them, on top of his daily work routine. Martin has worked numerous storms that have occurred at Magnolia Electric and has traveled to provide help for many storms outside MEP’s service area. Martin said the furthest he ever traveled was to work an ice storm in Missouri and he has been as far south as Florida to work hurricanes, too. In addition, Martin has volunteered to make a lineman presentation since the inception of MEP’s Cooperative University. His talks and interaction with the high school students have always been a great success and rates high marks on the students’ surveys. He married Tammie Fortinberry Martin on June 4, 1976. The couple have three children and eight grandchildren. His plans for retirement include spending time with his family, and looking forward to being home instead of being gone all the time. Martin will also be working part-time as an instructor at Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s new Linemen School.

Skipper Anderson On February 5, 2021, Anderson officially retired from Magnolia Electric Power after 41 years, five months and one day on the job. Anderson began his career at Magnolia Electric Power Association on Highway 98 East beginning on September 4, 1979, and continued through the name change to Magnolia Electric Power and the utility’s move to Highway 98 West of Summit. Anderson has shared a number of humorous stories about the time he and other MEP linemen worked the Delta ice storm in 1994. Anderson said he and his crew helped both Twin County Electric Power Association and Delta Electric Power Association when the ice storm destroyed both of the electric cooperatives’ electrical systems. Besides working as a lineman, Anderson worked as a crew leader for 12 years and was substation assistant for eight years. He served as Manager of Safety and Loss Prevention for 18 years and was in that position when he retired. Anderson said he has enjoyed making presentations to the local schools, fire departments and civic groups on electrical safety. He married Mel Hall Anderson on April 20, 1973. His plans for retirement include spending time with his wife, both of them traveling, riding his Honda Goldwing Trike and attending Quarter Horse shows. FEBRUARY 2021 | TODAY 13


2020 Youth Leadership Winners

Johnson, Kinnison, Simmons, Stringer to receive scholarships in lieu of D.C. trip by Lucy Shell The Magnolia Electric Power Youth Leadership program did not go as expected for the 2020 winners, who were able to travel to Jackson in February 2020, before all travel came into question due to COVID-19. Because of safety and health concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic brought about, the 2020 winners were not able to travel to Washington D.C. in June. Kathryn Johnson, Hannah Kinnison, Alli Simmons and Madison Stringer took the news as best they could, with several holding out for a possible trip during Spring Break of their senior year. But, unfortunately, even that would not work out. Therefore, due to the repeated COVID-19 setbacks, each of the students will receive a scholarship in the form of $2,500 from MEP to use toward their college educations. Let us reintroduce you to our Youth Leadership winners and scholarship recipients: Kathryn Johnson “Who would have thought the world could change so fast?” asked Johnson. Johnson has been home-educated since Kindergarten through the Abeka program. Her parents, Lande and Brandie Johnson, wanted to assure a quality education for their daughter despite drastic changes in the public school system. After many years of diligent studies, Johnson will graduate this May at Pensacola Christian Academy. She plans to attend a local community college where she hopes to be able to continue her passion of showing cattle and helping on the family ranch. Having completed her first two years of college, Johnson will transfer to a state college to finish her degree in business. However, Johnson’s ultimate goal is to enroll in law school in order to study the laws and constitution of the country she dearly loves. With the world she hopes to influence changing

so drastically, Johnson wonders what the future may hold. “It can be discouraging growing up in a time when the greatest country on earth has forsaken God and consequently has fallen into turmoil.” But, even in these troubling times, Johnson knows there is a purpose as she includes a favorite verse from the Bible, “We must remember that God has a plan — that we may be here ‘for such a time as this.’” Esther 4:14 Hannah Kinnison Kinnison is a student at Brookhaven High School. She is the daughter of Lisa Kinnison. Her extracurricular activities include: BHS Color Guard, Crown Club, Mock Trial and National Honor Society. Kinnison had this to say when asked about her future plans, “I am planning on attending Mississippi State University in the fall to major in biomedical engineering and minor in business administration. After graduating with my undergraduate degree, I plan to go onto the University of Mississippi Medical School.” Kinnison said her favorite quote is, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is never stop questioning.” - Albert Einstein

2020 YOUTH LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP

14 TODAY | FEBRUARY 2021

Allison “Alli” Simmons Simmons is currently a senior at Parklane Academy. Her parents are Vic Simmons and Jewel Bond. At school, she is involved in Science Olympiad, Quiz Bowl, Environmental Club, Book Club and Student Council. She is currently serving as senior class president, and has been a part of the girls’ varsity soccer team for four years. She is a member of the McComb Mayor’s Youth Council and volunteers for both Miracle League and


Madison Stringer Kathryn Johnson

Allison “Alli” Simmons Hannah Kinnison

Camp Sunshine. Simmons, a member of First Baptist Church in Magnolia, has been involved with the youth group for six years. In her free time, she said she enjoys “Doing absolutely nothing. I love to take the occasional nap, and my favorite past time is curling up in bed with a good movie. I also enjoy reading, debating, being active and spending time with friends and family.” In the fall, Simmons will attend Louisiana State University to major in mass communications with a concentration in political communications. She plans to complete LSU’s 3+3 Law Fast Track, which will allow her to obtain her bachelor’s degree one year early. After graduating, she plans to attend LSU Law School to obtain her Juris Doctor degree. “My ultimate goal is to use my law degree for good. In addition to practicing law in a general aspect, I want to propose and change laws at a state or national level pertaining to special victims of various types. I want to make a positive difference, and I want to make God and my family proud,” Simmons said. She added that her favorite quote is, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” -Harriet Tubman

Madison Stringer Stringer is the daughter of Trent and Melissa Stringer of Tylertown and a student at Parklane Academy. Just a few of her extracurricular activities include: a volunteer for Camp Sunshine and McComb Miracle League, Smokin’ On the Tracks and Iron Horse Festival. She is a member of J.J. White Girl Scouts, Junior Auxiliary of McComb Crown Club, and McComb Garden Girls. She is also a member of Tylertown Baptist Church and co-captain of the Parklane Academy Girls Soccer Team. Her future plans, summed up in her own words are, “I will attend Mississippi State University in the fall and major in either business administration or kinesiology. While at MSU, I hope to join a sorority and other social clubs to meet new people and make lifelong connections. I plan to continue my education by obtaining a master’s degree. After college, I would love to move to a metropolitan area and gain work experience. I look forward to raising my family here in Mississippi, where I will continue to give back to my community. I am excited to see where God takes me in the future!”

FEBRUARY 2021 | TODAY 15


Annual MEP Awards Banquet COVID-19 has changed a lot of things this year and MEP has made adjustments so that we have been able to continue our service of providing safe, reliable electric power to our members. This year we celebrated our employees’ Service Awards with a walk-through event. Some were not photographed due to various reasons, but these photos represent many who were celebrating their work milestones this past year.

Work longevity is a rare things these days and receiving Annual Service Awards recently for 40 years were Tony Martin (left) and Dennis Butler (right). Not pictured is Chris Anglin, 35 years.

Receiving Annual Service Awards for 30 years. From left: Mike McKenzie, Tracy Lambert, Tony Nettles and John Lee. Not pictured is Bruce McCaffery.

Receiving Annual Service Awards for 10 years was (from left) Luis Ybarra and Lawrence Weems; while Justin Thomas (far right) received his Service Award for 20 years of working for MEP. Not pictured is Terry Causey, 20 years; and Carl Fuller, 15 years.

Receiving Annual Service Awards for five years of service are from left: Yvonne Dillon, Alex Fortenberry, Kaylan Bracey and Charlene Wilson. Not pictured is Chris Hunter, five years.

NOTICE Osmose to begin working the Gillsburg substation area Osmose contractors, hired by MEP, began working in early January in the Gillsburg Substation area, which includes south central and south eastern Amite County and a small portion of south western Pike County. Osmose is a company that provides the systematic checking of all utility poles for decay and rot. Osmose will “sound” each individual pole with a hammer, may drill holes in the pole to take a sample to test on site and treat the pole if any decay is found. The treatment extends the life of the pole and gives an estimated 10 additional years of life to the structure, thus creating savings for the company and members. The contractors will travel on four-wheelers or pick-up trucks to reach the poles. In addition, they will also have Osmose and 16 TODAY | FEBRUARY 2021

Magnolia Electric Power decals, hard hats, reflective vest and a letter with them stating their purpose. It is a Rural Utility Services (RUS) requirement that MEP inspects its power poles. If you have additional questions, please call the business office at 601-684-4011 and ask for operations.


Local co-op communicator earns national credential Magnolia Electric Power would like to announce that Lucy Shell, manager of member services and communications, has earned recognition as a professional communicator in a national certification program offered by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). Shell has met the requirements to become a Certified Cooperative Communicator (CCC), which signifies standards of professionalism in communications and competency in the electric cooperative industry. In order to become certified, Shell submitted a portfolio of her work, which was reviewed by an independent communications professional who has earned the CCC credential. In addition to passing the portfolio review, Shell passed a rigorous four-hour examination. The CCC Program was created to strengthen and enrich the professional skills and abilities of electric co-op communicators to help them successfully fill their crucial roles in ensuring the best possible future for electric cooperatives. This is done through the establishment of professional development goals, identification of a body of knowledge and skills necessary to the practice of electric co-op communication

and recognition of those individuals who have demonstrated a professional level of excellence. Since 1985, a little less than 500 electric cooperative communicators have attained CCC status. In the state of Mississippi, there are only seven Lucy Shell, CCC communicators that have achieved the Certified Cooperative Communicator status. Shell, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, has been employed at Magnolia Electric Power for 18 years. NRECA is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to more than 37 million people in 47 states.

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Sign up at MEPcoop.com or download on your smart phone. FEBRUARY 2021 | TODAY 17


Photos by Chad Calcote


by Steven Ward “People either get Rodney or they don’t.” That’s how Angel Puckett recently described the allure of the tiny Mississippi River-area community in Jefferson County that was once a bustling port town. Today, known by tourists and most Mississippi residents as a “ghost town,” Rodney, Mississippi is home to about 8 residents. But it wasn’t always that way. Various histories of the area report that the town was three legislative votes away from becoming the state capital due to its status as a boomtown and important shipping point along the Mississippi River. Puckett, a United States Post Office mail carrier who lives in nearby Lorman, lived in Rodney for 30 years beginning in 1980. Even back then, when there were about 100 residents, Puckett remembered people calling Rodney a “ghost town.” Continual flooding from the nearby river forced younger families over the years to move away from Rodney, she said. But Puckett loved living there and that love for the community has carried over into a mission with others with

connections there to preserve a large part of Rodney’s history. Puckett is the president of the Rodney History and Preservation Society, a 501 c3 nonprofit group formed in 2018 to save and restore the community’s 200-year-old Rodney Presbyterian Church. The society now owns the church. “We want to save one of the few remaining buildings in what was almost the state capital. It’s one of the finest examples of federal style architecture in Mississippi and has stood proud for nearly two hundred years,” Puckett said. Right now, construction work is underway to restore the church’s south wall. The church, a two-story gable-roof brick structure with stepped gable ends and an interior-end bell tower, was built in 1832 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The church is also designated a Mississippi Landmark. That classification requires that Puckett’s group rebuild and restore the church with the approval of the Mississippi Department of History and Archives. Following the restoration of the south wall, the group plans on addressing the structural weaknesses of the bell tower. FEBRUARY 2021 | TODAY 19

VERSION #______________ RON Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested STEVEN Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested CHAD Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested ELISSA Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested CHRIS Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested ARTIST ___________ Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested

Saving a church to preserve a link to history


Throughout the time since the group was formed, fundraising and some state money has been utilized to restore the church, Puckett said. “Jefferson County has a rich history and Rodney is basically in our backyard here in Lorman,” said Kevin Bonds, CEO of Southwest Electric. “We applaud the efforts of the Rodney History and Preservation Society to restore the church building and keep the history of this area alive.” Located along a wooden bluff east of the church is the Rodney Cemetery. Although it’s not owned by the society or part of the group’s official restoration efforts, the group and other volunteers have assisted members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in graveyard clean ups. The SCV had asked for help in the cemetery with work which included fixing and cleaning broken markers and cutting markers out of canebrake. The volunteer work at the cemetery is part of the society’s love for Rodney. Puckett said the group is made up of members with various connections to Rodney including some past residents. Mary Pallon of Pine, Arizona is one of those society board members with an important connection.

Rodney Masonic Lodge

A replica of a Civil War-era cannon ball shot fired into the front of Rodney Presbyterian Church

Visit rodneyhistory.org for more information about Rodney or to make a restoration donation.

Mt. Zion Baptist Church

Society president Angel Puckett

“My grandfather, The Rev. Allen Washington Duck, was the last assigned pastor to Rodney Presbyterian Church, Pallon said. Duck and his wife lived in nearby Red Lick in the late 1920s and served the church once a month. “He loved Rodney. The church paid him $200 to come at least one Sunday a month. He served the church in Red Lick and a church in Hermanville at the same time. He first served Rodney via horse and buggy,” Pallon said. Pallon’s grandfather was part of a Presbyterian effort in the 1950’s to help preserve Rodney Presbyterian. The church was sold in the 1960’s due to only a handful of members, she said. Pallon said she’s trying to continue the effort her grandfather started. “The church is a concrete link to a vibrant, rich, wild history of Old Southwest Mississippi. Rodney Presbyterian is the only distinct building left in Rodney, of the original town,” Pallon said. “Rodney Presbyterian serves to inspire us to understand its history to future generations. Why? Because a historical perspective helps all to navigate in the present and in the future.”


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Saluting the men and women who power our lives

The men and women who work at Mississippi’s electric cooperatives are special employees who operate the many moving parts of providing power to our members on a daily basis. Although their diligence is apparent year in and year out, 2020 was a different year than most. The past year was one defined by excessive weather challenges and a global pandemic that changed how cooperatives – and the world – conducted business. Back to back hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico hit Mississippi and other southeastern states and knocked out power far and wide. Mississippi linemen, always on call and prepared to deploy whenever needed, went out in adverse conditions in their home state as well as others in the region to restore power to residents and businesses in need. Tornadoes in Mississippi wreaked havoc this year throughout the state causing long hours and extra personnel to get electricity back to our members. But it wasn’t just our linemen who answered the call to help our members and members of other cooperatives nearby. Office personnel put on chef hats

to cook or arrange food for lineman and support staff. Cooperative communicators were dispatched to the field to shoot photos for social media to keep members up to date with the latest information. The more than 2,950 employees who work for Mississippi’s electric cooperatives went above and beyond to meet the challenges of 2020 to ensure our members had power restored in a safe and timely manner. We salute the employees of Mississippi’s electric cooperatives for their dedication this past year and commitment for years to come.

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with Rebecca Turner

Sweets for your sweet during heart month Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and whether you’re single or taken, it is an excellent opportunity to think about hearts, but not just the candy kind. Since 1964 the president has annually declared February American Heart Month as a reminder to get families, friends and communities involved in reinforcing the importance of heart health. You have heard these heart-healthy tips before — engage in regular exercise, adopt a diet lower in salt, limit saturated fats found in red meat and dairy, and avoid trans fat used in margarine and self-stable baked and snack foods. Focus on eating fats found in olive oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish that protect the heart. You can often substitute meat with Mississippi farm-raised catfish or Mississippi seafood. Eat a variety of vegetables, especially those rich in color — darkgreen, red, and orange. Frozen fruits or vegetables and 24 TODAY | FEBRUARY 2021

those canned in water or reduced-sodium are nutritious options, too. There is still room for sweet treats while taking care of your precious heart. At least 70 percent cocoa, dark chocolate is high in flavonoids associated with a lower heart disease risk. You can enjoy 1 to 2 ounces a day to reap the heart benefits. Keep dark chocolate nibs in your pantry to add to oatmeal, yogurt, muffins, pancakes, or trail mixes. With any dessert, portion control matters more than trying to substitute all the calories away. Try frozen raspberries coated in yogurt and covered in dark chocolate for a healthy, bite-size treat. Create a cake in a mug for a perfectly portioned, quick to make, sweet treat. When you have leftover cake or more time in the kitchen, give cake-pops a try for a twist to single-serve indulgences.


Chocolate Covered Raspberries INGREDIENTS 1 container fresh raspberries 1 container vanilla yogurt 1 12-ounce bag dark chocolate chips 2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Rinse fresh raspberries and pat them dry with a paper towel. Allow them to fully dry before moving on. 2. Cover a small baking sheet with parchment paper. 3. Use a fork, toothpick, or clean fingers to dip each berry into the yogurt to coat. Place each yogurt covered berry onto the parchment. Once all the berries are coated, place in the freezer for 60 minutes until it’s hard.. 4. Once the yogurt has hardened, melt chocolate chips with olive oil in the microwave on 30 second intervals, until melted and thin enough to dip or drizzle. If your chocolate gets thick, add an extra teaspoon of olive oil and reheat for 15-30 seconds. 5. Dip each yogurt covered berry into the melted chocolate and place back on the parchment lined sheet. Continue with remaining berries until they’re all coated. Place back in the freezer until chocolate has set and enjoy. Berries will last two to three weeks in the freezer. For the best results, take them out of the freezer and let them sit for 3-5 minutes before enjoying. Substitute raspberries for any fresh berry or cherry.

Microwave Mug Cake

INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons self-rising flour 1 ½ tablespoons no-calorie sweetener (or table sugar) 2 teaspoons cocoa powder 1⁄8 cup of baking powder Pinch of salt 2 tablespoons milk 1 teaspoon oil 1 drop of vanilla extract

1. Combine the flour, sweetener, cocoa powder and salt in the mug. Whisk gently until no lumps remain. If you don’t have self-rising flour, use all purpose flour plus 1/8 cup baking powder. 2. Stir in the milk, olive oil and vanilla until smooth. 3. Pop in the microwave on high for 30-35 seconds. Don’t over cook! The cake will continue to cook as it sets and cools. 4. Cool 3-5 minutes. Make it your own and serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar, topped with berries, or go wild and add a drizzle of chocolate sauce!

Basic Cake Pops

INGREDIENTS Cake prepared (use your favorite boxed cake mix, homemade cake, leftover cake or store bought cake) 2-5 spoonfuls of frosting (pick your preferred store bought flavor or make it from scratch) 2 bags of chocolate candy melts Cake pop sticks Sprinkles Styrofoam block 1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Add prepared cake to a large bowl and crumble it until it resembles fine crumbs. 3. Add in frosting a small spoonful at a time. Use your hands to incorporate the frosting. You want the cake to be moist and hold a ball shape, but not too mushy. Less is more. 4. Scoop out a small amount to roll into a tight ball and place on a plate. If you have a mini ice cream scoop, that works great. 5. Repeat until all the cake mixture has been rolled into balls. 6. Melt 2-4 ounces of the chocolate melts in the microwave. 7. Dip the tip of the cake pop sticks into the melted chocolate and insert into the cake balls about half-way and place on parchment paper. 8. Freeze for about 20 minutes and prepare all of your decorating supplies. 9. Melt the remaining chocolate in a large cup (not bowl). You need enough chocolate to submerge the cake ball. 10. Remove cake balls from the freezer. 11. Dip cake balls carefully into the chocolate until covered. 12. Let the excess chocolate drip off. Swirl and tap. 13. Add desired sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet. It will harden fast. 14. Stick the decorated cake pop into a styrofoam block to finish setting. (game changer for having attractive cake pops) 15. Place the pops into the freezer to speed up setting time. 16. Store in a cool area in a single layer, and in an airtight container. You can make them beautifully delicious gifts by covering them with a clear bag and tying them with festive string.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Rebecca Turner is an author, registered dietitian, radio host, television presenter and a certified specialist in sports dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lifelong Mississippian, she lives in Brandon and has spent the last decade offering no-nonsense nutrition guidance that allows you to enjoy good health and good food. Her book, “Mind Over Fork,” challenges the way you think, not the way you eat. Find her on social media @RebeccaTurnerNutrition and online at www.RebeccaTurnerNutrition.com.

FEBRUARY 2021 | TODAY 25


mississippi seen

mississippi is...

events

mississippi marketplace on the menu outdoors today Many planned events were canceled Electric power associations... because of the COVID-19 crisis, so we scene around the ‘sip picture this your quality of life partner have had far fewer events to feature in this space as a result. As more areas mypower opinion of Mississippi open back up and groups co-op involvement Mississippi’s electric associations have and will continue and organizations feel comfortable about holding public events, we intend to include those details here. So, if you have an upcoming event for March or April, please email the details to news@ecm.coop. Events are subject to change or cancellation due to COVID-19. Please confirm details before traveling.

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Greater Vision in concert. Feb. 18. Petal. Concert begins at 7 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Runnelstown. A love offering will be received. Details: 601-583-3733. “Why I Live at the P.O.” Feb. 26-28 and March 5-7. Laurel. Comedy based on a Eudora Welty story about the postmistress of a tiny Mississippi post office. Laurel Little Theatre’s downtown Arabian Theatre. 408 5th Ave. The reservation line opens Feb. 19. Details: 601-428-0140.

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FACTS & FIGURES 802,739 Total meters served 691,540 Residential meters EPAs serve 50% of the electric meters in Mississippi Investor owned - 40% Municipal systems - 10% EPAs serve approximately 85% of the state’s land mass 95,731 - Miles of distribution lines 8.4 - Average number of members per mile of line 2,981 - Total number of employees

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February is when we began to notice the days are getting longer. Odd that the shortest month of the year is when we see that we are starting to climb out of winter. Not that we don’t have plenty of cold weather still ahead of us. And the sunset has perceptibly moved farther northward than it was in December. Driving into Jackson on Lakeland Drive, there is a hilltop east of the airport where you get a pretty good view of the city. In the winter, it seems like the sun sets all the way on the left side of my car’s windshield. But in the middle of summer, it has moved all the way to the right side. That seems like a wild shift to me. I know the earth is tilted on its axis 23 and a half degrees off center, which gives us our seasons and allows the setting sun to pick out a slightly different spot every afternoon. But I can’t comprehend how that small of a tilt can move the sunset that far from left to right, at its extremes. But I’m satisfied that someone, somewhere knows why, so I don’t have to worry about it. I’ve been on my way home many times covering a story somewhere in the state and pulled over to get a shot of the sunset. We have some astounding sunsets in Mississippi. I put together a couple of minutes of sunset shots and set them to music and ran them as my television feature story one day. After the newscast, the producer saw me in the hall and commented on my “sunrises.” Then she thought for about a half a second and realized who she was talking to and said, “Wait. I guess those would have been sunsets if you took them, wouldn’t it?” Not that I haven’t seen sunrises, too. But in practical terms,

I’m usually on the road in the late afternoons, not mornings. I’m guessing she meant it as a reflection of my energy level. If you want to see beautiful sunsets in Mississippi, you don’t have to go any farther that your yard. After a summer thunderstorm, the sun can turn creation purple, green or bright orange, depending on how light hits the thunderhead. During winter, the high wispy cirrus clouds get bent in all sorts of directions by jet stream winds. The dropping sun paints them pink to purple as it sets. The coast has great sunsets. Any bluff along the Mississippi River provides a ringside seat to a sunset. So does the levee, to a degree. The high hill in Jeff Busby Park on the Natchez Trace has a relatively unobstructed view of the west. East too, if you ever want to catch a sunrise there. Sunrises and sunsets. As much as they are alike, no two are exactly the same. They are just like us — unique in their own special way.

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 walt@waltgrayson.com.

FEBRUARY 2021 | TODAY 27

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Today in Mississippi February 2021 Magnolia  

Today in Mississippi February 2021 Magnolia

Today in Mississippi February 2021 Magnolia  

Today in Mississippi February 2021 Magnolia