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Today in Mississippi


March 2018


March 2018

Electricity worked extra hard for your household this winter f you’ve ever received a jury summons in the mail, you might have responded with a big groan, especially if there are already a lot of demands on your time. But think of it this way: Be thankful you’re not the person on trial. If you’ve ever been delayed on a busy highway while waiting to maneuver around a traffic accident, be glad you were not involved in the wreck. Likewise, when you retrieve the power bill from your mailbox this month, think of all the things electricity did for you the past few weeks. Electricity lit up your home and did your laundry while powering your TVs, laptop or computer games. It kept your smartphone charged. It roasted meat, toasted bread, brewed coffee, chilled milk, froze leftovers and washed the dishes. Electricity dried your hair. It may have kept you warm and provided a hot bath on a cold winter day. Electricity is looking more and more like a bargain, don’t you think? Because we pay for electricity after we use it— unlike gasoline, which we purchase at the pump— we tend to forget everything it does for us over the course of a month. Then when the bill comes, we may be unpleasantly surprised. Here’s the real surprise: Electric cooperatives across the country reported that kilowatt-hour use per household dropped by 8 percent between 2010 and 2016. That means we’re doing more with less energy. But Mississippi really got slammed with frigid weather this winter, several times. Your kilowatthour use—which determines your bill amount— reflects the extra work electricity did to keep your household warm. Cold temperatures coupled with strong wind infiltrated every nook and cranny of your home, forcing your heating system to run longer, maybe even all night at times. Plus, your water heater and electric range probably put in overtime too. Temperatures will begin to moderate this month as spring approaches, and your kilowatt-hour use likely will as well. But electricity will be there when


On the cover Meridian author Richelle Putman’s new book examines how Mississippians were affected by and coped with the Great Depression. She is pictured in an area of downtown Meridian noted for buildings that predate the Depression, some of which have been restored and revitalized in recent years. See story on page 4.

you need it, for power tools, lawn equipment, outdoor lighting, air conditioning, the pool pump.... ••• Springtime motivates many property owners to spruce up their landscape with outdoor projects. Maybe you’re thinking of building a new deck or workshop, erecting fencing or even adding a swimming pool. Whatever the project, stop to consider electrical safety first. If you are planning to dig deep holes or use mechanical equipment to excavate for any project, you must call Mississippi My Opinion 811 Inc. to have all underMichael Callahan ground utilities marked Executive Vice President/CEO before starting to dig. Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi Depending on the circumstances, the call may be mandated by state law (Section 77-13-5). Even if you are only digging a few inches with a shovel, why not take advantage of this free service? When you call 811, a customer service representative will ask you for details about the location and type of work you’re planning. Then, all utilities serving the area will be notified so they can send someone to mark the location of any underground utility lines. The goal is to keep you, your family and your workers safe, and to avoid a disruption in utility service. Your electric power association is all about electrical safety. If you ever have any concerns or questions about electrical safety, or if you come across a hazard like a downed power line, please call your electric power association immediately. We have the trained personnel, equipment and expertise to tackle any kind of electrical safety issue that threatens the public.

Today in Mississippi OFFICERS Barry Rowland - President Randy Smith - First Vice President Keith Hayward - Second Vice President Kevin Bonds - Secretary/Treasurer EDITORIAL STAFF Michael Callahan - CEO Ron Stewart - Sr. VP, Communications Mark Bridges - Manager, Support Services Debbie H. Stringer - Editor Elissa Fulton - Communications Specialist Rickey McMillan - Graphics Specialist Chris Alexander - Administrative Assistant


ON FACEBOOK Vol. 71 No. 3 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: National Country Market, 800-626-1181 Circulation of this issue: 437,134 Non-member subscription price: $9.50 per year

The Official Publication of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi Today in Mississippi (ISSN 1052-2433) is published 11 times a year (Jan.-Nov.) 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 address changes to: Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300

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Today in Mississippi

Our Homeplace

A Mississippi state historical marker commemorates the unusual history of the first of Cleveland’s four railroad depots.

Mississippi is • the scent of pine trees all year long • crab nets pulled up with blue claws snapping • boiled shrimp and cold beer on the seawall along Beach Boulevard • sunset over the Gulf of Mexico • quaint roads that lead to nowhere and everywhere • coastal communities that share art, music and the bounties of the sea • a place of abundant grace, history and charm. – Donna Bradbrook, Diamondhead Mississippi is where my New Yorker son has chosen to study aerospace engineering, and now we shout “Hail State.” Mississippi is where the beauty of nature and the wrath of Mother Nature remind us we are not in charge. Mississippi is where I will retire, relax and stop to smell the magnolia blossom. Where I will give back to the community around me in any way I can. Please don’t change Mississippi ... I’m coming! – Sally Wiggins, Ocean Springs Mississippi is US. The place where I found happiness and fell in love. Mississippi is where we are raising a family. Having served in the military and traveled all over the U.S., this hidden gem is what we love best. Dixie is where our heart is. We are proud Americans. Mississippi is US. – Joseph R. Miller, Saucier

What’s Mississippi to you? What do you treasure most about life in our state? Send your thoughts to Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158, or to Please keep your comments brief. Submissions are subject to editing for length and clarity.





worst of

Today in Mississippi


It was


March 2018


How did rural Mississippians, America’s poorest in the 1920s, survive the worst economic crisis in our nation’s history? Author Richelle Putnam explores the Great Depression’s impact on Mississippi in her new book. By Debbie Stringer The U.S. stock market collapse of 1929 signaled the onset of the Great Depression, a worldwide economic calamity that would persist through the 1930s. The Depression hit rural Mississippians especially hard, forcing farm families deeper into poverty, debt, illness, hunger and despair. Foreclosures and tax forfeitures were common; on an April day in 1932, one-fourth of the land area in Mississippi was auctioned for unpaid taxes. But Mississippians were dirt poor even before the Depression struck. Six of every 10 lived on farms, and of those, 65 percent did not own their land. Their poverty stemmed from a system of sharecropping and tenant farming devoted to one-crop agriculture (cotton), which led to soil depletion. These workers struggled with declining cotton prices, boll weevil infestations, growing debt burdens, the catastrophic Great Flood of 1927, drought and a “cut and run” practice by some lumber companies that left ghost towns (and unemployment) in their wake. For African Americans, these problems were compounded by racism and Jim Crow laws. How the Great Depression changed life for all Mississippians, what they did to survive (or not) and how government responded—for better or worse—are themes Meridian author Richelle Putnam explores in her new book, “Mississippi and the Great Depression,” with foreword by Madison artist/author Diane Williams, of the Mississippi Arts Commission. “I knew it was hard—everybody knows the Great Depression was hard—but there was such contrasting elements in different regions of Mississippi and different races who had to face it in different ways,” Putnam said.

Richelle Putnam of Meridian, above, sought to present a balanced, inclusive account of Depression-era Mississippi in her new book, “Mississippi and the Great Depression.” Diane Williams, left, of Madison, inspired the book and wrote its foreword, citing the experiences of her great-grandfather and grandfather.

Putnam is the author of several books on Mississippi history topics and a freelance magazine writer. She is a Mississippi Arts Commission Teaching Artist/Roster and recipient of a 2014 MAC Literary Arts Fellowship. Her young-adult biography, “The Inspiring Life of Eudora Welty,” earned the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Silver Medal. Putnam took on the Great Depression topic at Williams’ urging. “I could really see how understanding that time period helps us in these economic times,” Williams said. The two women agreed to co-author the book,

although Williams later bowed out due to other commitments. G Blending facts with personal narratives, stories of notables and historical photographs, Putnam succeeds in presenting a truthful, inclusive portrait of Mississippi during the Great Depression. She considers the Depression’s impact on most every aspect of Mississippi life, from employment, housing and health to politics, religion and art. Stories of African Americans’ experiences during the Great Flood of 1927 are especially tragic, Putnam said.

A levee break north of Greenville sent up to 10 feet of water rushing over nearly one million acres of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta, causing around 1,000 deaths. Some 13,000 African American flood refugees stranded on the levee in Greenville were prevented from evacuating; landowners insisted they would be needed to repair the levee when the floodwaters receded. Armed National Guard personnel patrolling the levees refused to allow black people to leave without a pass. They were powerless to protest. “When I did the research on the Depression book and saw such cruelty, it really affected me,” Putnam said. Yet such truths must be told, she believes. “I want to always search for the truth regardless of how ugly it may be. You have to know the truth to help solve a problem, bring people together or help change something,” she said. “As long as we close our eyes, nothing is going to change. And I think history should always open your eyes.”

 The stark contrast between country and city life during the Depression intrigued Putnam as she researched. In general, hardship was less apparent in larger towns, where stores promoted Christmas sales, parades and fairs carried on, and folks escaped their troubles in movie theaters. Not so for hungry farm families. That malnutrition was commonplace in an agricultural state like Mississippi took Putnam by surprise. Many sharecroppers and tenant farmers survived on a diet of the “three Ms”: meat, molasses and meal. On the plantations, King Cotton muscled out farm workers’ food plots and eventually degraded the soil. “I was blown away by that,” Putnam said. “If any state should not have starved, it should have been Mississippi. We can plant anything here, but not if you deplete the soil.” Putnam devotes a chapter of her book to letters from individuals pleading desperately to elected officials for relief. She also includes first-person accounts of aging African Americans, reprinted from the WPA (Works Progress Administration) Slave Narratives.  While farm families fretted about their next meal, government officials wondered how to get the nation back on its feet.

Top: A ceremony on Jan. 22, 1934, in Pontotoc County commemorates the raising of the first TVA utility pole to serve a rural area, marking TVA’s entry into rural electrification. Photo: Pontotoc Electric Power Association

March 2018

Today in Mississippi


Enter President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, a smorgasbord of federal programs and agencies created to provide relief, jobs and economic stability. “This was the first time government had ever stepped in for anything. Our mail had been about the extent of government participation in our lives,” Putnam said. During the Depression, WPA became the nation’s largest employer by creating eight million jobs. Unemployed Americans were hired to carry out public works projects such as road and building construction. For many Mississippians, WPA employment meant the difference between starvation and survival. In her book Putnam describes construction projects throughout Mississippi that owe their existence to New Deal programs, including Roosevelt State Park, Sardis Lake and Dam, and Picayune City Hall. Other New Deal public works programs included the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). At the onset of the Depression, less than 1 percent of Mississippi farms had electricity. Beginning in the mid-1930s, TVA extended electric service into northeast Mississippi. REA loans enabled farmers throughout the state to organize their own electric cooperatives. For the first time in their lives, with help from TVA and REA, rural Mississippians had electric lights in their homes.  The Depression reminds us that tough times foster creative expression. Gospel, blues and country music flourished in Mississippi during the Depression, eventually propelling artists like Son House and Jimmie Rodgers to international fame. Putnam devotes a chapter to the astonishing number of famous performing artists, musicians and writers who roots run deep in Depression-era Mississippi. “That’s when the blues singers really came out and were recorded,” Putnam said. “Jimmie Rodgers sold over a million records during the Great Depression. I guess people just needed something to make life better.” “Mississippi and the Great Depression” is available from booksellers at $21.99 for the 222-page softcover edition.

Above: Six of every 10 Mississippians lived on a farm during the Depression, and of those, 65 percent did not own their land. They got by on credit. Photo: Library of Congress

Left: A 1930s sharecropper’s house in the Mississippi Delta. A political sign hangs beneath the eaves. Photo: Library of Congress


Today in Mississippi


March 2018


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HISTORIC CAMPUS reinvented for art students

vidently, I used to have a The Rev. Milton J. Whitworth started lot more time to roam Whitworth College as a school for girls in around and discover 1859. It closed during the Civil War and things than I have now. was deeded to the Mississippi Methodist Maybe life is more hecwhen it reopened afterwards. Over the tic than it used to be. Or maybe I’m just next century or so the school evolved slower. Whichever, it has been a long through several phases and mergers until time since I ran up on something I had it had outlived its usefulness. It was shut never heard of before. down in 1984. But back in those wondrous days By the time I discovered it, Whitwhen I could find someworth had been closed for a thing new (to me at least) decade or so. And 10 years around every bend, I unexof neglect really shows on pectedly discovered Whitbuildings that are already worth College in old. Brookhaven. So I wondered what Oh, it had been there for would become of the old some time. I just had never campus. There were a lot of heard of it. While exploring old buildings there that the town I happened to needed a lot of restoration. Mississippi drive up to the campus of What could it be used for if Seen the closed school just west of it was restored? It was by Walt Grayson downtown. Seeing the obviready-made to be a school. ously old buildings scattered But that had already been out over the sprawling campus was as tried. As times changed it went out of exciting to me as if I had stumbled up on business. Stonehenge unawares. It was fascinating But, times were changing again. Some walking around looking at what was thought it should be repurposed once obviously a significant place in our state again as a school, but this time as a differthat I was totally unaware of. ent kind of school.


Lampton Auditorium was the first building restored on the old Whitworth College Campus. It is a fixture in Brookhaven and an important part of the Mississippi School of the Arts. Photo: Walt Grayson

Fortunately, some of those who had grand visions for the old college also had the ability to do more than just do wishful thinking. One of those people was Former First Lady Pat Fordice. who commented that the old campus would make a marvelous school of the arts. Well, partly from her saying out loud what a lot of other people had been thinking, a lot of reality began to fill out the dreams. Local folks from Brookhaven and Lincoln County and lots of legislators in Jackson caught the vision. It took a while, but the first students to attend the new Mississippi School of the Arts walked onto the old Whitworth College campus in Brookhaven in 2003. The Mississippi School of the Arts is a

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two-year high school for juniors and seniors. Prospective students audition for the chance to attend. Once here, they not only get the academic basics but also intense study in dance, vocal music, visual art, literary art, media art and theatre. The school’s 150 students come from all over and live on campus. Their school day runs from 8 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon with extra rehearsals and performances at night. These are motivated students who want to be here, and it shows. Their average ACT score is 23.1. And the 55 graduates in 2017 were offered over $10 million in scholarship opportunities. That’s more than the school’s annual budget! Talk about paying for itself! So many things I’ve “discovered” over the years seem to be deteriorating. The Mississippi School of the Arts has not only come back but is giving back. 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.” Contact Grayson at

8 I Today in Mississippi I March 2018

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March 2018


wilight had begun its reign, asserting mastery by replacing daylight with dusk. Warmth of an aging day faded, and a fire now pirouetting above edges of a steel ring called. Two empty and strategically placed chairs would be filled directly, the occupants preparing for a congruent relationship with that flickering ballet produced by wood and heat and translucent curtain of smoke. Tranquility prevailed. And then bird call. There—in a tangle of vines embracing a by Tony Kinton small oak, just off water’s edge, on the near boundary of campfire illumination, a gilded sky serving as backdrop.


Outdoors Today

Whether sunrise or sunset, a quiet camp is the perfect place to enjoy them. Photo: Tony Kinton

It was the voice of a blue jay. But not quite. The sound was lacking slightly in its rasp, its raucous bravado. No, not a blue jay. It was a mockingbird. An imposter of sorts as one might surmise, a mockingbird remains a magnificent beauty in its own right. This one, demanding judicious scrutiny to locate, was tucked tightly in the vines, its subdued coloration blending quietly with the surroundings. It generally sat motionless, breaking that posture only once to preen. Light was too insignificant for the bird to venture into dark environs, so it just sat. And sang and mocked and celebrated or mourned, the latter pair of possibilities perhaps too complex to discern. Whatever the bird was mourning or celebrating or mocking or singing, it did so with grandeur. This one was a true virtuoso. And then there was the reasonable impersonation of a crow. Brief and not fully up to speed, this attempt was still

admirable. There was not the volume produced by a being four times the size of this one, nor did the reproduction have that same intimidation factor found in the real deal, but any listener must appreciate such a gallant effort. There were also other calls from the mockingbird on that early evening in a manicured campground. Peeps and chirps that could only be specifically identified by those with thorough knowledge of what variety of bird makes which call. That, however, was of little import to the novice. What was important was that this bird was making the calls of other birds and gave the impression that every effort was a thing of great and entertaining pleasure. But oh, the cardinal. That mockingbird had each nuance perfected. Every inflection, every wobble, every expanded phrase or chirp or bobble was in its proper place and sequence. The bird must have practiced this one extensively. Mockingbirds encountered in Mississippi are the Northern. The scientific name is Mimus polyglotts, which means many-tongued mimic. These birds can mimic perhaps 20 other birds,


Today in Mississippi I 9

and have also been heard replicating the barking of dogs and quite a long list of other sounds. In their rendition of calls belonging to other birds, mockingbirds generally repeat each phrase a minimum of three times. They also sing at night, the frequency of which may depend upon the personality of the bird itself. Unmated birds seem to be the most vocal, and weather conditions such a full moon may coax more nocturnal singing from all mockingbirds. This singing may be associated with territorial boundaries and perhaps even an inherent playful nature of an individual bird. Regardless of the reasons, this intriguing propensity of the mockingbird is quite the milestone. It is an event of nature that should not be missed. And somewhere in that concert of this particular mockingbird, which had demanded the attention of all who cared to notice and be captivated by the performance, the campground had become virtually silent. No children and bikes on the pathways; no coming and going of trucks towing boat trailers; no late-afternoon cookouts still in progress. Just quiet. Just the crackling of a campfire and the mockingbird. But before that mockingbird turned in for the night and as families moved inside RVs and tents and after grills had cooled, the bird proffered a most appropriate call—this one executed as if it were accomplished by the bird to which the call was native. It was that late-day chirp of the wood thrush. A haunting sound, a sound that prompts melancholy as it also prompts contentment. And the mockingbird sequestered as a tiny bundle among the vines and leaves and darkness hit the call dead center. It was spectacular, as had been the day. Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. His newest book is “Rambling Through Pleasant Memories.” Order from or Kinton’s website:


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10  Today in Mississippi

March 2018

PRVEPA Contact Information: Columbia: 601-736-2666 Hattiesburg: 601-264-2458

Purvis: 601-794-8051 Wiggins: 601-928-7277

To pay bills or report outages:

855-2PRVEPA (855-277-8372)

Member owned. Locally operated. That’s the cooperative difference.

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Local students selected for Youth Leadership program Three area high school juniors will represent Pearl 1930s, as well as how it can continue to serve memRiver Valley Electric this year in the Electric bers and the communities where they live. Cooperatives of Mississippi Youth Leadership proBrogan, 16, is the son of Tommy Brogan and gram. Jacob Ryan Brogan of Lamar Christian School, Susan Haynes Johnson. A Purvis resident, he is an Thomas Hahn of Columbia High School and Katie award-winning student at LCS and a member of the Norris of West Marion High School are the winners Beta Club, First Priority and a student council repreof this year’s essay/interview contest. As a result, each sentative. He has participated in other youth legislastudent earns the opportunity to participate in a lead- tive trips and is active at the Jacob’s Well Community ership conference in Jackson and a week-long trip to Worship Center. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys readWashington, D.C., this summer. ing, writing songs and taking adventures. Pearl River Valley Electric selects the winners from Hahn, 16, is the son of Lawrence and Angela essays submitted by students throughout its 12-county service area, and then through interviews with the finalists. This year’s essay topic required students to discuss how PRVEPA has helped benefit Association members since being Jacob Ryan Brogan Thomas Hahn Katie Norris organized in the Lamar Christian School

Columbia High School

West Marion High School

Madeline Lott Columbia Academy

Abigail Miller Columbia Academy

Katelyn Morris Columbia Academy

Madison Ott Columbia Academy

Victoria Pace Columbia Academy

Warren Parker Columbia Academy

Joshua Cotton West Marion High School

Elaina Hollis West Marion High School

Carrington Brown Oak Grove High School

Sabrina Walia Presbyterian Christian School

Hahn of Columbia. He has won numerous scholastic honors at Columbia High, including a national AP Scholar award and being named to the Superintendent’s Scholar list. He participates on the golf team as well as the speech and debate team, and is in the National Honor Society, Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta and Key Club. Thomas also enjoys reading, playing tennis and piano, and church youth activities. Norris, 17, is the daughter of Kevin and Patricia Norris of Foxworth. She has maintained all A’s and perfect attendance at West Marion, while playing on the softball team and assisting with other sports. She is in the National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta and Science Olympiad. Katie is also very active in FFA, serving as an officer in the Marion County chapter, and she maintains a successful business raising, breeding and showing goats. In late February, Jacob, Thomas and Katie joined more than 80 other students from around the state in Jackson for the 32nd annual Mississippi Youth Leadership Workshop, where they met with legislators and took part in leadership training sessions (see next month’s Today in Mississippi for more information). They will also meet up with thousands of other students from around the country in June to attend the National Rural Electric Youth Tour in Washington. There they will have opportunities to meet their Congressmen, tour the U.S. Capitol and enjoy lots of other sightseeing. Eleven other area high school juniors were finalists in this year’s contest: Columbia Academy students Madeline Lott, Abigail Miller, Katelyn Morris, Madison Ott, Victoria Pace, and Warren Parker; West Marion High School students Joshua Cotton and Elaina Hollis; Carrington Brown of Oak Grove High School; Presbyterian Christian Erin McLaurin School’s Sabrina Walia; and Erin Forrest County AHS McLaurin of Forrest County AHS.

March 2018  Today in Mississippi


Comfort Advantage can help you save money Key requirements of the Comfort Advantage Program:

One of our goals at Pearl River Valley Electric is to provide members with information about using energy wisely. When building or remodeling a home, energy efficiency should be a high priority. For more than 20 years our Comfort Advantage new home program has helped members save money on their monthly bills and increase the resale value of their home. Comfort Advantage energy-efficiency standards are based on years of experience, and they are continually being updated. The program now offers the following benefits for new homes: • Your home will be certified as a Comfort Advantage home, which reflects energy efficient construction. • Comfort Advantage homes qualify for up to 150 feet of free underground service.

Scott Arinder, member services representative

• Comfort Advantage Plus homes qualify for up to 150 feet of free underground service and a rebate of $500. • Geothermal heat pump installations qualify for an additional $500 rebate. • Natural gas instantaneous water heaters may now be used in Comfort Advantage homes (electric instantaneous water heaters do not qualify). In addition, upgrading from an existing electric furnace or conventional air conditioner to a 15 SEER or higher heat pump qualifies for a rebate of $400.

scam phone calls Protect yourself from

Pearl River Valley Electric received several reports of telephone scams being directed at member-consumers in February, but the issue seems to be an ongoing problem. The callers can use software that makes caller ID look like the call is coming from PRVEPA and they tell members—mainly businesses— that their electric service will be disconnected unless a payment is made within a very short timeframe. The caller then provides false information about where and how a cash or credit card payment can be made, and they also provide a bogus number to call for verification. “Pearl River Valley Electric would never make a call to a member with such a request,” said Kurt Brautigam, manager of member services. “If anyone receives such a call, please know that it is not the way we conduct business. We urge our members not to fall for such calls or give any personal or banking information over the phone to someone they don’t know.” Here are three tips that may help you protect your bank accounts, credit cards

and identity: 1. Never give any personal information over the phone to someone you do not know. 2. Call your local electric cooperative to verify a call (using one of the numbers listed below) before you give any account or payment information over the phone. 3. Electric utilities will not tell you to pay your bill within a short period of time with gift cards, pre-loaded money cards or through wiring money. Pearl River Valley Electric offices can be reached by calling 601-736-2666 in Columbia, 601-794-5019 in Purvis, 601-928-7277 in Wiggins, and 601264-2458 in Hattiesburg.

1. Flex duct work will be limited to runs of 8 feet or less. 2. Ducts in unconditioned space must be wrapped with R-6 or higher insulation. 3. Wall insulation must have an R-value of 13 or greater. 4. Attic insulation must have an R-value of 38 or greater. 5. A Comfort Advantage home must have double-pane insulated windows with a U-value and an SHGC-value of .60 or less. 6. A Comfort Advantage Plus home must have double-pane insulated windows with a U-value and an SHGC-value of .40 or less. 7. Comfort Advantage homes must have a heat pump of 14 SEER or better. 8. Comfort Advantage Plus homes must have a heat pump of 15 SEER or better. Note: Electric instantaneous water heaters will not qualify for either program. The Comfort Advantage program can help make your energy decisions a breeze. We also offer free building consultations and HVAC load calculations. For more information contact Scott Arinder, member services representative, at 601-731-7809.

DO NOT TAMPER WITH YOUR ELECTRIC METER Meter tampering can result in electric shock, is illegal and increases electricity rates for other co-op members

Never break a meter seal. Never open a meter base. Never remove a meter or alter an entrance cable in any manner.

If you know or suspect that someone has tampered with their meter, please contact Pearl River Valley Electric immediately.




Today in Mississippi I March 2018

Betty B’s Having a Party!

Cookbook author Betty Bryant grew up the daughter of an adventurous home cook. “Mother’s forte in the kitchen was all the wonderful desserts she prepared.... She was always trying new recipes and most were delicious,” Bryant writes in her new cookbook, “Betty B’s Having a Party! A Holiday Dinner Party Cookbook.” Lucky for us, Bryant’s cookbook shares many of the desserts she grew up eating— and many more kitchen-tested, company-pleasing (and easy to make) dishes and treats. Recipes are organized according to suitability for all the major holidays and seasonal special events. Among them you’ll find ideas for an Easter dinner, ladies’ spring luncheon, Mexican fiesta, Hawaiian pool party, seafood buffet and an authentic German Oktoberfest. Many of the recipes are pictured in color, and the book’s lively page layouts are characteristic of other offerings from Great American Publishers, of Brandon, a member of Central Electric Power Association.

“Betty B’s” is available in softcover from booksellers and at Price is $18.95. For details, call 888-854-5954.

Wild and Cheesy Chicken

Strawberry-Melon Salad Salad: 5 cups bite-size spinach 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries 1 cup honeydew melon balls 1⁄3 cup broken pecans, toasted 1⁄3 cup julienne strips Gouda cheese

Ginger-Honey Dressing: 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice 2 Tbsp. honey 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil ¼ tsp. ground ginger

Toss salad ingredients in a large bowl. Shake dressing ingredients in a tightly covered container. Yield: 6 servings. Serving note: Prepare individual salad plates and pass the dressing at the table.

Black and White Cream Pie Crumb Crust: ¾ cup chocolate wafer crumbs (about 12 finely crushed)

2 Tbsp. grated orange rind 3 Tbsp. butter, melted 4 whole chocolate wafers

Put aside about 1 tablespoon each of the wafer crumbs and grated orange rind to garnish the finished pie. Combine remaining crumbs, orange rind and butter. Press firmly and evenly into bottom of buttered 9-inch pie pan with back of a spoon. Cut the whole wafers in half and perch around side of pan, rounded side up. Chill until set, about 45 minutes. Cream Filling: 2 2⁄3 cups milk 1 ¾ cups sugar 1⁄3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. flour ¼ tsp. salt 3 small eggs, beaten

1 ½ Tbsp. butter 1 ¼ tsp. vanilla extract 1 (1-oz.) square unsweetened chocolate 1 cup heavy cream or 8 oz. Cool Whip

Scald milk in top of double boiler over boiling water. Combine sugar, flour and salt. Gradually stir into milk and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Stir a small amount of the hot mixture into eggs, then quickly pour back in and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. To 1 cup of this mixture, add chocolate and stir until melted and well blended. Pour into chilled crumb crust and spread evenly. Carefully pour remaining white cream filling over top to make a second layer. Chill thoroughly for at least 4 hours. Whip the cream and spread over top. Make a border with reserved cookie crumbs and sprinkle top with reserved grated orange rind. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

1 medium whole chicken 1 (6-oz.) box Uncle Ben’s long grain and wild rice mix 3 Tbsp. butter 1 small onion, chopped ½ cup chopped celery

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms 1 (10.75-oz.) can cream of chicken soup 1 ½ cups grated longhorn cheese 1 pkg. slivered almonds, toasted

Boil fryer in water to cover until done. Remove from broth, reserving broth. Debone when cool and dice. Cook rice according to package directions, using reserved broth for liquid. Melt butter in medium saucepan; add onion, celery and mushrooms. Sauté gently until tender. Mix with chicken, rice and soup, and pour into greased 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Top with grated cheese and toasted almonds. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Chet’s Potatoes 1 ½ lbs. potatoes 2 to 4 Tbsp. milk 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened ½ cup sour cream ½ cup chopped chives

¼ cup grated Romano cheese ½ tsp. salt ¼ tsp. black pepper Paprika

Cook and mash potatoes. Combine milk, cream cheese, sour cream, chives, Romano cheese, salt and pepper. Add to mashed potatoes. Place in a 1 ½-quart casserole dish, and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Pasta with Clams 2 (6.5-oz.) cans minced clams 8 oz. spaghetti 1 Tbsp. butter 1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. minced garlic 2 tsp. Italian seasoning Fresh parsley for garnish

Add clam juice from the cans of clams to boiling, salted water. Place pasta into boiling water and cook according to package directions; drain. In a large skillet, melt butter; add olive oil and garlic. Stir until garlic is light brown in color. Add clams and Italian seasoning; sauté until heated. Add pasta to the clam mixture. Toss together and serve. Garnish with fresh parsley.

March 2018


Today in Mississippi



Handwritten letters E

very year about this time I begin my early-spring cleaning and trash disposal task, one which I can never seem to finish. Yesterday, as I was going through file boxes, trying to determine what to keep and what to throw away, I came across a file with the notation: “Letters to answer.” I don’t know about you all, but I have to admit, I am a procrastinator. At the time I received each letter I had every intention of answering those from my dear readers. What is it they say about “Good Intentions?” (I don’t want to go down that paved road.) As I began reading some of the letters, tears began to well up. Over the years, you, my readers, have been so kind to read my columns and often write a letter, send an email or in some cases give me a call. One of the letters that I retrieved from the file was written in December 2016 by a gentleman named Charles and his wife, Emily. I won’t divulge their last names because they might not approve of that. Hopefully, they will read this column and know that I appreciated their letter. Charles wrote the letter, and it was well written and so complimentary. He even had a kind word for Mr. Roy. The envelope was missing, so I don’t know

their address, except that they are members of Northcentral Electric Cooperative. The letter was so kind. Thank you, Charles and Emily. All of the unanswered letters caused me to begin thinking about how society today has changed and personal letter writing is almost a lost art. My daughters and grandchildren and I stay in touch, but not by writing letters. It’s all by email or text. In most cases, both of these forms of correspondence do not Grin ‘n’ qualify as letters; Bare It they are messages. by Kay Grafe Therefore, misspelled words, improper grammar, missing punctuation and shortened words (“u” for you) are accepted as the norm. Come to think, I cannot remember the last time I wrote a personal letter to a family member. I use appropriate cards for the occasion and sign my name for birthdays and such. Although, I forgot to send my cousin Jo a birthday card last year. Sorry, Jo. I know that when Mr. Roy was away

in college or in Army basic training, we corresponded by personal letters. You ladies my age know what I am talking about. And during the first years of my married life I corresponded by letter with my mother, grandparents, other relatives and close friends. Most of these letters are packed away in boxes. I hope that when I am gone, my daughters will take time to read them as they are cleaning out the house. I believe it will give them a better insight into “who Mom really was” and what she was doing and thinking at that period in her life. There is an art to writing good letters, and I bet few young people today understand that. Throughout history letters have played a vital role in preserving history and in giving us insight into the lives of many important people. Without their letters we would know very little about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and so many others. What would the New Testament be without the Apostle Paul’s letters.



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Much of the material in history books and biographies is derived from letters. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams wrote numerous letters back and forth to each other during the last 10 years of their lives, and today these are preserved in a book. I always thought it ironic that these two great men and close friends both died on the same day, the Fourth of July. Both had signed the Declaration of Independence 50 years earlier. One of the last great letter writers was Ronald Reagan. His book of letters to Nancy, “I Love You, Ronnie,” gives readers a rare insight into the lives of these two special people. There was one kind of letter that most young people did not want to receive, yet many of us did. It was commonly called a “Dear John” letter.” For you young readers, this was a way of saying, “It’s over, sayonara, adios, goodbye.” Again, I want my readers to know how much I appreciate you, and please don’t stop the letters. Texts and emails are acceptable too; they mean so much to me. I’ll try much harder to make 2018 the year I begin, again, to answer my mail. Kay Grafe is the author of “Oh My Gosh, Virginia.” To order, send name, address, phone number and $16.95, plus $3.50 S&H to Kay Grafe, 2142 Fig Farm Road, Lucedale, MS 39452.

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Today in Mississippi


March 2018



Type or print your ad clearly. Be sure to include your telephone number. Deadline is the 10th of each month for the next month’s issue. Rate is $2.50 per word, 10-word minimum. Mail payment with your ad to Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300. Have any questions? Phone 601-605-8600 or email

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Today in Mississippi




Funny Felines Send your funny cat photos to Today in Mississippi and one could become part of our next “Picture This” reader photo feature. Selected photos will appear in the April issue of Today in Mississippi. Submissions must be emailed or postmarked by March 14.


• Photos must be in sharp focus. • Photos must be the original work of an amateur photographer (of any age). • Photos may be either color or black and white, print or digital. • Digital photos must be high-resolution JPG files of at least 1 MB in size. (If emailing a phone photo, select “actual size” before sending.) • Please do not use photoediting software to adjust colors or tones. (We prefer to do it ourselves, if necessary, according to our printer’s standards.) • Photos with the date stamped on the image cannot be used. • Each entry must be

accompanied by the photographer’s name, address, phone number and electric power association (if applicable). Include the name(s) of any recognizable people or places in the picture. Feel free to add any other details you like. • Prints will be returned if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. We cannot, however, guarantee their safe return through the mail.


Attach digital photos to your email message and send to If submitting more than one photo, please attach all photos to only one email message, if possible. Please be sure to include all information requested in the guidelines. Mail prints or a photo CD to Picture This, Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300. Photographers whose photos are published are entered in a random drawing for a $200 cash prize to be awarded in December 2018. Question? Contact Debbie Stringer, editor, at 601-605-8610 or


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Today in Mississippi


March 2018


Want more than 437,000 readers to know about your special event? Events open to the public will be published free of charge as space allows. Submit details at least two months prior to the event date. Submissions must include a phone number with area code for publication. Mail to Mississippi Events, Today in Mississippi, P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158-3300; fax to 601-605-8601; or email to Events are subject to change. We recommend calling to confirm details before traveling.

“Gems of the River: An Exploration of Scientific Fish Photography,” through April 30, Jackson. Exhibit of photographs of 15 of Mississippi’s lesser known fishes. Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. Details: 601-576-6000; Mississippi Community Symphonic Band Concert, March 3, Jackson. With The Laughing Trombone featuring soloist John Retherford; special appearance by Mississippi Swing; 3 p.m. Free admission. Christ UMC. Details: Floral Design Demonstration, March 8, Biloxi. Dr. Jim DelPrince demos using Miss.made pottery and floral materials; 1-3 p.m. Admission; preregistration required. MSU Coastal Research and Extension Center. Details: Mississippi Anime Festival, March 10, Jackson. Guests, vendors, artists, fan groups; 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Admission. Mississippi Trade Mart. Details: Laurel Gun Show, March 17-18, Laurel. Fairgrounds. Details: 601-319-5248; Shape Note Singing Workshop, March 22, Jackson. Learn to sing Early American hymns in four-part harmony; 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Free. Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum. Details: 601-953-1094. 12th Annual Charles Templeton Ragtime and Jazz Music Festival, March 22-24, Starkville. Featuring Jeff Barnhart, Kris Tokarski, Steve Cheseborough, Eddie Erickson, Ivory&Gold. Admission. Mitchell Memorial Library and McComas Hall Auditorium. Details: 662-325-6634; Sheep-to-Shawl Fiber Arts Demonstrations, March 24, Ridgeland. Live sheep, shearing, floor-loom weaving, spinning, hands-on activities for kids; 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Free admission. Mississippi Craft Center. Details:, “Chalk at the Trace” Sidewalk Chalk

Festival, March 24, Ridgeland. Sidewalk chalk art contest and activities; chalk as an individual, team or family; 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Bring chalk or purchase at event. Free admission. Mississippi Craft Center. Details: 601-8567546; Spring Fling Gift Show, March 24, Meridian. Jewelry, boutique clothes and shoes, pottery, monogramming, more; 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tommy Dulaney Center. Details: 601-480-1776. 12th Annual Polkville Day, March 24, Polkville. Antique tractor and car show, arts and crafts, live music, 5K run, 1-mile fun run, magic show, kids’ games, cake walk, political speeches. Details: 601-537-3115; “Hoppin’ into Spring”: Union County Master Gardeners Ninth Annual New Albany Home and Garden Show, March 24, New Albany. Free admission; 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Downtown. 25th Annual Spring Arts Festival, March 24-25, Ocean Springs. More than 100 artists, crafters and plant vendors. Downtown. Details: 228-875-4424; Small Farmers Conference, March 26-28, Natchez. Educational workshops, networking events, learning sites, tours, exhibitors, vendors, more. Presented by Alcorn State University Extension, Miss. Association of Cooperatives’ Center for Cooperative Development. Natchez Convention Center. Details: 601-857-0250; Magee Chamber of Commerce Tea in the Gardens, March 30, Magee. Music, entertainment, lunch, vendors; 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Admission. McAlpin House. Details: 601-8492517. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound “Give Me Jesus” Tour, April 6, Hattiesburg. Heritage UMC; 7 p.m. Admission. Details: 601-2613371;; or 800965-9324. “Whispers in the Cedars” Historic Cemetery Tours, April 6-7, Port Gibson.

Performers portray selected residents of Wintergreen Cemetery; begins 6 p.m. Admission; advance tickets. Details: 601-4375097, 601-529-4680. Shiloh Arts and Crafts Show, April 7, Pelahatchie. Handmade items by select Mississippi craftsmen, Shiloh Museum, food, antique car show; 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Free admission. Historic Shiloh United Methodist Church. Details: 601-213-7528. “The Gold Rush,” April 7, Laurel. 1920s costume party featuring Charlie Chaplin’s silent movie comedy; 7:30 p.m. Admission. Laurel Little Theatre’s Arabian Theatre, downtown. Details: 601-428-0140; NatureFEST, April 7, Jackson. Exotic animal show, citizen science explorations, nature games, food truck vendors, more; 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission. Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. Details: 601-576-6000; Meridian Mini Maker Faire, April 7-8, Meridian. Show-and-tell event featuring inventors, entrepreneurs, techies, hobbyists, educators, crafts, authors, more. Free admission. Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum. Details: 601-693-9905;

Two Rivers Bluegrass Festival, April 11-14, Leakesville. Details: 601-408-5965. Most Holy Trinity Spring Fest, April 13-15, Pass Christian. Rides, bands, vendors, food, crawfish, car show and corn hole. Kiln-Delisle Road. Details: 228-669-7119; Facebook: Most Holy Trinity Spring Fest. Seventh Annual Smokin’ On The Tracks BBQ Cook-off, April 13-14, Summit. Barbecue contest, entertainment, 5K run, car/motorcycle show. Details: 601-248-2509;


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March 2018


Today in Mississippi



2018 Mississippi Medallion winner

Distylium brightens wintertime D

istylium Vintage Jade is an exciting new plant that brings pizazz to the traditional role of foundation planting. Across the Southeast, boxwood, dwarf yaupon holly, juniper and Indian hawthorn are frequently used as founda-

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tion plants, blocking from view the raised foundations that many homes have. These plants also line walkways and borders, enhancing the home landscape and helping to tie planting beds together. Southern Vintage Jade is a new distyliGardening um on the marby Dr. Gary Bachman ket that, despite being from a relatively unheard of group of plants, I think is a must-have for the landscape. It thrives in full sun or part shade, has excellent disease and insect resistance, and will tolerate drought, heat and wet

soil. And perhaps best of all, it is deer resistant. Distylium Vintage Jade is also a 2018 Mississippi Medallion winner. This is the healthy, adaptable and versatile plant you’ve been looking for! This plant has a compact but mounding growth habit that stays a dark and glossy green through all four seasons. This low-maintenance plant is perfect for small landscape spaces, as it typically grows just 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. I think it looks best when it’s left unpruned except for a few wild hairs that might pop out from time to time. Just like its witch hazel cousin, it produces small red flowers along its stem in late winter that grow into pretty red berries. Mississippi has the winter doldrums, and these flowers would be a welcome sight during this time. As with all shrubs, initial planting is important for the ultimate landscape success. One of the biggest problems I see with newly planted shrubs is planting them too deeply. My advice is if the shrub cost $5, then dig a $50 hole. I don’t mean dig it deep. The planting hole should not be deeper than the depth of the root system. In fact, I firmly believe shrubs should sit a little higher

than the surrounding soil. This placement greatly helps with the waterlogging condition we commonly see in Mississippi. Planting in raised beds is actually the best solution. When I suggest a $50 hole, I mean it should be much wider than the root ball, which gives the roots a better chance to grow into the surrounding landscape bed. I like to add a good controlled-release fertilizer into the hole before placing the shrub there and backfilling it in. Finish with 2 to 3 inches of the mulch of your choice. I think pine straw looks great with distylium. One final thought as you plan to use this plant in your landscape this year. Call your local nurseries and garden centers now to ask about distylium. It is a relatively new plant to the market, and not all outlets may have it yet. I know I’ll be looking this spring to add it to my landscape, and I expect you will want to, as well.

Dr. Gary Bachman is an associate Extension and 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.

Today in Mississippi March 2018 Pearl River Valley  
Today in Mississippi March 2018 Pearl River Valley  

Today in Mississippi March 2018 Pearl River Valley