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outdoors today picture this my opinion grin ‘n’ bare it
Uri and Viola visit the Deep South Communities in Mississippi are accustomed to dealing with the aftermaths of storms, tornadoes and hurricanes. When you call the Deep South home, it comes with the territory. But last month our state grappled with something that happens much less frequently — winter storms. On Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day — the state was hit by Winter Storm Uri and then, just a few days later, Winter Storm Viola blasted its way through before we had time to pick up the pieces from Uri. The power outages were severe. Because the storms struck one after the other, some of the electric cooperative systems and members were impacted by both. During Viola, outages peaked at 110,000 homes and businesses with no power. Electric cooperatives live and serve by The Cooperative Way — seven core principles. One of those principles is Cooperation Among Cooperatives. Mutual aid assistance between Mississippi’s electric cooperatives as well as from co-ops from nearby states was the key to restoring power as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible. State co-ops sent work crews to other Mississippi co-ops to assist in power restoration. Some of the crews sent to help were exhausted after working long hours on the first storm. Additional challenges arose when co-op work crews from other states were sent to Mississippi and they had to maneuver through icy roads and find lodging when hotels were packed with local residents seeking power and heat. The out of state work crews were limited because the outages created by the two storms crippled areas from Texas to the east coast.
But thanks to mutual aid and cooperation among cooperatives, power was restored to our members in a safe and timely manner. And although we think of our linemen as our rock stars — and they are — they couldn’t do their jobs without the support of the cooperative employees who work behind the scenes. Co-op workers take outage calls, set up meals and post social media to keep members informed of the latest news. Co-op warehouse workers make sure our linemen have all the tools and materials they need to perform their tasks safely and efficiently. Co-op dispatchers ensure planning for outage repair for optimal results. Workers in co-op shops make sure the trucks and vehicles are running properly for outage response. Substation technicians go out before the bad weather arrives to preemptively make sure equipment is ready for the incoming storm event. Each cooperative works as a team to make sure our communities experience safe power delivery. In that spirit, we want to thank our members for your patience and our cooperative employees for your hard work and dedication.
Mississippi is... “Where I’m from” I am from front porch swings, from pond raised catfish and creek banks. I am from the modest dwelling on the hill. I am from clothes hanging out on the line, from Ford truck beds, and from screen doors. I am from the vegetable gardens, the play forts in the woods. I’m from family holiday gatherings and humbleness, from the Wardens and the Mitchells. I’m from the bended knees and lifted prayers. From love never fails and all in God’s timing. I’m from the small things make the biggest memories, the God on the mountain is still God in the valley. I’m from hard work and sacrifice. From chicken n’ dumplings and Mississippi mud cake. From the long line of love.
by Michael Callahan Executive Vice President/CEO Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi
I am from the small community, off the beaten path in south Mississippi.
by Naomi Colson a resident of Benndale and a member of Singing River Electric
What’s Mississippi to you? What do you treasure most about life in our state? Send your brief thoughts to Today in Mississippi, email@example.com or mail to P.O. Box 3300, Ridgeland, MS 39158
in this issue
5 southern gardening Visiting your independent garden center
7 scene around the ‘sip A look at special people and places in Mississippi
11 outdoors today
Spring is almost here
12 local news 18 feature
Remembering Lynyrd Skynyrd ‘s historic Mississippi plane crash
on the menu Corned beef St. Patrick would be proud of
The Official Publication of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi
Vol. 74 No. 3
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: 486,319
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
27 mississippi seen
On the cover Six people died when Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane crashed in Gillsburg on Oct. 20, 1977. For years, fans drove to the tiny Mississippi community to try and find the site. A group of local fans and crash rescuers have created a monument that memorializes the band and what happened on that horrible night. Photo by Chad Calcote.
And we think you’re going to love ours. So let’s work together: As electric cooperatives, we were built by the communities we serve—and by members just like you. 4 TODAY | MARCH 2021
One advantage of shopping at independent garden centers is their experience with local and regional plant selections and growing information.
Garden and landscape planning for the 2021 season continues to move forward as we get closer to the day we can get back out into the garden full time. If 2020 showed us one good thing, it’s that huge numbers of people discovered the joys and benefits of gardening. As the calendar moves into better gardening weather, I hope most of the new gardeners from 2020 will continue their gardening practices. This means there could be some horticultural shortages, so planning becomes even more important. That’s where becoming an intentional gardener will result in more garden enjoyment. All intentional gardeners must decide where to buy landscape and garden plants. When putting my gardening skills to work in my home landscape, I often want to buy plants. When it’s time to shop, I like to patronize the local, independent garden centers. Sure, I could and sometimes do go to the big box or home improvement stores, but there is a huge difference between plant material bought from these sources and independent garden centers. Now, I’m not knocking the selection of plants at these stores, and the quality of plants is really good most of the time. But most of these stores don’t individually order plants for their garden departments. It’s most common for these companies to have buyers in regional corporate offices contracting with big growers to supply their stores. For example, there’s a huge greenhouse grower outside of Auburn, Alabama, and this one facility supplies plants for more than 100 locations of a familiar home improvement store. There are advantages of shopping at your local independent garden centers. You can count on working with a knowledgeable staff. Many independents pride themselves for having experience with local and regional plant selections and growing information. Don’t hesitate to ask questions because they’ll have answers and suggestions for you to be successful. These professionals are happy to give you personal assistance with your plant purchases. Many independent garden centers are associated with design and build or landscape maintenance divisions. They can offer a high level of services available besides the basic plant material.
Local garden centers offer personal assistance and sometimes personalities such as Bob, the guard cat.
The plant selections at independent garden centers are usually more extensive than those found at other outlets. And if they don’t have what you’re looking for, many will try to source it for you. Independent garden centers typically work with an assortment of wholesale growers. Having a grower network like this can really be a benefit to the home gardener. The last point I want to make maybe should have been my first. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated quarantines threatened the independent garden centers as businesses. In Mississippi, we were extremely fortunate that gardens centers were deemed essential and could remain open. That situation could have changed at a moment’s notice. Independent garden centers rely on the customer base of the home gardener, as sales of consumer horticulture products account for 100% of their revenue. These sales are less than 5% of revenue for the big box stores. I want to encourage all of us to be intentional and support our local independent garden centers this year.
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.
MARCH 2021 | TODAY 5
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
113⁄4 111⁄2 107⁄8 103⁄4 101⁄2 103⁄8
scene around the ‘sip
THE MISSISSIPPI STATE GUARD Mississippians serving Mississippians by 2nd Lt. Andrew Bryson What is a volunteer? A volunteer is a person who donates their money, time, and resources to a project or organization. The Mississippi State Guard (MSSG) is a little-known branch of the Mississippi Military Department. The group is an all-volunteer force, only paid if called to state active duty. It falls under the Mississippi National Guard and its purpose is to augment the state’s national guard in time of need and or to take over the mission of the national guard should they be called to federal service. Should the MSSG be activated, it falls under the 66th National Guard Troop Command, but as it is not a federal organization, any overseas deployment is unlikely. There is also no contractual requirement to join and its members can resign at any time, and the MSSG operates like a brotherhood. However, it should be noted that if deployed (deployments consist of state or national emergency home side), its soldiers then fall under Mississippi Code of Military Justice rules. There are three brigades divided based on their location for convenience — one each in north, central and south Mississippi. The MSSG is always looking for prior military, current or prior law enforcement (as many of the units are military police), medical and clerical professionals. There is a place for everyone, and you do not have to be prior military or be a first responder to find a place with the MSSG. Recruits with no prior military training will go through Initial Entry Training which lasts about 4 months and is completed during monthly drills.
Age requirements are 18 to 65 and you must be able to pass a background investigation. The units drill one weekend a month and one week per year at different military facilities in the state. The 3rd for example trains at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg. The troops sleep in barracks and eat at an assigned dining facility and kitchen. Its officers and staff train the troops to meet any mission that may arise, and it is often said “we train for possibilities not probabilities.” To produce well rounded troops, the State Guard trains constantly. At a recent drill for the State Guard’s 3rd Brigade, troops trained on the M9 on the range simulator and conducted HUMVEE rollover training. Previous trainings have included topics such as search and rescue, FEMA certification, land navigation, military policework (since the primary job for the Mississippi State Guard is military police) and CPR certification. State Guard members are professional and serious about what they are doing. In these troubled times the state guard may be more important than any time in its history and they are looking for volunteer soldiers who want to serve their state and country. If you are looking for a way to get more involved in your community, the Mississippi Guard could be a great way to do it. For more information, visit www.msstateguard.us. 2nd Lt. Andrew Bryson is a member of the Mississippi State Guard. 10 ⁄ 3
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MARCH 2021 | TODAY 7
scene around the ‘sip
and TREES RIGHTS-OF-WAY
Cooperative Energy wins national Arbor Day award by Steven Ward When Wes Graham first inspected Cooperative Energy’s rights-of-way 16 years ago, he did not see a challenge but an opportunity. An opportunity to change how vegetation management was accomplished. And now, both National and state officials have taken notice. The Hattiesburg-based generation and transmission cooperative was recently named a Tree Line USA utility for 2021. The designation, awarded to Cooperative Energy by the Mississippi Forestry Commission, reflects the cooperative’s commitment to implementing best practices in caring for trees along its rights-of-way. Cooperative Energy is currently the only utility in Mississippi with this status. “I think this is a testament to Cooperative Energy and what we do here. It’s an honor and privilege to do this work and show people that we are good stewards of other people’s land,” said Graham, a transmission field biologist and Cooperative Energy’s right-of-way (ROW) program supervisor. Tree Line USA is a national program of the Arbor Day Foundation. Utilities must meet five program criteria to earn the designation: provide quality tree care, administer annual worker training, conduct tree planting and public education, facilitate a tree-based energy conservation program, and host an Arbor Day celebration. The award illustrates how the Cooperative Energy ROW team works to ensure that trees and utilities can co-exist for the benefit of communities, citizens and the cooperative’s consumer-members.
8 TODAY | MARCH 2021
Cooperative Energy’s right-of-way team maintains approximately 28,000 acres of rights-of-way across the state using integrated vegetation management techniques that control growth through environmentally-sound and cost-effective control methods. Graham and fellow team members Tommy Garrard, Brad Morris and William Murphy work diligently to balance the cooperative’s needs as a utility with their commitment to the environment. “This work lends itself to increasing reliability to our members. Outages will be minimized as a result,” Graham said. In many cases, the cooperatives are already doing a lot of the ROW work required for the award. “I’m just proud to represent the state in this way and it’s a reflection of our entire company. It really is a team effort. And it shows our members that we are doing our Wes Graham due diligence,” Graham said. Jeff Bowman, Cooperative Energy’s president and CEO, said the designation aligns with the cooperative’s mission. “Trees which are properly planted and maintained result in lower line clearance costs, improved rights-of-way management, lower peak energy demand and increased reliability of service,” Bowman said in a news release. Cooperative Energy generates and transmits electricity to 11 member-owned electric distribution cooperatives. The 11 electric cooperatives own and maintain more than 57,000 miles of distribution lines and provide service to approximately 432,000 home and businesses throughout 55 counties.
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He was grand and gaudy and gigantic and entirely capable, by his simple presence, of soothing wounded spirits and mitigating dour moods. The week before there was snow. That was grand as well. But now this bird — deep black with a brilliant red head, its crown proudly pileated. Some white between the red and black. He was a pileated woodpecker, one of the more commanding birds flitting about the woodlands. My daddy called them Indian Hens. No matter the name, I was early on enamored of them. And that call! It was and is unnerving, enchanting. And here he was, on an elm and then an oak, where snow was last week. I wished for his call. The situation would have been ornamented had he called, but he didn’t. I watched in awe. And that admirable observation somehow prompted my mind toward thoughts of spring. It was still some distance away that day, that day of the bird and that week after snow, but spring was coming. In fact, by the time these words are published, there are likely serious hints of spring budding from lawns and pastures and woods edges. And from tree branches. Even though Mississippi can sneak in the surprise snow or freeze or sleet-slicked walkways in March, time is short for the arrival of true spring. Anglers and hunters are considering their potential and upcoming pursuits and how these relate to spring. The hunter will likely turn attention to turkeys. This bird is the premier candidate at such a time. There are some outdoors types among us who lose sleep and mental faculties in love with and planning for and frustration over this magnificent marvel. A strutting and gobbling tom is a thing of majesty — posturing and pirouetting, iridescent
hues shimmering in morning light. And turkeys are challenging. Often it is that a hunter walks from the woods dejected, burdened with the heavy load of failure. Then again, failure is seldom true failure. To simply see a bird strut or hear him answer a cluck or yelp from the hunter’s calling is a mighty reward. Add to that a pleasant spring morning, and the word failure is an affront to the blessings just experienced. And fishing can be good in March. This in all probability applies to those seeking crappie. Depending upon weather conditions and water temperature, crappie may be in the shallows, preparing and tending beds. If they are not there because water temperatures are still a bit low, they most likely are holding near drops and shelves between deep and shallow. But some prospecting can point the way, and once fish are found they will generally be in abundance. Spring is here or certainly on the way. Whatever your springtime outdoor pursuit, the time for it is close at hand. And while out there, keep an eye and ear attuned for the pileated woodpecker. Location of such will enhance any outing.
by Tony Kinton Tony Kinton has been an active outdoors writer for 30 years. He lives in Carthage and is a Central Electric member. Visit www.tonykinton.com for more information.
There are few sights more captivating than strutting turkeys on a spring morning.
MARCH 2021 | TODAY 11
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2021 Board Elections underway, deadline March 18 Magnolia Electric Power’s 2021 Annual Meeting has been canceled due to the ongoing pandemic and the Executive Order called by Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves restricting the number of people who can meet. However, the MEP board elections will go on. The decision to cancel the meeting was not an easy one. “We wanted 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,” said General Manager Darrell Smith. “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 been our highest priority,” Smith said. “Our Annual Meeting brings in nearly 200 people and we do want to continue to do everything we can to keep everyone as safe as possible.” Running unopposed for their districts are: John McCabe, District 2; Pat Ard, District 5; and Hollis Alford, District 7. John McCabe is a life resident, businessman and farmer in the Zion Hill community in north Amite County. He currently serves on the board.
Why send in a proxy? By sending in your proxy, you are still participating in Magnolia Electric Power’s Board Elections. As a member of an electric cooperative, that is one of many things that make us different from other electric companies. Please take the time to fill out the proxy and mail it in.
Here is a checklist to help you understand the proxy: • Three candidates have been nominated from their respective districts by a nominating committee. For anyone who wants to know more about the candidates, please see the brochure that is enclosed in the proxy envelope for additional information, or read more about them in our board election story above. • If you leave the Representative’s Name line blank, then the Board of Directors will serve as your proxy. They will cast your vote for you. If you wish to direct the board to vote for a certain nominee, then you would need to check that name. Don’t forget to sign the proxy before you drop it in the mail. There is an envelope provided to mail it to an accounting firm who will oversee all of the proxies. • If you wish to name someone to be your proxy then you need to put their name on the Representative’s Name line, then sign the 12 TODAY | MARCH 2021
Pat Ard is a dairyman and life resident of the Ruth Community of Lincoln County. He is a current board member. Hollis Alford is a farmer and life resident of the Progress Community of Pike County. He currently serves on the board. “We appreciate everyone’s patience during this difficult time. We have kept the power on through some quite trying times during 2020, including tornadoes in the spring and a hurricane in the fall,” Smith said, “and now an ice storm in February 2021.” “After the election results have been made official, I will give a report on the election and share information that I would normally discuss at the Annual Meeting,” Smith said. “I would ask that our members look for the proxies that dropped in the mail on February 10 and be a part of our election process by sending in your proxies,” he concluded. By sending in your proxy, a member can be eligible for the drawing for free electricity. Also, anyone who sends in a proxy will received a 2022 MEP calendar in the mail around August/ September 2021. To be eligible for the drawing, the signed proxy must be received at Miller and Company, a Brookhaven accounting firm, by March 18 to be valid for the elections.
Leave blank if you want the board to serve as your proxy.
If you would like to designate a representative to serve as proxy, put their name here. 2021 PROXY
By signing this proxy in the yellow box at the bottom of this form, I hereby appoint the Board of Directors of Magnolia Electric Power as my agent and proxy for the Board Elections of Magnolia Electric Power Association, with full authority to cast my vote upon all matters for the Association. OR, I do not appoint the Board of Directors as my agent but instead appoint as my agent and proxy to represent me in the election: You can direct either the Board of Directors, or the person voting your proxy, the way you want by marking one or more of the votes. Districts up for election are:
_________________________________________________________________________ Representative’s Name (Must be a Magnolia Electric Power member.)
<Laser Name> <Laser Address> <Laser City, State, Zip>
District 2 ❏ John McCabe District 7 ❏ Hollis Alford
District 5 ❏ Pat Ard
___________________________________________ (CARD MUST BE SIGNED FOR VOTE TO COUNT) To be valid, the last day to receive this proxy is March 18, 2021.
Sign your name. 131925_MAG_PROXY_khh.indd 1
1/19/21 8:32 AM
proxy and drop it in the envelope that was provided and mail it to the accounting firm. • Above all matters, regardless if you let the board serve as your proxy, or you designate a proxy, you MUST SIGN your proxy before dropping it in the envelope provided or it will be invalid. Your proxy includes you in a drawing for prizes.
The February 2021 Winter Ice Storms will be remembered for several years. Magnolia Electric Power experienced its first outages from the frozen precipitation in the early morning hours of Monday, February 15. Linemen were sent into the field to begin working these first outages. The initial outages were centered in Pike, Walthall and Lawrence counties. Working conditions were not the best as the ice continued to cover everything, making roads hard to travel, therefore making it difficult to respond to outages quickly. But the linemen kept at it and tried to restore power to as many members as they safely could. Due to the severe weather conditions, the outage numbers would go up and down over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The height of the outages numbered around 9,000. Wednesday afternoon brought in another round of ice that struck further north and caused additional outages in Amite, Franklin, Lincoln and Lawrence counties. On Wednesday, MEP had outages down to 2,500 before the second storm hit and sent the outage numbers upward. It was Thursday before MEP got to a turning point when the weather made it a little easier to get work done. MEP started with 4,758 outages that morning and were able to lower the number to 1,023 by 8:45 p.m. that night. Crews reported to work at 6 a.m. on Friday and reduced the number to 25 outages that night. On Saturday, February 20, crews were dispatched bright and early and all meters able to receive power were energized that afternoon.
/19/21 8:32 AM
These photos show a few of our cooperative heroes who worked tirelessly through adverse conditions to restore power to our members. We appreciate the patience of our membership during these difﬁcult times.
MARCH 2021 | TODAY 13
kitchen pantry To keep infestations at bay in the kitchen pantry, Haynes gives the following advice: Keep stored-food pests, such as moths, beetles and meal worms, out of products they infest by storing them in airtight glass or plastic containers.
• Store opened food items in airtight glass or plastic containers. • Keep flour and cornmeal in the refrigerator or freezer until ready for use.
by Susan Collins-Smith The kitchen pantry is a prime target for pests, so don’t forget to add it to the spring cleaning list. Stored-food pests, such as meal worms, moths, beetles and weevils can easily get into open packaging or items not used often. “Finding these bugs doesn’t mean your house is dirty,” said Natasha Haynes, a family and consumer science agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and host of The Food Factor. “Most of these insects come into our homes in food that is already infested. Grain products, such as grits, flour, cereal, cornmeal and cake mixes can all contain or attract these pests.” Blake Layton, extension entomologist, said these pests also exist in the natural environment and can invade the pantry if food is accessible. “Susceptible foods that sit open for long periods of time can invite pests that feed on other items around the house,” he said. “Drugstore beetles are one example. They can occur in a wide range of food products, including dry dog food, tea, flour, tobacco, birdseed, dried herbs, spices and other dried plant products.” “A lot of times, we see infestations after people buy bulk quantities of peanuts to eat or corn for milling and set it in the closet and forget about it,” Layton said. “Such products need to be used relatively soon after purchase. Low levels of pests are likely already present in the products, and the longer they are stored, the greater the potential for serious infestation.” 14 TODAY | MARCH 2021
• Replace damaged storage containers or bags immediately. • Clean up any spills and crumbs right away. • Discard expired food items. In the event of an infestation in the pantry, discard the affected food item, empty the area, vacuum and then clean the area with hot, soapy water. Pay special attention to the undersides of shelves and any crevices where shelves meet the wall or cabinet. The contents of the vacuum should be emptied and discarded outside. Other household items that could attract similar pests include cereal-based bath flakes, dry pet food, bird seed, old rat bait, upholstery on antique furniture and toys or beanbags stuffed with actual beans or grains. Even forgotten nuts, cookies, trail mix or candy bars in coat pockets or hunting gear can attract these pests. Some household items that become infested should be discarded. However, some can be treated with cold or heat. Items can be placed in a deep freezer at zero degrees for at least four days. Or items that can withstand heat may be placed in the oven at 130 degrees for at least 30 minutes, Haynes said. The area should also be thoroughly cleaned by vacuuming and wiping down surfaces with hot, soapy water if appropriate. Susan Collins-Smith is a writer for the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
University is searching for young writer to award full-ride scholarship Belhaven University in Jackson is honoring alum and welllonger a concern for a young person and their family.” known author Angie Thomas by helping young aspiring writers Belhaven will award one incoming freshman a full-ride scholin a major way. The Angie Thomas Writers Scholarship will arship, which will cover tuition, room and board at the university provide a full-ride scholarship to one incoming creative writing for four years. Other applicants may receive scholarships as part major and additional scholarship of the program. Scholarship appliawards to other applicants. cations are due March 15, 2021 and Now in its second year, these the winner will be selected on April scholarships are named in hon15, 2021. Interested students can or of Thomas, author of the New visit gobelhaven.com/angie to learn York Times best-selling novels, “On more about the requirements and to the Come Up” and “The Hate U apply. Give.” Her first book, “The Hate U Belhaven University President Give,” was developed into a major Roger Parrott said, “Angie has motion picture from Fox 2000, and shown us all that a voice of signifThomas is working as a producer icance can reach and change the Interested students can visit on the film version of “On the Come world. I can’t wait to see which gobelhaven.com/angie to learn more Up.” Belhaven student is next to become about the requirements and to apply. “It means the world to me to a writer of distinction.” have a scholarship in my honor and to know that Belhaven has “This scholarship provides a door to four years of personal this level of pride for me,” Thomas said in a news release. “Even and creative growth,” Chair and Professor of Creative Writing more than that, it’s incredible to know that this could play a Randall Smith said in the release. He advised and taught huge role in a young writer’s life. That alone is an honor.” Thomas when she studied at Belhaven. Thomas is encouraging students to apply and believes there Smith anticipates meeting the scholarship winners and adds, are many young writers who need the extra support to make “In our writing program, we emphasize participating in an estheir dreams of authorship a reality. “The pandemic has affected tablished and welcoming community of gifted writers who want so many families financially, and suddenly many students may to help each other grow as writers. We will work hard to help not know how to pay for college,” said Thomas. “I’m thankful them define and pursue their unique mission, calling, and career that the Angie Thomas Writers Scholarship exists so that it’s no in life.” MARCH2020 2021 | TODAY 15 DECEMBER
A R E V I TA L T O
COASTAL ECONOMY by Matthew Bernard Jargowsky The nutrient-rich waters of the Gulf of Mexico support an abundance of commercial and recreational fisheries. The health of these fisheries is critical to coastal economies, as these resources support almost 200,000 jobs across the Gulf Coast. A fishery is “the catch, harvest or raising of aquatic organisms and the people or groups who perform these actions.” The word “fishery” can describe a single species, like the spotted seatrout fishery, or it can be used to describe several similar species that are all caught with the same type of fishing gear, such as the shrimp fishery (commonly referring to the catch of white, brown and pink shrimp, among others). The term “fishery” also generally encompasses both the commercial and recreational sectors unless otherwise stated. The fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico support robust commercial and recreational fishing economies. To give some examples from NOAA’s most recent issue of “Fisheries Economics of the United States,” commercial landing revenue for the Gulf of Mexico in 2016 (the most recent data available) totaled more than $900 million, which accounted for 17% of all commercial landing revenue in the United States that year. Similarly, recreational fishing expenditures in the Gulf of Mexico totaled more than $11 billion (36% of the nation’s expenditures), with recreational fishermen completing more than 19 million fishing trips (33% of the nation’s fishing trips). The Gulf of Mexico’s most important commercial fisheries by weight and value are the Gulf menhaden and shrimp fisheries, respectively. More than 1.3 billion pounds of menhaden were landed in 2016, and the shrimp fishery brought in more than $400 million dockside. Recreationally, spotted seatrout are the most targeted fish species in the Gulf, with more than 23 million fish caught in
16 TODAY | MARCH 2021
2016. Red snapper were the most popular offshore species, with anglers catching more than 4 million that same year. Although Mississippi’s coastline is small, its contributions to Gulf of Mexico marine fisheries are far from insignificant. Respectively, these fisheries generated total amounts over $218 million and $638 million during 2016. Perhaps because Mississippi is essentially at the center of the northern Gulf of Mexico, trends in Gulf-wide fisheries are largely reflected in Mississippi’s fisheries as well. Among Mississippi’s commercial fisheries, Gulf menhaden comprised 95% of all landings by weight, with a total catch of almost 300 million pounds. However, Mississippi’s shrimp fishery was the most valuable commercial fishery, with revenue of just over $15 million. Other important Mississippi commercial fisheries include the oyster and blue crab fisheries, which together brought in just shy of $2 million at the docks. In 2016, Mississippi saltwater anglers made 1.5 million fishing trips, 52% of which were on private boats. Another 46% were shore-based, and only 2% were charter-for-hire. Like in the Gulf of Mexico as a whole, more fish were caught in the spotted seatrout fishery than in any other single-species fishery. Nearly 3 million spotted seatrout were caught, of which 46% were harvested and 54% were released. Red snapper was the most popular offshore fishery, with 210,000 fish caught Fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico, including those in Mississippi, are vital to coastal economies. Thousands of people directly depend on these fisheries for their livelihoods, and millions fish them for enjoyment. Matthew Bernard Jargowsky is an extension program associate with Mississippi State University’s Coastal Marine Extension Program.
in preservation grants awarded
Wechsler School, Meridian, Lauderdale County — $277,154 for interior and exterior rehabilitation. (Old) Monticello Elementary, Monticello, Lawrence County — $40,000 for structural repairs and asbestos report and abatement. Stephen D. Lee House, Columbus, Lowndes County — $25,600 for front porch roof replacement. Tennessee Williams House, Columbus, Lowndes County — $35,000 for rebuilding of the front porch. (Old) Madison County Jail, Canton, Madison County — $250,250 for rear wall repair and roofing. Marion County Courthouse, Columbia, Marion County — $225,940 for window restoration. Isaac Chapel (Rosenwald School), Byhalia, Marshall County—$268,744 for interior and exterior restoration. Noxubee County Library, Macon, Noxubee County — $200,044 for clay tile roof replacement and exterior restoration.
Franklin County Courthouse
Noxubee County Library
Pontotoc County Courthouse, Pontotoc, Pontotoc County — $239,753 for window and masonry restoration. Quitman County Courthouse, Marks, Quitman County — $184,792 for exterior and interior rehabilitation. (Old) Vicksburg Library, Vicksburg, Warren County — $103,370 for electrical upgrades, window and door restoration, and boiler removal. Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, Vicksburg, Warren County — $89,056 for repair to the auditorium’s south wall.
Natchez City Hall
(Old) Madison County Jail
MARCH 2021 | TODAY 17
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Franklin County Courthouse, Meadville, Franklin County — $144,388 for window and masonry restoration, and reroofing of the jail.
G.L. Hawkins Elementary, Hattiesburg, Forrest County — $35,200 for roof repairs.
Chickasaw County Courthouse, Houston, Chickasaw County — $226,677 for repairs to the roof and other interior repairs.
Corinth Coliseum Theater, Corinth, Alcorn County — $236,234 for replacement of the roof and ADA upgrades.
Natchez City Hall, Natchez, Adams County — $157,056 for replacement of the roof.
House on Ellicott’s Hill, Natchez, Adams County — $210,400 for restoration of the front gallery of the building.
The grant awards are as follows:
The Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History recently awarded nearly $3 million on behalf of the Community Heritage Preservation Grant program to 18 preservation and restoration projects from across the state. The Community Heritage Preservation Grant program, authorized and funded by the Mississippi Legislature, helps preserve and restore historic courthouses and schools in Certified Local Government communities and other historic properties. “The Legislature has saved hundreds of significant Mississippi properties through this program,” MDAH Director Katie Blount said in a news release. “The Department of Archives and History is grateful for the Legislature’s support and pleased to be able to help preserve these local treasures.” Grant awards are paid on a reimbursable basis upon the successful completion of the entire project or at the time of the completion of preestablished phases of the project. Prior to application, all buildings must have been designated Mississippi Landmarks. Only county or municipal governments, school districts, and nonprofit organizations granted Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service may submit applications. To become a Certified Local Government, a community must adopt a preservation ordinance establishing a preservation commission in accordance with federal and state guidelines. Once the commission has been established, application for CLG status may be made to the National Park Service through the Department of Archives and History. MDAH works closely with local government officials and citizens to help them create and manage a workable local historic preservation program.
Nearly $3 Million
Photos by Chad Calcote
by Steven Ward They were first responders before the official first responders arrived on the scene. Dennis Wilson, Bobby McDaniel and Dwain Easley all lived close to the pine treescattered terrain in Gillsburg where a plane crashed the night of Oct. 20, 1977. Wilson, McDaniel, Easley and others in the area had no idea who was on the plane and, frankly, they didn’t care. They just wanted to help any survivors. The plane was transporting the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd from Greenville, South Carolina to a concert in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Convair CV-240 passenger plane ran out of fuel and crashed right after dusk in the woods of Gillsburg. The crash killed Lynyrd Skynyrd lead singer and songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, Gaines’ sister, Cassie Gaines, a backup singer, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick and the pilot and co-pilot. Wilson, McDaniel and Easley — all in their early 20s at the time — carried bodies and survivors from the plane through
the swampy and muddy muck of the ground to a nearby road. The plane was carrying 26 people. Six were killed and 20 survived. Today, about 800 yards from the actual site of the crash, fans of the band and tourists have a place to go to pay their respects to the people who lost their lives that night and to visit a spot where a piece of somber rock history was made. Thanks to the efforts of Wilson, McDaniel, Easley and other members of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Monument Project Board, a plane crash memorial was erected and opened to the public in October 2019. “At the time of the crash, I was not familiar with Lynyrd Skynyrd, however, thousands of people were,” said Wilson, 70, a board member of Magnolia Electric Power, the electric cooperative that provides service to the Gillsburg area. “The monument has been visited by fans from 45 states and eight foreign countries. Fans and followers will continue to visit the monument for years to come. I think it will have a very positive impact on our local economy here,” Wilson said. MARCH 2021 | TODAY 19
McDaniel, 65, is the president of the monument board. His family farm is near the crash site. McDaniel said he and some of the other crash rescuers liked to get together on the anniversary each year at the plane crash site. They often discussed wanting to get a sign or highway marker posted near the site because it was so hard for people to find. “We set a deadline of one year and kept expanding our project. The initial sign location was approved on state property beside Highway 568. But we changed the focus from a sign to a granite marker,” McDaniel said. The group encountered various roadblocks until Dwain Easley and his wife Lola Easley donated some of their private land near the crash site for the monument on Easley Road. The board started a GoFundMe account to help raise thousands of dollars for the project. The board also garnered financial help from the current Lynyrd Skynyrd band, McDaniel said. The monument includes three 14-foot-wide, 8-foot-tall black granite monuments with drawings of the band and text that tells the history of Lynyrd Skynyrd and what happened on the night of the crash.
The six steps leading up to the monument each represent lives lost on October 20.
“Freebird” – Lynyrd Skynyrd, lyrics by Ronnie Van Zant
A collection of the memorabilia from the 1977 Lynyrd Skynyrd winter tour. In the future, there is a plan for a museum to display items from the band, their tours and the last flight on October 20, 1977. From left: Magnolia Electric board member Dennis Wilson, Dwain Easley and Bobby McDaniel.
20 TODAY | MARCH 2021
Visit lynyrdskynyrdmarker.com for more information about the monument or to make a donation.
The gamechanger for the monument was when Mississippi lawmakers, led by State Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, passed a bill to put exit signs on Interstate 55 alerting motorists to the Gillsburg/ Magnolia exit as the location of the monument. Currie, who was a nursing student at the time of the crash and worked at Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center in McComb as a currier, was at the hospital that night in 1977. “So I knew all of the people that worked getting the monument together. Many I had seen that night bringing people to the ER,” Currie said. “I am now a registered nurse and member of the Mississippi House of Representatives and if I could do one more thing for a band I loved it was my honor to make sure a sign was erected to mark the monument and hope that people would see it and come and spend some time there,” she said. McDaniel said the monument gets up to 40 to 50 visitors a day during the week and more than 100 visitors on weekends, according to their guestbook. Many of those visitors credit the
interstate signs for their decision to stop, he said. McDaniel and Wilson said it’s possible that the monument will be expanded in the future to include a small museum nearby. “Southwest Mississippi doesn’t get a lot of positive press or new industry. The Lynyrd Skynyrd Monument is a positive thing that brings some good people and nice compliments to the Magnolia/Gillsburg area,” McDaniel said. Wilson, McDaniel and Easley were there at the beginning of a nightmarish time in rock history when a tragic disaster occurred in their backyard. “Once we arrived on the scene, we were focused on helping the survivors get medical treatment. It seemed like a vast undertaking at the time due to the remote location and very limited equipment that we had,” Wilson said. “However, we were just country folks helping a few people that needed help. That’s just what we do,” Wilson added. Today, they are still there trying to do the right thing for the band, their fans and their community.
MARCH 2021 | TODAY 21
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Jake Mangum comes from a family of athletes. Jake’s dad, John Jr., was a speedy quarterback at Magee High School before signing with Alabama. He was later a standout player for the Crimson Tide as a defensive back. John Jr. then played for the Chicago Bears for nine seasons. Jake’s grandfather played at Ole Miss and Southern Mississippi before heading to pro football. “Big John” played two years with the Boston Patriots of the American Football League. Jake’s uncle Kris played at Alabama and then transferred to Ole Miss, where he became an All-SEC selection at tight end. Kris also followed into the family business playing for the Carolina Panthers for 10 seasons. Jake decided that baseball, not football, was his future heading into his sophomore year at Jackson Prep. He decided to give up the “Friday Night Lights” to concentrate full-time on baseball. It has worked out pretty well for the first two-time winner of the C-Spire Ferris Trophy given to the Most Outstanding College Baseball Player in Mississippi by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. Today, Jake is a professional baseball player playing for the Brooklyn Cyclones in the NY-Penn League in Class A baseball. The Cyclones are affiliated with the New York Mets baseball organization. “My plan is to play pro ball as long as I can, and hopefully that is a very long time,” said Mangum. Before heading to Brooklyn and the bright lights, Jake made a four-year stop in Starkville. Many thought Jake might head to his dad’s alma mater Alabama out of Jackson Prep to play his collegiate baseball. “I really prayed about it, but in the end, I thought Mississippi State was where I was being led to go.” Jake went on to say, “Starkville is the best place to be. Everyone knows everybody there. It is a big college in a small town, and it was an awesome experience,” said Mangum. Jake was given the nickname “The Mayor” by one of his Mississippi State baseball teammates because he seemed to know everyone around town.
“I tell everyone that playing baseball at Mississippi State was the best four years of my life.” His MSU baseball career under John Cohen, however, did not start out as he had expected. “The entire team ranks every player on the fall roster before leaving for Christmas break. I was ranked second from the bottom.” He was surprised at the ranking because he thought he had had a decent fall season. “I knew I could hit, so my goal was to just get on the field.” He proved himself worthy as he ended up hitting .427 in SEC games, was named the SEC Freshman of the Year and was awarded the Ferris Trophy. Mangum continued his extraordinary baseball play for the next three seasons and finished his career ranked No. 4 in NCAA history with 383 hits. He also broke the MSU and SEC hit records. Mangum broke the SEC hits record at home in front of his elated family and Bulldog fans. Though the hit was special, Mangum confessed his relief at having the pressure of breaking the record over with. He had been constantly reminded everywhere he went by his loyal fans of the impending moment. Mangum led the Bulldogs to the College World Series in his final two seasons, and he stated that is the Mississippi State way. “My one regret is that we didn’t win the National Championship.” Mangum, however, is confident that the Bulldogs will finally realize their ultimate dream of winning the National Championship.
by Dale McKee Dale McKee is a Waynesboro native who has been writing sports in Mississippi since 1973. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MARCH 2021 | TODAY 23
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
‘Mississippi State was the best four years of my life’
with Martha Hall Foose
Corned Beef Brisket: A St. Patrick’s Day Tradition
Corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day is an American tradition. Though many people think of it as being straight from the Isles, it is almost certainly a dish developed by the Irish who settled in New York. Cooking the meat in a tightly sealed dish in the oven keeps the meat tender and flavorful. Giving 24 TODAY | MARCH 2021
it a bit of time under the broiler browns the tangy mustard crust. Any leftovers can find their way diced into a potato hash topped with sunny side up eggs or thinly sliced and piled high on a deli-style Reuben sandwich on rye with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing.
Revisions Requested Approved
CHAD Date_____ Revisions Requested Approved Revisions Requested
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or spray lightly with oil. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Cut in the butter with a couple of forks or a pastry blender until the mixture looks like uncooked oatmeal. Make a well in the center and add 1 ½ cups of the buttermilk and the egg. Stir with a sturdy spoon until you have a shaggy dough. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead gently to bring the dough together. Form into a 6-inch round loaf. Place on the baking sheet. Brush the top of the loaf with the remaining 1 tablespoon of buttermilk. With a serrated knife cut a shallow X in the top of the loaf. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for 35 minutes until loaf is deep golden brown and sounds hallow when thumped. Cool on a wire rack.
INGREDIENTS 4 cups all-purpose flour 1⁄3 cup sugar 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut in small pieces 1 ½ cups plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk, divided 1 large egg, beaten
Place wrack in middle position of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 by 13 baking pan with oil. Rinse corn beef in cold water and pat dry. Place the corned beef fatty side up in the baking pan. Combine mustard, brown sugar and vinegar in a small bowl. Brush mustard mixture over the top and sides of the corned beef. Sprinkle packet of seasoning (if included) or pickling spice over the surface of the beef. Cover baking pan tightly with foil tenting slightly so foil does not touch surface of beef. Bake 3 hours or until beef is tender with an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove the foil and set oven on broil. Broil the beef until browned on top. Allow the corned beef to rest for 15 minutes before slicing against the grain. Serve with sautéed cabbage, carrots, and onions, if desired.
Irish Soda Bread
INGREDIENTS 1 (approximately 3 pound) whole corned beef brisket ¼ cup whole grain mustard 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 2 tablespoons pickling spice blend (such as the McCormick brand if spice packet is not included in corned beef packet)
This plump, golden loaf is easy to make and doesn’t require any time to rise. The piping hot loaf can be on the table in under an hour. Try adding ¼ cup toasted nuts, dried fruits or cheese to this recipe to make it your own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Martha Hall Foose, the author of “Screen Doors & Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales of a Southern Cook,” won the James Beard Award for American Cooking. Her latest collaboration is “A Good Meal is Hard to Find: Storied Recipes from the Deep South” with Amy C. Evans. Martha makes her home in the Mississippi Delta with her husband and son. She is a member of Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association.
MARCH 2021 | TODAY 25
Mustard Glazed Baked Corned Beef Brisket
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It was after midnight. The flashlight lay on the floor of the darkened room. There were five or six of us standing around watching it. One of the crew called out, “On the count of three, turn on this flashlight. One. Two. Three.” And the flashlight lit up by itself! “If you want us to leave, turn it off.” And all of a sudden, the room was totally dark again. Only we didn’t leave. Someone else called out, “If you’re a female, light the light again.” And it lit. Someone else asked, “What’s your name?” Now, I’m new to ghost hunting, but even I figured that would be a tough question to answer by just turning a flashlight on or off, unless they spelled it out in Morse code. This was a ghost investigation. Why was I there? Well, there are a lot of ghost hunting television shows running right now and one of the people I work with at the TV station knows a guy who is the head of a paranormal group. They do “investigations” of old houses, hotels, theaters and places like that all the time. So, a few of us tagged along with his group to see what we could see — or what we COULDN’T see, as would be the case with ghosts. I guess I come by ghost hunting through heredity. My granddaddy tracked down every ghost story he could in Itawamba County. He WANTED to see a ghost. It would prove that there is life after death. He never found anything that he couldn’t explain. In the back of our minds, we have the idea that we’d like to do our own version of a ghost hunting TV show but different from the ones already running. We’re still working on how that would actually look.
I think there is a desire to prove life after death. Even the disciple Thomas wouldn’t believe Jesus had risen from the dead unless he could see for himself. When he saw, he believed. And it didn’t take a flashlight blinking, either. Years ago, I did a story about one of the old tour homes in Natchez that was supposed to be haunted. I interviewed the manager. She lived on the premises. So, after the home closed for tours for the day, she would be there all alone until the next morning. I had to ask her if there was anything to the ghost stories. She told me about a few of her experiences. And as I was leaving, I asked her if it would be okay to run some of her ghost tales on television. She said, “By all means. It helps so much with security!” So maybe that can be our take — we’re not ghost hunting — we’re helping with security to scare people so they would never try to break in. ‘Course, any house that scary I’d never go into in the first place. But it may work. Blink once if you think you’d watch a show like that.
by Walt Grayson Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at email@example.com.
MARCH 2021 | TODAY 27
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