MISSISSIPPI’S PRECIOUS GEM
BASS TIPS FOR REDFISH
YOUR NEW FAVORITE SUGAR COOKIES
MISSISSIPPI’S PRECIOUS GEM
BASS TIPS FOR REDFISH
YOUR NEW FAVORITE SUGAR COOKIES
Both musicians and writers probably spring to mind ﬁrst. We are, after all, the birthplace of B.B. King, Elvis Presley, and Jimmie Rodgers as well as William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Willie Morris.
But Mississippi is also home to important and talented visual artists.
For the March issue of the magazine, we visited with artist and OB-GYN physician Dr. J. Kim Sessums of Brookhaven.
Yes, you read that right. Sessums is an artist and a doctor.
Sessums works full time with his OB-GYN practice and creates commission artwork for private collections and public monuments.
Sessums has created works as diverse as the African American Soldier monument at Vicksburg National Military Park to a sculpture of Coach Johnny Vaught at Vaught Hemingway Stadium at Ole Miss.
A product of rural Mississippi — he grew up near Forest in Scott County — Sessums has a unique story about his approach to creating art.
We hope you enjoy the story.
March is an exciting time around the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi o ces. By the time you have read this column, we
have put on the annual Cooperative Leaders Workshop in Jackson for our youth.
Our electric cooperatives fund the workshop for high school juniors from all over the state.
During the workshop, we give the students an opportunity to learn, grow, and experience. We make sure the students understand the impact electric cooperatives have on their lives and communities.
The workshop is a perfect example of one of the Seven Cooperative Principles that guide co-ops by putting the needs of our members ﬁrst — Concern for Community.
In next month’s issue, I will let you know how the students did.
We hope you enjoy the March issue.
Delta blues to coastal dreams. Cotton white to marsh reeds, waving in the sultry breeze.
Rolling semi mountain hills to paper ﬂats. Muddy sip, tugboats pushing, roosters crowing, chicks growing.
Summer ballﬁelds and winter football, one-day wiping sweat to jacket warmth.by Michael Callahan Executive Vice President/CEO Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi
Deer abounds to catﬁsh frying, jaw dropping sunrises to take your breath away sunsets.by Pamela Dillon, a resident of Tylertown and a member of Magnolia Electric
Gary Bachman says farewell
How to catch redﬁsh using bass techniques
The Official Publication of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi
Randy Carroll - President
Ron Barnes - First Vice President
Tim Perkins - Second Vice President
Brian Hughey - Secretary/Treasurer
Michael Callahan - Executive Vice President/CEO
Lydia Walters - VP, Communications
Steven Ward - Editor
Chad Calcote - Creative Director/ Manager
Kevin Wood - Graphic Designer
Alan Burnitt - Graphic Designer
Courtney Warren - Graphic Designer
Chris Alexander - Member Services Coordinator
Steve Temple - Social Media Director
Mickey Jones - Administrative Assistant
EDITORIAL OFFICE & ADVERTISING
Brookhaven doctor and artist Dr. J. Kim Sessums always has a story to tell
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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.
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Blueberry pie and sugar cookies for dessert
There’s a new precious gem in town
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Brookhaven’s Dr. J. Kim Sessums is a physician, artist and storyteller. Photo by Chad Calcote.
Central Electric Power Association, Coahoma Electric Power Association, Coast Electric Power Association, Delta Electric Power Association, Dixie Electric Power Association, East Mississippi Electric Power Association, 4-County Electric Power Association, Magnolia Electric Power, Monroe County Electric Power Association, Natchez Trace Electric Power Association, North East Mississippi Electric Power Association, Northcentral Electric Cooperative, Pearl River Valley Electric Power Association, Pontotoc Electric Power Association, Singing River Electric, Southern Pine Electric, Southwest Electric, Tippah Electric Power Association, Twin County Electric Power Association, and Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association.
March means it’s Cooperative Youth Leaders time. The Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi’s Cooperative Leaders Workshop is set for March 1 – 3 in Jackson.
The three day-workshop features a true cooperative learning atmosphere where 83 high school juniors from all around the state will participate in cooperative teambuilding exercises.
The students will also have breakfast with their state lawmakers, hear speeches from Gov. Tate Reeves and Secretary of State Michael Watson, visit the State Capitol, attend a townhall
awards $50,000 grant for I-59 Supply Chain Park
Cooperative Energy and its local member distribution cooperative, Dixie Electric Power Association, awarded a grant to the Economic Development Authority (EDA) of Jones County’s I-59 Supply Chain Park project. The $50,000 grant is from the “Cooperative Competes” grant program for site development. The program seeks to increase the competitiveness of industrial sites in Cooperative Energy and Dixie Electric’s service areas.
Located adjacent to Interstate 59 midway between New Orleans, Louisiana and Birmingham, Alabama, the I-59 Supply Chain Park o ers 20 to 124-acre parcels with interstate frontage. The industrial park is supported by both Jones and Forrest counties, allowing for additional public support for industrial park development.
The park is adjacent to the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport (HLRA), which o ers both commercial and general aviation services. The property is owned and managed by the HLRA Airport Authority; however, is not within FAA control, allowing for innovative land and incentive structures. Being located adjacent to the interstate, and within minutes of customized training at The University of Southern Mississippi’s Polymer Science Department and Jones College’s Advanced Technology Training Center, makes this park perfect for light manufacturing and distribution facilities.
meeting, and interact with motivational speakers.
Students are selected through various programs — educational opportunities, and/or interviews — conducted by their local electric cooperative.
The workshop is funded by the local electric cooperatives.
The 83 juniors will then attend the program’s Youth Tour of Washington, D.C. in June.
This year’s program is the 36th workshop.
Power use will drop slightly this year due to milder weather and slowing U.S. economic activity, according to the Energy Information Administration’s ﬁrst forecast of 2023.
In the agency’s latest Short Term Energy Outlook, power use is expected to fall from 4,044 billion kilowatthours in 2022 to 4,014 billion kWh this year. But with expected improvements in the economy, consumption will increase to 4,064 billion kWh in 2024, according to the report.
Overall, electric consumption will remain “fairly stable” after growing by 3% last year, the report said. The EIA expects consumption to fall by 1% in 2023 and then rise by just over 1% in 2024.
Electric generation will follow a similar pattern, declining in 2023 and then rising in 2024 mostly due to renewable sources, the forecast said. By 2024, renewables are expected to account for 26% of all generation, compared to a 24% share in 2023. About two-thirds of the year-over-year increase will come from new utility-scale solar projects and most of the rest from wind, the report said. NRECA
I usually write the Southern Gardening column about how the di erent seasons change the look of our landscapes and gardens, what seasonal plants look great and when it’s time to transition with new plants for the next season.
Just like in the garden, a career has a season for everything, and there comes a point when you realize it’s time for a change. With that said, I decided to retire at the end of 2022, so this column is my last for Southern Gardening.
It has been my great pleasure to have been selected as host of Southern Gardening for the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
There were some who thought the gig would not last very long because I would run out of topics. That was 13 years ago!
In the meantime, Southern Gardening has shot more than 500 TV segments, written more than 650 newspaper columns, done hundreds of social media videos, and voiced countless daily radio spots.
And Southern Gardening is still going strong!
I found my true calling — my Extension voice — when I started hosting Southern Gardening. Never in my wildest imagination could I have predicted this was the path my career would take.
I’ve had the good fortune to experience and share the width and breadth of consumer and commercial horticulture in Mississippi.
I have spread that good horticulture news all across the Southeast.
I’ve enjoyed speaking to lots of Mississippi garden clubs and meeting their members.
We’re going to stay in Ocean Springs and continue growing veggies and other fun, unusual plants at our Heritage Cottage Urban Nano Farm while prepping for the zombie apocalypse.
I’ve been a keynote speaker for all of the Southern state Master Gardener conferences. Other notable invited presentations include the Memphis Botanic Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee; Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Mobile, Alabama; the American Rose Center in Shreveport, Louisiana; Biedenharn Museum and Gardens Garden Symposium in Monroe, Louisiana; the Rosalynn Carter Butterﬂy Garden Symposium in Plains, Georgia; and the Gardening for Life Symposium at the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston, South Carolina.
In 2022, my ﬁrst book — “Southern Gardening All Year Long” — was published. I have had a wonderful horticulture career at MSU.
Of course, Southern Gardening is a team e ort. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the professionals in the MSU Extension O ce of Agricultural Communications.
Video and audio producers, videographers, editors, and social media specialists have worked hard to make the various Southern Gardening products look and sound great. And along the way we’ve grown the Southern Gardening Nation.
I’ve been asked if Katie and I will be moving now that I am retired? The short answer is “no.” We’re going to stay in Ocean Springs and continue growing veggies and other fun, unusual plants at our Heritage Cottage Urban Nano Farm while prepping for the zombie apocalypse.
There’s no need for us to become strangers. I’ll continue to share landscape and garden tips and tricks, so keep up with me and everything I’m doing on my social media channels.
Remember, The Horticulture Never Stops! Hail State.by Dr. Gary Bachman
As the weather warms, many Mississippi bass anglers head to the coast for vacations or to try a di erent type of ﬁshing. When they do, they typically bring their old familiar freshwater techniques to saltier environments.
Redﬁsh can live in fresh water. Largemouth bass can tolerate some salinity. In the brackish river deltas of the Mississippi coast, bass and redﬁsh share many waters and frequently attack the same prey, often at the same time.
Catching redﬁsh closely resembles bass ﬁshing in many ways. Some people call redﬁsh “channel bass.” For both, anglers usually move slowly along shorelines throwing lures into any pockets or other likely hiding places. Both species commonly lurk in the weeds or behind objects to ambush prey. Since both species regularly prey upon the same forage, they naturally strike the same lures that simulate those morsels.
“A redﬁsh will hit anything that a bass will hit and vice versa,” said Stephen Browning, a Bassmaster Classic veteran who occasionally ﬁshes for redﬁsh. “I’ve caught redﬁsh on conventional bass safety-pin style spinnerbaits and many other bass lures.”
A redﬁsh will hit anything that a bass will hit and vice versa. I’ve caught redﬁsh on conventional bass safety-pin style spinnerbaits and many other bass lures.
Among the most versatile lures, spinnerbaits attract ﬁsh from top to bottom. Anglers can buzz spinnerbaits across the surface, wake them slightly beneath the surface, through mid-depths or roll them just o the bottom. Whirling blades reﬂect sunlight, creating ﬂash that mimics baitﬁsh. Rounded Colorado blades even imitate the ﬂickering back swimmer ﬁns on crabs, and redﬁsh love to crunch juicy crabs!
Generally preferred by bass anglers, safety-pin spinners employ bent “arms” that suspend one or more blades over skirted heads. An in-line spinnerbait uses a straight wire extending from the head with a blade rotating around it.
Many saltwater anglers use “beetle” spinners, also known as “harness” spinners. A beetle spinner resembles a safety-pin spinnerbait, but it consists of a wire harness attached to a jighead. Anglers tip jigheads with soft-plastic shrimp or minnow trailers. Since the components separate, anglers can easily try new trailers or di erent blades.
Mullets, another favored redﬁsh prey, habitually swim near the surface and even stick their noses out of the water. Many bass topwater baits replicate mullet action. Big “walk-the-dog” lures move across the surface with a scintillating side-to-side motion like crippled mullets. Anglers can toss these hefty baits long distances to search for ﬁsh.
“I walk baits with a repetitive twitch motion with a snap of my wrist so they zigzag from side to side,” said Mark Wright with Legends of the Lower Marsh Charters in Pass Christian. “Every bait has a di erent timing based upon its size, shape, and other factors. A redﬁsh strikes more out of reaction to the action than homing in on a speciﬁc color.”
Crankbaits resemble baitﬁsh and dive under the water when pulled. In salty water, use shallow-diving crankbaits with strong wobbling action. For colors, try something that looks like mullets or other baitﬁsh.
This list barely scratches the surface of what redﬁsh might hit. Anything that tempts a bass, it will interest a redﬁsh too!by John N. Felsher
John N. Felsher is a professional freelance writer, broadcaster, photographer, and editor who lives in Alabama. An avid sportsman, he’s written more than 3,300 articles for more than 170 different magazines on a wide variety of outdoors topics. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amanda and Jon Delperdang landed in the Mississippi Delta separately as teachers for the Teach for America program.
They fell in love with each other and the Delta and decided to stay.
Amanda taught at Weddington Elementary in Greenville for nine years while Joe worked at various local schools and nonproﬁts.
The couple, now married, put down roots in Greenville and have two kids today.
A gardener her whole life, Amanda became interested in native plants and ways to garden sustainably while teaching.
“I started to do garden activities with students while I was teaching and was amazed at how engaged and excited they were to learn about the natural world. I ﬁnd a lot of peace and healing as I spend time outside and I think that was also true for the children. There are a lot of challenges for schools right now and as a teacher I was always looking for more resources to support the students,” she said.
Amanda and Jon’s work with the students led to their brainchild — The Mississippi Delta Nature and Learning Center.
The center is a place that cares for the earth and the people who live in the Delta.
“We are doing that by providing creative educational outdoor spaces for children and their families to learn and play, job training for youth and adults, and outdoor community recreation for people living in and visiting the Mississippi Delta,” Amanda said.
After buying land from the city of Greenville at a discounted rate, the couple now has 26 acres located at 1950 Lisa Drive. The couple is building The Heart and Soul Children’s Garden on ﬁve acres of creative play spaces for children ages 2 to 10. The couple has received funding and support from 19 community partners as well as a sizable grant from the Community Foundation of Washington County. The garden will feature a total of 10 themed garden spaces focused on creative, hands-on play and learning centered around science and literacy.
The couple is also starting an Environmental Leadership Program for high school and college students in partnership with AmeriCorps, the federal service agency. The program will teach young people about environmental stewardship and give them training from professionals in the area to restore land to native habitat. They will have two miles of trail through that restored woodland and wetland with educational signage along the trail.
“Once we open, we’ll be a place where there’s always something going on. We’re excited to get people outside and teach them about the wonderful world we live in,” Amanda said.
The center and garden will also feature a water play area, a sound and music garden, a “Tot Town” for toddlers to explore, and a “Step into a Story Garden,” where students can read books or recognize the setting of books to be transported to that place, a Native Cottage Garden with play huts and native plants, a tropical garden with grass huts, a magical garden with a castle, and adventure trail, and a grassland area.
Amanda said she and her husband love the Delta because of the amazing people.
“We love that people are down to earth, and I mean that literally and ﬁguratively! People are connected to the land here and once you know where to look there is a lot going on,” she said.
The center and garden are still under construction but there are plans to open by the summer.
“We’re beyond grateful for the support we’ve gotten. Three years ago, this was all just an idea and now we have an actual space where people will be able to come soon and enjoy time outdoors with their families.”
Once we open, we’ll be a place where there’s always something going on. We’re excited to get people outside and teach them about the wonderful world we live in.
Next time something slithers too close, be prepared!
Someyears ago, my girlfriend and I visited the Southwest town of Sedona. It’s a wonderful place. While jewelry stores, art galleries and upscale boutiques have crept into Sedona’s downtown, the air still maintains an electric charge. In one of these Sedona stores I acquired a Bowie knife that soon proved well worth the sticker price. Disappearing into the stunning red rock formations that Sedona is known for, my girlfriend and I set out to hike Bell Rock, a butte just south of that famous desert town. We couldn’t have been happier. Our happiness didn’t last long. Before we knew it, we stumbled upon a rather nasty diamondback rattlesnake. Acting quickly, I pulled my Bowie knife out of its holster and gave Mr. Snake a quick shave. We were lucky. Not only did my skill with a knife ensure our safety, but I had the makings for a new rattlesnake belt.
The next time something slithers too close, make sure you’re prepared with the Diamondback Bowie Knife. This 12" knife comes with a high quality 420 surgical grade stainless steel blade. The handle is made of genuine natural bone that’s been hand carved in the pattern of a diamondback. Completed with brass handguards, spacers and end cap and accessorized with a genuine leather tooled sheath, this is one blade a mamba won’t want to mambo with.
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Storm season is upon us, which means greater potential for power outages. If you’re planning to use a portable generator in the event of an outage, your electric co-op reminds you to play it safe.
With proper use and maintenance, portable generators can provide great convenience during an outage. However, when generators are used incorrectly, they can be extremely hazardous. In a 2022 report, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated 85 U.S. consumers die every year from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning caused by gasolinepowered portable generators.
Install backup CO alarms.
Position generators at least 25 feet outside the home, away from doors, windows, and vents that can allow CO to enter the home.
Keep children and pets away from portable generators at all times.
Ensure your generator is properly grounded. Use a portable ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to prevent electric shock injuries.
Use three-pronged extension cords that are rated to handle the load of the generator. Inspect extension cords for cuts, frays, or other damage before use.
Operate a generator inside your home or an enclosed (or partially-enclosed) space. Generators produce high levels of CO, which can be deadly.
Rely on generators as a full-time source of power. They should only be used temporarily or in emergency situations to power essential equipment or appliances.
Open windows or doors while the generator is running.
Overload generators. They should only be used to power essential equipment. Make sure your generator can handle the load of the items you plan to power.
Connect generators directly into household wiring unless you have an appropriate transfer switch installed. If a generator is connected to a home’s wiring without a transfer switch, power can backfeed along power lines and electrocute utility lineworkers making repairs.
While generators provide convenience during power outages, they can quickly become hazardous – even deadly – if improperly operated. Before you operate a portable generator, be sure to thoroughly read the owner’s manual for important safety information and tips.
By moving heat instead of creating it, a heat pump water heater uses 60% less energy than electric storage water heaters. That can add up to hundreds of dollars a year and thousands during the life of the water heater. Improved controls make it easy to set the desired temperature and programming, including vacation mode, which saves energy when you are out of town.
Some models offer Wi-Fi connectivity to be controlled by a smartphone from anywhere. Other helpful features include leak detection and automatic shutoff.
Consider upgrading to an energy efficient heat pump water heater. Heat pump water heaters — also called hybrid water heaters — use heat pump technology to heat water more efficiently than a standard electric storage water heater. Think of them as a standard water heater with a heat pump on top. The heat pump heats the water two to three times more efficiently than the electric elements, but the unit still has the electric elements as backup, if needed.
A heat pump water heater uses heat from a room to heat water. It tends to make the space about 2 degrees cooler, which is something to consider before installation. Ideal placement is an unconditioned space, such as a garage or unheated basement. A heat pump water heater requires enough space around the unit to supply the air needed for efficient operation — about 750 cubic feet.
Heat pump water heaters tend to be slightly taller than storage water heaters and require additional clearance above the unit to access the filter for cleaning. If your water heater is in a conditioned space or a room smaller than the unit requires, venting might be a solution for your installation.
Another consideration is noise. A heat pump water heater generates about as much noise as a modern dishwasher, so it may not be a good solution if the water heater is located where sound could be a nuisance. Installing a heat pump water heater is much like installing a standard electric water heater, except for the location of the cold-water inlet, which is located at the bottom of the unit.
Because moisture in the air condenses when it is drawn through the heat pump, it also requires a condensate drain that must be routed to a drain or pumped outside of the home.
Heat pump water heaters can replace electric, gas, or propane water heaters. They typically require a 240-volt circuit, which might necessitate an electrical upgrade by a licensed electrician.
QI’m looking for options to replace my old water heater. What should I choose to make my home’s water heating more efficient and save money?Heat pump water heaters make it easy to set the desired temperature and programming, including vacation mode, which saves energy when you are out of town. Photo Credit: Hot Water Solutions
Here are some details about their efficiency, how the units operate, installation considerations, and when you should replace your old water heater.
The life expectancy of a standard water heater is about 10 years. If your water heater is older than that or showing signs of failing, you may want to consider replacing it with a heat pump water heater before it fails.
It’s easier to find the product you want when it is not an emergency replacement. It also can be more expensive to replace it during an emergency. While heat pump water heaters are sold at a higher price than standard water heaters, the cost savings over time can offset the purchase and installation cost — and will result in a more energy efficient home.
You also are likely to save by taking advantage of sales, rebates, or tax credits. Check with your electric utility, state department of energy and federal tax information before purchasing a new water heater.
I installed a heat pump water heater in my home. I love it and can see how my energy use has decreased since installation. Now, if I can only figure out how to get my children to take shorter showers.Ideal placement of a heat pump water heater is in an unconditioned space, such as a garage or unheated basement. Photo Credit: Hot Water Solutions Miranda Boutelle is the chief operating officer at Efficiency Services Group in Oregon, a cooperatively owned energy efficiency company. By moving heat instead of creating it, a heat pump water heater uses 60% less energy than electric storage water heaters. Photo Credit: Hot Water Solutions
There are a number of reasons why people are interested in cutting back on energy consumption — some are primarily motivated to save on their monthly energy bills while others may be more concerned about reducing their personal carbon footprint.
Actively practicing energy efficiency and conservation provides multiple benefits. For parents, being more conscious about energy use can be used as a tool to teach kiddos about sustainable habits for the future; conserving energy also means fewer carbon emissions, which results in better air quality and a healthier environment; and I think we can all agree that saving money on our monthly utility bills is a great reason to monitor home energy use.
Regardless of why you’re interested in using less energy, there are several smart phone apps that can help you do just that!
I know what you’re thinking, and yes — to use a smart thermostat app, you must purchase a smart thermostat. But heating and cooling make up a large portion of the average home’s energy consumption (and cost!), so saving on heating and cooling can make a big impact on bills. Smart thermostats and their accompanying apps are handy and promote energy efficient behavior–and these devices have become much more affordable over the years. You can purchase an ENERGY STAR®-certified smart thermostat for as low as $100, which can save you 8% on annual heating and cooling costs, about $50 per year. The device will quickly pay for itself, and you’ll gain insight into better ways to heat and cool your home. Plus, the ability to control the thermostat from anywhere can equate to real savings. We recommend trusted brands and devices, like Google’s Nest Learning Thermostat and Ecobee’s Smart Thermostat.
If you’re wanting to reduce energy use at home, it’s important to know where your consumption is going. Energy cost calculators can help pinpoint your energy use with a few simple steps and identify areas to save. The concept is pretty simple; just plug in the wattage of your various appliances and how often you use them to see which are using the most energy. Most energy cost calculator apps are free and can be downloaded to any Apple or Android device. If you browse the app store, you’ll find multiple energy cost calculator apps, but most are similar in functionality. Be sure to read the app’s reviews and download the one that best aligns with your energy efficiency goals.
If you’re competitive and enjoy gamifying — well, everything — the JouleBug app is right up your alley. JouleBug makes energy conservation simple and fun through personal tasks and badges earned within the app, group challenges you can tackle with friends, and communities you can join to learn about local sustainability efforts. The JouleBug app is free and can be downloaded to Apple or Android devices, and it’s an easy tool to make saving energy fun.
These are just a few apps that can help you find new ways to save energy. Smart light bulbs are typically paired with apps for convenient control of home lighting; smart plugs also come with apps to help you control how you power everyday devices and electronics. Whether you use an app or not, saving energy is always a smart idea that can help you save money on your monthly bills and reduce your carbon footprint.
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Before Sessums can begin the process of creating a piece of art, he must write down a narrative.
“I have to explain what I’m trying to express,” Sessums, 65, said recently one evening while sitting in the two-story Brookhaven art studio behind his home.
The story of his art also has roots in the loss of his father when he was 5.
Sessums said he wished he had some words written down by his father — something left behind that he could go back to or revisit.
“My wife made a comment about our kids. She said, ‘don’t you want the kids to know what you were thinking about when you were working on a particular piece of art,’” Sessums said.
“She knew about how I felt about my father.”
Writing down a narrative before drawing a picture, painting a work, creating a bronze sculpture, or putting together a mixed media piece, isn’t common in the world of art.
Sessums isn’t what most people would describe as a conventional professional artist.
Sessums has been a full-time OB-GYN physician for 35 years in Brookhaven.
Throughout that time, Sessums has managed to create works of art that fill private collections as well as pieces that stand as public monuments.
Just a few of Sessums’ most well-known pieces include sculpted portrait busts of Mississippi writer Eudora Welty, world famous evangelist Billy Graham, and realist painter Andrew Wyeth. Some of his public monuments include sculptures of Coach Johnny Vaught at Vaught Hemingway Stadium at Ole Miss, the Boo Ferris sculpture at Delta State University, the African American Soldier monument at the Vicksburg National Military Park and the Mississippi Monument at Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee.
The juggle between his art and medicine hasn’t always been easy.
In the days before he had a studio, Sessums sometimes worked on his art at King’s Daughters Medical Center.
When Welty asked him when and how he created her sculpture while working full-time as a doctor, Sessums said he told her, “In the middle of the night between labor and delivery.”
Welty quipped back, “You should call the piece, Between Pap Smears.”
I have to explain what I’m trying to express. My wife made a comment about our kids. She said, ‘don’t you want the kids to know what you were thinking about when you were working on a particular piece of art.
Sessums, his older brother Kevin, and younger sister Karole grew up in Pelahatchie until they didn’t.
When Sessums was 5, their father, Howard Sessums — a well-known high school basketball star drafted by the New York Knicks and a coach/teacher at Pelahatchie High School — died in a car crash.
About a year later, their mother, Nancy Carolyn Sessums, died of cancer.
Sessums’ grandparents — Nancy Carolyn’s parents — took in the children in 1965 and raised them just outside of Forest in rural Scott County.
“My grandparents were good people. They didn’t have anything. We were poor. But we knew we were very loved,” Sessums said.
During those years in Scott County, Sessums just started drawing.
“I drew cartoons. I just had this inclination to do it. Nobody told me to do it or showed me how. It was just there,” Sessums said.
When Sessums was in the 10th-grade, Joe Rex Dennis — a family friend who worked for the Houghton Mi in publishing company — exposed him and his brother to art and books.
Dennis noticed Sessums’ interest in drawing.
“One day he (Dennis) brought me a big co ee table book from his shelf. It was “Wyeth at Kuerners” by the artist Andrew Wyeth. I went through the book, and it changed my life. I studied it. I was fascinated that he (Wyeth) could take something ordinary and make it beautiful,” Sessums said.
Dennis urged Sessums to go to college to study architecture. Sessums got into Mississippi State with help from Dennis but quit after six months.
“I just couldn’t do it. It was too much work,” Sessums said of the school’s architecture program.
Sessums wound up at Belhaven College in Jackson on a basketball scholarship. There he met Art Department Chairman Jon Whittington who introduced him to the ways art is composed and the history of artists that came before him.
But Sessums also really enjoyed his science classes.
Wayne Walley, the head of the biology department at Belhaven, suggested medical school.
Sessums wound up going to medical school in 1979.
Sessums and his medical partner, Steve Mills, decided to open their practice in Brookhaven.
“Brookhaven seemed to be the best ﬁt, best opportunity for growth, and both our wives agreed to the town. At the time, there were no OB-GYN doctors in Brookhaven. The hospital, King’s Daughters Medical Center, o ered to build a new Labor and Delivery Unit if we would come,” Sessums said.
Brookhaven has been the place where Sessums and his wife, Kristy, have raised their four children, where Sessums has helped bring other people’s children into the world, and where the doctor’s art and his practice of healing have co-existed together as it still does to this day.
Sessums wasn’t the only one of his siblings who found success in the arts.
Kevin Sessums became a professional writer.
A magazine scribe for most of his career, Kevin Sessums wrote celebrity proﬁle cover stories for 15 years at Vanity Fair and penned the 2007 memoir, “Mississippi Sissy,” about growing up gay in rural Mississippi.
Karole Sessums runs a web design agency.Sessums discusses his practice of developing a narrative for each piece near his sculpture at Shiloh.
Sessums’ art studio features a library and workspace on the ﬁrst ﬂoor and a gallery on the second.
The art in the gallery showcases his earliest graphite pencil drawings, some of his bronze sculptures, and some mixed-media pieces.
One of those pieces is a mixed media/assemblage called “Nancy Carolyn,” named after his mother.
It’s one of the most personal artworks he’s ever produced, he said.
The piece includes the phone from his grandparents’ house — the phone that delivered the call to his grandfather that Sessums’ father was killed in a crash.
There’s a letter from his mother to her sister that includes a passage about how she didn’t feel well at the time, and she knew something was wrong. His mother passed away not long after. There’s a tiny Zenith television from the grandparent’s home and elementary school photos of his mother that adorn the installation.
There is a story behind each piece of art Sessums creates.
Somehow, the stories of family, home, the ordinary, and the extraordinary have all fused to birth and sustain a Mississippi artist’s life and work.
For more information about Dr. J. Kim Sessums’ art, visit jkimsessums.com
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Horses have been part of Mississippi State University programs for years in teaching, research, and the student equestrian team, but breeding has not been a signiﬁcant aspect until recently.
In the eight years he has been with MSU, Clay Cavinder, Extension equine specialist, has made equine breeding and sales a priority. The average price for yearling and 2-year-old horses has increased steadily over the years to $8,600 in 2022.
“When I came to MSU, my strategy was twofold,” Cavinder said. “I wanted to create industry-acceptable, high-end horses, and I want a nationally recognized program here at MSU.”
MSU already had a few good mares, and Cavinder began looking for others to add to the stable.
“People who have good mares are not just going to give them away, and they are quite expensive,” Cavinder said. “I began to look for good mares that were older and maybe had some
reproductive challenges that our College of Veterinary Medicine specialists were able to address.”
Cavinder saw signiﬁcant success with this strategy with Invested In Pine, a then 23-year-old mare that was the last o spring of the top-notch horse, The Investor. With CVM expertise, MSU was able to get two foals from this horse.
Next, he turned his attention to high-end stallions, and ﬁnding them was a simpler matter.
“Stud fees are from $1,500 to $4,000 each, but I went to my friends and connections and every one of our stallion breeding services has been donated,” Cavinder said. “One person wanted to support our program, and she paid for the breeding from one stallion a year.”
The stallions that have been bred to MSU mares and produced foals include Lil Joe Cash, Magnum Chic Dream, Metallic Rebel, and VS Code Blue. These stallions are among the best in the industry.
I wanted to create industry-acceptable, high-end horses, and I want a nationally recognized program here at MSU
With better quality foals being born at MSU, Cavinder turned his attention to marketing. MSU horses are primarily sold for show competitions, but the goal is to expand into other areas, as well.
“My ﬁrst strategy was to sell 2-year-olds that were in a marketing program I teach,” Cavinder said. “The students were saddle breaking the horses, and we sold them as riding horses.”
Cavinder then changed strategy and had his students work with yearlings, teaching them to lunge, accept a saddle and bridle, and take professional photos. The majority of MSU horses are now sold in December as yearlings.
“These horses have never been ridden, and I’ve found the yearlings are sold for the dream,” Cavinder said. “The new owners know they could make that horse into something great.”
Another change in the program was making the switch in 2020 to online sales.
Before then, potential buyers would bid on a horse in an informal, unscheduled way, with the high bidder getting the horse. With the COVID-19 restraints that changed business in 2020, Cavinder reluctantly moved to online bids, and the results were fantastic.
“I didn’t think online sales were the way to go, but as we moved online, we realized the value,” Cavinder said. “Through national exposure, our horses have been seen by a greater volume of clientele, many of whom have the intent of investing resources into training and potentially competing.”
A certain level of horse sales is required to maintain the program. These numbers are an easy measure of the proﬁtability of a program, but Cavinder said his top priorities are students and the university mission.
“Our breeding program that is producing more valuable horses beneﬁts the equine program and the entire MSU Animal and Dairy Science program,” Cavinder said. “We have horses to support the equestrian team and horses for research and teaching, and the students who come through our program learn how to become better equine producers.”
Ashley Glenn, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Equine Unit facilities supervisor, said MSU students do not ride the horses in the breeding program, but they do beneﬁt from the sales.
“With better horses to sell, it allows us to have fewer horses on property, which means less expenses, and we’re able to meet our sales requirement with much fewer head,” Glenn said.
Cavinder teaches a sales preparation and marketing class, in which students are responsible for writing up a sales ad, making a sales video, and doing the hands-on work with the horses.
“Our students get exposure to the horse industry, and they learn what high-quality horses are like,” Glenn said.
Our breeding program that is producing more valuable horses beneﬁts the equine program and the entire MSU Animal and Dairy Science program.
Yields approximately 3 dozen cookies (depending on size and shape of cookie cutter).
Plan on mixing and chilling dough at least 4 hours or overnight before baking these simple yet delicious cookies. These crisp edged tender centered sugar cookies are great for tea parties and decorating holiday desserts. One of the attributes of this
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups granulated white sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon ﬁne salt
4 cups all-purpose ﬂour plus extra for dusting work surface and rolling pin
Sanding sugar, ﬁnely chopped nuts, or decorations of your choice
Yields approx. 3 dozen cookies
dough is the cookies can be rolled-out, frozen ﬂat on parchment lined baking sheets, and when solid, stacked in a zip top bag to grab out of the freezer and bake when sugar cookies are needed A.S.A.P. These cookies also stay remarkably fresh in an airtight container once thoroughly cooled and take to most any type of sprinkle, sugar, net, or icing as topping.
In a large bowl using an electric mixer with a paddle or beater attachment beat the butter, sugar until smooth and creamy about 3 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and salt and mix for a few seconds.
Add the ﬂour gradually and mix just until well combined.
Divide the dough into three equal parts and press to form ﬂat disks to aid in rolling out later. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and chill for 4 hours or overnight.
Heat oven to 350 degrees and bake.
Dust work surface and rolling pin with ﬂour and line several cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Assemble whatever toppings you choose to use. Gather a small bowl of cold water and a pastry brush.
Unwrap dough and place on ﬂoured work surface. Roll to ⅛-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes and place on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Brush tops of cut-outs very lightly with water and sprinkle with desired sugar or toppings.
Bake for 7 to 9 minutes rotating pans as needed to brown evenly. Bake until the edges are slightly browned. Let cookies cool on pan for 2 minutes then remove to a wire rack to ﬁnish cooling.
Repeat with remaining dough, as desired. Cool completely before storing in airtight container.
Ooops! I forgot I signed up to bring a dish for (insert teacher’s lounge, meeting, brunch, snack time, or dessert.) I seem to get myself in this spot quite often.
When I do, I pull out this tried and true recipe.
It lends itself well to most any type of fruit. Blueberry is my favorite with a few scratches of lemon or orange zest.
I usually have some fresh or frozen on hand.
I mostly make these in aluminum 9-inch pans with lids available in most grocery or big box stores because I hate to have to track down my pie dish later or just forget to round it up after an event. This pie is superb with a couple of dollops of lemon curd and whipped cream if you need to dress it up a bit.
1 cup granulated white sugar, plus a little extra for dusting top of pie
1 cup all-purpose ﬂour
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon grated citrus zest
¼ teaspoon ﬁne salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
2 cups blueberries, plus extra for decorating Powdered sugar for service, if desired
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl with a whisk combine 1 cup sugar, ﬂour, salt, allspice, and zest.
In a smaller bowl whisk together the melted butter, eggs, and extracts. Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the blueberries and stir to incorporate. The batter will be very thick. Spoon batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Top with a few berries to give a nice polka dot pattern of fruit across the surface of the pie. Sprinkle the top with a little sugar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Place pie in pan on a wire rack to cool. Top with additional fresh fruit and a dusting of powdered sugar. Serve with lemon curd and whipped cream, if desired.by Martha Hall Foose
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 Hattiesburg with her husband and son. She is a member of Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association.
Gospel Singing Jubilee. March 4. Magee. Performers include Gold City, QT, Terry Joe Terrell, The Revelations, and Tim Frith and the Gospel Echoes. 6:30 p.m. Magee High School, 501 Choctaw St. Details: 601-906-0677 or 601-720-8870.
Gospel Music Extravaganza. March 11. Hattiesburg. Ernie Haase & Signature Sound and The Hoppers will perform at 6 p.m. at Heritage Church, 3 Baracuda Dr., Hattiesburg. Details: (601)-261-3371.
Barnyard Marketplace Spring Festival. March 11. Poplarville. Come shop the ﬁeld of vendors and bring a chair and listen to the live music. Food trucks, crafters, face painters, photo opportunities. Bring a pantry item for Brother’s Keeper Ministries Food Bank. Visit the PRC Master Gardeners booth to learn about plants, bulbs, butterﬂies, and the Poplarville City Park Pollinator Gardens. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 295 Buck Kirkland Road. Details: 504-234-3579.
The Kingdom Choir. March 18. Meridian. The Kingdom Choir are internationally renowned for their shared talents, collective spirit, and instantly uplifting performances. The choir performed “Stand by Me” at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding in 2018. The choir stops in Meridian on their 2023 North American Tour to play at The MSU Riley Center at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 to $60. Details: 601-696-2200.
Melodies of Bluegrass Festival. March 24 and 25. Morton. Performers include: Bluegrass Cartel, Catahoula Drive, Edgar Loudermilk Band, Fair River Station, Seth Mulder & Midnight Run, and Weary Heart. The shows start at 1 p.m. Roosevelt State Park. 2149 MS. 13. Details: 601-604-4234 or 601-527-9127.
Adult Prom: I Want My 80’s MTV. March 25. D’Iberville. Adults 21 and over. BYOB. Dress code – 80’s. Raising money for wildlife with fundraiser for Whisper of Hope. Live music by Burn N Redd. 7 p.m. to midnight. D’Iberville Civic Center. 10395 AutoMall Parkway. Details: 228-280-3461 or email email@example.com.
Veterans Resource Fair. March 29. Laurel. The Laurel-Jones County Library System hosts the fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Laurel Library. This free event is open to all veterans, activeduty members, reservists, and their families. Over 20 local and state agencies, organizations, and non-proﬁts will be on hand to provide information about beneﬁts and resources available for all those who have served our Great Nation. Light refreshments and door prizes will be o ered. Details: Melinda Youngblood at 601-428-4313 Ext. 112 or email myoungblood@ laurel.lib.ms.us.
Adams County Master Gardeners Plant Sale. April 1. Natchez. All potted plants are $5 and hanging baskets are $10. Copiah-Lincoln Community College - Natchez Campus. 11 Co Lin Circle. 8 a.m. to noon. Details: 601-445-8202.
Loose Caboose Arts & Crafts Festival. April 1. Newton. Presented by the Newton Chamber of Commerce. Craft vendors, food, carnival, car show, pony rides, motorcycle show, kids show and live music by country artist Emily White. Details: 601-683-2201.
Barn Sale/Antiques and Collectables. May 5 and 6. Oak Grove. More than 85 collectors with trailer loads of antiques and collectables. Concession stand will have breakfast and lunch. 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking is $2. Price good for both days. Barn Sale auction is May 5 at 5:30 p.m. 4799 Old Highway 11, Purvis, (Oak Grove). Details: 601-818-5886 or 601-794-7462. Divide Memorial Methodist Protestant Church Springfest. May 6. Monticello. Vendors needed. Event will be held rain or shine. Details: 601-405-4975.
James says the opal is a sandstone that formed from the leftovers of a sand bar that was generously peppered with volcanic ash back eons ago when that part of Mississippi was a ﬂat sand delta and volcanos were quite active out west. The volcanic ash was embedded in the rock when the sand turned to stone. And now, light refracting o that ash becomes iridescent when you look at it just right.
A bill was introduced in the Legislature to make the Mississippi Opal the o cial “Precious Gemstone of Mississippi.” We have a state mineral — petriﬁed wood. A state fossil — the whale skeleton at the Natural Science Museum. A state bird — No, it’s not the mosquito. So, let’s put a State Precious Gemstone in there with the rest of it.
I can just hear ole’ Jed saying, “Well doggies” when the bill passes.
And if you don’t know who Jed Clampett is, pull up an episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies” on the internet. How Jed came by his good fortune is right there in the theme song. “Then one day he was shootin’ at some food, when up through the ground come a’bubbling crude. Oil that is.” Etc. Etc. I loved that show when I was in the eighth grade. Ellie May was a lot easier to look at than my American History homework.
But wouldn’t that be nice? To walk out in your driveway and ﬁnd a gold nugget just lying there in the gravel? Or something like that? Well, now we have a shot at it in Mississippi! Well, not gold or diamonds, exactly. But a precious gem has been discovered here.
My friend James Starnes is a geologist with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. One of their tasks is to do geological mapping of the state. James told me that while rummaging around the sands and loose gravels in the creeks and waterfalls that cut through the limestone bedrock of southwest Mississippi, lo and behold, they came up with an opal! And not just a pebble — a sizable hunk of rock. They call it “The Mississippi Opal.”
Now, I don’t know if there is just the one opal, or if they are tucked into the sandstones in most any old limestone-bottomed creek in Mississippi. Me and Jed Clampett would hope they are everywhere. But most likely they are rare.
(Just an aside — if you decide to go opal prospecting in the hollows of southwest Mississippi, keep in mind there isn’t a single square inch of land in the nation, much less Mississippi, that someone doesn’t have the deed to and probably wouldn’t see the humor in anyone trespassing on their property. Besides, that area of Mississippi has more rattlesnakes in it than it has people. That’s probably why it took so long to ﬁnd this opal to begin with. Guard snakes.)by Walt Grayson
Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Walt is also a reporter and 4 p.m. news anchor at WJTV in Jackson. He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A bill was introduced in the Legislature to make the Mississippi Opal the o cial “Precious Gemstone of Mississippi.
It’s the Jed Clampett syndrome. The wish to go out in your back yard and ﬁnd buried treasure.