Today in Mississippi May 2021 North East

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Advice to a graduating daughter It is hard to believe it has been six years since I first gave advice to your brother. Advice to your sister would follow three years later and now it is your turn. Honestly, there were times when I wondered if this day would come. From open heart surgery at six months to pacemakers at ages 11 and 14, we have been through a lot. I will never forget, after that first surgery, seeing your doctor in the ICU at 3 a.m. in a full tuxedo! He, along with other doctors, had been called in to save your life and it wasn’t until 10 days later, when we were bringing you home, that we would learn how close we had come to losing you. For the past 18 years you have fought through these medical conditions with an attitude that still amazes me. You could have easily gotten down and felt sorry for yourself, but you did not. You always kept a positive attitude, endured what came at you and said, “others are worse off, why should I complain?” Had it been me, I am not sure I could have handled everything with the grace and class that you have displayed. Soon you will graduate high school and be off to college. I know you are excited and ready to be “on your own.” Enjoy these college years. You will look back at them one day and discover they were some of the best times of your life. You will mature into an adult and make friendships that will last a lifetime. Now I could give you the advice that I gave your brother and sister: read your Bible, go to church, choose friends wisely, be home by 2 a.m., never go to a stranger’s room and other such things. But you already know all of this. I believe younger children mature faster because they watch and learn from their older siblings. So, my advice to you is somewhat different. It has been said that the two most important days in your life are the day

you are born and the day you realize why you were born. Go discover your why! There have been so many times these past 18 years when God could have taken you from us. From your mother’s womb until today, there have been countless miracles that have happened to keep you here on earth. For that reason, I must believe that God has a special purpose for you. I am not saying that purpose will lead to fame and fortune. God has many ambassadors that work behind the scenes in anonymity. But you must go and discover what that purpose is and why you have been put on this earth. I find it ironic that your heart, the weakest part of your body, is your biggest asset. I have watched you volunteer and mentor under privileged children, teach Vacation Bible School, keep the nursery in church and give your time so freely to others that were in need. I have often found it hard to believe that a heart so damaged could be so big and so full of love for others. That is a wonderful trait you possess, and I have admired it for many years. Lastly, I want to tell you how proud I am of you. Throughout your life you have conducted yourself in a manner that suggests a maturity far beyond your age. While I am apprehensive about you leaving, I know it has to and needs to happen. You cannot remain my little girl forever. You have too much hope, love and joy to give to a world that badly needs it. But know this, you will always be my baby and I will always love you. — Dad

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

Mississippi is... I think back that, as a child, I learned quickly, how to spell my home state, Mississippi, very swiftly. My sister taught me through a song, a song she knew but was not very long. Mississippi — M I crooked letter, crooked letter I, crooked letter, crooked letter I, humpback, humpback I. Now if you have a problem with spelling Mississippi, you too can learn without a sigh. Mississippi has many fun things to enjoy, shopping, riding 4-wheelers, trips to the zoo, are just a few things that will fill your life with much joy! Especially if grandkids get you up and out for the day. The smiles, the laughter, from these words can express what you’d like to say. There is church and church family, church socials celebrating special occasions, not just casually. Decorations galore and food to feed plenty. Most of all giving glory to their Savior, Jesus, for supplying blessings — oh so many. Thoughts often run through my mind of younger days when life was so kind. Bringing memories of days with mom and dad, when trips to a creek made my sister and I so glad. Climbing trees, playing outside in a cool breeze, even picking figs with the sun’s hot glare, are just a few things that remind me of Mississippi so rare. Mississippi — my home state, proud of her and a “10” I would rate. A place God made just for me to flourish, A place I will always love and cherish!

by Barbara Jones, a resident of Ellisville and a member of Dixie Electric

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

MAY 2021 | TODAY 3

in this issue

5 southern gardening Peppers can make gardens pop

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


11 outdoors today It’s bream fishing time

12 local news

Vol. 74 No. 5

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

18 feature

Lightning bugs create magical summer memories



The Official Publication of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi

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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: 476,015

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

Hot Coffee’s most famous son

On the cover


Lightning bugs fly at dusk in Wall Doxey State Park near Holly Springs. Photo by Jeff Davis


How does your


Share photos of your garden with us. Photos must be high-resolution JPG files of at least 1 MB in size. Each entry must be accompanied by photographer’s name, address and co-op. Attach digital photos to email and send to Submission deadline: June 4. Select photos will appear in the July 2021 issue.

4 TODAY | MAY 2021

Dark leaves of make garden splash The heat and drought tolerance of Black Pearl, along with its beautiful foliage and fruit, make it a great choice for Mississippi gardens.

Some of my favorite late-summer annuals are the ornamental peppers. These tough plants have to survive the heat and humidity of our Mississippi summers before they become the stars of my summer landscape. and distinctive dark-black foliage. In the past, I’ve written about these great plants during their The plant is accented by abundant, smallish, dark-purple fruit, peak color in late summer. Their show lasts through the fall as the which mature to bright red. The contrast between the foliage and plants keep producing. the fruit is an eye-catching combination in any garden. This has created some disappointment in faithful readers of Black Pearl is one of my favorites. It has clusters of shiny black, this Southern Gardening column who want to go to the garden round fruit that mature to brilliant center and pick up a few of these red and contrast with the black plants. The problem is you should foliage as the season progresses. plant your ornamental peppers in This plant grows to about 20 inches late spring. When I brag about the tall by 12 inches wide. A great feature show these peppers are putting on, for our Mississippi gardens is Black there are no ornamental pepper Pearl’s heat and drought tolerance. plants available at the time, and I Ornamental peppers prefer to hear about it from these interested grow in consistently moist soil, but gardeners. don’t be overly generous with the This year, I’m being proactive water, as the plants don’t tolerate and encouraging home gardeners waterlogged soil. Fertilize with a to start looking now for ornamental good slow-release fertilizer early in peppers. Then, when I show off the season. Once fruit starts to set, photos of my peppers, you’ll be there is no need to add additional able to walk outside and enjoy your The contrast between dark-black foliage and purple fruit that matures to nutrition. own. It only requires a little garden bright red make the Midnight Fire ornamental pepper an eye-catching selection in any garden. If you’re unable to find ornamental planning. peppers at your local garden center this spring, you’re not out There are lots of different ornamental peppers available in the of luck. Now is a great time to start seeds for ornamental pepspring, offering fruit in all the colors of the rainbow. But some of pers. There are many varieties, like the dark-leaved selections I’ve my favorites — and I will admit I have a lot of favorite plants — discussed, that are available online at many of the popular seed are the ornamental peppers with dark leaves. Here are just a few of my dark-leaved favorites that will brighten catalog companies. any landscape. Purple Flash, which was chosen as a Mississippi Medallion winner for 2010, is an example of the versatility and value of ornamental peppers. This pepper has purple and white variegated by Dr. Gary leaves. When I look at these plants in the early morning light, Bachman I swear I’m seeing various shades of light blue. Purple Flash is one of the showiest, or should I say flashiest, Gary Bachman, Ph.D., Extension/Research Professor of Horticulture at ornamental peppers on the market. the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in A new ornamental pepper variety released in 2018 is Midnight Biloxi. He is also host of “Southern Gardening” radio and TV programs. Fire. This plant has a compact, bushy growth habit and unique He lives in Ocean Springs and is a Singing River Electric member. MAY 2021 | TODAY 5

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Mom, son love working for co-ops by Steven Ward other’s Day is on May 9 this month but it’s unclear if Tracie Russell and her son, Tate Russell, will be able to spend the day together like they have in years past. Spending the day together will depend on the weather and what’s happening in their electric co-op territories. Tracie Russell is a marketing and communications specialist with North East Power in Oxford. Tate Russell is a lineman with Northcentral Electric Cooperative based out of Olive Branch.


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Tracie, 55, has been working at North East Power for 34 years. She has worked in the “new service” department, clocked 10 years as a billing manager and became the cooperative’s communications guru two years ago. Tate, 23, became a lineman at Northcentral about two years ago. Having a parent working at a cooperative definitely had an impact on Tate. “I went to work at Northcentral because growing up I always heard how great of a place it was and I wanted to work there. I can honestly say that I’ve loved every minute of it, and the crew of guys I work with are some of the best I could ask for,” Tate said. “I always saw how much everyone loved their job and how well the co-op treated them. I just thought it was so cool to see the lineman do their jobs and see how everything worked. So, from the time I was young, I knew I wanted to work for the co-op one day.” Tracie echoed Tate’s thoughts about growing up around an electric cooperative. 10 ⁄ 3


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“He loves the outdoors and had always told me he wanted to work outside. When he was younger, he would come to my office and talk to the engineers and linemen and loved hearing their workday stories,” Tracie said. Tracie and Tate are very close and have leaned on one another for years. “Tate lost his dad when he was 14. We were close before then but grew extremely close after. He calls me regularly to tell me about his day and I love hearing about his job. He loves being a lineman,” Tracie said. Tate said he and his mother have a strong relationship. “She’s my rock. After the passing of my dad, she has been both my father and mother and I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better person to do that job. She is most definitely the strongest person that I know,” Tate said. Because Tracie is an advisor to the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi’s Youth Leadership Program, she really wanted her son to participate. “In my 24th year, I was able to take Tate with me to D.C. He loved it because history was his favorite subject in school, after girls, of course!” A typical Mother’s Day for Tracie and Tate includes church, lunch or dinner and a movie. Tracie said her favorite trait in her son is his “caring heart.” “He never wants to hurt anyone’s feelings and would rather be hurt himself. He is also very respectful. I’m so proud of the man he has become,” Tracie said. Tate said his mother is “genuine and caring.” “She always puts others before herself and never thinks twice about it. She always makes sure everyone else is taken care of before herself and she just has the biggest heart,” he said. MAY 2021 | TODAY 7

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

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Mississippi’s maverick gardener by Steven Ward Mississippi gardener and horticulturist Felder Rushing has “But his open attitude, overwhelming enthusiasm, matterlived in Jackson since 1980. of-fact style, and generous spirit gave countless people Known for his books, NPR radio show, magazine articles and confidence in their own abilities,” Rushing said. newspaper columns, Rushing likes to tell stories about his urban Rushing said maverick gardeners can be found all over neighbors and their unique takes on the home garden. Mississippi. But Rushing was actually reared in rural Mississippi — “I have visited and swapped plants and tales with maverick Indianola to be precise. gardeners — who, by the way, aren’t rebels, aren’t pushing back “I am from a small Delta town, raised by four headstrong from anything, they are simply doing their own thing and wishgardening women who had totally ing others would just understand — in every different styles. My ancestors have county; they are in every community across been in what is now Mississippi the state and worldwide,” Rushing said. since the 1700s,” Rushing told Rushing said there’s no difference Today in Mississippi recently during between maverick gardeners in rural parts an interview about his new book. of the state and city suburbs. “Maverick Gardeners: Dr. Dirt and “Folks all over love their lawns, tend their Other Determined Independent flowers, grow their vegetables and herbs, Gardeners” is about nontraditional dig in the dirt the same way. Garden style, gardeners and the bond people including accessories, is a personality thing, across race, culture, language, and not a location,” he said. other social conventions share via “However, there is less pressure outside unique plants and stories. the suburbs to ‘fit in,’ to be like others, so “But it (the book) mostly deals with in small towns and rural areas people are why passionate gardeners do what more likely to express themselves freely,” they do, what makes them tick and Rushing said. where they get their rewards (hint: it When it comes to garden tips, Rushing is is about gathering heirloom plants one of the go-to experts in the Southeast. and lore and sharing with others),” What tip is he asked about the most? Rushing said. “Other than pest control (do any of us For more information, The book features some highly really know how to keep squirrels and visit diverse people who have similar overaphids out of our gardens?), I get a lot of the-top garden spirits, including a guerilla gardener who shares questions about pruning and weed control. The most urgent food he grows on a vacant parking lot, a woman whose “grief one right now is whether or not it’s okay to prune crape myrtles garden” over a lost son is accessorized with countless birdwhich is more polarizing than politics!” houses, a colorful Jamaican immigrant and a high“By the way, whether self-appointed tastemakers like end landscape architect, all passionate individuals who love it or not, pruning crapes is perfectly fine as a style; “fist gardening and accessorizing and sharing that with others. pruning” (balls on the ends of branches) is done all over The “Dr. Dirt” in the book’s subtitle was a hardcore gardener Japan, England, even at the headquarters of the American who planted everything he could get his hands on, both flowers Horticulture Society. So, I tell people to mind their own and edibles, and container plants without a lot of horticultural business. It’s a personal decision like which way to pluck know-how or technology or sprays, Rushing said. eyebrows or roll toilet paper,” Rushing said.” He also said “Dr. Dirt” over-accessorized and spray painted everything. MAY 2021 | TODAY 9

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

MAY 2021 | TODAY 11

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a man trip — a neighbor, his son, my dad and me. We had gathered crickets and grasshoppers and dug worms three days prior. Fishing turned out sluggish. A few were boated, but those constant collections of bull bluegills simply did not materialize. I admit to whining, exasperated at the thought that this could happen and perhaps even expecting the two dads of the quartet to fix it, to unpack some sure cure, to somehow require cooperation from the elements and the conditions and the bream. No luck. Looking back, I see the folly of my thinking. Fishing was poor, but the trip was pleasant. We fished. We had a safe drive. We talked of farming and fishing. That, I now know, was one of my earliest opportunities to deal with contentment. And that opportunity brought rich rewards, profitable even into aging years. So, May is here. The month of bream fishing. The first full moon of this month is the target some say. A new chance is open to each, a chance to hone those fine edges of decency and contentment. And the new chance to catch bream!

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Bream country! Fish the shallows and cover in May. A big bluegill is good to catch and particularly good fried a golden brown.


I once wrote and have often said that all I needed to live a decent and contented life was learned on a bream lake. That conclusion is still firm. Yes, I had an abundance of lessons taught and learned otherwise, but within the parameters of decent and contented, a bream lake suffices. During my growing-up years, our family was rather pedestrian. Funds were limited; work was strenuous. A poor-dirt farm demanding. Still, we loved and laughed and had what we needed. Decency and contentment reigned. And we all bream fished — sister, parents and me. Grand were those pre-dawn trips to some oxbow in the Mississippi Delta. Leave home at 2:00 a.m., arrive before daylight, rent a wooden boat and paddles, and bream fish. One day from recall stands out as particularly valuable in lesson learning. My dad and I — sister and mama were fishing from the bank — paddled a ragged boat around a bend and came upon an aging gentleman, his boat tied to a snag and his cane pole in a perpetual bend as he dragged in plate-sized beam. The spot was small, and an additional boat would crowd. I wanted to go in and suggested as much to my dad. He began a back paddle. When I looked puzzled and perhaps even agitated, he simply said, “He was here first. You wouldn’t want somebody to do that to you.” No, I wouldn’t. A lesson in decency, respect if you will, was taught quickly and learned thoroughly. Those bi-annual trips to the Delta were monumental, requiring preparation and dedication from simple folk such as we. And I concluded, erroneously I was to learn, that we should expect and be rewarded with a bountiful catch each time. That was generally the case, a good catch and icebox full of bream. Except one I especially recall. This one was

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




A MESSAGE FROM YOUR GENERAL MANAGER/CEO In my last few CEO articles in Today in Mississippi, I have discussed in much detail about our NE SPARC subsidiary fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) company. We are enthusiastic that we have been able to secure grant funding and begin offering high-speed internet at a much quicker rate than we had originally anticipated. Bridging the digital divide has been a mission of ours since the Legislature passed the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act in 2019, allowing electric cooperatives to build smart grid networks and sell broadband services. Our legislature has recognized that quality internet service should be done in a more cooperative way. Much of the same spirit that allowed us to offer electricity in the 1930s has allowed us to once again provide a quality of life service for our rural residents. Because of these initiatives, many of our residents are already enjoying the same level of internet service as residents in large cities. I’ve been extremely pleased to see how many of our Mississippi cooperatives are entering into the broadband business. Collectively, we serve electricity to more than 75% of Mississippi’s landmass, and we look forward to the day when much of our state will be connected to fiber. The eagerness of cooperatives to be on the precipice of history amazes me. These efforts will give Mississippi residents the ability to compete on a global economic scale. The local businesses in our community are providing much of the jobs and workforce. We have many service companies and products that are being made in our rural areas, and there’s a desire to move more work to these areas. We will highlight several of our small businesses in the next few issues of Today in Mississippi and we encourage you to take advantage of their services by supporting local shopping. We have heard much praise from our communities about our electric and broadband services. We are hearing stories from

12 TODAY | MAY 2021

people that our high-speed connectivity is changing their lives and businesses. Hearing these stories is satisfying and rewarding, but though we have come along way, we know we still have a way to go. With more than 15% of our membership connected, we know the frustrations of those who don’t yet have the service. We want you to know that we are coming, and we appreciate your patience. I would like to remind our membership that even though we are excited about these new opportunities, we must not forget the core of our business — our electric cooperative. I want to thank our linemen, right-of-way crews, servicemen and employees who were involved in making sure that we kept the power on during the polar vortex that we experienced in late February. With extreme cold temperatures, snow and ice, we were fortunate to have had minimal outages. Linemen often work in challenging conditions and they are dedicated to our membership. We recently celebrated Lineman Appreciation Day on April 12. We spent the day as a cooperative family eating lunch together and participating in fun activities. When the day was over, our “Lights Out” softball team won their game 25-4, making the day even more special. We are proud that many of our employees were there to support our team. We have many exciting things happening here at North East Power, but always remember, we are here to serve our membership. YOU are the heart of what we do!

by Keith Hayward General Manager/CEO

With NE SPARC internet you can eliminate your existing home phone service! When you add taxes and service fees most providers charge over $30 per month for basic line telephone service. With NE SPARC’s lightning fast and reliable internet, simply tie your existing cellular phone to your NE SPARC provided wireless router and get excellent cellular coverage throughout your home! No need for those land line fees anymore!

North East Power celebrated

Lineman Appreciation Day on April 12

If you were asked to associate an image or a person with North East Power, we bet you would picture a lineman. Some of the most visible employees of the co-op, linemen work tirelessly to ensure our community receives uninterrupted power 24/7. “Lineman” is listed as one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the U.S. This is understandable as they perform detailed tasks near high-voltage power lines. Regardless of the time of day, having to brave stormy weather and other challenging conditions, linemen must climb 40 feet in the air, often carrying heaving equipment to get the job done. Being a lineman is not a glamorous or easy profession. It takes years of specialized training, ongoing education, dedication, and equally important, a sense of service and commitment. How else can you explain the willingness to leave the comfort

of your home to tackle a challenging job in difficult conditions, when most are sheltering comfortably at home? This dedication and sense of service to the community is truly what sets them apart. Our dedicated and beloved linemen are proud to represent North East Power, and they deserve all the appreciation and accolades that come their way. We recently celebrated our lineman with a Lineman Appreciation Day luncheon and had a full day of fun activities. Our “Lights Out” team also had a victory on the softball field that night. We hope you’ll remember that you have a dedicated team of professionals working behind the scenes at the co-op whose commitment to service runs deep.

#ThankALineman MAY 2021 | TODAY 13

Membership and small businesses are important to cooperatives. It’s the focus of our organization. In the next few issues of Today in Mississippi magazine, North East Power will highlight small businesses that contribute to our communities. We hope that you enjoy reading about some of the business owners in our communities.

Liggins has an entrepreneur spirit Henry Liggins is an Oxford native and attended Oxford High School. After graduation, he attended Mississippi Valley State University, where he played baseball for the Delta Devils. After college, Liggins worked for, and later owned the local Bonanza Steak House. After its closing, he began a new business in the late 1990s and began washing cars. That business grew into Ultimate Auto, which is now located on Highway 7 in Oxford. Ultimate Auto is a full detail car business that sells tires and rims. Liggins still maintains his car detailing business from his storefront and offers on-site detailing. His passion for detail makes his business a huge success with Oxford locals. As a small business owner, Liggins employees five full-time employees and keeps detailers on staff as well. Liggins learned early on about the value of ownership. “I learned a lot about owning a business when I owned Bonanza,” said Liggins. “It was certainly a learning experience to be so young and own a business and have to manage people and learn about financials. But I knew I would always work for myself.” As an avid Ole Miss fan, Liggins’ son recently graduated from the university with a degree in engineering. His family still cheers on the team whenever they have a chance, and he is proud of his local community and the college that has put the community on the map. He’s even adorned his business’ walls with Ole Miss fanfare. One thing Liggins and North East Power share is understanding the value of community. Though Liggins has built a successful business, he knows his local community is what powers his success. “My relationship with North East Power began many years ago,” he said. “I know some of the workers from school and they really helped me out when I was moving my business from North Lamar to Highway 7. We are definitely excited about NE SPARC coming to our area. It will make a huge difference in our business operations. As of now, our customer payments 14 TODAY | MAY 2021

often times don’t reach the bank for a week because of the internet speeds. We just appreciate North East Power and NE SPARC for being community minded.” It is members like Henry Liggins and his local business that drive North East Power to continue working hard at improving our electric cooperative and fiber-to-the-home technologies.

by Elissa Fulton Mississippi-made is a theme we are extremely proud of here in our southern state. Mississippi has some of the most talented artists that sell their products from coast to coast. For Daryl and Brent Weathers of the Etta Community, that is what they are most proud of with their Etta B Pottery. Brent has always been an artist. As a creative person, she had always dabbled with original projects. As a Mississippi transplant, she didn’t really understand the affection that Mississippians have for pottery, until her mother suggested she try making it. After some research into the industry, she decided to make a go of it. She happened to know some church friends who were potters and had decided to retire. She approached them about purchasing some of their equipment. The family was very encouraging and helped the Weathers through the entire process. It wasn’t long before they were perfecting their own unique pottery style. The Mississippi Market, which is held annually at the end of summer, was a game-changer for Etta B Pottery. “I knew that I would never have gone door-to-door to sell our pottery,” said Brent. “That first market our family was grateful for the warm reception by so many stores that began carrying our pottery and some of those stores still sell our pottery today — thirteen years later. We are so appreciative of this opportunity that Mississippi provides to local artists.” Today, the Weathers have vastly expanded their operations. They moved from a small country home once used to house their business, to a 6,000-square-foot-warehouse. Their business has come a long way since the days of bumping into each other in that small house with pottery kilns lining the front porch. But one thing has not changed; every piece of pottery is still handmade and hand painted. In fact, one piece of pottery goes through 21 sets of hands in the warehouse before it is shipped to local distributors. Though the Weathers have built a great business, it’s family that is most important to them. “Family time is super important to us and for

everyone that works for us. We are all like family here and we have such a talented team who are the heartbeat of what goes on here.” Family is the main theme of the business and it’s where the name comes from — the Etta Community where they live combined with both of their children’s names. Both of their children’s talents have played a huge role in the business. It’s a perfect name for a great family business. The Weathers and their Etta B Pottery are proud North East Power members. “My husband can name all of the men from North East who work out here,” said Brent. “They are really good to us. We use a lot of electricity, and without their help we never could have expanded like we have. And the SPARC fiber service has been amazing for our business. We do everything with computers, and it’s made a huge difference. Who would have ever thought out here in this small community that we would have access to fiber?” North East Power is honored to have small businesses like Etta B Pottery who provide economic prosperity in our communities and who offer products to consumers around the country.

MAY 2021 | TODAY 15

Two-step method manages

in lawns, gardens by Susan Collins-Smith Fire ants are the most common pests of home lawns, but homeowners can manage them with the right approach, and spring is the perfect time to begin the process. “The easiest, cheapest and most effective thing you can do to control fire ants is to use baits and mound treatments consistently,” said Blake Layton, Mississippi State University Extension Service entomologist. “Learn to use baits properly and preventively, and you will see 80-90% fewer fire ant mounds in your lawn.” The method is a twostep process. First, apply granular fire ant baits to the entire yard three times per year — around Easter, Independence Day and Labor Day. Second, apply baits to individual mounds throughout the year as soon as they appear. “Early spring is one of the best times to apply broadcast fire ant baits because fire ants are actively foraging for food at this time,” Layton said. “If you are going to treat only one time per year, do it in the spring after pecan trees begin to leaf out. “You can improve control by treating again in midsummer and a third time in the fall, especially if you live in a rural area where fire ants are abundant,” he said An inexpensive, handheld spreader is sufficient to apply baits and is the best application method for most formulas of fire ant bait. Spreaders that are pulled behind mowers or other motorized equipment are not recommended. The running speed of this equipment affects calibration and will result in excess bait being applied. For property owners who need to treat a large area, Layton recommends a herd seeder. 16 TODAY | MAY 2021

“The best option for applying granular fire ant baits to large areas, such as a 20-acre horse pasture or 5-acre landscape, is to use a herd seeder that is set up and calibrated for the fire ant bait you plan to use,” Layton said. “These battery-powered spreaders can be mounted on ATVs or other equipment and calibrated to apply the proper amount of bait.” For mounds that pop up between broadcast applications, keep a can of dry fire ant mound treatment, which can be applied quickly and easily. Individual mound treatments also come in liquid form. Use a liquid — or drench — treatment only when it is necessary to destroy the mound within a few hours. Liquid treatments are more timeconsuming to apply. Using the two-step method for the landscape will help control fire ant mounds in the vegetable garden as well. Some fire ant bait products are safe to use inside the vegetable garden and around other edible crops. For example, gardeners can use products containing the active ingredients spinosad or methoprene, as well as mound drenches containing permethrin or spinosad, Layton said. “If you use a product with methoprene, make sure the active ingredient is only methoprene and not methoprene and hydramethylnon,” he said. “Always read product labels carefully before treating.” Rick Snyder, extension vegetable specialist, said gardeners should be careful to use only products labeled for use in vegetable gardens. “It is illegal to use these products if they are not labeled for use around vegetable crops,” he said. “It is also harmful to consume vegetables if you use the wrong product around them.” Susan Collins-Smith is a writer for the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

to save energy at home When it’s time for a new roof, consider a “cool roof” for maximum energy savings. Cool roofs are lighter in color and can use reflective paint, highly reflective tiles or a reflective sheet covering, like the metal roof shown here. Photo Credit: McElroy Metal

by Maria Kanevsky What’s the next best thing to help reduce your energy needs? Many energy efficient technologies for the home are constantly changing and improving. As homeowners are looking for new ways to save energy at home, there are many cutting-edge technologies currently being developed to become the latest way to improve the efficiency of your home. Refrigerators are essential for any modern home, and they typically use a good deal of energy to properly cool your food. Reducing the amount of energy your refrigerator uses can help lower your home energy consumption. One emerging technology that can save energy is the magnetic refrigerator. Most refrigerators use a traditional compressor to cool perishables, but magnetic refrigerators use a magnetic field as an innovative way to cool food. This is possible through a phenomenon called the “magnetocaloric effect” which causes certain materials to cool down when a magnetic field is removed. This creates a more energy-efficient refrigerator, using approximately 30% less energy than traditional refrigerators. Magnetic refrigerators also remove the need for harmful chemicals used in traditional refrigerants, making them more environmentally friendly. There are a few magnetic refrigerators commercially available, however the market is still extremely limited. Researchers and universities are currently working to improve this technology, with the goal to make the commercial market for magnetic refrigerators more widespread. Air conditioners use a lot of energy to keep your home cool, particularly during summer months. When temperatures are highest, choosing the right roofing material can make a huge impact on how much heat your home absorbs. Certain types of roofing can reflect more sunlight than others, which can help to keep your home cooler, therefore reducing your need for air conditioning. These “cool roofs” are specifically designed to absorb less heat and reflect more sunrays than traditional roofs. Cool roofs are lighter in color and can use reflective paint, highly reflective tiles or a reflective sheet covering. There are several types of cool roofs commercially available, and choosing the right type partially depends on the steepness of your roof’s slope. Lowsloped roofs are better suited for reflective sheet membranes, while high-sloped roofs work better with reflective shingles and tiles. Although cool roofs can reduce heat, the overall heat savings you can achieve from roofing depends on home insulation,

climate and a few additional factors. If you’re considering a new roof for your home, a cool roof may be a great option to reduce energy use. If you’re looking to save energy in the laundry room, a heat pump clothes dryer can help reduce energy use by at least 28% compared to standard dryers. Instead of releasing warm and humid air through a vent outside the home, heat pump clothes dryers work by sending humid air through an evaporator that removes moisture without losing too much heat. Heat pump dryers do not require outside ventilation like standard dryers, which is a Magnetic refrigerators are an emerging technology, and major efficiency while they may look like conventional refrigerators, they use a “magnetocaloric effect” to cool food, making them 30% benefit. more energy efficient than their traditional counterparts. Additionally, since these dryers use lower temperatures, they are gentler on clothes. Several commercial brands like Whirlpool and Samsung sell ENERGY STAR-certified heat pump dryers, and the cost typically ranges from $900 to $1,500 depending on additional features. These emerging technologies are among the newest available to reduce your energy use at home, but because they are new, they will come with higher sticker prices than their conventional counterparts. As with any new technology, prices will become more affordable as these efficiency options become more mainstream. When considering new technologies, make sure you fully understand the costs and benefits over time to get the best value. Maria Kanevsky writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. MAY 2021 | TODAY 17

by Steven Ward When the light of day slips into night’s darkness during a Mississippi May, it’s time to look for the glimmer and glow of lightning bugs. The middle of the month is the unofficial kick off of lightning bug or firefly season in North America and Mississippi is one of the few locations around the country where you can watch synchronous fireflies do their thing. “As the name suggests, synchronous fireflies are 18 TODAY | MAY 2021

species that blink in unison, which can make a more impressive display. There are only a few species of synchronous fireflies, but we do have one here in Mississippi,” said Mississippi State University entomologist Blake Layton. The impact of synchronous lightning bugs — or “snappy syncs” as some call them — on Jackson resident Claire Graves has been significant.

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“I grew up in Ackerman and I’ve been interested in Big dipper lightning bugs are all over the U.S. and are fireflies since I heard about the synchronous fireflies in easy to see in backyards and similar habitats. They are most the Great Smoky Mountains several years ago. When I active right around dusk and for about an hour or so after, learned from Paul and Libby Hartfield — two of the state’s which makes them easy to see, Layton said. The lights are most knowledgeable firefly a mating call. enthusiasts — that Mississippi “Males are flying low over the is home to a different type of lawn so the flightless females synchronous firefly, I was all in,” can see them and respond. I think folks, and especially children, Graves, head of the Office of That makes them easy to see are enamored with fireflies, because they and catch. Both the males and External Affairs at the Missisare some of the first insects we learn about females blink. The males have a sippi Department of Human Services, said. as kids. They are harmless, easy to capture longer lighted period, around a “After observing the snappy quarter of a second, and fly in a and observe, and that ability to produce syncs for a few seasons behind U or J pattern,” Layton said. light is just so amazing. the Mississippi Craft Center Layton said lightning bug in Ridgeland along the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, larvae are generalist predators that roam about on the I wanted to find a way to share this special local treaground seeking prey such as earthworms, slugs, snails and sure with more people,” Graves said. other invertebrates. They capture prey by using their manGraves is now hosting snappy synch lightning bug tours dibles to inject them with venom. Fireflies are partly grown at the Mississippi Craft Center. larvae in the winter and complete their development in the Although synchronous fireflies get a lot of attention, they spring and emerge as adults in late spring or summer. are not the most common lightning bugs most of us see “Firefly larvae glow also, but it is more of a continuous throughout the summer, Layton said. glow and not intermittent blinks like the adults. These are “The more common firefly, the one so many of us caught less showy and conspicuous, but if one roams about suitable in jars when we were kids, is the big dipper firefly, or the habitat at night it is possible to see these ‘glowworms’ as they common eastern firefly. When most people think of fireflies, sit still or move over the surface of the soil,” Layton said. this is the species they have in mind,” Layton said. MAY 2021 | TODAY 19

Where to see synchronous fireflies in Mississippi Wall Doxey State Park in Holly Springs Jeff Busby State Park in Choctaw County The boardwalk behind the Mississippi Craft Center in Ridgeland Turkey Creek Water Park near Decatur To see where snappy syncs have been seen in Mississippi in previous years, check out the interactive map available at If you spot snappy syncs this May or June, email the date, location, and a description of what you saw to to have your sighting added to the map. The Mississippi Craft Center hosts the Snappy Sync Firefly Tours each year on the weekend between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, which is typically the peak point in the two-week snappy sync firefly display period in central Mississippi. This year, tours will be held May 14 to 16, with 32 tour times available. Each 20-minute firefly tour is led by a Mississippi Master

Snappy sync photos by Jeff Davis

Naturalist and takes guests along a section of the historic Natchez Trace Parkway to observe snappy syncs and other native firefly species.

Tickets are available at

20 TODAY | MAY 2021

Both Layton and Graves agree that lightning bugs are “miracles of nature.” “Their ability to create light without generating enough heat to injure themselves is remarkable,” Layton said. Children have long been fascinated with the magical sight of lightning bugs. “I think folks, and especially children, are enamored with fireflies, because they are some of the first insects we learn about as kids. They are harmless, easy to capture and observe, and that ability to produce light is just so amazing,” Layton said. “Witnessing the beautiful display of thousands of twinkling fireflies flashing together among the pines and hardwoods inspires incredible awe for the simple wonders that surround us every day,” Graves said.

FUN FACTS Best time to observe fireflies is in late spring and summer, beginning around dusk to about an hour after dark. Make sure you don’t use flashlights and keep away from artificial light sources. Light pollution is a primary reason people see less fireflies these days.

Lightning bugs don’t taste good. Don’t cook, bake or grill them. They are bitter and are poisonous to some animals. Sources: Mississippi State University Extension Service and EcoWatch

Fireflies are harmless to humans. Lightning bugs are neither flies nor bugs, they are beetles. They only use their hind wings for flying. Not all lightning bugs have the light. The bugs that don’t produce light are active in the day. They are known as non-bioluminescent fireflies and they use pheromones to attract mates. Lightning bugs are energy efficient: 100 percent of the energy created is emitted through the light. By comparison, an incandescent light bulb emits 10 percent of its energy as light.

MAY 2021 | TODAY 21

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MAY 2021 | TODAY 23

Ship Serv

with Martha Hall Foose

Lots of folks associate a slow cook with wintertime soups and stews. I seem to use mine most often in the summer months. Setting it to work in the morning frees up time to enjoy long summer evenings and keeps the oven off and the kitchen cool. 24 TODAY | MAY 2021

These recipes come together so easily I tend to turn to them time and again for parties, picnics and potlucks. They travel well and once cooked turning the heat to warm has them ready to serve without any muss or fuss.

This slightly sweet, savory spiced pork simmers all day and smells divine as it cooks. We like it piled up in a sandwich with some crunchy pickle relish. It is also quite good on warm corn tortillas with diced onion, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Use your favorite barbeque sauce and a chunky apricot jam. INGREDIENTS ½ cup dark brown sugar 1 tablespoon hot paprika 1 tablespoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 (6-pound) pork Boston Butt or shoulder roast ½ cup apricot jam ½ cup classic barbeque sauce In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, paprika, salt, cumin, garlic powder and onion powder. Coat the meat with the mixture. Place the meat in a slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 8 hours. Drain the liquid from the slow cooker into a 4-cup glass measuring cup and allow it to settle while shredding the meat. Remove any excess fat and bones from the meat. Return it to the slow cooker. Skim the fat from the reserved juices. Pour 1 cup of the juices over the meat. Toss the jam and barbeque sauce with the shredded meat. Cover and cook on high for 1 more hour and serve.

I keep this quick, crunchy relish in the refrigerator all summer long. It is wonderful on hot dogs and hamburgers and adds zip to pulled pork sandwiches. When cucumbers start coming in and farmers’ markets have them in abundance, I whip up batch after batch. It’s hard to go back to off-the-shelf relish once you try this fresh version. It really does send chicken salad and tuna fish to another level. INGREDIENTS ¼ teaspoon brown mustard seeds ¾ cup distilled white vinegar 2 tablespoons sugar 1⁄8 teaspoon dried dill or ¼ teaspoon fresh dill Pinch of red pepper flakes 2 cups seeded and diced cucumber 1⁄3 cup finely chopped red onion 1⁄3 cup finely chopped orange bell pepper 1 teaspoon corn starch mixed with 1 teaspoon water Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they begin to pop. Add the vinegar, sugar, dill and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and let the liquid reduce by half, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the cucumber, onion, and bell pepper. Boil for 2 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch and water. Boil for 1 minute. Transfer the relish to a jar and allow it to cool completely before covering and refrigerating. Relish will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks.

This recipe is so ridiculously simple it seems too good to be true. INGREDIENTS 2 (15-ounce) cans of sliced peaches in heavy syrup ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend 1 (16.25-ounce) box white cake mix ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter cut into small pieces Empty the cans of peaches with the syrup into a 4-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle the spice blend over the peaches. Sprinkle the cake mix over the peaches. Sprinkle the butter pieces over the cake mix. Cook on high for 2 hours or until browned.

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.

MAY 2021 | TODAY 25

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Threefoot Festival. May 14 and 15. Meridian. Arts, eats and beats. Children’s Corner and Art Car Parade. Downtown Meridian. Charlie Mars, The Jake Leg Stompers and Afrissippi among others take the stage for live music. May 14 starts at 6 p.m. and May 15 kicks off at 10 a.m. Thacker Mountain Radio Hour will be live on stage at 6 p.m. May 15. Details: 601-693-2787 or Barn Sale – Antiques and Collectibles. May 7 and 8. Oak Grove. More than 70 collectors with trailer loads of antiques and collectibles. 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday barn sale auction is at 5 p.m. Concession stand. 4799 Old Highway 11, Purvis. Details: 601-818-5886 or 601-794-7462. 19th Annual Mississippi Antique Alley Yard Sale. May 13 to May 16. Meridian. Part of the U.S. 11 Antique Alley 500-mile yard sale from Meridian to Bristol, Virginia. Roadside sales all along U.S. Highway 11. Details: or call 601-917-3727.

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Brandon’s 9th Interactive Civil War Relic Show. June 12 and 13. Brandon City Hall. Vendors, living history, antiques, reenactors, prints, weapons, World War I and II militaria, Native American artifacts, free genealogy research and Mississippi authors, artists and musicians. Admission proceeds benefit the Wounded Warriors of Mississippi. Details: 769-234-2966. Highway 15 Yard Sale. June 3 to June 6. Semi annual yard sale from Newton to Ackerman along Highway 15. Details: Call Timmy at 601-575-9091.

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Herbert Harper was the undisputed “Mayor of Downtown Hot Coffee.” The parameters of “Downtown” Hot Coffee run from the east side of what used to be Knight’s Store to about 50 yards west of it. That’s where the signs are at least. And Herbert Harper oversaw everything in between. There are some people you like the instant you meet them. Herbert was that way for me. He and his wife Judith ran the old Knight’s Store, renamed J&H Harper Grocery for Herbert and Judith. (Judith was the “Knight” — Herbert just married above himself.) Hot Coffee had been on my “to do” list ever since I started roaming around Mississippi with my camera — finding places that not everybody knew about but needed to. The odd name is the Covington County town’s attraction. Way back, folks traveling to where, Laurel? Ellisville? It varies with the telling. Anyway, after a few hours they were weary and wanted a break. So, the driver of the coach would tell them that they were only, “So many miles from Knight’s Store and a good cup of hot coffee.” After a while it got shortened to “We’re just so many miles away from hot coffee.” And before you knew it, hot coffee, a beverage in a cup, became Hot Coffee, a destination on a map. Harper’s store was an amazement to me. They had pretty much everything a country store should have — from “Co”-Colas to hoop cheese — and of course, a pot of hot coffee. Plus, Herbert put together a museum of old stock he had found in the warehouse room. He displayed high top, button up women’s shoes, old dresses, men’s hats, coal oil lamps and medicine bottles. Herbert even found a stuffed sturgeon someone had caught in the Leaf

River (I think it was the Leaf) and had it on display, too. The oddest thing in his mini museum was an old coffin. The old store used to sell coffins a long time ago. So, Herbert put it on a high shelf with a glove sticking out from under the lid. And when someone would look up at it, Herbert would pull on one end of a fishing line over on his side of the store which tugged on a finger of the glove in the coffin and the glove would wave at them. Needless to say, it was a conversation starter. I miss the J&H Harper Grocery. The store was one of those things that had been there forever, and you just figured it always would be. But time has its own idea about what’s permanent and what’s not. The store closed several years ago. And Herbert himself recently graduated to where things don’t change nearly as quickly as they do in this life. But knowing Herbert, I bet he is already seeing if pranks are allowed. And if they are, watch out for when we get there. No telling what he will have rigged up.

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

MAY 2021 | TODAY 27