Today in Mississippi May 2024 Twin County

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My Opinion

Priorities for our members

Last month, I, members of our government relations team, board members, and some of our Mississippi cooperative general managers traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association 2024 Legislative Conference.

Here, electric cooperatives and their statewide organizations from around the country gather to discuss and plan the most important priorities for our members, so we have a unified message for our lawmakers and federal partners in the nation’s capital.

The biggest priority, as I’ve said before in this column, is reliability. It’s crucial that U.S. energy policy meet the fundamental expectation of our members – families and businesses expect the lights to stay on at a cost they can a ord. The expectation is not a partisan issue, and the stakes are too high to get it wrong.

One of our priorities that underpins our foundational principle of reliability is to get lawmakers to oppose the Environmental Protection Agency’s power plant rule on greenhouse gases. The rule mandates unproven technology and unachievable emissions limits on an unworkable timeframe in violation of the law and Supreme Court decisions. The rule could force the closure of power plants while making it harder to build new plants. Congress must oppose this rule.

Second, Congress needs to reject any proposals for new pole attachment regulations and compliance timelines under the guise of streamlining broadband deployment. We cannot have one-size-fits-all rates for attachments and timelines to review and respond to pole attachment requests from other companies. Those rules and timelines do not accurately

account for the unique cost of constructing and maintaining a distribution pole network in hard-to-reach, high cost, and low-density areas. Our members should not be forced to subsidize billion-dollar companies.

Third, Congress must oppose cuts to a United States Department of Agriculture financial assistance program for electric cooperatives to purchase or build new clean energy systems. The program — ERA — is currently funded at $9.7 billion and may include grants, loans, debt modifications, and refinancing. That program allows for flexibility for electric co-ops to design projects that meet community needs without jeopardizing a ordability or reliability.

These are just a few of the legislative issues your electric cooperatives are working to get lawmakers to champion in the quest for continued energy reliability and a ordability.

As the year moves forward, watch this space for occasional updates on how we’re doing.

Feel free to call or write your Congress members to let them know that this agenda is your agenda.

Reliable electricity is vital to America’s and Mississippi’s economies.

Mississippi is...

Mississippi is the place where I grew up, they called me the Mississippi mud pup. The times here are laid back and easy, you don’t have to get in a hurry, just be lazy. The people here are as friendly as can be, and all that walks her lands are free.

Mississippi is just a small piece of land in the United States, but to be raised here or just visit is great. Mississippi is full of things to do, hunting, fishing, and swimming too. You can go for a walk in her beautiful forest, or just go to a nearby farm and ride a horse. You can sail on her waters of all kinds, or just lay in a green meadow and free your mind. There is no place more beautiful to me than this land called Mississippi.

Michael Brown died in August 2021. The poem was submitted by his niece, Kim Brown Hood.

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

Submit your beautiful digital photo of life in Mississippi to Today in Mississippi,

2024 | MAY 3

Southern Gardening

Thriller plants make displays pop Outdoors Today

Fishing with a veteran Scene Around the ‘Sip Drought and beetles cause problems for state’s forests



Ron Barnes - President

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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 o ce. The publisher (and/or its agent) reserves the right to refuse or edit all advertising. The magazine is published for members of subscribing co-ops. The magazine is a bene t of membership.

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Vol. 77 No.
The Official
of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi
On the cover An inside
shot of the legendary Malaco Studios in Jackson. Photo by Chad Calcote.
8 20 28 For the Love of the Game USM play-by-play man John Cox On the Menu Mom’s banana pudding and coconut pie Mississippi Seen Community centers 10 10 20 Local News Feature The story of Jackson’s legendary soul recording studio 15 6
Issue 28 27 31 4 MAY | 2024 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.
In This


What started as an electric cooperative’s way to serve free Wi-Fi at high school football games for friends and neighbors in the stands will now not only change lives but save them.

Tombigbee Fiber LLC, the broadband arm of Tupelo-based Tombigbee Electric Power Association, is using Calix SmartTown to pioneer automatic Wi-Fi throughout its seven-county service territory for all first responders at no charge.

Without wasting critical minutes struggling for internet access, first responders will be able to contact a hospital immediately with details of a medical emergency that’s on the way or quickly call for backup when a crime situation escalates in a remote area.

“Certainly, they have cellphones, but there are parts of rural Mississippi and other parts of this great country where those things just won’t work,” said Tombigbee CEO Scott Hendrix. “I would challenge any co-op that’s in the broadband business, if they have the potential of doing this, to do it. We want to make your life better and that’s the co-op spirit. I’m confident we will save lives.”

The co-op this year began signing up nearly 70 organizations including rescue squads, law enforcement agencies, volunteer fire stations, game wardens, hospitals, and others for the seamless Wi-Fi. Once signed up, their devices automatically log in wherever Tombigbee service is available.

The co-op delivers broadband internet access and SmartTown connectivity to 23,000 homes and is installing about 250 SmartTown transmitters at volunteer fire departments, parks and gathering locations recommended by first responders.

Hendrix said first responders expressed gratitude that the co-op would serve as “one more link in the chain to solve their communication problems at no cost.”

“They all relayed that they knew of a spot where there was no connectivity and said this was going save lives,” he said.

Tombigbee is the first customer of Calix to employ the telecommunications software developer’s platform as a free, community-wide secure network for emergency public services, “and they made it happen fast,” said Michael Weening, Calix president and CEO. “We are proud to be their partner in helping to make the Mississippi communities they have served for 90+ years a safer place to live.”

The co-op seized upon the idea after providing free Wi-Fi at nine high school football fields on Friday nights.

“It was a hit and made the grandmothers happy,” said Hendrix. “The people in the communities were amazed that they could get such a wonderful service, that they could communicate with their family and stream games. We did all this at no charge to the schools and that got us a little taste of what the community needed.”

Tombigbee has invested more than $100 million to build its fiber broadband network and setting up the Wi-Fi network for fi rst responders cost another $150,000, about what the co-op has spent on billboard campaigns, but with a great deal more impact, he said.

“We are actually looking our members in the eyes and they’re saying thank you for this,” he said.

“We want to impact the community with the same spirit we had in 1933 to turn the lights on in rural Mississippi and change rural America. This is our way to give back, our way to change the area and make it better.” – NRECA

AGUP celebrates groundbreaking in Summit

AGUP, a leading agricultural supply company, recently marked a significant milestone with a groundbreaking ceremony for their new location in Summit.

The location is at the Gateway Industrial Park, served by Magnolia Electric.

The event was filled with excitement and anticipation as company executives, local o cials, and community members gathered to celebrate the occasion.

With shovels in hand, they ceremonially turned the soil, symbolizing the beginning of construction for their new facility. The new location promises to bring expanded services, job opportunities, and economic growth to the Summit area, further solidifying AGUP’s commitment to serving the agricultural needs of Mississippi farmers.

News and Notes
2024 | MAY 5

make container displays

Gardening, to me, is not just about planting pretty flowers or lush foliage. It’s about creating scenes, telling stories, and evoking emotions.

One way I like to add intrigue and drama to an outdoor space is by incorporating thriller plants. These captivating specimens serve as focal points and bring mystery and excitement to a landscape.

Today, let’s delve into the world of container thriller plants and discover how they can transform your garden into a thrilling spectacle.

If you are like me and love growing plants in containers, thriller plants emerge as the perfect solution for elevating potted arrangements. Defined by their upward growth and distinctive foliage, these plants e ortlessly add drama and visual interest.

Whether you prefer bold tropical plants, graceful grasses or architectural greenery, there is a wide range of thriller plants to suit your personal style and design preferences.

Thriller plants are the stars of the show in container arrangements. These tall, eye-catching specimens command attention and create excitement. Thriller plants are typically chosen for their height, unique foliage, striking blooms, or architectural features that stand out from the rest in container gardens.

There are many choices when deciding which thriller plants to place in your container garden, but I have noticed grasses are a particularly popular option. One example is the Blue Dart juncus; its spiky blue-green foliage adds texture and dimension to even the smallest containers.

6 MAY | 2024 Southern Gardening
Red Star cordyline pairs beautifully with other plants of contrasting foliage colors or textures, creating dynamic combinations.

Similarly, Red Star cordyline has sword-like, burgundy leaves that grow in a dense, upright fashion, forming a stunning focal point. It pairs beautifully with other plants that have contrasting foliage colors or textures, creating dynamic combinations.

My personal favorite thriller plant papyrus has an intricate inflorescence, which is a cluster of flowers arranged on a system of branches. These hundreds of thread-like rays add elegance to any container.

If you seek height and a tropical feel, consider incorporating a dwarf canna lily or banana plant into your container garden. Both bring tropical, vertical appeal to plantings.

When selecting thriller plants, it’s crucial to consider their care requirements. Choose plants with similar water and light needs, and factor in the size of your container when making selections.

Whether you prefer bold tropical plants, graceful grasses or architectural greenery, there is a wide range of thriller plants to suit your personal style and design preferences. With experimentation and creativity, you can craft a breathtaking potted arrangement that is sure to leave a lasting impression on those who behold it.

2024 | MAY 7
Southern Gardening columnist Dr. Eddie Smith, a gardening specialist and Pearl River County coordinator with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, is an internationally certified arborist, Produce Safety Alliance certified trainer, and one of the developers of the Mississippi Smart Landscapes program that encourages the use of native plants in the landscape. The thread-like rays of a papyrus join a dwarf canna lily and a dwarf banana plant in this container garden. A Blue Dart juncus is the thriller plant in this combination, adding height and visual interest to this container garden.
8 MAY | 2024

Terry Welch never fished for crappie, but he traveled more than 300 miles from his home in Long Beach to Birmingham, Alabama to attend the 2023 Crappie Expo that September.

With his wife, Janet, pushing his wheelchair, Welch encountered Big Mike Jones, a promoter with Bait-n-Thangs Outdoors in Chatham and the roving reporter for Redneck Adventures TV, at the Visit Mississippi booth. Jones learned that a 17-year-old Welch joined the Marine Corps in 1971 as the Vietnam War raged in Asia. Welch spent most of his time in the Corps at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina with tours at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Panama.

After a week of cold, brutally windy conditions, Callaway headed out into Lake Washington on another gloomy, chilly day. However, Welch’s smile soon brightened everyone in the boat.

Callaway set out six rods, each tipped with a Pico crankbait, which looks like a baitfish. Callaway added a spinner jig above the crankbaits for extra enticement. He attached each line to a “planer board,” brightly colored floating blocks designed to separate the lines. With the rods in holders, James slowly pulled the baits with electric motor power.

We caught some crappie and a catfish. One crappie that Terry caught weighed close to two pounds. We let them go to spawn. I enjoyed fishing with Terry and his son. It made my heart full seeing Terry catch fish.

“Terry looked like he was in a really bad depression,” Jones recalled recently. “I started talking to him. He told me he would like to try crappie fishing. I asked him if he would like to meet some professional crappie fishermen.”

Jones soon enlisted Joel Harris of Joel Harris Fishing, a crappie guide from Belmont. Harris took Welch around the arena and introduced him to some professional fishermen. They gave the veteran a baseball cap signed by many anglers.

“Terry came back over to me, and he was just glowing with happiness,” Jones said. “He couldn’t believe what had just happened to him. I invited him to the Big Mama Crappie and Bass Tournament on Lake Washington and to a writer’s camp there. We honored him at the Mississippi Wildlife Heritage Museum in Leland and arranged a fishing trip for him.”

Although he normally uses a wheelchair, Welch can walk short distances. His son Jacob helped Welch into a boat belonging to James Callaway, a professional crappie angler.

“Dad was really excited about going on this trip,” Jacob Welch said. “He’s been talking about it since he came back from Birmingham. I thank everyone involved and appreciate what they did for my dad and other veterans.”

“We caught some crappie and a catfish,” Callaway said. “One crappie that Terry caught weighed close to two pounds. We let them go to spawn. I enjoyed fishing with Terry and his son. It made my heart full seeing Terry catch fish.”

“This was the first time I’d ever been cranking for crappie,” Terry Welch said. “I had seen videos on the internet, but it was good to see it in person. I appreciate getting invited to go on this trip with my son. I never thought I’d meet professional fishermen like James. Thanks to everyone who made this happen.”

During the production of this issue, Terry Welch passed away on April 6, 2024. The sta of Today in Mississippi sends their thoughts and prayers to Terry’s family and friends.

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

For more information, call Jones at 662-822-2087.

2024 | MAY 9

Scene Around the ‘Sip

You’ve probably seen them yourself.

Pine trees stripped bark bare. Dark foliage hanging o dead or dying limbs.

The state is filled with dead trees causing financial problems for private landowners and farmers.

The culprit: an extreme 2023-2024 drought which caused an intense southern pine beetle infestation. The drought-stressed trees become magnets for pests like southern pine beetles and Ips beetles.

According to U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde Smith’s (R-Mississippi) o ce, preliminary reports indicate the state has lost more than 12.5 million trees, including nearly 80,000 acres of pine mortality, and at least $96 million in timber losses.

Garron Hicks, assistant forest management chief with the Mississippi Forestry Commission, said most of the dead trees are in the southwest part of the state and central Mississippi.

From July 2023 to February 2024, an unprecedented drought a icted the state.

“The dry conditions with the soil, forest, and thirsty trees caused the pine beetles to target the trees,” Hicks said.

Although the beetles eat bark, the main reason the beetles are drawn to the trees is for reproduction. The beetles mate behind pieces of bark and lay their eggs there, Hicks said.

10 MAY | 2024
Nolan Thorne, Southern Pine’s vegetation management specialist

Although the main victims of the dead trees are private landowners and farmers, electric cooperatives have experienced a significant impact on their operations.

Electric cooperatives’ vegetation management crews ensure power line reliability by clearing rights-of-way of trees, limbs, and other greenery to reduce outages.

“Vegetation management is the most expensive and time-consuming maintenance task that Southern Pine Electric performs,” said Nolan Thorne, Southern Pine’s vegetation management specialist.

“While important, it is only one of many preventative maintenance tasks. Adding an extreme number of dead trees only compounds the cost and time required to protect our distribution system.”

The money is available through the USDA’s Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP). All 82 counties in Mississippi have been designated natural disaster areas by the USDA due to the 2023 drought.

Hicks said there are measures landowners can take to stop the spread of dying trees.

If the trees were damaged by Ips beetles, the trees need to be cut and removed.

I hope members have patience and understand the severity of this situation, we are doing all we can now. This situation isn’t localized to one county, it’s across the entire Southern Pine service area.

Although the dead trees cause co-ops extra work and expense, Thorne said, Southern Pine works with the Mississippi Department of Transportation and local county supervisors to take down dead trees near roads and power lines.

Hyde-Smith and other lawmakers from the state in Washington, D.C. have asked the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to give private landowners in Mississippi immediate access to emergency forest restoration money to o set the losses caused by the drought.

If southern pine beetles were the culprits, find where the trees haven’t been a ected yet, and cut a bu er between the dead trees and the healthy trees. Make sure to consult with a registered forester who can give you information about the insect involved and to give you the size of the needed bu er.

Regarding right-of-way management by co-ops, Thorne said members should be patient.

“I hope members have patience and understand the severity of this situation, we are doing all we can now. This situation isn’t localized to one county, it’s across the entire Southern Pine service area. If a member calls in to inform us of a dead tree on their property, we will get to it as soon as possible,” Thorne said.

“There’s just not enough time to get to all the dead trees we are called about. There is no quick fix to cut thousands of dead trees and hopefully members understand that.”

2024 | MAY 11
For more information about emergency forest restoration money, visit ces/Mississippi/index
Photos by Matt Bush

If Your Hands, Arms, Feet, or Legs Are Numb

If You Feel Shooting or Burning Pain or An Electric Sensation - You Are at Risk

Get The Help You Need - Here's What You Need to Know...

Purvis, MS - If you experience numbness or tingling in your hands, arms, legs, or feet or if you experience shooting or burning pain, this is important.

Please read this carefully

Peripheral Neuropathy is when small blood vessels in the hands, arms, feet or legs become diseased and tiny nerves that keep the cells and muscles working properly shrivel up and die.

Early-warning symptoms include tingling and numbness, mild loss of feeling in your hands, arms, legs or feet, inability to feel your feet, which increases your risk of foot-injury and falling

More Advanced Symptoms Include...

Loss of coordination & dexterity, which puts you at increased risk of accidents

Inability to feel clothing like socks and gloves

High risk of falling, which makes walking dangerous, and makes you more dependent on others

Burning sensations in your arms, legs, hands or feet that may start mild, but as nerves and muscles die, may feel like you're being burned by a blow torch.

Ignore the early warning signals long enough and you risk progressive nerve damage leading to muscle wasting, severe pain, loss of balance and a lot of staying at home wishing you didn't hurt

When every step is like walking on hot coals, sitting still may be the only thing you feel like doing But there's little joy in sitting still all day long

The most common method your doctor may recommend to treat neuropathy is prescription drugs

Drugs like Gabapentin, Lyrica, Cymbalta, & Neurontin are often prescribed to manage the pain But, damaged nerves and dying cells do not heal on their own

Nerve damage CAUSES cell damage Cell damage SPEEDS UP nerve degeneration

Now here's the scary part.... Without treatment this can become a DOWN-WARD SPIRAL that accelerates.

The damage can get worse fast Mild symptoms intensify Slight tingling, numbness or lack of feeling can turn into burning pain.

Before you know it, damage can become so bad you hurt all the time

Unless this downward spiral is stopped and nerves return to proper function - the damage to nerves and cells in the affected area can get so bad your muscles begin to die right along with the nerves and cells. And that sets the stage for weakness, loss of mobility, disability, and dependence on others.

If you have early warning signs of peripheral neuropathy, (tingling &/or numbness, loss of feeling or pain) it's CRITICAL you get proper treatment

It's critical, because with proper treatment the symptoms can often be reversed Without it, you are playing Russian Roulette with your health

Once your nerve loss reaches 85%, odds are there's nothing any doctor can do to help.

Pain pills do not restore healthy nerve function. They just mask the pain as the nerves continue to degenerate and cells and muscle continue to die.

Taking endless drugs and suffering terrible side effects that may damage your liver & kidney and create even more problems, is not a reasonable path. You deserve better.

Three things must be determined to effectively treat neuropathy

1) What is the underlying cause?

2) How much nerve damage has been sustained? 3) How much treatment your condition will require?

With proper treatment, shriveled blood vessels grow back & nerves can return to proper function How much treatment you may need depends on your condition

At Purvis Chiropractic we do a complete neuropathy sensitivity exam to determine the extent of your nerve damage The exam includes a detailed sensory evaluation, extensive peripheral vascular testing, & a detailed analysis of the findings.

Dr Rob Acord, D C will be offering this complete neuropathy sensitivity exam for $47 This special offer goes away at the end of this month as we have a limited number of exam appointments available Stop


D o n ' t L e t C r e e p i n g N e r v e D e a t h R u i n Y o u r L i f e
W A R N I N G - W A R N I N G - W A R N I N G W A R N I N G - W A R N I N G - W A R N I N G
Hurting & Start Healing
Copyright 2021 Russell Communications ADVERTISEMENT
Now to Schedule Your Complete Neuropathy Sensitivity Exam with Dr. Rob Acord, D.C. (601) 794-0081 105 Main Street
MS 39475

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SUBMISSION DEADLINE: May 31. Select photos will appear in the July 2024 issue.

14 MAY | 2024

Clearing the path to

Trees are majestic, beautiful, and good for the soul. But we also know that our members depend on us to deliver reliable power to their homes and businesses. That’s why Twin County strives to balance maintaining the beautiful surroundings we all cherish with ensuring reliable electricity. You might not realize it, but there are several benefits to regular tree trimming.


Working near power lines can be dangerous, and we care about your safety and that of our lineworkers. For example, if trees are touching power lines in our members’ yards, they can pose a grave danger to families. If children can reach those trees, they can potentially climb into a danger zone. Electricity can arc, or jump, from a power line to a nearby conductor such as a tree.

Any tree or branch that falls across a power line creates a potentially dangerous situation. A proactive approach lessens the chances of fallen trees during severe weather events that make it more complicated and dangerous for lineworkers to restore power.


As a co-op, Twin County always strives to keep costs down for our members. If trees and other vegetation are left unchecked, they can become overgrown and expensive to correct. A strategic vegetation management program helps keep costs down for everyone.

When it comes to vegetation management, there are ways you can help too. When planting new trees, make sure they’re planted a safe distance from overhead power lines. Medium-height trees (40 ft. or smaller) should be planted at least 25 ft. from power lines. Taller trees (over 40 ft.) should be planted at least 50 ft. from power lines. You can also practice safe planting near pad-mounted

transformers. Plant shrubs at least 10 ft. from the transformer door and 4 ft. from the sides. If your neighborhood has underground lines, remember to contact 811 before you begin any project that requires digging.

Additionally, if you spot an overgrown tree or branch that’s dangerously close to overhead lines, please let us know by contacting us.

We have deep roots in our community, and we love our beautiful surroundings. It takes a balanced approach, and our vegetation management program is a crucial tool in ensuring service reliability.


Keeping power lines clear of overgrown vegetation improves service reliability. After all, we’ve seen the whims of Mother Nature during severe weather events with fallen tree limbs taking down power lines and utility poles. While many factors can impact power disruptions, about half of all outages can be attributed to overgrown vegetation. This is why you sometimes see Twin County crews or contractors out in the community trimming trees near power lines. Our trimming crews have been trained and certified based on the latest industry standards.

In fact, all U.S. electric utilities are required to trim trees that grow too close to power lines. Scheduled trimming throughout the year keeps lines clear from overgrown or dead limbs that are likely to fall, and we are better able to prepare for severe weather events.

Plus, we all know it’s more cost-e ective to undertake preventative maintenance than it is to make repairs after the fact. Drone inspections of power lines and vegetation allow us to reduce labor and equipment costs while bolstering reliability. Through the use of small drones, we can accurately monitor the health and growth of trees and identify potential problems.

2024 | MARCH 15 Hollandale - 662-827-2262 | Belzoni - 662-247-1909 | Greenville - 662-334-9543 | Rolling Fork - 662-873-4233 | REPORT OUTAGES 866-897-7250 SERVING MORE THAN 12,600 ELECTRIC METERS IN SEVEN DELTA COUNTIES @twincoepa


QWhat are some energysaving tasks I can add to my spring cleaning list?

ASpring is a great time to refresh, clean, and enhance energy e ciency at home.

By adopting simple yet e ective energy-saving strategies during our spring-cleaning routines, we can create an e cient living environment that may also lower our utility bills and extend the life of our heavily used appliances.

Be sure to include these spring cleaning tips to add some energy savings to the job.

Even though it’s out of sight, don’t leave it out of mind. Check the filter in your HVAC system. Your furnace worked hard during the winter. Ensuring your system has a clean filter is a low-cost and easy way to protect your equipment and maximize e ciency. A dirty furnace filter can cause your system to work harder than necessary, decreasing e ciency and shortening the system’s life.

While the filter is easy to replace yourself, you should have your air conditioning serviced and professionally cleaned. Both the indoor and outdoor units should be cleaned. Dirty refrigerant coils reduce e ciency. This also applies to heat pumps and ductless heat pumps, also known as mini-split systems. The technician can check refrigerant levels and refill or repair if necessary.

HVAC contractors get busy responding to calls for repairs during the summer heat. Scheduling cleaning services for your air conditioning in the spring — before the heat of the summer — can ensure the work gets done before the rush and even save you money. Some HVAC contractors o er special discounts for cleaning services in the milder months, which helps fill their schedules and keep their technicians working.

16 MARCH | 2024
is a low-cost and easy way to protect your equipment and maximize e ciency.
furnace filter

Window AC units can get dirty, too. They can be cleaned with the proper tools, cleaning agents and know-how. Always unplug before cleaning, and wait until completely dry to plug it back in again. Take the time to clean it properly in the spring before you need it in the summer.

Cleaning light fixtures and fixture covers can brighten your space by removing dust and grime collected during the winter. While you are at it, be sure to check your bulbs and replace any incandescent or compact fluorescent with energy-saving LEDs. Although they tend to cost a little more, LEDs last longer and use less energy. Good-quality LED light bulbs are expected to last 30,000 to 50,000 hours, according to the Department of Energy. A typical incandescent lamp lasts about 1,000 hours, and a comparable CFL lasts 8,000 to 10,000 hours. To put this into everyday use, if you have an LED light on for 10 hours per day, it can last 13 years compared to only about three months for incandescent bulbs and about two-and-a-half years for CFLs.

Don’t forget the oven. A clean oven heats more evenly and quickly, providing better results and lower energy use. A clean oven window allows you to see the food and how it’s cooking without opening the oven door, which wastes energy.

If cleaning windows is on the list, check the seals and sash locks to ensure they close tightly. Check for any areas that need caulking or sealing to reduce drafts. Sealing around windows contributes to year-round comfort in your home. Clean windows also allow more light into the home, reducing the need to turn on lamps and overhead fixtures.

Spring is the ideal time to declutter, deep clean, and implement practices that not only tidy our homes, but also reduce energy consumption, contributing positively to our homes’ energy e ciency and saving money on energy use.

2024 | MARCH 17
Miranda Boutelle is the chief operating o cer at E ciency Services Group in Oregon, a cooperatively owned energy e ciency company. Schedule cleaning services for your air conditioner in the spring before the heat of summer. While cleaning light fixtures and fixture covers, check your bulbs and replace any incandescent or compact fluorescent with energy-saving LEDs.

2022 gures, in cents per kWh

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration Numbers rounded to nearest tenth of a cent

18 MARCH | 2024
U.S. Average: 15¢ per kWh Residential Average Price (cents per kilowatt-hour) Up to 13.5¢ Over 13.5¢ VT: 19.9¢ NH: 25.5¢ MA: 26¢ RI: 23.2¢ CT: 24.6¢ NJ: 16.7¢ DE: 13.7¢ MD: 14.5¢ DC: 14.2¢ ME 22.4¢ NY 22.1¢ PA 15.9¢ OH 13.9¢ MI 17.9¢ IN 14.6¢ IL 15.7¢ WI 15.6¢ MN 14.3¢ IA 13.2¢ MO 11.7¢ AR 12.1¢ AL 14.3¢ KS 14¢ TX 13.8¢ NM 13.8¢ MS 12.4¢ LA 12.9¢ NE 10.8¢ SD 12.1¢ ND 10.9¢ CO 14.2¢ TN 12.3¢ FL 13.9¢ GA 13.8¢ SC 13.6¢ NC 11.6¢ VA 13.3¢ KY 12.9¢ WV 13.2¢ AZ 13¢ UT 10.8¢ NV 13.8¢ CA 25.8¢ WY 11.1¢ MT 11.3¢ ID 10.4¢ OR 11.4¢ WA 10.3¢ AK 23.1¢ HI 43¢ OK 12.4¢ H 43 4 ¢

















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Founded in Jackson in 1967, Malaco Music Group put Mississippi at the center of soul and blues music.

20 MAY | 2024
From left to right: Tommy Couch Jr, Wolf Stephenson, Tommy Couch, and Stewart Madison sit in the lobby of Malaco studios, which has been on Northside Drive in Jackson since 1967. Photos by Chad Calcote.

One of the great ironies of the music business is how much music originates in places like rural Mississippi, while the industry itself sprang to life in far-flung cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Although the trend has a lot to do with the Great Migration during the twentieth century, when millions of Black Southerners brought the music of jukes and churches north and west, a handful of notable outposts bucked the trend.

Artists like Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones and Willie Nelson made records in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Little Richard and the Allman Brothers did the same in Macon, Georgia. Many more flocked to Memphis, home of Sun, Stax, and other recording services. And in 1967, a trio of enterprising University of Mississippi graduates — Wolf Stephenson, Tommy Couch, and Mitchell Malouf — made Jackson, the next great outlier by creating Malaco Studios.

Couch and Stephenson had booked McDowell earlier in the decade to play fraternity parties at Ole Miss, and they hadn’t forgotten his slide-guitar licks and Hill Country blues sound. Stephenson reached him at the Stuckey’s in Como, where he worked for many years, and made arrangements to pick him up for the recording session in Jackson.

“Capitol put the thing out, and it got nominated for a Grammy that year, and we said, ‘Well, this is going to be easy,’” says co-founder Stephenson with a laugh. “It didn’t turn out quite that way.”

We didn’t really know how to do it, so we tried to copy Stax. They had a studio and they had their house musicians, and we could do all that. But luck and a blind pig can always find an acorn somehow. And we did.

“We didn’t really know how to do it, so we tried to copy Stax,” Couch said. “They had a studio and they had their house musicians, and we could do all that. But luck and a blind pig can always find an acorn somehow. And we did.”

Malaco set up shop on Northside Drive in Jackson, where it still operates today, and the partners began searching for artists they could record and then bring to a larger label for distribution. Early on, they landed a Meridian artist named Eddie Houston on Capitol Records with “That’s How Much (I Love You).” Their next recording helped put them on the map, though — Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “I Do Not Play No Rock ‘N’ Roll” in 1969.

It may not have been easy, but the hits kept coming. After Malaco signed New Orleans songwriter and producer Wardell Quezergue to a production deal, he brought King Floyd and Jean Knight to Jackson to record. Unfortunately, Malaco couldn’t find a home for them with a label. Even Stax passed on them. So, Malaco released Floyd on its Chimneyville label.

“King Floyd’s song “What Our Love Needs” was our first big record where we had violins on it, and we were so impressed with that record we thought that was the A-side,” said Couch. They pushed the single to radio with little success, until one night when a radio disc jockey in New Orleans brought the record home, where his daughter had friends over. “They played the B-side, which happened to be ‘Groove Me,’ and they played it all night long. They loved it. We were totally wrong about what was the good side.”

2024 | MAY 21
Chief engineer Kent Bruce looks over the studio’s Legacy mixing desk, a prized console for recording.

Hopefully something happens tomorrow that we didn’t think could happen. Usually what happens here is somebody calls, or something happens that we weren’t expecting to help us keep going. We keep a lot of hooks in the water.

22 MAY | 2024
The halls of Malaco records are lined with certificates of just a few of the many Grammy-nominated songs that have been recorded at the studio. Malaco Studios still has an enviable collection of musical instruments, amplifiers, microphones and more, some of which were used on the label’s most famous recordings.

When “Groove Me” became a No. 1 hit on the R&B chart in 1971, Stax took notice and doubled back to Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff,” recorded the same day at Malaco. Stax put out the single, and it, too, became a No. 1 R&B hit. It takes far less time to record a hit than to see any money from it, though — times were so tight, in fact, the owners took turns bringing home a paycheck. The pattern of feast and famine repeated, but Malaco always found another hit.

In response to Malaco’s chart-topping success, Atlantic Records chief Jerry Wexler began steering artists to them, as he had done with Muscle Shoals Sound in Alabama. The Pointer Sisters made their first recordings at Malaco, and Paul Simon cut tracks for his 1973 album “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon.” But by the mid-70s, the distribution deal Malaco inked with Wexler had expired, putting Malaco back in the familiar spot of the scrappy underdog. Their next big push came behind the ballad “Misty Blue,” recorded by local singer Dorothy Moore in 1974. Once again, no label stepped up to release it, so Malaco put it out.

“We shopped it to anybody that would listen, but it was in the middle of the disco thing that was just starting,” Stephenson says. “We had a slow song and nobody really wanted it, so we put it out — and it boomed.” “Misty Blue” reached No. 2 on the R&B chart, but astonishingly peaked at No. 3 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, making it a bona fide crossover pop hit. The song also earned Moore a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance.

Malaco had found its niche as a soul-blues label, releasing music by Johnnie Taylor, Denise LaSalle, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Little Milton, and Z.Z. Hill, but soon shifted focus to gospel music after acquiring the Savoy label. The move made Malaco the largest gospel label in the world, and the label proved the point with the 1988 album “The Mississippi Mass Choir,” which became a phenomenon that stayed on the Billboard charts for nearly a year.

Hip-hop music, which had been growing in popularity throughout the 80s and 90s, had pushed the soul-blues music Malaco championed to the periphery of pop culture, but didn’t leave the label or its artists hanging. Malaco’s vast songwriting and publishing assets continued to provide through samples that producers and artists used in their songs. The walls of Malaco’s lobby display Gold and Platinum awards for their own releases as well as those earned through use of their catalog in samples. Two recent awards for SZA and Drake show that both sampled “Until I Found the Lord (My Soul Couldn’t Rest)” by the Gabriel Hardeman Delegation from 1976.

Licensing music to movies, TV shows, and commercials provides the label with another revenue stream in the age of digital streaming. The label has placed songs from its catalogs to Netflix and ESPN, TV shows like “Empire,” and brands such as Walmart, Heineken, and Louis Vuitton.

Two books released in recent years, “The Gospel According to Malaco: Celebrating 75 Years of Gospel Music” and “The Last Soul Company: The Malaco Records Story” show how the company has succeeded by remaining independently — and locally — owned.

Malaco brands itself as “The Last Soul Company,” and it makes a strong case for staying independent. It’s helped Couch and Stephenson, along with Tommy Couch Jr, who joined the company in the 90s, and Stewart Madison, who came onboard as a partner after Malouf departed in the 70s, stay nimble.

“There’s no grand plan — we’re always looking for a hit of some kind,” Couch says. “But we have a good base. We have tons of copyrights and master recordings and videos, which has become a big thing for YouTube. But hopefully something happens tomorrow that we didn’t think could happen. Usually what happens here is somebody calls, or something happens that we weren’t expecting to help us keep going. We keep a lot of hooks in the water.”


Some of the biggest and most important songs recorded at Malaco Studios

KING FLOYD – “Groove Me” – 1970

JEAN KNIGHT – “Mr. Big Stuff” – 1971

PAUL SIMON - “Learn How to Fall” – 1973

DOROTHY MOORE – “Misty Blue” – 1975

ANITA WARD – “Ring My Bell” - 1979

Z.Z. HILL – “Cheating in the Next Room” – 1982

BOBBY “BLUE” BLAND – “Midnight Run” - 1989

JOHNNY TAYLOR – “Good Love” – 1996

2024 | MAY 23
Wolf Stephenson stands in front of one of Malaco’s vintage two-inch tape analog recording machines. These machines, bought during the 1970s, give their music richer analog audio tones in the recording process than what can be achieved digitally.

The South’s natural background music of the summer will start as soon as cicadas, known for their loud songs, emerge across parts of the state.

Blake Layton, entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said Mississippi is home to at least 24 types of cicadas. These are classified as either annual or periodical cicadas.

“There are about 20 species of annual cicadas in Mississippi, and they vary considerably in size, appearance and especially sound,” Layton said. “Although annual cicadas occur every year, it takes them two to five years to complete a generation.

periodical cicadas, also known as the Great Southern Brood, will appear. These cicadas look dramatically di erent, with red eyes, black bodies, and orange-veined wings.

“Brood XIX is the largest of all broods, with cicadas emerging in parts of 15 states, including Mississippi, but they will only be found in about 17 counties on the northeast side of Mississippi,” Layton said.

Individual cicadas can sing pretty loudly, but population densities can exceed 1 million cicadas per acre, and the combined songs of this many cicadas can drown out backyard conversations.

Generations overlap, so some adults emerge every year.”

Annual cicadas are found across the state and are big, tough-bodied insects about an inch long. They are greenish insects with large eyes and transparent wings that fold alongside their bodies.

Although annual cicadas can be found throughout the state every year, periodical cicadas emerge every 13 years and only in certain areas. 2024 is one of those years that Brood XIX

Periodical cicadas occur only in eastern North America, and entomologists say their emergence is one of the rarest and most amazing natural phenomena in the insect world. Broods of 17-year cicadas occur in more northern areas of this range, while the South has 13-year cicadas.

“There are only three broods of 13-year cicadas in the world, and Mississippi is the only state where all three broods occur,” Layton said.

These periodical cicadas will be 13 years old when they emerge. Before this year, they have been living underground as nymphs, feeding harmlessly on the roots of hardwood trees. The males sing to attract mates.

24 MAY | 2024

“Individual cicadas can sing pretty loudly, but population densities can exceed 1 million cicadas per acre, and the combined songs of this many cicadas can drown out backyard conversations,” Layton said.

After this year’s Brood XIX emerges, Brood XXII will emerge in the southwest corner of the state in 2027. Brood XXIII will emerge in much of western Mississippi in 2028.

The actual timing of the emergence of Brood XIX periodical cicadas is weather dependent, but it will likely begin around the end of April and extend through most of May.

“Periodical cicadas are an amazing natural phenomenon that only occurs in the eastern United States,” Layton said. “Although they are largely harmless, periodical cicadas can cause an unusual type of damage to fruit and ornamental trees.”

Layton said female periodical cicadas lay their eggs in pencil-sized twigs of hardwood trees, and the twigs can break at these scars. This can leave 8- to 12-inch sections of broken twigs hanging in trees.

“Although this twig-flagging can be extensive, it causes little lasting harm to forest trees, but it can potentially have short-term e ects on growth and yield of small fruit and nut trees,” Layton said. “Fortunately, this problem occurs at 13-year intervals.”

The only prevention on a small scale is to cover susceptible backyard trees with insect proof netting before cicadas begin laying eggs.

2024 | MAY 25
in of

For the Love of the Game

Life of a play-by-play man

Middletown, Ohio, is more than 700 miles away from Hattiesburg. So how did a high school basketball player from Ohio find his way to Hattiesburg to attend college in 1974?

After his senior season of high school, John Cox was browsing through the college basketball edition of the sporting yearbook, “Street and Smith,” and a University of Southern Mississippi preview story caught his eye.

“I thought I would write a letter to then USM head coach Jeep Clark and ask about joining the team. I also found out in doing research that the school had a great radio, television, and film program,” Cox, the longtime Southern Miss play-by-play man, said recently.

Hattiesburg and still connected to Southern Miss. Cox played on the junior varsity basketball team for the Golden Eagles before transitioning into working with the USM sports information and public relations o ces. “I never thought when I was driving down in my Ford Maverick that I would still be here 50 years later,” Cox said.

Looking back, it feels like I was always meant to be here. When I was a student, I was so fortunate to be around some of the best people in the business, PR director “Bud” Kirkpatrick, football play-by-play man Bill Goodrich, and Sports Information Director “Ace” Cleveland.

“I grew up listening to Warren Johnson in Middletown. I thought he had the best job in the world doing the radio sports broadcasts for my high school. I knew when I was 12 that’s what I wanted to do. My dad and I also listened to Harry Carey and Jack Buck calling St. Louis Cardinal baseball. So, I was hooked.”

Mickey Herrington, a USM assistant coach, contacted Cox about joining the team as a walk-on. All these years later, Cox is still in

“Looking back, it feels like I was always meant to be here. When I was a student, I was so fortunate to be around some of the best people in the business, PR director “Bud” Kirkpatrick, football play-by-play man Bill Goodrich, and Sports Information Director “Ace” Cleveland. Those three guys were at the top of their profession,” Cox said.

Cox, who is a six-time Mississippi Sportscaster of the Year, has been director of sports broadcasting at USM since 1979. Cox has called over 2,200 Golden Eagle baseball games and over 1,250 basketball games along with being behind the microphone for over 500 football games.

Cox is the third longest active play-by-play college broadcaster in the nation.

26 MAY | 2024

“The best part is that I love it even more today than when I started,” Cox said.

He began calling baseball play-by-play for the campus radio station and transitioned to the other sports over the years. He replaced Goodrich on the football play-by-play in 1979, and over the years he became lead announcer for all three of the major sports.

Cox has many special memories from the job. In football it was stopping Alabama’s 57-game home winning streak in 1982. In basketball it was the NIT championship in 1987, and in baseball it was the 2009 World Series run in “Corky” Palmer’s final season. If you ask Cox for one memorable play, it’s college football’s “Miracle in Louisville” from 1989.

“(Brett) Favre drops back, scrambles right, chased by Washington. He’s going to throw it down the field and it’s tipped and caught by Tillman. Tillman at the 30, at the 20, the 10, touchdown Southern Miss! Holy cow!”

The play came with no time left on the clock and gave USM a 16-10 win.

“We played that call on the airplane coming back. So that one truly stands out.”

Cox has become synonymous with the phrase, “Touchdown Southern Miss,” as well as his sign o after each broadcast, reminding fans to remember “the three essentials of happiness – something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

Cox has two daughters, Millsaps College graduate Joye and Southern Miss graduate Erin.

Dale McKee is a Waynesboro native who has been writing sports in Mississippi since 1973. He is a member of Dixie Electric. Contact him at by Dale McKee

2024 | MAY 27

On the Menu

When you live in a 130-year-old farmhouse you expect a few surprises. I remember the day that we found a hidey-hole way up at the top of the wall in our hallway. Ten years — that’s how long we’d lived in our house when we found the thing. The stark realization that we walk around our house with our heads just dangling o our shoulders wasn’t lost on us, because neither of us had ever even paid attention. We discovered that we have a fully-floored closet, way up high, in the hall. It takes a tall ladder to get to it. The thing is deep enough to store and lose all kinds of treasures. But that’s a story for another day.

Surprises can come to you in all kinds of ways. I love walking through the yard in the spring and being surprised to see flowers that I didn’t plant pop up everywhere. Garden surprises are my favorite. Some surprises take your breath away. I was surprised when my mom died unexpectedly four years ago. I was surprised (and mortified) at

Use this month to welcome surprises, even ones that might knock your knees out from under you for a little bit — you never know what kinds of blessings and treasures you might find among the chaos.

all the paperwork I had to go through to settle her a airs, and I was surprised at some of the treasures I found along the way. She kept everything. My heart got heavy sometimes. One particular night when I was just on the verge of tears, I found a small box tucked inside a bigger box, and in that small box was stash of recipes that I’d never seen. None were spectacular or 5-star restaurant quality, and lord knows Julia Child would sco at my find, but the delight of it was that some of them were in her handwriting. Surprises and treasures. I went to bed smiling that night.

When we step into the month of May, we are in the deep throws of spring, and at the threshold of summer. Use this month to welcome surprises, even ones that might knock your knees out from under you for a little bit — you never know what kinds of blessings and treasures you might find among the chaos.

28 MAY | 2024
Vicki Leach


¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups milk

1 cup half and half

4 egg yolks (save the egg whites for meringue)

Place egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk in the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.

Combine the ¾ cup of sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the milk and cream, place over medium-low heat, and gradually heat to near boiling, whisking constantly. Remove milk from heat while you temper eggs. Add milk to egg yolks a ladle-full at a time, until all the milk is added to yolks. Add mixture back to saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes until mixture is thickened — whisk or stir constantly to prevent mixture from scorching. Strain through a fine strainer to remove any cook egg particles. Cook on an ice bath until mixture comes to room temperature.

Spread a light layer of pudding across the bottom of dish. Top with ⅓ of wafers, ⅓ of the bananas, and cover with a layer of pudding. Repeat, ending with pudding.

Top with meringue. Pop into the oven at 350 until it browns lightly. Make the meringue with egg whites and half a cup of sugar. (Meringue temps need to be 160 degrees for safety, so make sure to pop back in the oven)

Save a few vanilla wafers to line the circumference of dish. Refrigerate for a few hours.


4 large eggs

1 1⁄3 cups granulated sugar

½ cup self-rising flour

2 cups milk

½ stick butter, melted

7 ounces sweetened coconut (½ a 14-ounce package)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl; add sugar and beat well. Add flour and make sure it’s combined with the eggs and sugar, so you don’t have clumps in your mixture. Add milk and melted butter. Mix well. Stir in coconut and vanilla. Pour mixture into 2 well sprayed (with Pam) glass pie pans (9-inch). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool. This is a crustless, custard-like pie, and will not have a flaky bottom. If you want the bottom cooked a little more, bake on a foil-lined baking sheet.


2 small packages pistachio instant pudding

2 cans crushed pineapple, undrained (20 oz)

2 cups mini marshmallows

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cups thawed whipped topping (Cool-Whip)

Mix dry pudding mix, pineapple, marshmallows, and pecans in large bowl until well blended. Gently stir in whipped topping. Cover and allow to set in refrigerator for 1 hour. Top with more pecans or Cool-Whip if desired.

Vicki Leach is a full-time chef/culinary instructor at Mississippi State University in the Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion. She teaches Science of Food Preparation, Foodservice Organization, and Quantity Food Production. She also serves as the food service coordinator for First Baptist Church in Starkville, where she attends with her husband, Rob. She has four children and five grandchildren, and lives in a 130-year-old farmhouse that speaks to her old soul. She still has the first cookbook she ever owned.

2024 | MAY 29


Events open to the public will be published free of charge as space allows. Submit details at least two months prior to the event date. Submissions must include a phone number with area code for publication. Email to Events are subject to change.

Big 56 Spring Gospel Singing Jubilee. May 4. Pearl. The concert starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Pearl Community Center. The show will feature Alan Sibley & the Magnolia Ramblers, Tate Emmons, Tim Frith & the Gospel Echoes, and Revelations. Details: 601-906-0677 or 601-720-8870.

Star Spring Festival. May 4. Florence. Proceeds go to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Event will be rain or shine. Vendors still needed. 5K and Kid’s Fun Run, Car, Truck, Tractor, and Bike Show, beauty pageant, silent auction, vendor/craft booths, 50/50 drawing, food, and DJ. 136 Moto X Dr. Details: 601-842-7947 or visit

Springfest. May 4. Monticello. Put on by Divide Memorial M.P. Church, located 11 miles south of Monticello o Highway 27. From 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Arts, crafts, entertainment, an auction, food, and free children’s activities. Details: 601-405-4975 or 601-431-9317.

Barnyard Marketplace Mother’s Day Extravaganza. May 11. Poplarville. From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 295 Buck Kirkland Rd. Come shop the BYM vendors in an open field. O street parking. Crafts, food trucks, woodwork, plants, jewelry, baked goods, boutiques, jams/jellies, honey, quail eggs, soaps, candles, and more. Mother’s Day gifts and chance to win a basket worth over $300. Details: 504-234-3579.

62nd Mississippi Numismatic Association Coin and Currency Show. May 16, 17, and 18. Biloxi. Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 3, 2350 Beach Blvd. May 16: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 17: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 18: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Vendors from across the region will be buying and selling U.S. coins and currency, world coins and currency, and gold and silver bullion. Collecting supplies will be available for sale. Free admission and free verbal appraisals. Details: 228-435-8880.

History Alive at Landrum’s Homestead & Village. May 18. Laurel. From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1356 Hwy 15 South. Step back in time and take a walking tour at Landrum’s Homestead. Experience wood carving, broom making, quilting, and live demonstrations. Visit a Civil War encampment and enjoy wagon rides and gem mining. Tap your feet to clogging and dulcimer music, savor homemade ice cream, enjoy great food from The Smokehouse, and explore the Old Engine Show. Admission is $12, Children 3 and under are free. Details: 601-649-2546 or visit

The Hoppers 2024. June 14. Hattiesburg. Concert begins at 7 p.m. at Heritage Church, 3 Baracuda, Dr. Details 601-261-3371.

Prentiss Institute All Class Reunion. June 14 and 15. Prentiss. Registration form and Memorial Brick Paver form available at Prentiss Institute National Alumni and Prentiss Institute Rosewald Facebook page. Class of 1974 will also host Friday night event. Details: 601-310-6392 or 601-382-3891.

Honoring Our Home Front Family Dinner Benefit. July 19. Diamondhead. From 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Diamondhead Country Club, 7600 Country Club Circle. Join us in recognizing those who secured the home front while our military members were deployed. Tickets are $100. All proceeds will fund Crusaders for Veterans Inc. in their e orts to promote respect for our military and to provide resources for those struggling. Various sponsorship packages available. Details: 217-201-1330.

Visit for a full listing of events.

Details: or call 601-466-3826.

The Hattiesburg Area Daylily Society’s Daylily Show. May 25. Hattiesburg. The event will be held at the Hattiesburg Train Depot from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The show includes a design division, judged by National Garden Club judges. A plant sale will begin at noon. Admission is free. Details: or call 601-466-3826.

30 MAY | 2024
online source for all things Today in Mississippi • Feature Stories • Recipes • Events • News and Notes • Picture This Submissions

When I was in college, I preached every Sunday at Good Hope Baptist Church in north Madison County. Now, I refrain from saying I “pastored” the church. There is a lot more to “pastoring” than just showing up and delivering a message. However, I did manage to visit each church family at least once every six weeks or so. That’s because each family rotated feeding the preacher after church every Sunday.

One of the older couples at Good Hope was Brewer and Robbie Lee Browning. The Brownings bought their land way back when they married. Brewer told me the first thing he built was a barn. I asked him why he didn’t build the house first. He said because they were going to have to make a living o the land and to do that there had to be a barn. The barn was the central point of being there.

Today, Church Hill is once again emerging as a viable community after a long dormancy. As people started moving there and restoring homes, the idea of “community” began to evolve, as opposed to being just a bunch of neighbors.

Mr. Brewer’s priorities came to mind the other day when I was at Lake Washington south of Greenville. Lake Washington is one of the best crappie lakes in Mississippi. But my old friend Mike Jones who lives there told me when the Mississippi River flooded in 2011 and 2016 water backed all the way into the lake and brought with it some species of fish they’d rather not have. Asian carp for example. They’re trying to fish the lake back to the way it was before the floods.

At the lower end of Lake Washington is the ruin of St. John’s church. It was built shortly after the pioneer planters cleared the hardwoods and settled there. A tornado in the early 1900s left St. John’s about the way it looks today.

I’ve done stories there before. But for some reason Mr. Brewer and his barn came to mind when I saw it the other day, thinking about how central this church must have been in defining the early community at Lake Washington — like Mr. Brewer’s barn defined his homestead.

Many Mississippi towns grew up around railroads. The railroad gave them an identity. But before railroads, settlements became communities around churches. Church Hill in Je erson County comes to mind. Just how central the church was to the community dawned

on me the other day when I was at Church Hill doing a story about the restoration of the old Wagner’s Grocery. The store is right across the road from the church.

Today, Church Hill is once again emerging as a viable community after a long dormancy. As people started moving there and restoring homes, the idea of “community” began to evolve, as opposed to being just a bunch of neighbors. One of the first acts of “community” they did was to restore regular services at the church at Church Hill.

Like Mr. Brewer knew he couldn’t have a home without a barn to center it, a “place” can’t be a “community” without something to center it, like a church.

2024 | MAY 31
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

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