Today in Mississippi June 2022 Magnolia

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picture this my opinion grin ‘n’ bare it

Letting our guards down

On May 13, I sat in Reed Green Coliseum on the campus of The University of Southern Mississippi for what seemed like an eternity. My son, Michael, graduated at 9 a.m. Then my daughter, Katlyne, graduated at 2 p.m. Michael had a three-year head start, but only graduated three hours ahead of Katlyne. Yes, son, there ARE people who take seven years to graduate — they’re called doctors and lawyers. What surprised me the most that day, besides my son finally graduating, was when both kids walked across that stage. I felt a lump in my throat, and my eyes began to water. I’m not an emotional guy. In fact, I’m known as more of a cold, stoic type with a hard heart. My guess is there are many men like me. We are supposed to be tough and strong because people depend on us. We are providers, leaders, killers of spiders and mice, changer of flat tires, and cooks over open flames. When bad weather comes, while others run for shelter, we bravely go outside and look skyward for confirmation that danger is coming, so we can protect our families. We do not cry. There is no crying in manhood. That is, until you become a father. It is difficult to understand what it is to be a father until you become one. I’ve never given such unconditional love to any other humans in my life. I have never known I could feel such pride in someone else’s accomplishments, or such hurt in someone’s pain until I had children. It is strange yet rewarding to look at another human being and see yourself

in them, both good and bad. I had heard all my life that, “The love of a father knows no bounds,” but I never fully appreciated that saying until I had children of my own. Sunday, June 19, is Father’s Day. Dads around the country will get funny cards (moms get the mushy ones), neck ties, and a pledge to be left alone to watch the final round of the U.S. Open. We will graciously accept the gifts, and hug our children, all while keeping that stiff upper lip because dads are strong. We are providers and protectors. We don’t cry. Well, dads, what if, for just one day, we dropped our guard down and allowed our children to see that soft, tender side we try so hard to hide. Let’s show a couple of tears and emotion, just for a day. Come Monday, we can bottle that stuff back up, and continue with life, because that’s what we do. So, to all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day. And to Michael, Katlyne, and Victoria, I love you. “The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son (or daughter) rejoices in him (or her).” Proverbs 23:24

Photo by Ellen Jackson Rogers of Oloh Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Bilateral Gynandramorph – Dark side is female and yellow side is male)

Mississippi is... Sitting in my favorite rocker, on my front porch, drinking that first cup of coffee, watching the dawning of a new day. Taking in the sound of Mother Nature, hearing the singing of the birds, that’s my Mississippi. In the late evening as I sip on a cold glass of sweet tea, the breeze gently blowing in the trees, the smell of magnolia blossoms,

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

frogs tuning up for their nightly serenade, that’s my Mississippi. Here I’ll stay where life is good.

by Gaynell Atkinson, a resident of Gautier, and a member of Singing River Electric

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

JUNE 2022 | TODAY 3


in this issue

5

southern gardening Summertime is zinnia time

6 outdoors today Children need the outdoors

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

6

14 local news 20 feature

Cole Denton, an 11-year-old race car driver from Pascagoula, wins on tracks all over the southeast

20

28

on the menu Dads and grills

The Official Publication of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi

Vol. 75 No. 6

OFFICERS Eddie Howard - President Randy Carroll - First Vice President Ron Barnes - Second Vice President Tim Perkins - Secretary/Treasurer Michael Callahan - Executive Vice President/CEO EDITORIAL STAFF Lydia Walters - VP, Communications Steven Ward - Editor Chad Calcote - Creative Director/ Manager Kevin Wood - Graphic Designer Alan Burnitt - Graphic Designer Courtney Warren - Graphic Designer Chris Alexander - Member Services Coordinator Steve Temple - Social Media Director Mickey Jones - Administrative Assistant EDITORIAL OFFICE & ADVERTISING 601-605-8600

Acceptance of advertising by Today in Mississippi does not imply endorsement of the advertised product or services by the publisher or Mississippi’s electric power associations. Product satisfaction and delivery responsibility lie solely with the advertiser. • National advertising representative: American MainStreet Publications, 800-626-1181

Circulation of this issue: 469,018

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

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Summer is different for Walt these days

On the cover Cole Denton, 11, and his beloved Yello Mello Bandolero race car in Pascagoula. Photo by Chad Calcote.

And we think you’re going to love ours. So let’s work together: As electric cooperatives, we were built by the communities we serve—and by members just like you. 4 TODAY | JUNE 2022


Zinnias come in a variety of colors and sizes, including this huge Magellan Pink selection that grows up to 4 feet tall and holds up well to summer rain storms.

Zinnias, such as this Raggedy Anne selection, are among the easiest flowering annuals to grow. They love the Mississippi summer heat if they are consistently watered and fed.

I had quite a few things going on this spring, and came to the decision then that I should try to make my garden and landscape a little bit less intensive. For my vegetable garden, I only planted half the number of tomatoes that I’m going to plant more I’ve grown in past years. seed every two to three weeks I also waited until mid-May this summer, and I hop this to transplant my various will create a very colorful eggplants and the 63 and enjoyable landscape. pepper varieties I’m growing this year. Another strategy I’m going to concentrate on is direct seeding many of my summer annual color selections. This won’t have the immediate impact of adding colorful transplants to my landscape, but it will create a landscape that will change and evolve as the summer progresses. At least that’s my game plan. One of my all-time favorite color annuals is zinnia in all its gorgeous variety. I like zinnias because they are one of the easiest flowering annuals to grow. Zinnias love our Mississippi summer heat if they are consistently watered and fed. I’m going to plant more seed every two to three weeks this summer, and I hope this will create a very colorful and enjoyable landscape. Another reason I like zinnia is because of the seemingly endless varieties that can be direct seeded. There is a wide selection of colors and mature sizes that can fit into almost area in my garden. Zinnias also are magnets for pollinating insects, butterflies, and hummingbirds. I was fascinated by the short selections I grew last year.

They had names like Lilliput, Thumbelina and Pumila, and they were gorgeous. Another great choice is cactus-flowered zinnia. These are heirloom selections that have a much different look from the classic, pompom flower types. These zinnias display flowers that can be up to 5 inches across with quill-type petals. Of course, I’m going to grow some of the pompom types, like Benary Giant and Magellan. These can be real showstoppers, with baseball-shaped flowers up to 6 inches across. I find it remarkable that these zinnias can grow up to 4 feet tall with huge flowers and still hold Zinnias are magnets for pollinating insects, up well to our summer butterflies, and hummingbirds. rainstorms. Deadheading is the one small maintenance chore that needs to be performed with these zinnias, but it really isn’t a bad thing. I go out every few mornings and collect the newly opened flowers to bring inside and enjoy as beautiful, homegrown bouquets. There are other zinnias available at your favorite garden centers that are better when used as transplants. These include the Profusion and Zahara series.

by Dr. Gary Bachman Gary Bachman, Ph.D., Extension/Research Professor of Horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi. He is also host of “Southern Gardening” radio and TV programs. He lives in Ocean Springs and is a Singing River Electric member.

JUNE 2022 | TODAY 5


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I beg patience before you leap to a conclusion regarding that title above. It does not pertain to the various rescues which are executed with some regularity, extracting a child from a dangerous situation in whatever form that situation occurs. These rescues are essential. The rescue to which I refer is perhaps not immediately threatening, but serious just the same. Repeating the statement that a significant portion of today’s children are captured by electronic devices and have too few encounters with the natural world is neither headline news nor deep philosophy. Still, it is truth. And truth remains true even if it is not believed. Consequently, the children need an occasional rescue. Rescue one. Become the guide, the teacher. But before and as you do, be aware of danger. You do not have to wander into jungle depths to encounter danger; it lurks in the backyard. Yet, it does not preclude a careful and observant journey to outside venues. Common attackers are chiggers and ticks. Stinging entities such as wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets abound as well. Check the youngster — and yourself — regularly for the former two; avoid the

latter three if possible. Don’t forget to give snakes a wide berth. And where do you begin as tutor? Know your stuff is the first thing. And if you don’t know your stuff, learn. There is a plethora of information available from the local library or on that miserable little chirping and dinging device from which you are trying to rescue the child. That device is likely in your pocket. Let the trail begin at an oak tree. In the yard is okay; along a woods trail is better. Branches of the oak should host baby acorns. Point out to your young companion, who by now is likely experiencing both withdrawal from the screens left inside and the euphoria of fresh air and bird call, that acorns are not simply a nuisance to be swept from the driveway. Acorns are an essential part of life. They make new trees, but they also provide a prodigious supply of fat for autumn whitetails that will soon enter that difficult period of late winter. Acorns attract squirrels that not only consume them on the spot, but also bury them in good supply for later use. Squirrels need acorns. Turkeys peck away at fallen acorns as well. A treasure, these nuts from the oaks. Explain such things to your pupil and field questions. There will be some. And note that wise and considerate use of wild things is rarely a threat. Abuse, however, is a path to destruction.

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

A woods trail is a viable path from which to enjoy and learn about nature.

The young, when introduced to the world of nature, are usually enamored of its intricacies.

JUNE MAY 2022 2022 || TODAY TODAY 7 7


scene around the ‘sip

Photos by Matt Bush

Son follows in his father’s footsteps to become lineman by Steven Ward Jason Holder never thought that his son, Dawson Holder, “I picked a good career. It’s been great. With my dad being a linewould be able to follow in his footsteps to become a lineman for man, I know about the late nights, the storm calls, and being gone an electric cooperative. for hours or even days,” Dawson said. It wasn’t that Dawson wouldn’t want to After taking some vocational tech classes in pursue a lineman career like his dad. Jason high school, Dawson thought he might want to figured it wouldn’t be possible. become a welder. That changed after he had I picked a good career. It’s been some difficulty with college algebra, he said. Dawson, 19, was seriously injured in an ATV accident in 2017. When Dawson told his dad he wanted to great. With my dad being a He had eight surgeries on his leg. become a lineman, Jason said he was proud. lineman, I know about the late “He was in bad shape for about two years,” “He watched me through the years. He had nights, the storm calls, and being a good idea of what it’s like. I just didn’t think Jason, 45, said. gone for hours or even days. “He had plastic surgeries and rods. They he would have a future in physical work,” wanted to amputate twice. His leg looks like Jason said. he was bitten by a great white shark.” The work is serious, dangerous, and physically demanding. Turns out, the accident wasn’t a physical deterrent to Dawson’s Describing life in a bucket truck, Jason said linemen need to pole-climbing career. Dawson said he loves his new job as an have stamina. apprentice lineman for Southern Pine Electric. He’s been on the “At first, it’s scary. But then you get used to it, but you still have job for four months. respect for being up there. It’s not a job for…you have to have some His dad is a lineman foreman at Dixie Electric where he has worked grit. You have to have mental and physical toughness. After a bad for 24 years. storm, you could be in a bucket for six to eight hours in a day,” The Holders live in Laurel with Dawson’s mom and Jason’s wife, Jason said. Shai, and Dawson’s 15-year-old sister, Graison. Dawson said he’s blessed to be on “a good crew.”

8 TODAY | JUNE 2022


“I’ve been out on some calls. I’ve seen a lot and paid attention. These guys are showing me the ropes.” Describing his first four months on the job, Dawson said there are good days and bad days. “A bad day is when it’s raining outside and I’m sitting inside. A good day is when it’s sunny and I get to go up in a bucket,” he said. Dawson said his father has been a big influence on his life. “He taught me about hard work. I’ve seen him bust his tail all my life, so it makes me want to work even harder,” Dawson said. The other thing the father and son linemen have in common is working part-time jobs.

Jason studied criminal justice at Jones College and works as a part-time patrol deputy for the Jones County Sheriff’s Office. “I love it. I got certified in 2017,” Jason said. Dawson has been cutting grass since high school and has a landscaping business he runs during his off time. “I used to go to my dad’s office. Hang out at the warehouse when I was growing up. One of his work friends asked me to cut his grass. I’ve been doing it ever since,” Dawson said. Although they don’t see each other as much as they used to, Jason and Dawson are still close. When they have time, they camp, hunt deer and turkeys, fish, and ride motorcycles. Hopefully, the weather will be nice on Father’s Day, and they won’t be called away to work. “A typical Father’s Day for us would be church, lunch, maybe fishing at our friend’s pond, or hanging out at our swimming pool,” Jason said. Jason said he knows if his son gets called out to restore power during bad weather, Dixie Electric’s service area will be next. “Southern Pine’s area is west of us. So usually, if they get it, I know we’re about to get it,” Jason said.

JUNE 2022 | TODAY 9


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Scranton’s Dishes Out Delights in Historic Setting

From left, Jane Pickett, Richard Chenoweth, and Jackson Pickett. Jane and her husband Jack own the restaurant along with Richard and his wife Kathy. Jackson works there as an assistant manager.

by Nancy Jo Maples of July 19. Work began in 1924 on a Sitting at a lunch table inside new fire hall that would also house the old Scranton Fire Company city hall. The fire station had long Number 1, I can’t help but reflect served as a gathering site; therefore, on a few memorable moments the new station, built to house fire that have swept through here. equipment and city administrative “Here” refers to Pascagoula, a offices, included an upper hall for comcoastal town made famous with hurmunity dances and assemblies. ricanes, musicians, shipbuilding, and a That upper hall became the restaurant’s church-going squirrel. More precisely, private party room when Scranton’s Restaurant I’m at a table inside Scranton’s Restaurant, opened in 1982. A few years ago, the owners which celebrates its 40th anniversary this moved the party venue to the corner of Magyear and is listed on the National Register nolia Street and Live Oak Avenue, a short walk of Historic Places. from the restaurant. That property, the “Grand 623 Delmas Ave., Inside the white stucco mission-style frontMagnolia,” includes a quaint inn and festive Pascagoula, Miss. age, artifacts decorate passageways between ballroom. The former party room converted to rooms once housing the fire engine, firefightfour apartments as Pascagoula is rejuvenating ers’ lounge, mayor’s office, courtroom, and its downtown to attract dwellers hoping they jail. A refurbished record-keeping vault stores will eat and shop where they reside. Phone: 228-762-1900 supplies. Dining tables have replaced office As the second paragraph alludes, a famous desks and the judge’s bench. A recent makefire station that caught fire, injurious hurricanes, Open Tuesday through Friday over lightened the interior, yet retained the the King of Parrotheads, and shipbuilding all tie 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; building’s historical character. The restaurant to this town. Downtown Pascagoula centers Monday and Saturday still offers its beloved entrees and has added on its courthouse, churches, merchants, and its 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. prepackaged casseroles and soups for busy Plaza, where Scranton’s stands. Shipbuilding clientele to take home and bake. provides livelihoods for multi-thousands not The “city” of Scranton lies within Pascagoula but at one time was its only via shipyards, but also from spin-off enterprises. In 2005 Hurricane own municipality. The two towns merged in 1912. Few people outside Katrina’s water gushed all the way to Scranton’s from Buffett Beach, Jackson County or the Gulf Coast know the name Scranton. Yet anytwo miles south. Prior to Katrina, Hurricane Camille had lambasted one hungry in Pascagoula quickly learns this old fire station is a great the city. Speaking of Buffett Beach, the city’s most famous musician, place to eat. Scranton’s is one of those local bistros where almost Jimmy Buffett, was born in Pascagoula Christmas Day 1946. Hurricanes everybody there knows almost everybody there. It has been a aren’t the only acts Mother Nature dealt; she also pierced the building “happening kind of place” since the building was dedicated in 1925, with lightning twice. long before it became a restaurant. You may be asking, “What about the church-going squirrel?” If necessity is the mother of invention, a fire served the matter of Country music artist Ray Stevens turned the town upside down in 1984 necessity birthing Scranton Fire Company No. 1. That blaze erupted when he sang “the day the squirrel went berserk in the First SelfOctober 22, 1883. Ironically, fire destroyed the fire company’s original Righteous Church in that sleepy little town of Pascagoula.” The church structure. Two fires leveled much of the downtown area in 1921, one Stevens references is assumed to be First Baptist Church located a few occurring after midnight on Feb. 25, and the other on the afternoon blocks east of my table at Scranton Fire Company Number 1. Award-winning journalist Nancy Jo Maples has been writing about Mississippi people and places for more than 30 years. She lives and writes in Lucedale and is a member of Singing River Electric Cooperative. Contact her at nancyjomaples@aol.com.

12 TODAY | JUNE 2022


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Two hot air balloons to offer free rides at the 45th Annual Dairy Festival on June 4

As always, on June 4 – the first Saturday in June – the Walthall County Dairy Festival, 2022 edition, returns to Holmes Water Park. It’s an all-day barrage of continuous activities, games, displays, contests, entertainment, food, and more all rolled into one complete package. Even before the festival’s official Saturday morning kickoff at 8 a.m., people are busy setting up tents, food booths, craft tables, and displays that dot the over 40acre water park that has served as the festival grounds since the event’s inception. The big attraction this year is the return of two hot air balloons giving free tethered rides throughout the day. The rides, sponsored by Rushing Realty, offer passengers a bird’s eye view of the festival grounds as well as Tylertown and its surroundings from high above the festival grounds. Two balloons are being featured so as many people as possible can enjoy the view. Hot air balloons have been a popular attraction for families every time they have been at the festival. All the usual events are on tap for the festival. The Walthall Homemakers’ baby contest and flower show start things off in the morning. Walthall General Hospital’s cake bake-off begins at 10:30 a.m., followed by State Farm’s ice cream eating contest. The butter churning contest, sponsored by Chancery Clerk Shannon Fortinberry, fills out the morning activities, capped off with the homemade butter and cake auction. The sack race starts at 12:30 p.m., followed by Pike National Bank’s mooing contest at 1:30 p.m. The watermelon eating contest, which serves to set up the remainder of the afternoon’s contests, begins at 1:45 p.m. Kids will start registering turtles at 2 p.m. for the Rotary Club turtle races that start at 3 p.m. The bubble gum blowing contest at 2:45 p.m. precedes the well-known turtle races. Walthall Chamber of Commerce draws for prizes in the town’s Spring Fling at 5:30 p.m., before entertainment kicks off at 6 p.m. The Hogwood Band will appear on stage at 7 p.m. and will conclude at 9 p.m. for the Citizens Bank fireworks display on the softball field. Trustmark Bank’s Dairy Festival Queen pageant will be open for ages 4-16. In addition to the above contests and stage activities, the festival features a petting farm for kids, plus PNB’s Cream Pitcher Fun Farm’s free games. An antique engine and tractor show offers a look at farm tractors and engines from the past. Walthall Emergency Management will show a ham radio operation, and the

14 TODAY | JUNE 2022

45th Walthall County

Cow Bag National Street rod car show offers plenty of vintage and custom cars to admire. Visitors to the festival can guess the weight of a cow for cash prizes from Livestock Producers and the Walthall Dairy Association, while Ginn’s Gunworks has a display of vintage bicycles. The Southland Express train ride is a popular feature for kids, while Tylertown Fire Dept. and AAA Ambulance will display equipment. Alcorn Extension Service returns with a shiitake mushroom growing demonstration. The art of weaving will be shown as well as Mike Hobgood’s chainsaw art, featuring plaques, wall hangings, statues, yard art, and more made using only a chain saw. As always, arts and crafts vendors will have booths at the festival, lots of food and concessions will be available from local church groups, and Keep Walthall Beautiful will display pieces of anti-litter art colored by kids. The Dairy Alliance and the Bob and Lee Wood-Hote Walthall Enhancement Foundation help sponsor the all-day festival, along with the Walthall Chamber of Commerce and over 50 volunteers who work each year to make the festival possible.


by Abby Berry Storm season is in full swing. Many summer storms have the potential to produce tornadoes — they can happen anytime, anywhere, and can bring winds over 200 miles per hour. In April, a video of NBC Washington chief meteorologist Doug Kammerer went viral. During a live broadcast, Kammerer called his teenage son to warn him of a tornado that was headed straight for their home. Knowing the kids were likely playing video games and not paying attention to the weather, he told them to head straight to the basement. Kammerer debated if he should call his family on-air, but he knew it was the right thing to do. Luckily, the kids made it safely through the storm. As adults, we understand the importance of storm safety, but younger children and teens may not realize the dangers storms pose. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your family and have a storm plan in place. Here are a several tips you can share with your loved ones.

• Talk to your family about what to do in

• Pay attention to local weather alerts —

the event of a severe storm or tornado. Point out the safest location to shelter, like a small, interior, windowless room on the lowest level of your home. Discuss the dangers of severe thunderstorms; lightning can strike 10 miles outside of a storm. Remember: when you hear thunder roar, head indoors.

either on the TV, your smartphone, or weather radio — and understand the types of alerts. A thunderstorm or tornado watch means these events are possible and you should be prepared; a warning means a thunderstorm or tornado has been spotted in your area and it’s time to take action.

• Make a storm kit. It doesn’t have to be elaborate — having a few items on hand is better than nothing at all. Try to include items like water, nonperishable foods, a manual can opener, a First-Aid kit, flashlights and extra batteries, prescriptions, baby supplies, and pet supplies. Keep all the items in one place for easy access if the power goes out.

• If you find yourself in the path of a tornado, head to your safe place to shelter, and protect yourself by covering your head with your arms or materials like blankets and pillows.

• If you’re driving during a severe storm or tornado, do not try to outrun it. Pull over and cover your body with a coat or blanket if possible.

• If the power is out, conserve your phone battery as much as possible, limiting calls and texts to let others know you are safe or for emergencies only.

• Stay off the roads if trees, power lines, or utility poles are down. Lines and equipment could still be energized, posing life-threatening risks to anyone who gets too close.

• Wear appropriate gear if you’re cleaning up storm debris on your property. Thick-soled shoes, long pants, and work gloves will help protect you from sharp or dangerous debris left behind.

PRACTICE STORM SAFETY Summer is a time for many fun-filled activities, but the season can also bring severe, dangerous weather. Talk to your loved ones about storm safety so that everyone is prepared and knows exactly what to do when a storm strikes. Have a plan in place and make a storm kit.

Listen to local alerts and know where to shelter.

Stay off the roads if trees and power lines are down.

Abby Berry writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Hurricane Season

JUNE 1 — NOVEMBER 30 JUNE 2022 | TODAY 15


Lessons learned from line crews

There are a lot of reasons your electricity might go off, with weather by far the leading cause. But to a lineworker, all power outage repairs have one thing in common—safety.

by Paul Wesslund You can learn a lot about power outages and restoration by watching, from a safe distance of course, a utility crew at work. The first thing you’ll notice is the deliberate, careful pace. They deploy signs to alert motorists. They mark the work area with orange cones. Always in hardhats and fire-protective clothing, anyone working on a power line pulls on heavy rubber gloves and spreads insulating blankets over the wires. Those gloves they pulled on have been tested by a machine that blows air into them to make sure there’s not even a pinhole that could allow a deadly electric current to pass through. And there’s more you won’t see. That morning, they likely huddled at the back of a truck to discuss what each of them would be doing that day, with an emphasis on safety. It’s a best practice in the industry — so common it’s often called a “tailgate meeting” or “toolbox talk.”

16 TODAY | JUNE 2022


Making Safety a Habit

Trees vs. Power Lines

There are a lot of reasons your electricity might go off, with weather by far the leading cause. But to a lineworker, all power outage repairs have one thing in common — safety. Safety is common sense — people want to get home alive, after all. But it’s also drilled into the utility workers. In their pole-climbing contests, the fastest time will get disqualified with the slightest safety misstep. Co-op leadership makes it clear that skipping any safety measure or procedure is a firable offense. Line crews attend lectures aimed at driving home the importance of safety protocols. So, if you ever wonder why restoring electricity after an outage can take a while, there’s a good answer: line crews never compromise on safety. The next thing you can learn from watching a line crew at work comes from seeing what task they’re doing. There’s a good chance they’re replacing old equipment. Poles and transformers wear out, and failing equipment is one significant cause of power outages. The crew you watch might be restoring an equipment outage, or they might be switching out an old device to prevent a future outage. You might see them replacing a downed utility pole, a painstaking process of removing the old and hauling in and raising the new, using trucks specifically designed for the job.

The pole might be down because a motorist ran into it — another cause of outages. Or it could be weather related. Wind, ice, fires — these natural disasters cause about 80% of power outages. One characteristic of those natural disasters is that the damage can be widespread. If one pole is down, lots of others could be as well. That means crews will be repeating the polereplacement process, one job at a time. That’s why bringing the lights back on after a major storm with widespread outages can take days, or even weeks. It’s also likely the crew you’re watching will be trimming trees. Trees are beautiful but a common cause of outages as wind and nearby branches can lead to wires getting knocked to the ground. Electric cooperatives devote a lot of time and resources to urging and enforcing limits on planting anything too close to power lines. And crews regularly set up to trim limbs that get too close to the wires. One fairly common cause of outages you probably won’t learn about by watching a crew make repairs is wildlife. Squirrels and other critters routinely crawl around utility equipment, occasionally making a connection between high-voltage wires. Snakes that slither into an electric substation bring consequences — for them and the utility. Sometimes crews need to investigate and correct the cause. Often the system will reset itself after only a brief power interruption. Lessons from the lineworkers? Outages can be caused by a variety of factors. Restoring power is an intricate process in a complex utility system. And safety — for crews and the community — will always be the top priority.

You can learn a lot about power outages and restoration by watching, from a safe distance of course, a utility crew at work.

Paul Wesslund writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives.

If you ever wonder why restoring electricity after an outage can take a while, there’s a good answer: line crews never compromise on safety.

JUNE 2022 | TODAY 17


by Susan Collins-Smith

Gardeners who want to preserve their abundant harvests by canning should make their list and check it twice — now, before it’s time to begin canning. Home canners should be sure they have the right recipes and equipment for the foods they intend to preserve. They should also make sure they inspect all their equipment. “The canning process is a lot easier when you have the right equipment, plenty of supplies, and research-based recipes,” said Janet Jolley, agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Marshall County. “Canning season will go a lot smoother.”

First, check for all needed equipment: • boiling-water canner • pressure canner • canning thermometer • approved, threaded, home-canning jars with two-piece lids • canning lids and rings • canning utensils – jar lifter for removing hot jars from a canner – big-mouth funnel to help pack foods into jars – headspace gauge to ensure the proper distance between the surface of food and underside of the jar lid – clean cloth or paper towels to wipe the rims of jars before putting lids on – narrow spatula for removing air bubbles from jars – magnetic lid wand to help remove metal lids from hot water

18 TODAY | JUNE 2022


Second, inspect all equipment to ensure it is safe to use and that canned items will reach the pressure and temperature to properly seal and kill harmful bacteria that could cause food spoilage or foodborne illness.

Take these steps to check or replace equipment: • Inspect the canner: – Check the gasket for cracks. Replace if cracks are present – Ensure that petcocks, vents, and safety valves are not clogged – Have dial gauge canners tested to make sure they are accurate Check with the local Extension office for testing availability • Check jars on hand for cracks and note the sizes available to ensure there are enough • Buy new lids. Never reuse canning lids • Check ring bands for dents and rust. Replace if either or both are present • Check the jar lifter, bubble freer and headspace gauge to ensure they are in proper working order • Ensure there are enough pots and pans for blanching • Check other needed equipment, including knives, vegetable peelers and long-handled spoons

Jolley points out that some equipment is an absolute necessity to preserve foods properly. Home canners cannot do without a boiling-water canner, a pressure canner, a jar lifter, jars, lids and rings, and a clean cloth or paper towels. However, some equipment may not be necessary but does make the process easier. Nonessential items include a canning funnel, a bubble freer, and a magnetic lid wand. A plastic knife can be used to release bubbles. Do not use a metal knife. It could damage the jars. Fran Brock, extension agent in Oktibbeha County, stressed the importance of using the correct type of canner with the right technique and research-backed recipe. Boiling-water canners are used to process jams, jellies, preserves and high-acid foods, such as tomatoes and some fruits. A pressure canner is used when processing low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats, and seafood. “To store canned food at room temperature safely, foods must be sealed in an airtight container and must receive sufficient heat processing to kill all microorganisms that can cause spoilage and botulism poisoning,” said Brock. “You should always use research-based home canning recipes. These recipes have been tested in a laboratory to give the correct measurements of all ingredients, jar size, measurements of pH, time, temperature, and pressure. These factors combined help kill bacteria,” Brock said.

Processing foods for the correct amount of time and at the right temperature also inactivates enzymes in the food that negatively change color, texture, flavor and nutritional value, Brock said. While electric pressure cookers, also called multicookers, are great for getting meals on the table quickly, Extension does not recommend their use in home canning. Even cookers that come with recipes and a canning and preserving function on their digital controls are not recommended. “Food spoilage and foodborne illness are two of the dangers of using a multicooker for canning foods,” Jolley said. “The National Center for Home Food Preservation makes clear that their tested canning processes are not recommended for use in electric pressure multicookers at this time. The center developed their recipes for stovetop pressure canners, which hold four or more quartsize jars standing upright.” Brock said other unsafe canning methods cooks should never use include the open kettle canning method, the oven canning method and dishwasher processing. “None of these methods provide sufficient heat to kill harmful bacteria,” she said. Susan Collins-Smith is a writer for the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

For more information about canning processes and preserving food and research-based recipes, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at nchfp.uga.edu. JUNE 2022 | TODAY 19


Photos by Chad Calcote

by Steven Ward

There’s a saying thrown around often in the world of car racing. It’s not the car; it’s the driver. The driver in this case is 11-year-old Nicolas “Cole” Denton of Pascagoula. 20 TODAY | JUNE 2022


Cole is ranked No. 1 in the nation in his age division in Bandolero racing. Cole competes in the Bandit division of INEX, the international sanctioning body of the Legend Car, Bandolero, and Thunder Roadster. A Bandolero is a race car that’s bigger and more advanced than a go-kart but smaller, slower, and half the body size of a stock car. Cole wins almost all the time. As of May 17, Cole had competed in 28 season races with 19 wins. Cole’s father, William Denton, is a retired teacher and soccer coach from Pascagoula High School. He now serves full-time as Cole’s crew chief. “People ask us why he wins all the time. They ask what they can do to their car to make it faster. I tell them, it’s not the car; it’s the driver,” William Denton said. The Dentons are longtime Pascagoula residents and members of Singing River Electric. Cole has been behind the wheel racing since he was 4 years old. He started watching NASCAR racing on television with his dad when he was 2. He saw the 1990 Tom Cruise racing film, “Days of Thunder” on TV for the first time when he was 3. “I’ve probably seen that movie 40 or 50 times by now,” Cole said. Ever since he started racing, Cole has adopted his love for the film to his racing life with his Mello Yello green, yellow, and black car and his longtime nickname at all the tracks where he races — “Cole Trickle.” That was the name of Cruise’s character in the film. “Everyone knows him by Cole Trickle,” Cole’s mother, Tina, said. The combination of those two events led Cole to telling his parents he wanted to race. William and Tina took him to watch races in nearby Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida when he was 3 and 4. In December 2014, Cole and his family were at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola watching the 300-lap Snowball Derby. “The people sitting behind us noticed how interested Cole was in the race and the cars,” William said. “They told us that Cole could start racing go-karts at 4 in Alabama.” Cole started racing go-karts in 2015 at Sunny South Raceway in Grand Bay, Alabama. He graduated to Bandolero cars when he turned 8.

JUNE 2022 | TODAY 21


Racing is his dream, his passion, his everything. He is fortunate that our lifestyle allows him, at this level, to chase his dream. Cole knows it takes many people to keep him in the sport and keep him competitive. Since that time, Cole has raced on tracks all over the southeast, including the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Speedway, the Florida International Rally and Motorsport Park, and Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. Tina said she and her husband are immensely proud of Cole. “The pride we have for Cole’s racing isn’t as much about his winnings but more about his patient, clean driving. He takes his time passing and never touches another car. He respects their equipment, as well as his own,” Tina said. “When someone is faster, he gives them line and tries his best to catch them again. We are prideful that we have raised a respectful young man.” Cole, who is home schooled, seems to have an innate ability to know and feel what his car needs and part of that is utilizing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM skills. “At every track, Cole must figure out the best, smoothest, and fastest way around the track. We have to change the setup on the car for that specific track and learn how the tires react to the surface on that track,” William said. “Cole makes the calls as to what changes to make to his car whether it’s gears, the spring rate, tires, tire pressure, stagger, and wheelbase. All these things are about the physics of the car on the track to gain the most speed and traction. It’s a science, from the physical dimensions of the setup to the temperature and softness of the tires. Cole understands it all very well and knows how to communicate exactly what he needs and wants.” Cole, who also loves racing scooters and flying his flight simulator, said he wants to become a NASCAR Cup Series driver and a pilot “so I can fly myself to race tracks.” “My favorite part of racing is learning a new track and figuring out the fastest line around the track. I like the challenge,” Cole said. From the smells of the track to the sounds of the cars to the friendships he’s made in the circuit, Tina said Cole loves racing with all his heart. “Racing is his dream, his passion, his everything. He is fortunate that our lifestyle allows him, at this level, to chase his dream,” Tina said. “Cole knows it takes many people to keep him in the sport and keep him competitive. His appreciation, gratefulness, and humbleness are the reasons we continue to do what we do for him.” Tina said he is in his social element at a track, always with a smile on his face. “But of course, he’s happiest when he’s inside his race car,” Tina said.

22 TODAY | JUNE 2022


2022

Winter Nationals Champion Spring Nationals Champion Furious Five Champion 19 wins (As of May 19)

2021

2nd Nationally INEX Bandit Division Mississippi State Bandit Champion Crisp Motorsports Park Bandolero Track Champion Crisp Motorsports Park Bandit Track Champion Lanier Raceplex Summer Series Bandit Champion 19 wins

2020

Mississippi State Bandit Champion Top Dog Award Thursday Thunder AMS 8 wins

2019

Mississippi State Bandit Champion Sunny South Raceway Bandit Track Champion 4th overall Road Course World Championship 15 wins

For more information about Cole and his racing career or sponsorship opportunities, visit his website at ColeDentonRacing.com. His Facebook and Twitter accounts can be found at ColeNationRacing. JUNE 2022 | TODAY 23


24 TODAY | JUNE 2022


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by Bonnie A. Coblentz Farm supply stores are full of cute chicks, and the sight of the fluffy baby birds, combined with future dreams of fresh eggs, prompts many people to impulsively start a backyard flock. Jessica Wells, poultry specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said chickens can be fun and productive animals that provide enjoyment for families. “Keep in mind that just as with any pet or livestock you purchase, that animal needs constant care and attention,” she said. Good planning is the first step toward having a successful backyard flock of chickens. “Raising your own meat and eggs may seem like a good idea, but there are challenges to overcome,” Wells said. “It is probably cheaper and less work to buy from the store rather than to produce it yourself at home. However, they can be a fun and productive hobby.” Wells said chickens can be friendly and display unique personalities. Some people see a flock as an educational opportunity for children, a fun hobby, and a potential source of meat and eggs year-round. “Chickens are living creatures and will be dependent on you to feed, care for and protect them 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Wells said. Those who decide to start a backyard flock should plan in advance and do some homework, so they can make informed decisions. An early step when living in a city is to check to see that local ordinances allow backyard flocks. There may also be restrictions on roosters, so carefully examine what the law allows. As a courtesy, it is wise to notify nearby neighbors of the plan to keep a backyard flock. “Next, decide how many chickens you will have and then consider housing and pen space,” Wells said. A small bantam chicken needs a minimum of 1 square foot of indoor space and 4 square feet of outdoor space, while a large

26 TODAY | JUNE 2022

chicken needs a minimum of 2 square feet of indoor space and 10 square feet of outdoor space. Keeping the flock penned rather than letting the chickens run free is usually a better option, as it lessens disease threats and protects birds from predators. Among the animals that enjoy chicken dinners are raccoons, opossums, skunks, snakes, hawks, owls, dogs, and cats. Wells said penning the chickens and allowing them to free range are both acceptable, depending on the situation and flock needs. Chicken feed is readily available at farm supply stores, and flocks with good pasture areas can supplement their own diet. Have plenty of feeder space, and be sure all birds can eat at the same time. Keep water supplies clean and fresh and positioned so that all birds can reach them. Chickens develop a pecking order, so watch for timid birds being kept away from the feeder by more dominant birds. “Timid birds may require separate feeding to ensure they are getting what they need,” Wells said. Jonathan Moon, research coordinator for the MSU Department of Poultry Science and researcher with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said owners must monitor the health of their birds to keep the flock strong. An in-depth biosecurity plan is highly recommended, as avian influenza has been detected in nearby states. Moon said at a bare minimum, growers should consider having a dedicated pair of boots or shoes that are only worn in or around the chicken house. “The three key components are isolation or keeping your flock away from other birds; traffic control, which is limiting human and animal movement through the flock’s area; and sanitary living conditions,” Moon said. Bonnie A. Coblentz is a writer and editor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.


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Humans began cooking with fire over a million years ago. Outdoor kitchen appliances and technology have advanced, but the basics remain — man, fire, and meat feed families and create community. Today, both men and women conquer the open flame, but there’s something special about dads lighting a fire with tongs in hand, taking pride in being the king of dinner. Secret sauces, rubs, and recipes become family legends, leading to delicious anticipation for cookouts. Michael Keeton of Brandon recalls his dad’s character and love of grilling steaks. “Being outside, smelling the smoke, or hearing the sizzle, makes me think of dad,” said Keeton. His best tip is don’t overlook the 1 ½ inch steaks, 3-inch cuts aren’t always better. “Buy steaks a week before and lay them out an hour before cooking,” suggests Keeton. “Cook steaks in an iron skillet on direct high heat on the grill, turning at 2-4 minutes, seasoned with unsalted butter. Unsalted butter won’t burn as quickly,” advises Keeton. “Once well seared, take the steak and place it on the grill at a lower temperature until desired internal temperature is reached.”

• Prepare a 3 to 4 pound whole chicken with giblets removed and discarded, by washing and patting it dry. Rub the chicken inside and out with olive oil and season it well with Tony Chachere’s (or your favorite spice combination). Care fully separate the skin over the breast from the meat so you can put some of the seasoning under the skin. Let the chicken sit while you prepare the smoker. • Prepare your smoker, to reach around 225 to 250 degrees. Throughout the course of the cooking add in hickory or pecan pellets for added flavor.

28 TODAY | JUNE 2022

Through trial and error, Drew Smith of Vicksburg taught himself to grill. “I’ve researched out of enthusiasm for the art. I also have a lot of buddies who are great grillers, and we share advice amongst ourselves,” said Smith. For the Smiths, outdoor cooking is all about community. “My favorite time of year is when I can turn on a Mississippi State baseball game while the grill is going with friends over, and our children are playing in the backyard,” smiles Smith. “That’s what it’s all about.” He believes it’s hard to mess up cooking on a quality charcoal grill. “Long indirect style grilling methods are typically the easiest because all it takes is low heat, smoke, a simple seasoning, and you’re sure to end up with a good result. It’s also hard to beat a thick ribeye sizzling over some glowing coals!” Family and friends are the secret ingredient to a memorable cookout, no matter the cooking method. As a dietitian, I appreciate outdoor cooking because it includes more fresh meats, fish, and vegetables. As a daughter, I relish in the memories of watching dad take pleasure in preparing his signature smoked chickens from start to finish. This Father’s Day, hug the man conquering the open flame.

• Place the prepared chicken on the smoker. Roughly speaking, it takes about 3-5 hours to smoke a whole chicken, or approximately 45 minutes per pound at 250 degrees. Make sure your chicken reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part before removing. • Remove the chicken from the smoker and let rest, loosely tent with foil, on a baking sheet for 20 minutes before slicing.


• Season the tri-tip a few hours before cooking. Stay simple with the seasoning. Use anything you would use on a steak or brisket. Set your grill up for indirect cooking. Set the grill temp to 250 degrees. I use a Big Green Egg and the indirect stone for this one. A pellet grill will work great for the indirect cook too. • Cook the tri-tip indirectly until it reaches an internal temp of around 110 degrees. Maybe 30-45 minutes. Use the wood flavor of your choice to add some smoke flavor. I prefer to use pecan, which is usually mild and versatile. • Once the tri-tip reaches 110 degrees internally, set the grill to cook directly and crank the temperature of the grill to 400-500 degrees. I used the Big Green Egg for this part too, but you could easily use a big cast iron skillet over high heat. • Sear the tri-tip on both sides for several minutes per side. It’s a thick cut so it won’t cook through too quickly. • For some added flavor and texture, baste the tri-tip with an herb butter while it sears over the direct heat. Cook to an internal temperature of 130 degrees for medium rare or your doneness of choice. • Let it rest for about 15 minutes, slice and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS 2 1 1 1 1

portobello mushrooms eggplant zucchini yellow squash onion

1 1 2 1 1

bunch asparagus bell pepper (any color) tablespoons extra virgin olive oil tablespoon salt tablespoon black pepper

• Preheat the grill to medium heat, 350 to 450 degrees. • Trim the ends of the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and onion and cut into symmetrical slices. Seed the red bell pepper and cut into quarters. Trim the ends of the asparagus. • Toss the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. • Grill the vegetables on tin foil with the lid closed until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes for the bell peppers, onion, and mushroom; 5-7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, and eggplant and asparagus.

by Rebecca Turner Rebecca Turner is an author, registered dietitian, radio host, television presenter and a certified specialist in sports dietetics with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A lifelong Mississippian, she lives in Brandon and has spent the last decade offering no-nonsense nutrition guidance that allows you to enjoy good health and good food. Her book, “Mind Over Fork,” challenges the way you think, not the way you eat. Find her on social media @RebeccaTurnerNutrition and online at www.RebeccaTurnerNutrition.com.

JUNE 2022 | TODAY 29


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mississippi marketplace onopenthe menu outdoors today Events 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 news@ecm.coop. Events are subject to change. scene around the ‘sip picture this The Isbell Family, evangelist Dr. George Matherson, The 26th Annual Daylilly Show. June 4. Hattiesburg. The World of Marty Stuart. Now through the end of evangelist The Rev. David Spencer, Bible teacher The show is hosted by the Hattiesburg Area Daylily the year. Jackson. The exhibit will debut at the Two myCenter opinion co-op involvement and Camp President The Rev. Richard Roach. Daily Society at the Lake Terrace Convention Mississippi Museums downtown. “The World of Marty Stuart” explores Stuart’s life and his legacy of collecting country music’s stories. The exhibit includes hundreds of items never shown before in Mississippi, including Marty’s first guitar, original handwritten Hank Williams manuscripts, guitars from Merle Haggard and Pops Staples, costumes from Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, personal items from Johnny Cash, including his first black performance suit, and much more. 222 North St. No. 1206. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Details: 601-576-6934.

The show opens to the public at 1 p.m. Plant sale opens at 11 a.m. Admission is free. Details: hattiesburgdaylily.com or 601-466-3826.

southern gardening

The Hoppers. June 3. Petal. The Hoppers will perform in a concert at 7 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Runnelstown. A love offering will be received. The church is located at 9211 Highway 42, Petal, 39465. Details: 601-583-3733.

meetings are at 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. with inspiring preaching and uplifting music. Country cooking daily in the dining hall at noon and 5 p.m. for $6 fee. It’s a family camp and facilities are available to come and stay all week. Boy and girl dorms house children 7 and up with a youth director and activities director for $75 to $150 for the entire 10 days, which includes meals and lodging. Lodging is available for adults in a motel for $20 a night and $10 a night for the RV park. 1455 Matherville Frost Bridge Road. Details: frostbridgecamp.com or 205-292-9176.

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The 64th Annual July 3 Gospel Sing Concert. July 3. Waynesboro. The Whisnants, Ricky Atkinson and Compassion, Sound Street and Harmony Brothers with LaBreeska Atkinson will all perform. A love offering will be received. Concessions will be available. Bring lawn chairs. Begins at 7 p.m. The South Mississippi Baptist Youth Campground, Pine Grove Road. Details: 601-735-9083. Frost Bridge Camp Meeting. July 15 to 24. Waynesboro. Christian family camp has been meeting for over 100 years. This year’s special speakers are

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June is pretty much just another month for me and has been for deWhen I was 11, I rode my bike to the press room of the Delta cades. But when I was a kid, June meant school was out and summer Democrat Times in Greenville every afternoon and paid 25 cents for 10 had started. June felt like a weight was lifted! June meant no homework newspapers. I would carry the papers over to Washington Avenue and or book reports, or exams. Honeysuckle and Ligustrum were in the air. sell them for 50 cents. Doesn’t sound like much by today’s standards And there was plenty of free time to fill with whatever came up. but a quarter-a-day profit was plenty of money to keep an 11-year-old There were chores around the house, of course. I would help mama going back then. wash dishes and take out the garbage, which I always balked at. All Martha would stop by mid-morning some days with fresh produce you had to do was take the grocery sack of trash from the can in the in the back of her pick-up. She had grandkids maneuver over the baskitchen, carry it out the back door kets of this and that and fetch a sack and through the chain link fence gate, of butter beans, squash, tomatoes, and dump it the garbage can outside and other stuff. Mama, Granddaddy, the fence. I and anyone else at home would June meant no homework or book reports, and I tried to think of a way to just sit in the cool of the porch and shell or exams. Honeysuckle and Ligustrum open the dining room window and beans or hull peas in the afternoon. hook the sack onto a rope and pulI read a post on Facebook the other was in the air. And there was plenty of ley that lifted the garbage can lid as it day where someone told their kids free time to fill with whatever came up. to go play outside. One of the kids went over the fence and then somehow drop it all into the can. I would wanted to know if “outside” was an have built it, too. But the “somehow” eluded me. A lot of my ideas and app. No, it wasn’t an app. Outside was a three-month adventure just a inventions ended up being stopped dead in their tracks because they few decades ago — starting every summer right about now. included a nebulous, indefinable “somehow” thrown in that negated all the other absolute plans. But summer was the time to work on projects like that. Or discard them altogether for something more fun. Riding bikes to the levee was fun. The temperature dropped a good 10 degrees when you turned off the concrete of North Broadway onto the gravel road to the levee. by Walt Grayson We went everywhere on our bikes. We rode to the “kiddie show” at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday mornings. Admission was seven Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting RC Cola bottle caps. My friends owned the grocery store across the television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That street. All of us kids in the neighborhood started helping clean out Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Walt is also a reporter and 4 the bottle opener on the drink box by at least Thursday, so seven p.m. news anchor at WJTV in Jackson. He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at walt@waltgrayson.com. caps were a cinch.

JUNE 2022 | TODAY 31


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