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Memories of a sweet summertime For many of us, summertime can stir up memories and scenes from our childhoods. Before cellular phones and video games, summertime in Mississippi meant spending hours outside, free of classes and homework, and running around under the sun like the days would go on forever. We wouldn’t even go back home unless the sun went down or our mommas called us in for dinner. Summer, as well as the month of July specifically, is also a time when watermelons play a prominent role in our family menus. Is it a summertime cookout without a sweet slice of watermelon? For those of us who have grown up or spent most of our lives in Mississippi, watermelon in July means melons from a specific place — Smith County. “Everyone says they have to have a Smith County watermelon,” Taylorsville farmer Kevin Ford told us in this month’s cover story. Why does it have to be a Smith County watermelon? Many in the Magnolia state testify that the taste of the super sweet, dark green melons from Smith County are the best they’ve ever had. We’re not sure if there’s something

magical in the soil or in the hands of Smith County watermelon growers. Whatever it is, the taste is something Mississippians swear by. If there’s something Mississippians would say they know a little bit about, it’s food. So go and find a Smith County watermelon — or any locally grown watermelon — soon to make your summer special and to support local farmers. According to the Mississippi State University Extension Service, there are about 38 watermelon farmers in the state. The economic impact of Mississippi watermelons is about $4.3 million. I want to wish all our co-op members, employees and their families a Happy Independence Day. And who knows — maybe, if we try hard enough, we can encourage our children to put down their phones, get them to spend a day outdoors and reward them when the sun goes down with a sweet slice of Mississippi watermelon.

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

Photo by Lyle Hennen of Olive Branch. Northcentral Electric member

Mississippi is... I was born in Mississippi, and was Mississippi bred. I was schooled in Mississippi, and in Mississippi, I was wed. I was saved in Mississippi, by God’s amazing grace, and I’ve never thought of living, in any other place. By my Mississippi family, I have always been so blessed. Friends and neighbors too, are kind and helpful, they’re what’s called, THE VERY BEST! Storms do sometimes come this way, knocking all our power out. Central Electric is soon here restoring, that they’ll come is never any doubt. Many times we’ve left here, to take vacations or a trip, but the best part of our going, was getting back to good ole Missi-‘Sip. By now, you must know how I feel, about Mississippi, which to me has been loyal. And when I move from Mississippi to heaven, I’ll be buried in rich Mississippi soil.

by Doris Evans, a resident of Lena and a member of Central 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

JULY 2021 | TODAY 3


in this issue

5 southern gardening Geraniums — a flower of many colors

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

5

Outside pests to avoid

14 local news

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

20 feature

Summertime in Mississippi means sweet Smith County watermelons

28

Vol. 74 No. 7

OFFICERS Kevin Bonds - President Eddie Howard - First Vice President Randy Carroll - Second Vice President Ron Barnes - Secretary/Treasurer Michael Callahan - Executive Vice President/CEO EDITORIAL STAFF Ron Stewart - Senior VP, Communications Steven Ward - Editor Chad Calcote - Creative Director/ Manager Elissa Fulton - Communications Specialist Rickey McMillan - Graphic Designer Kevin Wood - Graphic Designer Chris Alexander - Administrative Assistant

11 outdoors today

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The Official Publication of the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi

Circulation of this issue: 489,200

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.

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Visit B.B. King’s Museum for a true destination

31

On the cover A Smith County watermelon growing in Kevin Ford’s Taylorsville farm. Photo by Chad Calcote.

NEXT IN PICTURE THIS:

Mouthwatering Mississippi meals Send us photos of your favorite foods. Show us entrees, sides or desserts from your favorite home-cooked meals or grill outs. Or send us something from a visit to a restaurant. Photos must be high-resolution JPG files of at least 1 MB in size. Please attach the photo to your email and send it to news@ecm.coop. Each entry must be accompanied by photographer’s name, address and co-op. Submission deadline: Sept. 3. Select photos will appear in the October 2021 issue.

4 TODAY | JULY 2021


open first, showing a bit of color, followed by the lower buds. Flower colors include red, coral, lavender, salmon and bicolor White Splash. They can be up to 4 ½ inches across, and if you keep the plant deadheaded, it will bloom continuously all summer. Trial results show that the flower heads hold up to our Mississippi summer weather. The scalloped foliage has a dark bronze band and develops into a mounded habit. Geraniums are pretty easy plants to grow, especially in containers with a well-drained potting mix. Be sure to plant in areas that get at Geraniums are easy to grow in containers with a well-drained least six hours of potting mix, at least six hours of sun a day and consistent fertilization. Pictured are Americana White Splash zonal geraniums. full morning sun every day. Be careful not to overwater because geraniums don’t like wet feet. Only water when the soil is dry to the touch. Geraniums are heavy feeders and need consistent fertilization to keep flowering. Feed with a controlled-release fertilizer at planting and then twice a month afterwards with a water-soluble fertilizer. Don’t forget to deadhead when the flowers are fading. Don’t just clip the flower head. Go ahead and pinch or prune the flower stalk at the base. I know everyone’s porch and patio would look great with a couple of big containers of pretty geraniums. Be sure to visit your favorite local independent garden center and pick up one or two or a dozen to enjoy this summer.

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.

JULY 2021 | TODAY 5

VERSION #______________ RON Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested STEVEN Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested CHAD Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested ELISSA Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested CHRIS Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested ARTIST __________ Date_____ Approved Revisions Requested

One of my favorite summer color annuals is the old-fashioned red geranium. This is one of the plants that could be considered an old timey flower whose time has passed, but I don’t think so. They are just as useful and beautiful in our modern gardens and landscapes as they were once upon a time. As I write this, I find it ironic that I’m I know everyone’s porch and calling the geranium patio would look great with one of my favorites. a couple of big containers You see, when I of pretty geraniums. was working on my master’s degree, my thesis project revolved around growing and harvesting geraniums. I mean thousands and thousands of geraniums. I’m sure there came a time when I swore — both literally and figuratively — that I would never, EVER grow another geranium. But enough time has passed for garden sanity to return, and thank goodness for that, because I really do like geraniums. The geraniums gardeners love in the landscape have taken a very long trip to get to our gardens. Pelargonium x hortorum, the botanical name of our common garden geranium, is native to southern Africa. From there, most of the major breeding and development that resulted in our great garden plants were accomplished in Europe. I’ve discovered that the Americana geranium flower heads can be larger than 4 inches across and develop on upright stems. Pictured are Americana Americana salmon zonal geraniums. geranium series really performs well in our Mississippi gardens and landscapes. This group was bred and developed to thrive in our North American environment. I love the size of the Americana geranium flower heads that develop on upright stems. The flowers are actually clusters of tightly grouped buds, and the buds don’t open all at once. The top buds


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8. Cherie Foster of Hamilton; Monroe County Electric member.

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9. Janice Wallace of Mize; Southern Pine Electric member.

3. Karen Sandifer of Moss Point; Singing River Electric member. 4. Celia Cerda of Yazoo City; Yazoo Valley Electric member. 5. Sarah Dalton of Carthage; Central Electric member.

10. Amanda Moore of Carthage; Central Electric member. 11. Nancy Chain of Sumrall; Pearl River Valley Electric member. 12. Keith Ball of Petal; Dixie Electric member. 13. Paula Lewis of Gulfport; Coast Electric member.

6. Paula Lyle of Gautier; Singing River Electric member. 7. Sherry Sledge of Pontotoc; Pontotoc Electric member.

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buys the materials needed. Different church and volunteer groups erect the crosses. The crosses must be erected on private land, she said. Abraham said the ministry has changed her life. “I love what I do. The people I’ve met doing this…we have been blessed by God,” Abraham said. The point of the crosses? Abraham wants motorists to look at them. “When people look at those three crosses, they have a decision to make. Will they accept Christ in their life? Some people will drive past the crosses and it won’t change anything, but for others, it may change everything,” she said. How well known is the ministry? Country singer Randy Travis recorded a song, “Three Wooden Crosses,” about Abraham’s mission in 2002. The song, written by Kim Williams and Doug Johnson, became Travis’ final No. 1 single when it was released and was named Song of the Year in 2003 by the Country Music Association. “He (Travis) played it for me and asked what I thought of the song. I told him I didn’t like it but that I didn’t listen to country music or know anything about it. Me not liking it was probably a good thing,” she said laughing. Abraham’s ministry has also started to build giant, 110-foot steel crosses as well. Three of the towering crosses have been erected in Mississippi — Batesville, Winona and one right next to Berry’s Seafood and Catfish House in Florence. The crosses cost about $200,000 a piece to construct. The next giant cross will be built in Ripley. “I do this because the Lord wants me to do it,” Abraham said. To donate to Crosses Across America or find out more information, visit crossesacrossamerica.org or call 601-630-5562 or 601-619-0169.

VERSION #______________

by Steven Ward Everything started with a photo in a newspaper. Vicksburg resident Sara S. Abraham was reading a story in The Vicksburg Post in 1993 about the death of West Virginia lay Methodist minister Bernard Coffindaffer. Coffindaffer, a former coal industry businessman who became a Christian later in life, began a roadside cross ministry in 1984 building trios of gold and royal blue crosses all over the country. The newspaper story said Coffindaffer’s ministry — Crosses of Mercy — would halt due to his death. Coffindaffer’s story interested Abraham, but it was his photo that accompanied the story that grabbed her attention. “He looked just like my father. My father was a judge. He (Coffindaffer) was in a robe in the paper’s photo and my father wore a robe as a judge. He really looked like him,” Abraham said. Abraham cut the story out of the paper, folded it up and placed it inside her Bible. She didn’t give it much thought after that. Sometime later, while in her study, Abraham picked up the Bible for an unrelated reason and the article fell out onto the floor. “At that moment, that’s when the Lord spoke to me and impressed upon me that I should continue that cross ministry,” Abraham said. Today, Abraham runs Crosses Across America, Inc. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to preserve, maintain, and construct wooden crosses across the country and further abroad. Abraham took over and restarted the ministry in 1999 making Vicksburg the international headquarters for Crosses Across America. Over 2,100 clusters of crosses exist to symbolize the crucifixion of Christ and the two thieves. The ministry refurbishes the standing crosses and erects new clusters of crosses along America’s interstates and other major thoroughfares. Abraham’s ministry raises the money for the crosses and

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grin ‘n’ bare it Whompas Cats were an ever-present danger while growing up country. “Down by the creek. Y’all stay out of there.” The admonition was powerful and initially productive, but its impact waned. No one had ever encountered a Whompas Cat. Juvenile reasoning eventually concluded that this was a scheme hatched to keep wandering young’uns in check. We gradually drifted closer and closer to the creek, fishing and squirrel hunting and distinguishing the squeal of wood ducks from that of the prophesied feline. Odds are high that no wanderer across the Magnolia State will ever encounter the dastardly Whompas Cat. However, there are a host of other evil doers that are best avoided. And they are in abundance. Snakes get the nod as particularly threatening, and there is a modicum of validity in that. Rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths are about, and they can be not only frightening but a solid cause for caution. But those three aside, there is little to fear. Most others are harmless — apart from generating cardiac arrest. Properly identified, they deserve a “Howdy” and “Thank you” for their role in consuming mice and rats and other such pestilences. But before you rest comfortably in the knowledge that very few things are out to get you and that you are not required to avoid all outdoor exploration, be aware that there are two verifiable nasties that can easily deal grief. These are none other than mosquitoes and ticks. The former seek you out, their proboscis jabbing a tiny hole in skin that instigates an almost immediate itch. That’s unpleasant, but the residual can be a major problem. While enjoying your blood, mosquitoes can inject all sorts of

squirmy beings into your body. These can be truly harmful. What to do? There are methods to help mitigate their bites. Long sleeves, full-length pants, high-top socks, sturdy shoes or boots. Repellents also help, though some users experience skin irritation. And some repellents can rumple the finish of sporting gear. Those little repellent units that employ a scent wafer and small butane cartridge work wonderfully well and are worth the price of admission. Ticks? Oh my. Diseases they carry are many. Avoid knee-high grass and brushy areas. Pine straw and leaves, too. The same regimen regarding mosquitoes applies, but tuck pants cuffs into long socks. And wear light-colored clothes for the simple reason they make a crawling tick easier to see. There are products that work well for treating clothing — never on the skin — available from various stores, but read carefully the instructions and follow them thoroughly. One last bit of advice. Research and learn tick removal. Check your entire body after being outside. And inspect children closely, particularly their heads where ticks can be difficult to locate in hair. And by all means, watch out for Whompas Cats!

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.

JULY 2021 | TODAY 11


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You experience her joys ... encourage her dreams ... and wish for her the best in life. Now you can give your blessed granddaughter a very special gift of love: a beautiful personalized pendant along with some wise and loving words to treasure forever. The “Precious Granddaughter” Pearl Pendant is finely hand-crafted of solid sterling silver and features a genuine cultured freshwater pearl with a genuine diamond at the top. Suspended from the heart-shaped clasp is a sterling silver heart charm engraved with your granddaughter’s name. Our solid sterling silver is enhanced with a fine layer of rhodium plating for maximum beauty and shine. An 18" solid sterling silver chain

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Keep hope right in your pocket It will guide you day by day Take it out when it is needed When it’s near, you’ll find a way

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Express what you are feeling Your beliefs you should uphold Don’t shy away from what is right Be courageous and be bold

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Walk softly when you’re angry Try not to take offense Invoke your sense of humor Laughter’s power is immense!

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Forgive those who might hurt you And though you have your pride Listen closely to their viewpoint Try to see the other side

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Let kindness spread like sunshine Embrace those who are sad Respect their dignity, give them joy And leave them feeling glad

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I’ve traveled paths you’ve yet to walk Learned lessons old and new And now this wisdom of my life I’m blessed to share with you

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P.O. BOX 188 • 340 HOPSON STREET • LYON, MS 38645 662-624-8321 • FAX 662-624-8327 • www.coahomaepa.com • cepa@coahomaepa.com

by Brent Hampton Can you believe we are in the seventh month of 2021 already? As July begins, let’s take a look at the history of the month and where the name comes from. July was originally known as Quintilis, the fifth month of the year in the Roman calendar and consisted of 31 days. The name was changed around 45 BC when January became the first month of the year and during the Julian calendar reform to honor Julius Caesar. July is the warmest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the coldest in the Southern Hemisphere. July is the month in which Independence Day is celebrated. July 4, 1776 is the day the United States Declaration of Independence was signed. From 1776 to the present day, July 4 has been celebrated as the birth of American independence with festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues. Also on July 4, the 49th star was added to the American flag to represent the state of Alaska. On the same day in 1950, the 50th star was added to the American flag to represent Hawaii. On July 11, 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a bill requiring the use of the inscription, “In God We Trust” on all paper money. July is also the midpoint of the year, starting the second half of the modern calendar. Here are some other interesting facts about July: July is likely when you will start seeing crop circles appearing. This has been happening for a very long time, no matter what UFO enthusiasts might tell you! It’s thought that crop circles have been emerging in July since at least the 1970s. It was in July when the first-ever telephone call was made. It took place between Canada and the U.S. in 1881. The date marked the start of a tradition of long summer phone calls!

14 TODAY | JULY 2021

There are two zodiac signs which claim July as their host month. If you were born in July, you’re either a Cancer (crab), or a Leo (lion). July is the month that gardeners will generally have much of their work cut out for them. That’s because bugs and pests are likely to come out in droves, putting vegetation and plants at risk. It’s also the best time to start getting those weeds down. If you don’t pull them up now, they’ll start seeding. Many people refer to July as “hay month.” That’s because the heat at the height of summer is known to quash the grass, drying it out and turning it into hay. As all farmers know, hay is very handy indeed — and it’s always less expensive for you to gather it yourself than to depend on suppliers. The Summer Olympics are slated to occur this July. The event was scheduled for last year but was pushed back a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Olympics are set to take place from July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo.

As we prepare to watch the Olympics, let’s recognize some of the athletes from the great state of Mississippi who have participated in past Olympic games: Alice Brown — Jackson Antonio McDyess — Quitman Carolyn Jones-Young — Bay Springs Coby Miller — Ackerman Danny Manning — Hattiesburg George Wilson — Meridian Jennifer Gillom — Abbeville Lusia Harris-Stewart — Minter City Ralph Boston — Laurel Spencer Haywood — Silver City Valarie Briscoe-Hooks — Greenwood Tori Bowie — Sand Hill


Don’t fall victim to

UTILITY SCAMS by Abby Berry Every day, millions of Americans are targeted by scammers through phone calls, emails, text messages, online or in person. Scammers’ tactics can change daily, which is why it’s important for consumers to stay on top of the latest scam reports from local and national news outlets, as well as your local utility companies. Many of our cooperative members throughout the state have been targeted through phone scams where the scammers demanded immediate payment and threatened to shut off power if the money was not received. Remember, Coahoma Electric Power Association will never call you and demand immediate payment without notice. We want you to be aware of two trending scam tactics. One is the overpayment trick, where a scammer contacts you and claims that you have overpaid your utility bill. The scammer will say they need your personal banking information to deposit the credit back to your checking account. Don’t fall for this scam! If you make an overpayment on your energy bill, Coahoma Electric will automatically apply the credit to your account, which will carry over to your next billing cycle. Another trending scam is smishing (short for SMS phishing). Many consumers know to watch out for suspicious emails, but we tend to trust text messages sent to our smartphones. Always question suspicious texts, especially from someone claiming to represent a utility. Coahoma Electric will never send correspondence via text. You can manage your account through our mobile app by searching Coahoma EPA on the Apple App Store or Google play. These are just a couple of examples of trending scams, so it’s important to watch for any red flags.

Here are a few reminders on how to take control of the situation when you’ve been targeted by a scammer: Take your time Utility scammers try to create a sense of urgency so that you’ll act fast and hand over personal information, especially over the phone. Take a moment to think about the situation before acting.

Be suspicious Scammers typically request immediate payments through prepaid debit cards or third-party apps. Unusual requests like this should raise red flags. Remember, if the request seems strange and out of the ordinary, you’re likely being targeted by a scammer.

Confirm before you act If you’re contacted by someone claiming to represent Coahoma Electric or another utility but you’re unsure, just hang up the phone and call the utility directly. You can reach us at 662-624-8321 to verify the situation. Our increasingly connected world provides scammers with more opportunities to connect with unsuspecting consumers. Be vigilant, and please report any utility scams to Coahoma Electric so we can let others in our community know. Together, we can help prevent our friends and neighbors from being victimized. Abby Berry writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Coahoma Electric employees who are celebrating a July birthday! KEITH HURT, General Manager — July 1 WARREN MOORE, Lineman — July 5 JAMIE MATTHEWS, Engineer — July 7 VICKY WILLIAMS, CSR/Billing — July 22 ROOSEVELT JOHNSON, Meter Technician — July 23

“People born in July are independent and determined, and they seldom seek help from someone. They like to do things on their own. They tend to be highly organized and are gifted with exceptional managerial skills, which can make them good team leaders or managers.” — Aarohi Achwal JULY 2021 | TODAY 15


Helping you to enjoy

everyday life!

Mississippi’s electric power associations have a long-standing tradition of promoting electrical safety and energy efficiency—a natural fit with our initial mission of extending affordable electric service to everyone who wanted it. We have helped generations of electric power association members make informed choices every time they flip a switch. We are member-owned electric cooperatives whose viability reflects our commitment to providing valuable, money-saving services to our members. So it’s only natural for electric power associations to work in the interests of members. Our broad mission of service also encompasses a range of community service activities. With a workforce exceeding 2,950, electric power association employees are respected business leaders and civic-minded volunteers in small towns and rural communities throughout Mississippi. We help grow communities through economic development, leadership and volunteerism. We are more than an electric utility service. We are part of the family of electric cooperative members, and we work every day to make life better in our great state.

a quality of life partner

Mississippiʼs electric cooperatives ... serving more than 1.8 million Mississippians 16 TODAY | JULY 2021


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Don’t forget the dip. Low-fat salad dressing, salsa or hummus are great options.

Add calcium-rich foods from low-fat dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese and milk. Calcium is also found in fortified, nondairy items, including soy milk, soy yogurt, almond milk and 100% fruit juice.

Include other sources of calcium, such as broccoli, nuts, seeds, beans, collard greens and other green, leafy vegetables.

Ensure that children feel full longer by adding protein to each meal and snack. Both animal and plant sources provide a variety of choices, including eggs, nuts, beans, fish and lean meats. Making sure children stay hydrated will also help. Remind them to drink water often. For children who don’t like water, try infusing it with fruits for flavor without the added sugar. Simply add chopped fresh or frozen fruit to a pitcher of water. Or make ice cubes from 100% fruit juice to add to a glass of water. Just remember to drink infused water within 3 days of making it, Madkin said.

JULY 2021 | TODAY 17

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Offer a variety of fruits and vegetables. Fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins A, C, K and fiber. Dried fruit can be a great addition to cereal, popcorn or trail mix.

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Include whole grains to boost carbohydrates and fiber. To make whole grains more kid-friendly, try white wheat or whole-grain bread and crackers. Look for items that list whole grain as the first ingredient on the food label. Some whole-grain ingredients include whole oats, whole-grain rye, whole-grain wheat flour, etc. Whole-grain cereal is an excellent alternative to chips and is budget-friendly.

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Susan Collins-Smith is a writer for the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

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Qula Madkin, registered dietitian and educator with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the secret to ensuring children have a balanced diet involves including nutrient-rich, filling foods for every meal and snack. “Think variety when you are planning meals or shopping at the grocery store,” Madkin said. “You want to have foods from all the food groups on hand when you’re making meals and snacks. By combining complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, fiber and protein, you can keep kids full longer.” Lara Angel, an Extension family and consumer science agent in DeSoto County, encourages parents to be patient with children who are not excited about trying different foods. “The best advice I have for parents is to provide a variety of foods to your children and be an example by eating those foods,” she said. “Offer them new foods and let them decide whether they choose to try it or not. The more times a child is exposed to new foods or a variety of different foods, the higher the chance they will try those foods.” Angel also recommends trying new recipes together and grocery shopping for new foods with children. “This will increase the likelihood of the child eating or trying the new foods,” she said. “You still want to serve at least one food at each meal that the child likes and is familiar to him or her. Do not forgot to have fun during the process and do not magically expect them to like everything instantly. Taste pallets take time to develop and discover.” Eating together as a family has several benefits and provides an opportunity to model healthy eating habits. “Family meals are a great way to bond as a family and provide an environment for conversation,” Angel said. “If your family doesn’t currently eat meals together around the table, start simple and small by having a family meal just one night each week. “Get family members’ input on the menu. This will create a positive vibe and help everyone look forward to the meal,” she said.

Madkin offers these tips to help children get the proper nutrients:

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by Rebecca Lauck Cleary Walking your dog can be a routine event, or it could be the for the Wall Street Journal. “I always read the acknowledgments exact time someone calls your cellphone from a prestigious uniand realized how much Ball’s project was like what I wanted to versity sharing the exciting news that you’ve been named a 2021 do: a personal story about a bigger topic,” he said. “I have been fellow at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute. playing around with a book on the Delta for quite some time and W. Ralph Eubanks, who received word he is the Carl and Lily this seemed like a way to get some focused research done.” Pforzheimer Foundation Fellow Eubanks brings a great deal while walking his dog on the of energy and insight to classrooms, streets of Washington, D.C., joins an programs and planning at the extraordinary group of artists, sciCenter for the Study of Southern entists, scholars and practitioners Culture, said Katie McKee, the cenwho will learn from and inspire one ter’s director. another in Cambridge, Massachu“At this crucial moment in nationsetts, this fall. al and regional history, professor Eubanks, visiting professor of Eubanks has the opportunity to English and Southern studies and turn his keen eye to a new project writer-in-residence at the Center that continues his focus on Misfor the Study of Southern Culture sissippi and draws the eyes of the at the University of Mississippi, will nation to the key role of ‘the South’ draw from personal history, archival in the American story,” McKee said. I hope my project will tell the region’s research, blues culture and faceThe acceptance rate for the class history and explore why many residents of of fellows, which represents nine to-face interviews to draft a book the famous Southern alluvial plain persist countries, was 2.4 percent, from revealing the American story at the heart of the Mississippi Delta. in trying to transform a place that has been 1,383 applications. Harvard Radcliffe “I hope my project will tell the Institute is a unique space within deemed broken and beyond repair. region’s history and explore why Harvard — a school dedicated to many residents of the famous Southern alluvial plain persist in creating and sharing transformative ideas across all disciplines. trying to transform a place that has been deemed broken and Each year, the institute hosts leading scholars, scientists, and beyond repair,” Eubanks said. artists from around the world in its renowned residential fellow“I also hope to explore a larger question: As economic disparity ship program. in this country grows, have the forces that made the Delta the Eubanks is the author of “A Place Like Mississippi: A Journey South writ small now seeped into the rest of the country, renderThrough a Real and Imagined Literary Landscape.” He is also ing an entire nation the Delta writ large?” author of two other works of nonfiction: “Ever Is a Long Time: Harvard Radcliffe Institute fellows have a shared ambition to A Journey into Mississippi’s Dark Past” and “The House at the take their creative, far-reaching and bold projects and make this End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial changed world a better place, and Eubanks will be able to pursue Family in the American South.” his individual project in a community dedicated to exploration Rebecca Lauck Cleary is a communications specialist at the and inquiry. Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Eubanks learned about the fellowship while reviewing Edward Mississippi. Ball’s “Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy” 18 TODAY | JULY 2021


by Ruth Cummins Since January, Sonia Simpson has been working 12 to 14-hour days at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Grenada’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic. It’s no wonder Simpson and her staff have given out more than 9,000 vaccines at the clinic, first located adjacent to the hospital on JK Avent Drive and then moved to its current location at 1300 Sunset Drive. “That’s what it takes to get the job done,” said Simpson, manager of clinic operations. “We want to get as many people vaccinated as possible.” Simpson and a dedicated team are administering the vaccine to both those making appointments and anyone who walks up. The most vaccines delivered in a day was That’s what it takes to get the job about 400 back done. We want to get as many in January. “Now, people vaccinated as possible. we’re averaging 150-160,” she said in May. “We’re trying to make it as easy as possible.” That includes working with the Grenada-area community, especially residents who don’t use computers or smart phones. “We’re in a more rural situation. Most of our population is elderly,” Simpson said. “They depend on their community doctors to get them signed up for the vaccine. We also will schedule them when they are already here in our clinics to see one of their doctors.” Since Simpson joined the UMMC Grenada family in September 2015, “she has been the driving force behind our (dozen) clinics,” said John Farrish, the hospital’s director of ambulatory operations. “Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person,’” Farrish said. “Perhaps that is why Sonia was tasked with starting up and overseeing our vaccine clinic. Sonia is no stranger to hard work, and she takes pride in the quality of work that she produces.” Not just UMMC Grenada, but its sister hospital, UMMC Holmes County in Lexington, is making vaccines widely available to the community.

Simpson said she’s concerned that in recent months, the number of vaccines being given has decreased. “We have people who are on the fence, but we also have seen more young people coming in,” she said. “It’s good to see college-aged people being responsible.” Simpson is reaching out to community leaders, civic groups and businesses to communicate the urgency of getting the vaccine. “We want to open up the conversation so that more people will take it,” Simpson said. “If your neighbor takes it, then maybe you will be inspired to take it.” “I think it is safe to say that the past year has thrown us a few curve balls, but I will admit that without Sonia on our team, it would have been so much harder to respond to those curve balls,” Farrish said. Simpson is married to former Grenada Fire Chief Herman Simpson. They have a daughter, Jennifer Simpson, and one grandchild, Khloe Campbell. “She is my life,” Simpson said of Khloe. “She keeps me sane.” In their spare time, Simpson and her husband like to catch a ball game. “Baseball, basketball — we are sports enthusiasts,” she said. Since COVID-19 hit more than a year ago, Simpson said, getting residents tested and vaccinated “has become my life in a lot of ways. “This is not the time to slow down,” Simpson said. “We want to get as many people in the community vaccinated as possible.” Ruth Cummins is UMMC’s assistant director for media relations.

JULY 2021 | TODAY 19


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Photos by Chad Calcote

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by Steven Ward Mississippi residents start calling Smith County waterDonna Beliech, a Mississippi State University Extension melon farmer Kevin Ford in January with questions. Service horticulturist, said there might be something to the What does the crop look like this year? How much will soil theory. the watermelons cost? Can they be placed on a waiting “Smith County watermelons are known statewide for list to buy them? being sweet and of ‘top grade.’ The history of Smith County Never mind the crop won’t be harvested for another producing the best watermelons must be due to the locafive months. tion (soil) and a grower’s ability “We tell them, call back after (knowledge), because the same Easter,” Ford, 59, said recently handful of varieties are grown standing on the land of his throughout Mississippi,” Beliech Taylorsville-area family farm, said. Everybody says it’s something Ford Farms. The seeded varieties are mainly about the soil here. I don’t know. Ford, a right-of-way manager ‘Jubilee,’ ’Crimson Sweet’ and But everyone says they have to at Southern Pine Electric and a ‘Charleston,’ she said. These have a Smith County watermelon... 37-year-veteran of the co-op, watermelons are usually 20 to has also run his farm during his 30 pounds and green with dark entire career. stipes and have a sweet, red flesh. Ford, whose 89-year-old father also was a farmer, grew What this year’s crop looks like, like every year, depends up growing tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, corn and, of on the weather. course, watermelons. “The weather often determines the successfulness of Not just any watermelons either. a crop. Cool, wet springs are not good for watermelon Mississippians love Smith County watermelons. growers. For one thing, you shouldn’t sow seeds until the What is so special about Smith County watermelons? soil temperature 4-inch deep is 60 to 65 degrees. Fields “Everybody says it’s something about the soil here. of watermelon can be destroyed when weather conditions I don’t know. But everyone says they have to have a favor the development of disease,” Beliech said. Smith County watermelon,” Ford said.


• Look for ones that are evenly shaped, with no cuts or bruises. • Lift the watermelon. It should be heavy for its size. • Look at the ‘ground spot’ to make sure it is creamy yellow in color.

“From transplant to flowering is 45 days. In Central Mississippi, you should have plants in the ground by April 1. All watermelons are pollinated by bees and require about 45 days from pollination to fruit maturity.” Ford didn’t have an exact number of watermelons he grows and harvests each year, but he said the number is in the thousands. Beliech said there are currently 38 watermelon growers in the state. Although information on watermelon production at the county level is limited for Mississippi, based on the most recent Census of Agriculture data from 2017, it’s estimated that the area of watermelon planted for the fresh market in Smith County is approximately 240 acres, with

a value of production estimated at around $1.4 million, Mississippi State Extension Service agriculture economist Elizabeth Canales said. The retail price for a large, seeded watermelon is $1.10 to $1.30 per pound. A small round, seedless watermelon is currently going for $4 to $7 at grocery stores, Beliech said. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, the major watermelon producing states are Texas, Florida, Georgia and California. These states produce an average of 3.5 billion pounds with an annual value around $501.7 million. Mississippi watermelon production averages less than 1% of the total U.S. market share.

• Watermelons are 92% sugary, sweet water. • Only 3/4 of a watermelon is edible. 1 pound = 3 1/4 cups. • Watermelons ripen only slightly after picking. • Cut watermelon will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. • Watermelons contain powerful antioxidants making them a healthy summer treat. 22 TODAY | JULY 2021


“Our annual production is around 3.8 million pounds each year, which is worth about $4.3 million,” Beliech said. Smith County watermelons might represent a tiny piece of the U.S. market, but ask anyone in Mississippi and they will tell you that small fraction happens to taste sweeter than all the rest. “We sell them until they run out. And when they run out, they run out,” Ford said. And by the way, Ford said he doesn’t have a waiting list for his watermelons. For more information about Ford’s watermelons, call 601-422-0098.

43rd Mississippi Watermelon Festival Downtown Mize, Mississippi July 16 and 17 Friday: Adults, $5, Children under 10, $3 Saturday: Adults, $10, Children under 10, $5 Gates open 3:30 p.m. on Friday 8:30 a.m. on Saturday Annual fundraiser for the Mize Volunteer Fire Department

Details: mswatermelonfestival.com JULY 2021 | TODAY 23


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said, ‘No, I am more of a single, double and triple guy,’ and they all had a good laugh,” Gibbs said. Gibbs was assigned to Richmond where he played second, shortstop and third base in his first two years in the minors. He never saw his switch to catcher coming. He was at basic training at Fort Gordon, Georgia, in October of 1962, when a lieutenant came up to him and asked if he was Jake Gibbs. “He said, ‘You are going to be catching this year for the Yankees.’ I just laughed it off and never gave it another thought. Yankee manager Ralph Houk called me into his office the first day of spring training and told me of the move to catcher. I guess that lieutenant knew something after all. Houk told me if I wanted to get to the majors, that was going to be my ticket.” In 1965, he was assigned to Toledo and was called up to New York later in the season. He finally made “The Show” for good in 1966 and played in 538 MLB games. “Playing in New York was fun, but it was even more fun being a Yankee.” Gibbs retired from baseball after the 1971 season and returned to Ole Miss to become the Rebels’ head baseball coach. The Rebels won three SEC Western Division championships and two overall SEC championships. During that first season in 1972, he led the team to the College World Series. They won the first SEC Baseball Tournament in 1977. He coached until 1990, leading the Rebels to 485 wins.

by Dale McKee 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 ddmckee18@yahoo.com.

JULY 2021 | TODAY 25

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If you grew up in Mississippi back in the 1950s, you probably remember our football-crazy state. On November 15, 1952, this craziness may have reached its peak as Ole Miss, led by quarterback Jimmy Lear, upset No. 3 Maryland, 21-14. The win propelled Ole Miss into the national spotlight. One Grenada teenager attended that game and knew he wanted to be the next Jimmy Lear. At that time, Jake Gibbs, only a seventh grader, was the starting second baseman on his local high school baseball team. “I grew up listening to the baseball game of the day on radio, and I dreamed of one day playing in the majors. Baseball was a lot of fun growing up in Grenada,” Gibbs said. Football, however, was also definitely in his future. Gibbs’ high school football career was riddled with injuries. “I broke an ankle one year and my nose another season. I was not that big — about 160 pounds — but I could run pretty good,” Gibbs said. Ole Miss football did come a calling Gibbs’ senior year, and he signed with the Rebels. Four years later, Gibbs would become Mississippi’s first two-sport All-American, a two-time All-American in baseball and a 1960 All-American quarterback. Ole Miss football won two SEC crowns and a National Championship, and Gibbs finished third in Heisman voting. In the spring, he would trade in the helmet and shoulder pads for a bat and glove. Gibbs was a three-time All-SEC third baseman for the Rebels as they won two SEC titles. “Kansas City offered me $35,000 after my junior season and Milwaukee was talking in the six-figures, but my parents wanted me to finish college,” Gibbs said. Oddly, the Atlanta Braves came to every football game his senior year. Gibbs signed for $100,000 and headed to New York that day. Gibbs walked into the ‘Bronx Bombers’ locker room for the first time and saw all the Yankee legends: Mantle, Maris, Berra and Ford. “Whitey Ford asked me if I was a power hitter, and I


Last State Restricted Morgan Silver Dollar Bank Rolls go to state residents Residents of the shaded states listed on the map below get first dibs on last remaining Bank Rolls loaded with U.S. Gov’t issued Morgan Silver Dollars dating back to the early 1800’s some worth up to 100 times their face value for just the $59 minimum set for state residents - all other state residents must pay $136 per coin if any remain after 7-day deadline

“It’s a miracle these State Re- IMPORTANT: The dates and mint marks of the U.S. Gov’t issued Morgan stricted Bank Rolls even exist. Silver Dollars sealed away inside the State Restricted Bank Rolls have never That’s why Hotline Operators been searched. Coin values always fluctuate and there are never any guarare bracing for the flood of calls,” antees, but any of the scarce coins shown below, regardless of their value said Laura Lynne, U.S. Coin and that residents may find inside the sealed Bank Rolls are theirs to keep. Currency Director for the National Mint and Treasury. For the next 7 days the last remaining State Restricted Bank Rolls loaded with rarely seen U.S. Gov’t issued Morgan Silver Dollars are actually being handed over to U.S. residents who find their state listed in bold in this publication and call the 1886-S 1888-S 1896-S 1899-P State Toll-Free Hotlines. Mint: San Francisco Mint: San Francisco Mint: San Francisco Mint: Philadelphia Mintage: 657,000 Mintage: 5,000,000 Mintage: 330,000 And here’s the best part. Mintage: 750,000 Collector Value: $78 Collector Value: $125 Collector Value: $70 Collector Value: $175 If you are a resident of one $350 $315 $850 $260 of the states listed in bold in this publication you cover just $590 which is a real steal be- the United States of America only the $59 per coin state mini- cause non state residents must who said ‘In all my years as mum set by the private National pay $136 per coin which totals Treasurer I’ve only ever seen Mint and Treasury, that’s ten $1,360 if any coins remain after a handful of these rare Morgan Silver Dollars issued by the rarely seen U. S. Gov’t issued the 7-day deadline. Morgan Silver Dollars’ worth up “Recently National Mint spoke (Continued on next page) to 100 times their face value for with the retired Treasurer of R1037R-1


(Continued from previous page)

U.S. Gov’t back in the 1800’s. But to actually find them sealed away in State Restricted Bank Rolls still in pristine condition is like finding buried treasure. So anyone lucky enough to get their hands on these Bank Rolls had better hold on to them,’” Lynne said. “Now that the State Restricted Bank Rolls are being offered up we won’t be surprised if thousands of U.S. residents claim the maximum limit allowed of 4 Bank Rolls per resident before they’re all gone,” Lynne said. “That’s because the dates and mint marks of the U.S. Gov’t issued Morgan Silver Dollars sealed away inside the State Restricted Bank Rolls have never been searched. But, we do know that some of these coins date clear back to the 1800’s and are worth up to 100 times their face value, so there is no telling what U.S. residents will find until they sort through all the coins,” Lynne said. The only thing U.S. residents

need to do is call the State TollFree Hotlines printed in this publication before the 7-day order deadline ends. “Rarely seen U.S. Gov’t issued coins like these are highly sought after, but we’ve never seen anything like this before. According to The Official Red Book, a Guide Book of United States Coins many Morgan Silver Dollars minted in the 1800’s are now worth $125 - $1,000 each in collector value,” Lynne said. “So just imagine how much these last remaining, unsearched State Restricted Bank Rolls could be worth someday. Remember, these are not ordinary coins – these rarely seen coins are at least 100 years old. In fact, these coins have been forever retired by the U.S. Gov’t, and you can only get them rolled this way directly from the National Mint and Treasury because these are the only State Restricted Bank Rolls known to exist,” Lynne said. “We’re guessing thousands of U.S. residents will be taking the maximum limit of 4 Bank Rolls

because they make such amazing gifts for any occasion for children, parents, grandparents, friends and loved ones,” Lynne said. “We know the phones will be ringing off the hook. That’s why hundreds of Hotline Operators are standing by to answer the phones beginning at 8:30am this morning. We’re going to do our best, but with just 7 days to answer all the calls it won’t be easy. So make sure to tell everyone to keep calling if all operators are busy. We’ll do our best to answer them all,” Lynne said. “That’s why the private National Mint and Treasury set up the State Toll-Free Hotlines in order to make sure U.S. residents get the State Restricted Bank Rolls before they’re all gone,” Lynne said. The only thing readers of today’s newspaper publication need to do is make sure they are a resident of one of the states listed in bold in this publication and call the State Toll-Free Hotlines before the 7-day deadline ends. ■

RESIDENTS IN 49 STATES: COVER JUST $59 MINIMUM PER COIN IF YOUR STATE IS SHADED BELOW CALL: 1-800-270-4516 RMR886 If you are a resident of one of the shaded states shown left you cover just the $59 per coin state minimum set by the private National Mint and Treasury, that’s ten rarely seen U.S. Gov’t issued Morgan Silver Dollars some worth up to 100 times their face value for just $590 and that’s a real steal because all other residents must pay $1,360 for each state restricted bank roll. Just be sure to call the State Toll Free Hotlines before the deadline ends 7 days from today’s publication date.

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NATIONAL MINT AND TREASURY, LLC IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE U.S. MINT, THE U.S. GOVERNMENT, A BANK OR ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY. IF FOR ANY REASON WITHIN 30 DAYS FROM SHIPMENT YOU ARE DISSATISFIED, RETURN THE PRODUCT FOR A REFUND LESS SHIPPING AND RETURN POSTAGE. THIS SAME OFFER MAY BE MADE AVAILABLE AT A LATER DATE OR IN A DIFFERENT GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION. OH RESIDENTS ADD 6.5% SALES TAX. NATIONAL MINT AND TREASURY, PO BOX 35609, CANTON, OH 44735 ©2020 NATIONAL MINT AND TREASURY.


Backyards, patio pots, roadside truck beds and farm stands have got tomatoes of all shapes and sizes this month. So, we should make hay (or tomato sandwiches) while the sun shines! These deviled tomatoes make a great side dish for a rotisserie chicken picked up from the market or just about anything that comes out of the smoker. These also make a unique addition to a brunch with scrambled eggs and hash browns.

Cool Summer Salad might even be better after marinating for a while but I can’t resist eating right out of the mixing bowl. Gather up some peak-of-season staples and douse them in a marinade of lemon juice, olive oil and mint and tote this to the next cookout or pool party. The touch of fresh mint is the pop of unexpected flavor that will have dining companions pleading for the recipe.

This salad makes a wonderful lunch packed in a pita bread with some crumbled feta cheese. INGREDIENTS 2 cups chopped tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes 2 cups chopped seeded cucumber or diced English cucumber ½ cup seeded and diced colorful bell peppers ¼ cup finely chopped red onion ¼ cup chopped fresh mint ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley 28 TODAY | JULY 2021

Juice of 1 lemon ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Taste again to check salt and pepper and serve.


We use this dressing on everything from crisp leafy greens and straight from the garden cucumbers to hot chicken wings. Changing up your tomato sandwich with a spread of this tangy dressing will have you rethinking plain mayonnaise on your tomato sandwiches. It might even break up your relationship with bottled or made from a packet Ranch-style dressings and dips. I love it made with fresh herbs but in a pinch dried will do, just use ½ teaspoon of each dried herb as the flavor is more concentrated.

These stuffed and broiled tomatoes get their heat from Pepper Jack cheese and jalapeno peppers. Some crumbles of bacon add a bit of smokiness. Each filled tomato sits on a raft of sourdough bread to sop up the juices and any drips of bubbly melted cheese. Some tomatoes just aren’t as good looking as others. Save the pretty ones for your salads because once they get this treatment you won’t notice and imperfections are sometimes the tastiest.

INGREDIENTS 1 cup buttermilk ¼ cup sour cream ¼ cup mayonnaise 1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 1 teaspoon cider vinegar 1 teaspoon sugar ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

INGREDIENTS 6 slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces 1 cup chopped red onion 1 cup chopped green bell pepper 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced 3 large tomatoes, halved 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano Salt and freshly ground black pepper 6 slices sourdough bread, toasted ¾ cup shredded pepper jack cheese

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Chill for at least 1 hour. This dressing will keep in the refrigerator for one week.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels and reserve the drippings in the skillet. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic and jalapenos to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, scoop the flesh out of the center of the tomatoes and chop, reserving the shells. Add the chopped tomatoes to the skillet and stir in the oregano. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and heat the broiler. Put the bread slices in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Top each slice of bread with a tomato half. Divide the vegetable mixture evenly among the tomato halves. Top the tomatoes with the bacon and cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes.

Martha Hall Foose, the author of “Screen Doors & Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales of a Southern Cook,” won the James Beard Award for American Cooking. Her latest collaboration is “A Good Meal is Hard to Find: Storied Recipes from the Deep South” with Amy C. Evans. Martha makes her home in the Mississippi Delta with her husband and son. She is a member of Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association.

JULY 2021 | TODAY 29


mississippi seen

mississippi is...

events

mississippi marketplace Never lose electricity 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 scene around the ‘sip picture this event date. Submissions must include a phone number with area code for publication. Email to news@ecm.coop. my opinion co-op involvement Events are subject to change or cancelation due to COVID-19. Please confirm details before traveling.

southern gardening Annual July 3 Gospel Singing Event. July 3. Waynesboro. Corinth Freewill Baptist Church hosts The Inspirations, Ricky Atkinson and Compassion and Sound Street at 7 p.m. South Mississippi Freewill Baptist Campground, 1400 Pine Grove Road. Bring lawn chairs. Love offering will be received. Details: 601-735-9083 or 601-270-1543. Sawmill Festival. July 9 and 10. Bruce. Entertainment, food, arts and crafts. Friday night entertainment will be Hannah and Karly and the Spunk Monkees. Saturday will be Vinnie Cheney and The Bonfire Orchestra. Fireworks at conclusion on Saturday night. Details: chamber@brucetelephone.com. Magnolia Square Market. July 10. Water Valley. Every second Saturday of the month through October. 8 a.m. to noon. Local produce, crafts, plants and baked goods. Live music and kid activities. 207 N. Main St. Details: 662-832-1528. Mississippi Watermelon Festival. July 16-17. Mize. Sullivan’s Hollow. Gates open Friday at 3:30 p.m. and Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Adults $5 and children under 10 $3 on Friday. Adults $10 and children under 10 $5 on Saturday. William Michael Morgan will play live Saturday at 8 p.m. Arts, crafts, food, 5K and car show. All the free watermelon you can eat. Details: 601-517-3510 or www.mswatermelonfestival.com.

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Calhoun County Sacred Harp Singing Convention. Aug 7. Bruce. Bethel Primitive Baptist Church, located 1 mile north of Bruce on Highway 9. Singing begins at 10: a.m. with potluck in the fellowship hall. Singing will continue after lunch. The adopted songbook is The Sacred Harp, published in 1844. Details: Mark S. Davis at 601-940-1612. Text or leave voicemail. Email horn3tech@yahoo.com. Mississippi Sacred Harp Singing Convention. Aug 21-22. Forest. Antioch Primitive Baptist Church, located on Highway 21, six miles north of Forest. Singing begins at 10:a.m. each day. Dinner at noon in the fellowship hall. Singing will continue each afternoon. Details: Mark S. Davis 601-940-1612. Text or leave voicemail.Email: horn3tech@yahoo.com.

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150th Old Methodist Camp Meeting. July 24 to 30. Oxford. Services daily at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Special events will be held during the week. The camp is at 18 County Road 238. Details: theoldmethodistcampground@gmail.com. DeSoto Wings Competition and Festival. July 24. Olive Branch. 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Olive Branch Soccer Fields at Church Road and Highway 305. Two categories: Traditional and unique. Entry fee for cookers per category: $150 or $200. Cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Professional category for restaurants. Eating contest for first 12 participants to sign up. Music, food trucks, water slides and bounce houses. Details: www.desotograce.org.

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beaten path for people to come see just an exhibit. But they will come to a destination. And people have beaten their own paths from all over the world to Indianola to visit the B.B. King Museum. The riverboats landing in Greenville now have tour buses going to it, for instance. It is a Mississippi destination. Maybe our plans fail sometimes not because we over-build, but because we under-build. We think “display” instead of “destination.” In the movie “Field of Dreams,” Kevin Costner was told, “If you build it, they will come.” Add to that, especially if we make it worth coming to see!

by Walt Grayson Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Walt is also a reporter and 4 p.m. news anchor at WJTV in Jackson. He lives in Brandon and is a Central Electric member. Contact him at walt@waltgrayson.com.

JULY 2021 | TODAY 31

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After an isolated Thanksgiving and Christmas without the kids because of COVID-19, followed by me and Miz Jo by ourselves on New Year’s Eve, binge watching Netflix, it seems the world is finally coming alive again. People are coming out like fire ants after a rain. The popular tourist spots in Mississippi are filling up again. I was at the B.B. King Museum in Indianola the first weekend of June. The museum had been shut down entirely during most of the pandemic and had only recently been opening part time, Thursdays through Sundays. But there was a big crowd for a ribbon cutting and dedication that weekend. A couple of new additions were formally opened. One is a large room housing two of B.B. King’s cars. A Rolls Royce, which they say he didn’t drive all that much — a little too flashy for his taste. And a deep blue El Camino decked out modestly with a treble clef painted under the window of both doors with two notes painted on the measure. Both of them, ‘Bs.’ B.B. King’s home away from home is on display as well — his huge travel bus. I was told the bus was actually his real home for about 300 nights a year when he was on tour. Restoration is underway so tourists can go inside. But that won’t happen until later, though. Outside, on the grounds overlooking B.B. King’s final resting place at the Memorial Garden, is a bronze statue of him sitting on a bench with plenty of room beside him for people to take a seat and snap a selfie. The statue was officially dedicated that weekend as well. Back in 2008 when they announced the opening of the B.B. King Museum, I had no idea what to expect. My mind imagined it might be anything from a converted house in a neighborhood that had some associations with B.B. or maybe a couple of rooms at the Chamber of Commerce office. Possibly a repurposed empty store downtown? I never, ever imagined the actual worldclass display that is the museum’s final result. Some of the people in on the ground floor of planning the museum told me that the best piece of advice they got was to “build a destination.” Indianola, they were told, is too far off the


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