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Style + Travel Issue Savannah seduces with history & sophistication Arduous process defines bespoke craft The MIND Center takes on Alzheimer’s in studies VERVESOUTH.COM


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VERVE Summer 2018






Feature Story

Food & Home

Arts & Culture

30 Savannah Seduces With

50 Pitmaster Tips For

6 Organic Shapes Imbue

History & Sophistication Historic and charming Savannah attracts bohemians, adventurers, creatives, and coast lovers with its beauty, culture, and lively energy

Backyard BBQ Hopefuls Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Pig & Pint, Grant Hutcheson, shares his wisdom for cooking great barbeque.

52 Bon Vivant: What’s Hot

In The Backyard Take your caveman cooking to the next level with this year’s hottest grills, accessories, and products.

54 The 12 Mistakes That

Prevent Grilling Greatness If you’ve got inconsistent barbeque, you might be making one of the most common mistakes on our list. We’ll help you fix it.

On the Cover A shot of Tybee Island from our feature story “Savannah Seduces with History & Sophistication” found on page 30.



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The HannaBerry Style Co-Owners of The HannaBerry Workshop, husband and wife team, Morgan Welch and Sarah Qarqish, share their love of art and furniture making.

12 Arduous Process

Defines Bespoke Craft Master Jeweler Brian Beckham takes us into his workshop to learn firsthand the laborious process of making his unique, handcrafted jewelry.

Style + Travel Issue




Travel & Leisure

Inspiration & Vision

Health & Lifestyle

22 Elvis Fanatics

44 Women Construct New

38 Straight Talk On Bent Bicycles

Follow Fun To Tupelo The annual Tupelo Elvis Festival offers unmatched fun and excitement for a trio of die hard Elvis fans from Louisiana.

Futures With Power Tools The Women in Contruction program offers a fresh career path and a bright future for women seeking better pay and skills.

55 Farming Legacy

Is A Field Of Dreams Through unflinching determination, Ed Scott Jr. cemented his place as a Delta farming legend when he became the first non-white owner/ operator of a catfish processing plant in America. Now, his children are claiming their place in the history.

Recumbent bikes were nearly banned into obscurity forever despite their advantages, but new technology and cycling enthusiasts have given rise to a recumbent renaissance.

60 Modern Living Comes

With Hidden Costs We are surrounded by products and packaging that make our lives easier, but hidden dangers are lurking in those products that have dire consequences for our health.

64 The MIND Center Takes

On Alzheimer’s In Studies The newly minted MIND Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center is taking on dementia-related illnesses with groundbreaking studies.



PUBLISHER & Creative Director

Rich Winter


Rich Winter, Amy Winter ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

Vanessa Case

Welcome to Verve magazine, Mississippi’s freshest lifestyle

Contributing Writers

Evelina Shmukler Burnett, Meghan Holmes, Susan Marquez, Julian Rankin, Christina Steube, Amy Winter, and Rich Winter

magazine. To understand what Verve is about is to understand the very definition of the word. When we set out to create our magazine, we needed a name that represented the spirit and enthusiasm found in the people and culture that define our region. Luckily for us, there’s one word that does just that—Verve. From cover to cover, Verve magazine celebrates stories of the


HannaBerry Workshop, Clay Hardwick, Moore Community House, Dmitri Ma, Visit Savannah, Scott-White Archives, Myrna Smith-Thompson, Tupelo CVB, Rich Winter

hard-working hands, creative minds, and compassionate hearts that embody the best of our unique Southern culture. Our pages provide engaging content and beautiful photography spanning subjects from travel, culture, and the arts, to food, health, and entertaining with some surprises in between. Each seasonal issue speaks to the spirit and soul of our diverse region with

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232 Market St, Bldg K Flowood, MS 39232 Office: 601.914.7219 All rights reserved. No portion of Verve magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher of Verve.


VERVE Summer 2018

enrich and empower your life. At Verve magazine, we’re serious about our work, but we’re not too serious about ourselves. We value curiosity, honesty, generosity and hard work while we also embrace the ingenuity and uniqueness found in the charming residents and beautiful communities throughout our state. We believe in supporting creativity wherever we find it and supporting local businesses


meaningful, fun, optimistic, and valuable information that will

that enrich our culture and economy. Whether you have a head for business or a heart for home, an eye for design or the hands for healing, we hope to provide you with a timeless resource you may rely on for daily inspiration and enjoyment.

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232 Market Street, Bldg K Flowood, MS 39232 601.914.7219




IMBUE THE HANNABERRY ST YLE story by Evelina Shmukler Burnett photography by HannaBerry Workshop & CLAY HARDWICK


t all started with seven shapes, seven

Over the next year leading up to the exhibit’s

curving, organic shapes. For her senior

opening in December 2014, Qarqish and Welch

fine art drawing thesis at Mississippi State

set out to create an array of additional pieces to

University, artist Sarah Qarqish combined

complement the original Stencil Wall. Drawing

those shapes to create a 27-foot by 6-foot laser-cut

on those seven base shapes and the marbleized

Stencil Wall, with a marbleized design projected

patterns, Qarqish and Welch made furniture,

behind it. Just after graduation, Qarqish took a

including seven interconnecting tables, as well

small test panel from the wall and a CD of images

as prints, intricate wood sculptures and lighted

and brought it to the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of

pieces. Throughout were the curves and lines

Art in Biloxi.

that have since become their signature style –

“I laid it on the curator’s desk and prayed they’d call me,” she recalls. “And they did.”

so much so that Qarqish says, “It has literally haunted us ever since. Everything we do, people

By the time she got the call offering her an

are like, you guys are the organic curvy people,

exhibit at the museum, Qarqish and her now-

the funky people, and we’re like, yeah! We love it.”

husband Morgan Welch knew they wanted

Qarqish, 27, and Welch, 28, met while both

to form their own studio to create furniture,

were students at Mississippi State, where she

sculpture and other fine art and custom work.

studied fine art drawing and graphic design,

After checking with Welch, she sought and

and he focused on sculpture with a minor in

received the go-ahead from the museum to

architectural studies. They talked even then

feature their collaborative work during the show,

about going out on their own, together.

and soon after they launched The HannahBerry

“We have these skill sets that are different from

Workshop (the name “HannahBerry” combines

each other,” Welch says, adding, “We were both

their middle names, which are also their mothers’

being exposed to completely different ways of

maiden names).

thinking about problems, ways of making things.”

Co-Owners of The HannaBerry Workshop, Morgan Welch and Sarah Qarqish.


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“We were taught to design in different ways,”

area, ready to be delivered to the Walter Anderson

Qarqish adds. “I mean, there’s basics that everyone

Museum in Ocean Springs. They gleam with a

goes through, but par t of his [training] was

marine epoxy paint – a new design feature that

engineering through the architecture and part

stems from their recent interest in boating. But the

of mine was business with graphic design. So, we

paint was also chosen to make the finish durable,

just think differently.”

since the tables will be used for block printing by

It’s part of what makes their work “not just a

children. Qarqish and Welch also chose strong but

furniture piece, and not just an art piece,” she

affordable materials to stay within the museum’s

adds. “It’s got both of those things in it. And I

budget. Still, the tables retain the warm, organic

think that’s important and different – it makes

feel that makes them instantly recognizable as

our style unique.”

HannahBerry pieces.

The HannahBerry Workshop started in Jackson

“We’re always trying to work within our means

but moved to the coast two years ago. They’re now

or within our client’s means, but we’re also always

based in a live-work studio in Ocean Springs imbued

experimenting and pushing the idea or concept

with their style and work – hand-built cabinets,

to something different and useful,” Qarqish says.

bookshelves decorated with their signature organic

They love the idea of thei r a r t work bei ng

curves. There’s a small studio area where Qarqish

functional, she adds: “We don’t like our furniture

paints and draws, and a large woodshop with

to sit in the background and just be an object. We

woodworking equipment, but the line between

want people to be like, that piece really ignited that

their different mediums blurs more and more

space, or oh, that Murphy bed folds up and it’s an

the longer they work together. Though Welch

entire inlaid wall panel – because we did that, we

still mostly does the woodwork and furniture

made that for a client one time. And when people

building, and Qarqish the design and painting,

realize we’re testing the boundaries, they’ll come

there is overlap: “He knows how to draw and

to us with an idea.”

design,” Qarqish says, “and I do know how to

Often the seven base shapes from the original

woodwork – I do a lot of our finishing. It’s just a

stencil wall will become part of the work. Their

cycle, it’s not one way or the other.”

move to the coast has only “amplified” their style,

Welch and Qarqish describe their design process

Qarqish says – those curvy shapes, always imbued

as an evolving collaboration with each other –

with the organic feel of the natural, are now also

playing off of each other’s strengths and skills,

reminiscent of shells, waves, oysters. In the context

knowledge and training – with the environment

of a large conference table at the University of

around them and with the needs and desires of

Southern Mississippi’s new Marine Education

their clients.

Center, for example, seven species of Mississippi

On a recent summer day, two seafoam blue tables, curved like water drops, stand in their living room

wood twisting and curling along a center panel become running water and splashing waves.

Clockwise from bottom right: Shape Tables designed by Sarah Qarqish, 27-foot by 6-foot laser cut Stencil Wall designed by Sarah Qarqish, block printing tables with matching trays commissioned by the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and designed by The HannaBerry Workshop.


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We don’t like our furniture to sit in the background and just be an object. When people realize we’re testing the boundaries, they’ll come to us with an idea.



Clockwise from bottom left: Literacy Garden Table and Chairs commissioned by the Mississippi Children’s Museum in Jackson, Mississippi; murphy bed, private commission; conference table commissioned by the USM Marine Education Center; employee lockers commissioned by the USM Marine Education Center which feature a biomorphic mural inspired by pitcher plants native to the area.


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Though much of their current work is custom-

Their recent interest in boating, for example,

made by commission, Qarqish and Welch are now in

has affected how they build: they’re building the

the process of designing a HannahBerry furniture

furniture like you’d build a boat, they say, with a

line they hope to unveil in 2019. They plan to offer

skeleton and skin. Qarqish acquired an airbrush

pieces at several price points, helping to expand

machine several years ago that she uses in her

their audience.

painting, and now airbrushing can be seen in their

Qarqish says throughout the design process they’re always thinking about where and how their

larger commissioned work as well. “A lot of our process will stem from something that

work will be used.

happens here in the art studio

“We’re making organic

first, and then it will kind of

pieces, so that can be

find its way into a functional

very awkward in a space,” she says, “So I think we a lways tr y a nd work towards a lighter piece of furniture that’s not so awkward to move around or grab a hold of. We’re always trying to make sure that our finishes and also the shapes and the edges feel good. We try to think about who’s going to interact with them – is this going to hurt a baby if they run into it? Is someone going to think this is a seat rather than a table?” Which has happened a

People come to us—they want a table, maybe they know the shape of the table. But they don’t know exactly what it’s going to be in the end. There’s this element of surprise—that’s the part that I feel is the art side of the furniture. It functions exactly like the table they wanted, but then there’s this something they could not ever buy at a store, because it comes straight from us.

piece,” Welch says. “ W hen cl ients see what they’re making in the studio, it ignites their creativity too,” Qarqish says. Much of their custom work is for individuals who a re i nvesti ng in thei r homes, looking for something unique, most likely a piece that’s built in to the space or the architecture of their home. Qarqish and Welch like to show clients what they’re testing out in the studio and present the idea of using it in the client’s custom piece. “A nd they normally trust us,” Qarqish says. “That’s the best part. There’s this freedom

lot with their work, she says, laughing (not a surprise,

to our studio, in what we do. People come to us

really, given the inviting curves in many of their pieces).

—they want a table, maybe they know the shape

“We’re always trying to make sure it just feels

of the table. But they don’t know exactly what

good,” she continues, “it’s going to work in a space.

it’s going to be in the end. There’s this element of

We’re always wanting it to be complementary to

surprise—that’s the part that I feel is the art side

itself, its surroundings, its space, and absolutely

of the furniture. It functions exactly like the table

quality and longevity, long-lasting.”

they wanted, but then there’s this something they

Qarqish and Welch have also seen their work evolve as their interests and experiences change.

could not ever buy at a store, because it comes straight from us.”




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ARDUOUS PROCESS D E F I N E S B espoke C R A F T story by MEGHAN HOLMES photography by RICH WINTER


rowing up, Brian Beckham painted. He used oils and watercolors, and sketched with pen and ink. He made his own furniture and designed and decorated his bedroom, but he never imagined he could make money from art. As he got older, he took a part-time job working on the bench at his mother’s

jewelry store in Carthage, Mississippi. After repairing watches and resizing rings became routine, his interest grew in the processes occurring before the jewelry arrived at the shop. How was jewelry made? And, where do gems come from? After traveling the world and finding answers to these questions (and others), he came back to Mississippi and opened a shop in Jackson, where he builds custom pieces from start to finish using both traditional methods and cutting edge technology. Beckham’s work combines a passion for art and design with a genuine desire to create designs that speak to and for his clients.

Opposite top left: Master Jeweler Brian Beckham and Production Manager Sloan Noble melt gold in a crucible to prepare it for casting. Above: Beckham Custom Jewelry’s retail store.



Clockwise from top left: a 3D-printed wax model is hand-modified to include sprues which allow molten gold to flow properly into the finished mold. A wax model of a “pod” design element is mounted upside-down inside a circular mold to prepare it for the investment mix. A slurry of investment compound is mixed and poured over the wax model, filling the mold. Scrap gold is weighed and prepped for melting. Opposite top: Beckham heats a torch to melt gold needed in casting the “pod” design. Opposite bottom: once cool, Beckham removes the hardened investment material from a jewelry casting and inspects it for defects.


VERVE Summer 2018



I don’t get bored or burned out, because every client brings their own design ideas, and sometimes existing materials to be integrated into a piece. It’s usually something that has sentimental value but that they don’t find themselves wearing.


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“Every design is a challenge, and I love that aspect

by a jeweler from start to finish, and they’re all one

of it,” Beckham says. “I don’t get bored or burned out,

of a kind,” Beckham says. “There aren’t a million of

because every client brings their own design ideas, and

these, each made with a rubber stamp, and something

sometimes existing materials to be integrated into a

unique is what ends up being the piece everyone

piece. It’s usually something that has sentimental value

fights over after you die.”

but that they don’t find themselves wearing.”

Beckham realized he wanted to offer clients the

Beckham has extensive training. Following his

sort of experience jewelers offered in the past, when

time at his mother’s store, he studied in Memphis

no aspect of the design or production process was

and in Macon (Georgia) before moving to California

outsourced. “I’m sort of Type A, and I wanted to know

and attending Santa Monica’s Gemological Institute of

that I could stand behind every step of the process,

America. He learned traditional methods of fabrication

with everything done in house,” he says. “I want quality

- hand carving designs from wax molds, as well as

pieces, and most things made today don’t last, and

newer methods using CAD and 3d printing to design

they aren’t made with that type of care.”

and build models. He also went into gem mines abroad

Beckham created a storefront intended to showcase

where he saw gemstones being retrieved firsthand in

his in-house production methods, with a large exposed

dangerous and sometimes heart wrenching conditions.

workspace where clients can see the design process in

The combination of these experiences led him to the

action. “I didn’t want a sterile environment like most

Virgin Islands, working with Diamonds International

jewelry stores,” he says. “I wanted people to see the

selling gems and opening new shops.

mess, and the nuts and bolts, and jewelers at work.”

“I opened new stores on different islands and I sold

Beckham also built his own display cases, intended

diamonds,” Beckham says. “I thought I wanted to be a

to mimic the setup of an art gallery, where the gallerist

diamond dealer, but I eventually realized that wasn’t

and potential client stand side by side and view works,

an artistic outlet for me. I found the connections

but in this scenario the client looks at jewelry. Potential

between artistry and jewelry when I moved back

customers also have the option of previewing designs in

to the United States and took a job selling antique

CAD, or sometimes with hand-carved models Brian creates.

jewelry in New Orleans.”

The design process varies widely depending on the

Beckham worked at Jack Sutton Fine Jewelry on

desired finished product. “The process can take two to

Royal Street in the French Quarter, a part of the

five weeks depending on the model,” he says. “And of

city known for blocks of antique shops dating back

course, sometimes we have to go back to the drawing

to before the turn of the 20th century. The history

board multiple times to get it right. So many things can

there appealed to him and inspired the design ethos

also go wrong during fabrication. I liken it to the baking

he now practices. “These antique pieces were made

process. Every baker has had a lot of ruined soufflés.”

Opposite: Beckham takes great care in setting the diamond, grinding, polishing, and hand imbellishing the surface of each “pod” that’s been successfully cast. The laborious task of surface finishing a “pod” element may take as much as 30 minutes each to complete. A single earring from Beckham’s Collection requires up to six “pods” to complete the design.



Clockwise from above left: a custom ring design by Beckham begins its production life as a wax cast. Once the casting is removed from the mold, Beckham grinds and polishes it before checking several different stones for final design consideration. Opposite: Beckham Custom Jewelry offers a wide variety of Brian’s original designs in addition to contemporary and vintage jewelry from other designers.


VERVE Summer 2018




In the studio, Brian has assistants who complete

The design process varies widely depending on the

different aspects of the production process. Jewelers

desired finished product. “The process can take two to

skilled in every aspect of the trade are increasingly rare,

five weeks depending on the model,” he says. “And of

meaning that Beckham often recruits new employees and

course, sometimes we have to go back to the drawing

trains them in one aspect of the process. “When I was

board multiple times to get it right. So many things can

learning there were three or four schools in Mississippi that

also go wrong during fabrication. I liken it to the baking

taught casting, and now, I don’t think there’s a single one,

process. Every baker has had a lot of ruined soufflés.”

so it’s a challenge just to find people with ability,” he says.

In the studio, Brian has assistants who complete

Beckham also attributes the dearth of skilled jewelers

different aspects of the production process. Jewelers

to the loss of career opportunities following outsourcing

skilled in every aspect of the trade are increasingly rare,

and increasing overseas manufacturing, something

meaning that Beckham often recruits new employees and

he hopes to combat with his custom, locally made

trains them in one aspect of the process. “When I was

products. “I want to make art that people can wear,”

learning there were three or four schools in Mississippi that

he says. “At the end of the day, those are the pieces

taught casting, and now, I don’t think there’s a single one,

that will be for sale on Royal Street a hundreds years

so it’s a challenge just to find people with ability,” he says.

after I’m gone.”Beckham also built his own display

Beckham also attributes the dearth of skilled jewelers

cases, intended to mimic the setup of an art gallery,

to the loss of career opportunities following outsourcing

where the gallerist and potential client stand side by

and increasing overseas manufacturing, something he

side and view works, but in this scenario the client

hopes to combat with his custom, locally made products.

looks at jewelry. Potential customers also have the

“I want to make art that people can wear,” he says. “At

option of previewing designs in CAD, or sometimes

the end of the day, those are the pieces that will be for

with hand-carved models Brian creates.

sale on Royal Street a hundreds years after I’m gone.”

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The Flora Butcher is an old world style butcher shop specializing in local animals, local artisan products and Raines Farm Wagyu beef.



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n We Cater Any Size Event m






photography by Rich Winter & courtesy Tupelo CVB

ll the cool cats know that the place to go for all things Elvis is the Tupelo Elvis Festival. Held annually in early June for the past two decades, the event draws Elvis fans from across the nation and around the world. “It’s by far the best festival we go to all year,” said Debbie Falgout. One of

a trio of women from Houma, Louisiana who travel to Elvis-themed festivals and cruises, Falgout says she’d move to Tupelo in a heartbeat if she could. “As a matter of fact, we’ve joked about building a home in Tupelo with three master bedrooms and a big Elvis room where we can live out our retirements after our husbands have gone! Tupelo is the sweetest, cleanest town ever, and the Tupelo Elvis Festival is wonderful!”

Above: Louisiana residents and Elvis superfans, Debbie Falgout and Veronica Dupre. Opposite: Ultimate Elvis Tribute Showcase Artist, Cody Ray Slaughter, performs.


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The other two women in the group are Veronica Dupre and Beth Trahan. “We call them the BVD’s,”

for them now. They get front row seats so they can get the scarves and kisses!”

says Sarah Stewart, program assistant for the Tupelo

The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist (UETA) competition

Convention and Visitors Bureau, for Beth, Veronica

is a big deal for Elvis fans. Tribute artists are Elvis fans

and Debbie.” Falgout says while it may sound like

who pay tribute to him through performing. “We don’t

men’s underwear, the trio likes to say that BVD

call them Elvis impersonators because that cheapens

stands for “beautiful voluptuous dolls.”

what they do,” Stewart explains. The performers

Their obsession with Elvis began at an early age.

study Elvis’s movements, his outfits, his hair and

“Debbie and I always loved Elvis, and for my 50th

his mannerisms to act and sound as much like him

birthday, Debbie wanted to do something big. We

as possible. The competition is one of 17 worldwide

went to Nashville to an Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist

competitions sanctioned by Elvis’s home, Graceland.

competition, then came back through Memphis to tour

The winner of each of the 17 competitions will go on

Graceland and to stay in the Heartbreak Hotel.” While

to compete in Graceland’s UETA competition. To win

on the trip, they learned about an Elvis-themed cruise

Graceland’s competition is the highest honor an Elvis

and decided they needed to go. “We asked Beth to

Tribute Artist can receive.

join us and that was the beginning of our BVD trio!”

This year’s winner was Nick Perkins, a 19-year-

The ladies show up in style everywhere they go.

old from Tickfaw, Louisiana. Second place was Ted

They wear matching outfits covered in “bling.” Veronica

Torres from Orlando, Florida, and third place was

explains that it started with one shirt. “I sell Avon, and the company had come out with an Elvis shirt for a promotion. Debbie and Beth make jewelry and they said they thought the shirts would look even better with crystals.” The shirts were a hit, and more followed. There are now 30 to 35 shirts in their BVD wardrobe, all covered in sparkly crystals. “Those ladies are amazing,” says Stewart. “They match down to the rings on their fingers to the shoes on their feet.” Veronica laughs, saying that someone pointed out once that their glasses didn’t match, so they ordered matching prescription glasses to wear when they’re together. The BVDs have been going to the Tupelo Elvis Festival for at least ten years. “It wouldn’t feel right without them being here,” says Stewart. “They are the first in line each year to get their tickets for the ETA competition, showing up at our office door a full 24 hours before tickets go on sale. We started selling tickets online, but they say it’s a tradition

Those ladies are amazing. It wouldn’t feel right without them being here. They are the first in line each year to get their tickets for the ETA competition, showing up at our office door a full 24 hours before tickets go on sale. We started selling tickets online, but they say it’s a tradition for them now. They get front row seats so they can get the scarves and kisses!

Opposite from top left; Elvis Tribute Artists, Matt King, Michael Cullipher, and Brandon Bennett.



Mark Anthony from Australia. “We had contestants

a bike. Once inside, he had his eye on a rifle, and

from England, and our master of ceremonies was the

to sway him away from the gun, Gladys directed

2015 winner, Diogo Light, from Brazil. “Contestants

his attention towards a guitar. She bought the

are judged on appearance, stage presence and moves

guitar from Forrest L. Bobo for $7.75 plus 2% sales

and vocals, which counts twice,” explains Stewart.

tax. “The re-enactment allows visitors to witness

Falgout says that the guys in

what that piece of histor y

the competition are like their

was like,” Stewarts says. The

kids. “We’ve gotten to know

hardware store is still open

them all, and we see them in other competitions around the country. I tell them that I was never blessed with a son, but if I had one, I’d want him to be just like any one of them! They truly are carrying on the legacy of Elvis’s music.” T he festiva l a l so ha s a

I tell them that I was never blessed with a son, but if I had one, I’d want him to be just like any one of them! They truly are carrying on the legacy of Elvis’s music.

and run by the same family, and they still sell guitars. “We also have re-enactments by actors portraying Elvis’s pa stor, h is teachers, a nd different adults who played i mpor ta nt roles i n Elv is’s life.” Live music is performed by local musicians on street

living history feature which has become quite

corners representing genres that influenced Elvis’s

popular. Each hour on the hour, actors re-enact

musical style: country, Blues, white Pentecostal

that pivotal event in Elvis’s life – the day he got

Gospel and black inspirational Gospel.

his first guitar. The story goes that Elvis and

The festival includes several of the kind of ancillary

his mother, Gladys, were going to the Tupelo

events that are found at most festivals, but with a

Hardware store in 1946 to buy 11-year-old Elvis

unique Elvis twist. For example, there’s a “Queen

Above: while attending the festival, fans should make time to visit the birthplace of Elvis which offers around 20 different attractions including his home, childhood church, museum, theatre, gift shop, statues, overlook pavillion, and Reflections Lake with trails and water features. Opposite top: street artist, Ryan ‘ARCY’ Christenson, paints a live mural mural of Elvis at Reed’s in downtown Tupelo. Bottom from left: Dilworth Pet Parade, Elvis Homecoming Parade, and live music in Fairpark.


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for a King” beauty pageant, Running with the King

Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. Cody Ray

5K, and a parade. But it’s not any old parade -- this

Slaughter, winner of the 2011 Graceland Ultimate Elvis

year the festival featured a re-enactment of the 1956

Tribute Artist competition played Elvis, wearing the

homecoming parade when Elvis returned to Tupelo to

same outfit Elvis wore at that 1956 concert.

put on a concert. “It was supposed to be in the historic

The BVDs are already planning for next year’s

Lyric theatre,” says Stewart, “but too many people

pilgrimage to Tupelo. “We will go to the Tupelo

wanted to go and the venue was simply too small.

Elvis Festival as along as we are able,” says Dupre.

Instead, he performed two shows at the Mississippi-

“Tupelo is the most heart-warming, accepting and

Alabama Fair and Dairy Show.” That day, September

loving community. They’ll do anything for you. And

26, 1956, was proclaimed Elvis Presley Day in Tupelo.

the festival is as easy to manage as it is wonderful

The parade re-enactment included a marching band

to attend. We stay at the hotel right by the event,

in vintage uniforms, classic cars and a re-enactment

and there are great restaurants all around. Plus,

of the concert at Fairpark, the original site of the old

everywhere you look, you see Elvis!”

Opposite and above: Tupelo Hardware, famous for its role in steering Elvis’ musical destiny, hosts the Reenactment of Elvis purchasing his first guitar during the festival. The store hasn’t changed much since 1946, and you can still purchase guitars there. Above right: Bishop Gunn performs live at Fairpark.




VERVE Summer 2018



photography by RICH WINTER & courtesy VISIT SAVANNAH

hen you think of historic, yet charming southern cities, picturesque Savannah, Georgia is probably the first that comes to mind. Georgia’s oldest city has many stories behind its towering oak trees adorned with Spanish

moss. The city first took root in 1733 when a ship carrying General James Oglethorpe and

120 passengers landed in the city, along what is now the Savannah River. Known as America’s first planned city, Savannah was designed by Oglethorpe through a series of grids that offered open streets, public squares, and parks under canopies of trees. Of the 24 original squares in the city, 22 still exist today, and each square offers its own unique and storied, albeit sometimes hauntingly beautiful history. Throughout the last decade, more than 50 million visitors made their way to Savannah for its alluring green spaces and historic architecture. One of the most iconic of those spaces is Forsyth Park, named after Georgia’s 33rd governor. This 30-acre oasis is located in the heart of Savannah’s historic district and serves as a gathering place for tourists and locals alike looking for a shady spot to read, people watch, join a pick up soccer game, or enjoy an occasional concert. The park also contains a unique walled Garden of Fragrance, originally designed to be enjoyed by the blind, with Braille markers and plantings meant to be touched. Quiet and secluded, the garden includes Meyer lemon trees, winter daphne, mountain witch alder, cape jasmine, ginger lily, Florida anise, and varieties of roses, lilies, irises, violets and rhododendrons. The park’s most prominent attribute, an iconic fountain, was created in 1858 and has become one of the most photographed landmarks in the city.



The Rich History of Savannah Sav a n n a h ’s fa sci n at i n g h i stor y i s f u r t her enhanced by the visionary figures that cemented the city’s future as a trading leader and the “Wall Street of the South.” One of Savannah’s most historic residents, Eli Whitney, invented the cotton gin while working as a tutor for the children of Nathanael and Catherine Green at Mulberry Grove Plantation. His invention revolutionized agriculture and solidified Savannah as the number one cotton seaport on the Atlantic. A grand reminder of Savannah’s former dominance in the cotton trade can be found in the historic Savannah Cotton Exchange building and in the 200 year-old cobblestones used to pave River Street and construct retaining walls and other buildings along the waterfront. Originally used as ballast in ships bound for Savannah from countries such as Spain, France, Canada, Portugal, and the British Isles, the stones were deposited along the Savannah River shoreline to make room for bales of cotton and other goods. Local residents used the inexpensive and durable stones as building material along the area that came to be known as Factors Walk. Today, River Street’s former cotton warehouses are filled with delightful sweet shops, restaurants, pubs, gift shops, and other businesses—over 70 in all. Even with the nation’s largest registered Urban Historic Landmark District, Savannah’s twenty-two green squares and sixteen-hundred plus historically and architecturally significant structures are all within a two and one-half square mile area. Guide ser vices throughout the Historic District offer walking, carriage, and trolley tours showcasing the city’s architecture, history, hauntings, and films, but a pair of comfortable shoes is all you need to experience the sights, sounds and scenery of one of the most pedestrian-friendly cities in the country.


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AN ABUNDANCE OF ART The influence of the past is undeniable in Savannah, but the city has so much more to offer than just historic tales and period architecture. The enchanting city is also home to the Savannah College of Art and Design. Founded in 1978, the private, nonprofit institution instructs 11,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries at the campus in downtown Savannah. The SCAD Museum of Art features contemporary work of both emerging and established artists from around the world through rotating exhibitions throughout the year. The permanent collection includes photography by world-renowned artists Cartier-Bresson, Mapplethorpe, Wegman and Warhol. For those wishing to bring back a little bit of culture as a souvenir, there’s shopSCAD, a store located on Madison Square that offers student, faculty, and alumni artwork for purchase. SCA D’s power f ul in f luence on the cit y has transformed Savannah into a haven for local and international artists and gallerists. The Tiffani Taylor Gallery is one of the city’s most renowned and has caught the attention of media proprietor Oprah Winfrey and fashion designer Diane von Furstenburg among others. Taylor, an artist and SCAD graduate, founded the Savannah Art Walk, a monthly self-guided tour that allows guests to visit all 20 galleries in the surrounding area. The greatest concentration of galleries and art studios can be found in City Market, a pedestrianized area of small shops, boutiques, and restaurants. “Savannah is a rich source of creative talent,” said Taylor. “The abundance of galleries contributes to a wealth of inspiration for guests of our city, as well as locals. Savannah is the premier art destination city.”

Opposite: Savannah Cotton Exchange building. A St. Patrick’s Day crowd fills historic River Street. Above: The foot bridges of Factors Walk, one of the many buildings occupied by SCAD, art in City Market.



Contemporary art lovers should make time for a

brought by foreign transplants and foundational

tour of the Jepson Center which encompasses over

Lowcountry dishes born from the blending of African

7,500 square feet of gallery space for major traveling

staples and available local seafood and vegetables.

exhibitions of contemporary art and installations. The

Take in some history while also enjoying a cocktail

center features works on paper by some of the most

at Savannah’s newest addition to City Market, The

pivotal artists of the past fifty years, including Jasper

American Prohibition Museum, featuring more than

Johns, Chuck Close, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons, Robert

20 exhibits and an authentic speakeasy.

Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, and Richard Avedon. The

For a thoroughly modern take on a ubiquitous

Center also includes ArtZeum—a unique, 3,500-square

Lowcountry dish, be sure to make your way to The

foot interactive gallery for children and families.

Olde Pink House for the best shrimp and grits in town. Build in 1771, this Georgian mansion is one of the few

THE CITY FOR FOODIES With options from hipster chic to authentic antebellum, dining in Savannah can be as memorable


buildings to survive the fire of 1776 which claimed many of the cities buildings. The dining spot has become a favorite among diners and ghost hunters alike.

as sightseeing. As a fixture near the Atlantic coast,

To taste the best fried chicken in the South, you’ll

Savannah’s cuisine is a rich mix of exotic influences

have to join the line of people down Jones Street to

VERVE Summer 2018

get into Mrs. Wilkes’ Fried Chicken. The dining room

biscuit and eggs benedict, fried collard greens over

serves a family-style meal for twelve at each table on

buttermilk biscuits, and shrimp and grits tacos

a first-come-first-served basis.

topped with chili aioli and chimichuri.

The Crystal Beer Parlor, a local dining and drinking

For a multicultural dining experience, head over

favorite, combines a storied history with it take on

to Zunzi’s Conquistador Sandwich. Inspired by the

southern American dishes. In the early 1900s, the

proprietors’ Swiss, Italian, South African and Dutch

location operated as a grocery store, but now it offers

heritage, the lunch spot’s chicken Conquistador

satisfying eats such as fried green tomatoes, a fried

sandwich is famous for taking top honors on an episode

flounder Reuben sandwich, a brown ale burger and

of “ Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America” on

a hamburger steak that has been a staple on the

the Travel Channel.

menu since 1933.

For a cool treat, take a stroll to Leopold’s Ice Cream.

For a taste of the South with a twist, Treylor

The Leopold family has been making ice cream in

Park, a vintage chic restaurant in downtown, offers

Savannah since 1919, and they still use their delicious

patio dining and has more going for it than just a

original recipes. A scoop of Honey and Almond Cream

typographic pun. The restaurant’s menu features

ice cream from Savannah’s oldest creamery, isn’t just

re-invented southern dishes like PB&J chicken wings,

a tradition—it’s a must.



IRISH HISTORY ON DISPLAY A lthough Sava n na h ma kes a great getaway any time of the year, the city is most famous for its St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The event is the largest of its kind in the South and attracts 500,000 people each year. Savannah boasts a rich Irish history, with many settlers from Ireland arriving in Georgia during the 18th century. In 1824, the city first celebrated the holiday with a Catholic feast. Now, the celebration kicks off in February with the Savannah Irish Festival, where traditional Irish food is served, the grand marshal of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is elected and the fountains in the city are dyed green. On March 17, the day begins with a mass at St. John the Baptist, a gothic cathedral, followed by a parade featuring several heritage groups and societies from around the U.S., including marching bands, Budweiser Clydesdales, military units and floats. A festival accompanies the celebration and offers live entertainment, interactive art, local vendors and plenty of food.

Above: Savannah’s legendary St. Patrick’s Day celebration draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Opposite: Tybee Island’s sandy beaches and eco-tourism options are a favorite among locals and visitors alike.


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BEACHCOMBING FUN JUST MINUTES AWAY Just 18 miles east of Savannah lies Tybee Island, a secluded and historic paradise. The small island near the mouth of the Savannah River has become a getaway for locals and tourists with its bed and breakfasts, art galleries and other cultural offerings. Much of the island is still in its natural state, which makes it a perfect place for outdoor recreation and eco-tourism. Tybee Island is less than three miles long and its scenic beach and nature trails can be biked or walked. For something more active, there are options to jet ski, kayak or paddleboard. Paddling through the nature preserve can lead to close encounters of Georgia’s coastal wildlife, some of which can’t be seen anywhere else. The island is home to more than 200 different bird species, making it a prime destination for bird watchers. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, an art afficionado, or just a beach bum looking for a beautiful city to rest your feet, Savannah provides and array of experiences to match any taste.




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S T R A I G H T TA L K ON BENT BICYCLES story and photography by RICH WINTER


t’s 7:30 on a dewy Saturday morning as cheerful men and women begin arriving at Ride South in Brandon. Donning chartreuse jerseys and helmets, the cyclists begin unloading their splashy recumbent bikes and trikes for the weekly group ride around Ross Barnett Reservoir. As vehicles continue to stream into empty parking spaces, some early birds begin

zipping around the parking lot, circling each other as they eagerly await the 8:00 am launch time. Comfortably reclined on high-backed, mesh seats resembling chaise lounges, cyclists cluster together in small conversational groups as they laugh and chitchat about the weather and the latest news on bike accessories and upcoming rides. As everyone makes final adjustments to bikes and helmets before setting off, RideSouth owner, Jim Snider, and his wife, Lane, emerge from the shop to greet everyone and take a vote on the route and pace the group would like to ride. “It’s Earth Day week, so we are honoring Mother Earth by riding our bikes today,” says Snider as he mounts his trike adorned with a bright yellow “MOM” banner. Once the procession of riders form a line behind Snider’s speedy, recumbent trike, the group of “bent” bikes begin to look more like the lineup for a parade than a ride. Adorned with bright flags, windsocks, and even an inflated earth ball mounted atop a flag pole, the cyclists whir by as they make their way onto the road with Lane bringing up the rear to make sure no one gets left behind.




In 1934, the UCI (Union Cyclist International) ruled that

Recumbent bikes have been manufactured for the general

the Velocar was not a bicycle and couldn’t be raced in UCI

public since 1892, even though they’ve rarely been seen over

events or for UCI records. Although Mochet had verified with

the years. The bent bike style has enjoyed a renaissance

the UCI and the Union Vélocipédique Française (UVF) that

in the past ten years as more manufacturers have begun

his recumbents were completely legal for competition, they

making them, and retailers have added them to their bicycle

were declared ineligible at a later hearing and permanently

offerings. However, early recumbents faced a challenge that

banned from competition by UCI, cycling’s governing body.

nearly killed off the style and relegated it to obscure hobby

The ruling still stands today. It is believed the UCI’s decision

enthusiast status for over 50 years.

was made as the result of pressure by manufacturers of

For the first 40 years since its inception, recumbent

standard upright cycles.

bicycle designs continued to evolve alongside their upright

With the stroke of a bureaucratic pen, Faure’s record was

counterparts until a self-taught engineer, Charles Mochet,

relegated to a foot note in cycling history, and the course

had the stroke of genius to

of bicycle design was forever

design what was the first


per for ma nce recu mbent

Although road and track

bicycle, or vélo couché, using

versions of the recumbents

a design based on half of his

were built in small numbers

popular four-wheeled pedal

between 1933 and 1945, and

car. Named “Velocar” after

record-breaking continued in

his four-wheeled vehicle,

non-UCI categories, the UCI

his sleek design shook the

ban had a profound impact on

conser vative, traditional

the popularity of recumbent

bicycling establishment when he set out to race his recumbent

bikes. Without UCI’s endorsement to race them or hold

bike in 1933. Needing a cyclist, Mochet enlisted the help of

records, bike manufacturers stuck to the only viable market

43 year old Frenchman, Francois Faure, to attempt a new

available to them, and the upright bicycle claimed dominance

one hour distance record on it.

as the most popular and readily available style for buyers.

On July 7, 1933, the day of Faure’s record-breaking attempt, the other racers jeered at him and his bike. “Stand up and pedal


like a man,” they joked. “Lying down will make you sleepy.”

Just as it did in 1933, today’s recumbent bikes are still

Their laughter died as he outpaced two professional riders and

setting records and raising eyebrows. In 2016, using the

went on to beat the world hour record, going 28 miles (45.055

ultra-lightweight Aerovelo Eta bike, cyclist Todd Reichert set

km) in one hour. Faure’s new record caused controversy in

a new speed record for a human-powered vehicle at 144.17

the world of cycling as he was considered a “second-category”

km/h (89.59 mph). Despite the recumbent’s pedigree of speed

cyclist, but his recumbent bicycle had effectively allowed him

and comfort, however, today’s recumbent bikes and trikes

to win races against professional riders of the time.

still face the criticism of traditional bike owners. “There’s a

Above: Francois Faure sets the new world record for distance in an hour using the the Velocar recumbent bike designed by engineer Charles Mochet. Opposite from left: customer Mike Hudson and RideSouth Owner, Jim Snider, pause for a photo with Mike’s new recumbent trike, Snider’s bright yellow GLYDE velomobile trike gets a lot of attention in his bike shop.


VERVE Summer 2018

mentality in traditional circles that recumbents and trikes are for old people, and that simply isn’t true,” says Snider. “People are uncomfortable with the unfamiliar. Their first instinct is to want a bicycle that looks like their neighbor’s bike or the bikes they see professionals ride on television.” A lot of those perceptions melt away once those same people walk through the doors of RideSouth. “I’ve been selling recumbents since 1999, and I’ve seen it time and time again. An inquisitive person will come in my store expecting to find the traditional bikes they see elsewhere, and they have this defensive disposition you tend to carry when you just want to window shop. Then it happens—that look of wonder that washes over their face when they see the recumbent bikes and trikes. I sell traditional bikes also, but it’s the recumbents that really get their attention.” In addition to the 40-50 recumbent bikes and trikes he keeps in stock, Snider’s shop also carries a wide variety of

I’ve been selling recumbents since 1999 and I’ve seen it time and time again. An inquisitive person will come into the store expecting to find only the traditional bikes they see elsewhere, and they have this defensive disposition you tend to carry when you just want to window shop. Then it happens—that look of wonder that washes over their face when they see the recumbent bikes.

conventional mountain bikes, road bikes, triathlon, and kid’s bikes in addition to accessories and even kayaks. The real show-stoppers, however, are a pair of velomobile trikes in the center of the store. Complete with cockpit doors and rear-view mirrors, the bullet-shaped fiberglass enclosures look more like futuristic space capsules than trikes.



A lot of the people that ride in our groups either have an engineering background or they work in the medical field. The engineers are attracted to the dynamics of the designs and the medical folks see the biomechanical advantages of them. What’s Behind the Recumbent’s Rise? In recent years, technology has played a big part in the changes we’ve seen in bicycle design across the board. Previously cost-prohibitive and inaccessible materials like carbon fiber and ultra-lightweight alloys have found their way into the designs of bikes intended for the consumer market. 3d printing and other technologies have also accelerated the work of engineers to push the envelope and redefine what we consider radical bike design. Recumbent bikes have attracted a unique fanbase as a result of all this newfound exposure—engineers and medical professionals. “A lot of the people that ride in our groups either have an engineering background or they work in the medical field,” says Snider. “The engineers are attracted to the dynamics of the designs and the medical folks see the biomechanical advantages of them.” Group participants, Ben and Mickie Nail, are prime examples of Snider’s assertion. Ben works on staff at Jefferson Medical Center in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and his wife, Mickie, is a Clinical Informaticist and Registered Nurse. They try to make the trip from Arkansas to Jim’s shop about once a month to ride with the group. “We’ve always enjoyed outdoor recreation so we did a lot of camping and hiking in the past. It seemed only natural that we’d eventually take up cycling,” says Mickie. “While a lot


VERVE Summer 2018

of people work their way up to a trike or recumbent,

depending on your bike. “It’s this position that makes the

we went straight to the trikes when Ben had to have a

rides so enjoyable,” says Andy Metts, a retired engineer.

cervical spinal fusion surgery,” she says. “Conventional

“What got me hooked is how comfortable my trike is to

bikes just weren’t as comfortable to ride. Those bikes

take out. Riding this way stays fun and you can enjoy

require you to crane your neck up to see where you’re

the scenery when you’re out because you’re not always

going, and it just proved to be too painful for Ben. What’s

looking down at the road.”

great about our trikes is we can ride all day in a mixed

Recu mbent bi kes a re a lso a sa fer a lter native to

group of conventional and recumbent cyclists, and we’re

conventional bikes because you’re unlikely to ever go

still fresh at the end of the day. The upright cyclists

over the handle bars in an accident. In the event of spill,

need time to recover because they’re bodies hurt. All

the reclined position ensures your feet will be the first

that riding on your bottom, the pressure on your arms,

part of your body to touch the ground instead of your

and the craning of your neck take a toll.”

noggin. Most recumbents also position your body closer

Recumbent bikes allow you to recline in the seat with

to the ground so any fall is a short one.

your feet in front of you and your arms either resting

What’s another characteristic of recumbent owners?

at your sides or at a lowered position in front of you,

They tend to own more than one of them. When asked how many recumbents she owns, nurse Rhonda Armstrong sheepishly replies, “Let’s just say it’s more than two.” When asked to explain, Armstrond says, “ Well, they each serve a different purpose. One is set up for longer rides, another is for faster rides and so on. They are each special in their own way and I love them all.”

What got me hooked is how comfortable my trike is to take out. Riding this way stays fun and you can enjoy the scenery when you’re out because you’re not always looking down at the road.

Opposite from top: Mickie Nail and her recumbent, Andy Metts gives his dog Bentley a ride, Ben and Mickie Nail travel all the way from Calmer, Arkansas each month to cycle with other recumbent enthusiasts. Above: Jim Snider cuts a slice of freshly baked oat bran bread for fellow cyclist and engineer, Matt Brown. Jim has made baking bread at the shop on Saturday mornings a tradition. He says it makes the shop smell great and it’s a great way to refuel tired muscles.



Clockwise from above left: program participants learn to handle materials and tools of the trade to prepare them for the workforce. Program Director, Julie Kuklinski, addresses a crowd of supporters and media to celebrate the expansion of the training center. 2013 graduate and Program Manager, Simone Agee, now assists program participants in learning new skills. Opposite: participants use the resource center to learn soft skills like resume writing and other computer skills to assist them in securing a job upon graduation.


VERVE Summer 2018




ast summer, Rachel Pope was browsing

childcare, or I was also a medical assistant,” Pope says.

on Facebook when she saw an ad for a job

Moore Community House’s Women in Construction

training program. After relocating from

program aims to change those statistics, providing

Pennsylvania to the Mississippi Gulf Coast,

training that gives women the opportunity for high wage

Pope, a single mother with four children, desperately

work that typically doesn’t require a college degree.

needed work. The ad, for a Moore Community House

“Women make up less than three percent of skilled

initiative called Women in Construction, mentioned

trade workers, and that work pays up to three times as

that program participants could receive free childcare.

much as minimum wage,” says Julie Kuklinski, Program

The combination of training and childcare appealed to

Director of the Women in Construction program. “There’s

Pope, and she jumped at the chance to enroll.

a huge opportunity for employment in these fields right

“I was working at a daycare that I couldn’t afford to

now as skilled tradesmen retire, and we are working

send my kids to,” she says. “I couldn’t afford groceries.

with the industry to place more women in these jobs.”

I was drowning. When I saw they had free classes and

Up to 180 students complete the program each year,

childcare it seemed like a clear answer to me.”

and 75 percent of those are now employed in a skilled

Like many women in Mississippi, Pope worked for

trade position or in an advanced training program.

minimum wage. The state’s workforce is half female, but

Each group of students completes 320 hours of general

women account for two thirds of minimum wage workers.

training that gives them industry recognized credentials

“I always worked jobs that were mostly women, like

(including OSHA and MCCR certifications) and prepares



them for more specified classes. “We offer training in carpentry, welding, and heavy equipment, for example,” Kuklinski says. The Women in Construction program forms part of Moore Community House’s larger mission to serve low income women and young children. A mission agency of United Methodist Women, Moore has served families in the region since 1924, and currently also runs a Head Start program in addition to the Women in Construction program. “It was initially founded to help the children of migrant workers in the seafood industry,” says Reverend Carol Burnett, Moore Community House Executive Director. “The conditions were pretty terrible in the factories in the 20s, and part of the impetus of the settlement house movement was helping those families.” Moore Community House started the Women in Construction program shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2007, when the coast


VERVE Summer 2018

desperately needed skilled trade workers. Julie Kuklinski, like thousands of other young people across the country, moved to the coast to help with the rebuilding effort around the same time. “I came down after the storm to help build houses,” Kuklinski says. “I wanted other women to learn the skills that I had and to see more women finding work in the trades.” The program started small - with around 30 participants the first year. Moore Community House worked with industry leaders to design a curriculum that best met gaps in the job market and continues to partner with companies to place graduates. “If a company has never hired women we ask that they hire two to five, or we make sure there’s an informal support system in place with mentors in the field,” Kuklinski says. “It’s important for women to see other women in these jobs and to know that they belong there.” Rachel Pope completed her general training and is now in a carpentry apprenticeship program as well as a union member. “Women in Construction opened my eyes to a whole new world. I didn’t know I could get that type of work,” Pope says. “I’ve done scaffolding work on different construction projects and worked for Mississippi Power in Port GIbson. I was one of two or three women out of probably 2,000 people working on that project.” Stereotypes linger around women’s ability to do skilled trade work, and Pope sometimes overheard comments about



women that she found unacceptable. “It’s hard working with all men,” she says. “You have to have a thick skin, because otherwise you won’t last long when you hear some of the things they say about women.” There are also logistical issues that arise at worksites designed with male workers in mind. “When I started the job in Port Gibson, I was still breastfeeding,” Pope says. “There wasn’t a place to pump in privacy, and sometimes I felt really uncomfortable. We were cleaning out cooling towers and moving 200 pound things and using chainsaws. It was dark, and hot, and hard, but you have to go in there and be confident and never play the woman card.” Program alumnus and current instructor Ethel Williams agrees that confidence is key for women entering these new fields. “I was a line cook in restaurants, so I was used to working around a lot of men,” Williams says. “A lot of women are front of the house, they work the register or whatever, and they don’t feel as confident being the only woman working with men. I already had that confidence, but a big part of what I


VERVE Summer 2018

do now is making other women feel as though they have a sisterhood behind them saying, ‘you can do this.’” Williams worked low wage jobs at restaurants like Burger King before hearing about the program through a Craigslist ad. After her general training, she completed additional coursework in welding. “On my first day on the job site I knew I had to look the part. I had my helmet and my boots and I walked with confidence,” Williams says. “One of the men asked me, ‘where did you weld before,’ and I just smiled and didn’t say anything. I hadn’t really [had a welding job before] but you have to own the space that you’re in.” Both Williams and Pope emphasize that without Women in Construction, they wouldn’t have known high wage work opportunities existed for them. “A lot of women come in with doubts,” Kuklinski says. “They have gaps in their employment history and sometimes a lack of education that impacts their confidence. When they leave, with so much strength and power, it’s an achievement for them, but it’s

A lot of women come in with doubts. They have gaps in their employment history and sometimes a lack of education that impacts their confidence. When they leave, with so much strength and power, it’s an achievement for them, but it’s also a collective advancement. Every woman going into the industry furthers this larger goal of empowering women and in turn improving our communities.

also a collective advancement. Every woman going into the industry furthers this larger goal of empowering women and in turn improving our communities.”




F O R B A C K YA R D B B Q H O P E F U L S story and photography by RICH WINTER



t’s summertime once again and that means

For others, the grill presents a potential minefield

neighborhoods across the South are filled with

of flame-ups and failures.

the smoky aroma of backyard barbeque grills.

To prevent some of the most common problems

Amateur pitmasters from Biloxi to Nashville

back yard cooks encounter, we reached out to

break out their BBQ tool sets and dust off their

Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Pig & Pint, Grant

secret recipes of spices and elixirs for everything

Hutcheson, for some answers. The award-winning

from rib eye steaks to pork shoulders.

chef shared some pitmaster wisdom with us in

For some, the annual ritual of cooking over

hopes of making your next slab of ribs memorable.

open flame is rewarded with the joy of perfectly

“The biggest mistake that most cooks make is

cooked barbeque and the envy of your neighbors.

they don’t control the temperature throughout

VERVE Summer 2018

the cook i n g process, a nd they either end up

the f lavor profile. Cherr y wood is probably my

w ith burned, d r y meat or food that is cooked

favor ite, but I a lso use apple a nd other f r u it

on the outside but undercooked in the center,”

woods in my cooking.” The primar y challenge

Hutcheson says. “The best investment a backyard

in using wood for backyard cooking is locating a

cook can make is to get a temperature controller

local source for fruit woods. Hutcheson has tried

accessor y that ca n be added to thei r gr i l l or

the bagged wood blocks from local grocery and

ba rbeque pit. Some models ca n get pricey, but

hardware stores, but found the wood was too

t hey do such a good job of m a i nt a i n i n g t he

dry. “I have a hard time maintaining the quality

cor rec t t emper at u re, I t h i n k t hey ’re wor t h

of f lame and smoke I need if the wood is too dry.

the investment. The controllers they sell now

It really needs to have a little moisture in it to

even a l low you to mon itor t he temper at u re

work well.”

w ith your sma r t phone. You ca n’t rea l ly beat that,” he says.

The pitmaster mantra of “low and slow” isn’t lost on Hutcheson, and he shared this advice when

W hen it comes to f ueling your f la me, most

it comes to cooking large cuts like brisket and

pitmasters agree that if you plan to use charcoal

pork shoulder. “You really can’t rush a big cut of

for grilling, you should opt for natural charcoal

meat. We cook our pork shoulders for 12 hours and

instead of the briquettes,

keep it pretty simple. We just

and stay away from lighter

coat everything really well

f l u i d a l t o g e t h e r. “ Yo u

with our dry rub and let it

shouldn’t ever use lighter

cook slowly at a low temp.”

fluid for cooking barbeque,”

For barbeque hopefuls, he

Hutcheson says. “I can always

suggests cooking the meat

tell when someone has used

with indirect heat through

lighter fluid to start their fire

most of the cooking process

because it never really burns

and then wrapping it with

off, and you can taste it on

foil in the last couple of hours

the meat. Nobody wants to

to keep it from drying out.

taste fuel on their food.”

“You don’t want to mask the

According to Hutcheson,

flavor of the meat with really

most competition cooks use

strong sauces or marinades,

wood instead of cha rcoa l

either. Just keep it simple

to feed their fire. “I prefer

w ith a r ub a nd maybe

wood over charcoal because

use a spray bottle w ith a

it gives the meat a better

l ittle apple cider v i nega r

f l a v o r, a n d y o u c a n u s e

or someth i ng like that to

different woods to change

moisten it as needed.”

Above; Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Pig & Pint, Grant Hutcheson, samples his world-class ribs.







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VERVE Summer 2018






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T H E 12 M I S TA K E S







4 5


To prevent your food from tasting like gritty, charred residue, brush off the grill surface after each use while it’s still hot. Then, spray a coating of canola oil on the grill grates to extend their life. Life is too short for low-quality meat. High quality meat makes a huge difference on the grill. Look for even marbling in beef.







Putting cold MEAT on the grill Putting cold meat on the grill makes cooking it evenly really difficult. Let the meat sit out for at least a half hour for most cuts and up to an hour for thicker cuts.

OVER-SEASONING MEAT Keep the seasoning simple. You don’t want to obscure the flavor of the meat with too many ingredients.

Don’t overcook the meat. Use a meat thermometer, and pull the meat off the grill as soon as it reaches the proper temperature. Be sure to let the meat rest for around 5 minutes for the average sized cut and about 30 minutes for roasts.



Poking or pressing the meat



USING LIGHTER FLUID Nobody likes gasoline-scented burger bites. Resist the temptation for instant flames from lighter fluid and opt instead for the old school method of using crumpled newspaper to start your fire.

Don’t overcrowd the grill grate. You should keep one-fourth of the grill free so you have a spot to move food if you have flare-ups.


NOT PREHEATING YOUR GRILL Preheating the grill is crucial. Don’t rush getting the coals prepared or you will burn your food. Be patient and let the coals turn gray before adding the meat. Using a grilling chimney to start the coals can be a big help.

Set up two temperature zones on the grill by adding coals to one half of the grill instead of the entire grill. Try cooking the meat over indirect heat first then shift it over to the hot side to brown it at the end.

Do not add the sauce early! Barbeque sauces often contain sugars that begin to burn at 260 degrees. Wait until the meat is 10 minutes from completion before brushing on the sauce. Don’t poke the meat to check its doneness. Invest in a digital thermometer and you’ll have perfect meat every time. Using the lid conserves the heat needed to cook the food, holds in flavorful smoke, and helps prevent flare-ups. Resist the temptation to continually lift the lid, and just leave it alone.






Ribs are ready to pull off the heat when the pork draws back about one-half inch from the end of the rib bone.

The rib bones should be colored off-white and have a little fatty sheen. Dry, pure white bones are a sign of over-cooked ribs.

You’ve got a perfectly cooked pork shoulder when you’re able to grab the blade bone and gently slide it out of the meat.

VERVE Summer 2018


story by Julian Rankin photography by Myrna Smith-Thompson & Courtesy Scott-White Archives


saac Scott was on a tractor by the time he was seven. Now, he’s seventy. At an age when most folks are thinking about retirement and tropical cruises, Isaac has been born again atop the combine. It’s no small miracle that he’s farming the family land once more. After all, between 1983 and 2013, the family land didn’t belong to the family. It was sitting in

government inventory as a result of racial discrimination by local agents of the United States Department of Agriculture and the foreclosures that followed. After a lengthy legal battle and admitted USDA wrongdoing, the family was finally able to buy it all back just a few years ago. As the blades of the combine churn, Isaac looks out on the fields of rice and soybeans from on high. He has rekindled a dream that’s been deferred and dormant for thirty years. Or as his sister Willena Scott-White puts it, “It reminds me of a little boy on Christmas morning.”



The tale of the Scotts’ more than a thousand

In 1978 Ed Scott Jr. made a million dollars in rice.

acres of black-owned Mississippi Delta farmland

A few years later, he became the first non-white

goes back generations. It began in the early 20th

owner and operator of a catfish plant in the nation.

century when Isaac and Willena’s grandfathers,

Ed Scott Jr. passed in 2015 at the age of 93. He

Edward Scott Sr. and Isaac Daniel, clawed out of the

lived to know that his epic life story would be told

servitude of sharecropping to become enterprising

in book form. Published by University of Georgia

landowners in Leflore and Bolivar Counties. Isaac’s

Press as part of the Southern Foodways Alliance

father and predecessor on the tractor, the late Ed

Studies in Culture, People, and Place series, Catfish

Scott Jr. built upon the legacy and steered the farm

Dream: Ed Scott’s Fight for His Family Farm and

to its apotheosis in the late 1970s and early 80s.

Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta, is now on

Above: historical photos from the Scott-White archives. Edward Scott Sr. tends chickens.


VERVE Summer 2018

bookshelves. Scott also lived to see the property

Isaac Scott and Willena Scott-White are looking

returned and his children take their places as

toward the future now, but it’s impossible for

caretakers. Now that the family has it back, they

them ever to forget the tilled-up meaning of the

have no intention of letting it go. I asked Isaac why

past. More specifically, it’s impossible for them

the story matters and what younger generations of

to ever forget their father.

Mississippians should learn from their struggle. “I

Ed Scott Jr. was a veteran of World War II. He

hope that they would understand that land is not

drove fuel trucks to General Patton’s front lines

made anymore,” says Isaac.

in freezing, war-torn Europe, even ducking sniper

The land contains far more than the nutrient-

fire with the General they called “Old Blood and

rich soil that is now bringing the family their fifth

Guts” when a Nazi with a high-powered rifle had

consecutive crop of this new era. Wrapped up in the

them pinned down from a belltower roost. When

dirt is all the toil of the men and women who came

he returned home from war, he thought about

before them and all the promises of self-determination

leaving the state. “[The people back home] didn’t

that were so often denied to black Southerners.

care about us no way,” Scott recalled, speaking of

Half of the land is outside of Mound Bayou,

whites’ reception of black veterans. “They didn’t

the historic town founded by freedmen after the

want to see you with that uniform on back then.

Civil War as an incubator for African-American

I was proud of that uniform, but I wasn’t proud

exceptionalism and community. (Think Wakanda,

of Mississippi. Wasn’t proud of Mississippi at all.”

from Marvel’s “Black Panther” – a place of genius,

But Scott decided to stay to help his father on the

plenty, and protection that was ahead of its time.)

farm. In the 1960s, Scott carried food to civil rights

Above: Ed Scott Jr.’s catfish processing plant and a smiling Ed Scott Jr.



marchers who passed through the Delta. He traveled to Selma to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965. He watched his neighbor Fannie Lou Hamer found her visionary Freedom Farm in the 1970s, which gave new opportunity to disenfranchised fieldhands. By the time Isaac and Willena were grown, Ed Scott was a giant among his peers and neighbors. He doubled the size of his operation when he bought the five hundred acres in Mound Bayou from his father-in-law, Isaac Daniel. When Ed Scott made the cross-county trip between his fields with his convoy of heavy machinery, he recalled that “it looked like a parade.” Isaac Scott and Willena Scott-White now farm under the name S&D Farming Enterprise. The “S” and the “D” signify the namesakes of their grandfathers who first wrenched ownership of that Delta earth: Edward Scott Sr. and Isaac Daniel. Younger generations have joined them. Willena’s

Clockwise from above: historical photo of Isaac Scott, Ed and Edna Scott family, digging the catfish ponds.


VERVE Summer 2018

son Joey (Joseph White III), in his early forties,

season to clear away the accumulated roughage of

has returned. “I decided to come back home and

the years. It was like the land had reverted to Delta

help out because of the struggle getting the land

wilderness once more. But the Scotts were resolute,

back,” Joey says. “And I didn’t want my family to

and they cut the weeds down to make new rows. “It’s

go through the process of losing it again.” Isaac’s

been an interesting journey,” Willena says. “I wouldn’t

sons, Daniel Scott and Renaldo Scott, are also

trade it for anything. I feel like a pioneer sometimes.”

committed to the farm.

Isaac, back on the combine, had been harvesting

Willena, who manages much of the business side

all day long. Without even realizing it, he reached

of things, is undertaking a grand endeavor to build

the end of the field. He heard the blare of horns.

the Delta Farmers Museum and Cultural Learning

Joey and his cousin Daniel, each on a tractor of

Center in Mound Bayou. The project, currently in

their own, circled. They whooped and hollered

the fundraising stage, aims to tell the story of Ed

and revved the engines and honked some more.

Scott and the countless other black farmers, large

“We had brought in our first crop,” recalls Joey of

and small, who made such important contributions

that first successful crop. The cousins smiled with

through their labors.

exuberance. Isaac did too. It was a celebration.

When the family took back ownership of the land, it was fallow and overgrown in brush. It took a whole

Their own private farming parade. Ed Scott would have been proud.

Catfish Dream

Ed Scott’s Fight for His Family Farm and Racial Justice in the Mississippi Delta Written by Julian Rankin | Published by University of Georgia Press Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place series Catfish Dream centers around the experiences, family, and struggles of Ed Scott Jr. (born in 1922), a prolific farmer in the Mississippi Delta and the first ever nonwhite owner and operator of a catfish plant in the nation. Scott overcame decades of discrimination and long odds to build an empire of black self-determination from the Delta land. To learn more about Catfish Dream go to Join the author and hear more about his book on Aug. 18th from 9am-5pm at The Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Julian Rankin is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the recipient of the Southern Foodways Alliance’s first annual residency at Rivendell Writers Colony and is the director of the Center for Art & Public Exchange at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson.




VERVE Summer 2018




photography by Dmitri Ma

n this fast-paced, modern world we live in there are many things that truly make life easier. Since the 1940’s, products like plastics and synthetic chemicals have revolutionized the way we live, eat, and raise our families, in many ways making life simpler, more affordable, and enjoyable. Where would we be without fertilizers, plastic food containers,

canned goods, bug spray, and air fresheners? Recently, a growing body of research has revealed the hidden cost of modern life. Infertility, autism, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, cancers, obesity, and diabetes have been linked to exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, EDCs are “chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.” The endocrine system produces and secretes hormones that regulate activities of cells and organs, basically all of the body’s systems, including growth, sexual development, reproduction, and metabolism. Endocrine disruptors can imitate hormones, increase or decrease the production of hormones, and interfere with bodily hormones and their functions. These interruptions of critical steps in development can have lifelong effects.







Most diseases have both a genetic and environmental

to a fetus during pregnancy, infancy, or childhood can

component. Diabetes may run in your family and through

cause major functional deficits and increased disease

your DNA but lie dormant until something in your

risk later in life. Infants have an underdeveloped system

environment flips the “on” switch. This may be the foods

that has a harder time metabolizing and eliminating

you eat, lack of exercise, or your exposure to certain

toxins. An unborn baby exposed to certain EDCs during

chemicals. The effects of EDCs can be stealthy since

pregnancy can result in reduced development, low birth

some of the problems may not be seen until adulthood

weight, and growth retardation. A common example

when a lifetime of chemical exposure reaches a critical

of this is maternal tobacco use. Tobacco and tobacco

mass in fatty tissues.

smoke contain EDCs. Infants and children exposed to

While repeated exposure to EDCs can cause increasingly

secondhand smoke have stunted growth, behavioral

adverse effects on the body, the timing of the exposure

problems, and poorer immune systems than their peers

is also important. Seemingly minor exposure to EDCs

who were not exposed.

Ways to Decrease Exposure to Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals Go fresh instead of canned. Many canned food containers are lined with bisphenol A (BPA), an EDC that mimics estrogen in the body and that has been linked to cancer, early onset of puberty, and obesity.  Eat more organic fruits and

 Choose unscented body care

 Drink filtered water. Atrazine, a

vegetables and reduce intake

products. Fragranced products

chemical used on corn crops, is

of animal products. Milk, eggs,

contain pthalates, often listed

a pervasive water contaminant

butter, and meats contain dioxin,

as “fragrance” on body care

linked to breast tumors and

and EDC known to reduce sperm

product ingredient labels.

prostate cancer. Water filters

count and quality in males. Join

Pthalates are linked to thyroid

can also reduce lead, arsenic,

a local community supported

disorders, obesity, diabetes, and

and perchlorate.

agriculture share program

lessen sperm quality and count.

(CSA) to increase fruit and vegetable intake. Check out www. to find a CSA in your community.  Buying organic produce also reduces your family’s intake of pesticides. Organophosphate

 Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to capture toxin-laden house dust.

 Shop for wild salmon, farmed trout, and canned light tuna to decrease your intake of mercury.

with zinc oxide and titanium

A good rule of thumb is to select


fish or shellfish that tend to be

pesticides are linked to ADHD,

 Select natural cleaning prod-

decreased memory, difficulties in

ucts and avoid products with

thinking, and poor coordination.

2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and

VERVE Summer 2018

and steel water bottles.

 Select mineral-based sunscreens

methoxydiglycol (DEGME).


 Choose glass food containers

smaller. Larger pieces of fish like tuna steaks or swordfish tend to contain higher concentrations of mercury than smaller fish.



Tobacco and secondhand smoke contain EDCs that are dangerous to you and your family. If you or a loved one smoke, call the MS Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW for help to quit. Avoid smoky restaurants and bars. Check the map at to see if your community is smokefree.

Feeling overwhelmed about choosing safe cleaning products for your family? Great brands include Mrs. Meyer’s, Seventh Generation, Dr. Bronner’s, Arm & Hammer and Ecover.

Want to avoid BPA? Reduce use of canned goods, avoid paper receipts (often coated with BPA), and use of plastic with recycling label #7. Need another reason to eat well? People with healthy diets absorb less lead, a heavy metal and EDC that can cause anemia, learning difficulties, and behavioral problems.

The Environmental Working Group website has a Guide to Healthy Cleaning at cleaners. Go to to download a list of the endocrine disruptors and how to avoid them. For more information on EDCs, go to www.niehs.nih. gov//health/topics/agents/endocrine.

EDCs can affect normal sexual development, as well as the development of the immune system and neurological system.




VERVE Summer 2018




photography by RICH WINTER

lzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disease and the most common type of dementia. Over time, people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias lose

their memory and their ability to think, to speak, to walk, and to carry out basic bodily functions such as swallowing. Alzheimer’s is the fasting growing disease in the United States. It is 100 percent fatal, and there is no way to stop or prevent it—YET. T he MIND (Memor y Impa i r ment a nd Neurodegenerative Dementia) Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center is a national leader in Alzheimer’s research and clinical care, backed by the state’s only academic medical center. The center was founded in 2010 by Dr. Tom Mosley, who serves as the Dudley and Robbie Hughes Distinguished MIND Center Chair and Director of The MIND Center. He is a professor in the Department of Medicine: Division

Our research is funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as state and private funding, and includes some of the most comprehensive long-term studies in the world on brain aging. The innovative research we are doing is helping to attract research talent to our state, which is good for medicine and good for Mississippi.

of Geriatrics and Department of Neurology. “Our research is funded through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as state and private funding, and includes some of the most comprehensive long-term studies in the world on brain aging,” says Mosley. “The innovative research we are doing is helping to attract research talent to our state, which is good for medicine and good for Mississippi.”



Mosley was successful in

in 2016 and now encompasses the

securing strong community

entire first floor of the TRC. “This

support, including Ambassador

new space marks an important

John N. Palmer, along with a $29 million multi-site grant from the NIH that helped launch the center. The MIND Center recently moved into a new, state-of-the-art Translational Research Center (TRC) on the UMMC campus. “I wanted to centralize our research efforts under one umbrella to promote collaboration and synergy between our scientists

We have been very interested in how and when Alzheimer’s develops. Alzheimer’s pathology doesn’t start when symptoms start, but in fact precedes symptoms by as much as two decades.

milestone in our mission to accelerate the pace of discovery in our work on Alzheimer’s and related diseases,” said Mosley. From a research perspective, Mosley says The MIND Center is conducting some of the largest studies in the world on risk factors for Alzheimer’s and dementia. “We have been very interested in how and

who come from diverse disciplines.” Thanks to a generous

when Alzheimer’s develops. Alzheimer’s pathology

donation by the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation, the

doesn’t start when symptoms start, but in fact

Gertrude C. Ford MIND Research Center was established

precedes symptoms by as much as two decades.

Opposite: Certified Retinal Angiographer, Dawn McLendon, examines a patient’s inner eye.


VERVE Summer 2018



Our work has shown links between risk factors

of different races and socio-economic backgrounds.

such as high blood pressure and diabetes in mid-

“This study of aging is the culmination of years of

life, when people are in their 40s and 50s, and late

collaboration with the Mayo Clinic and will provide

life memory loss and dementia.

a wealth of information we

The importance of this work

will use toward our end goal

is that it suggests venues for

of prevention.” The new study

possibly preventing dementia, which is our ultimate goal.” Mosley says The MIND Center is working in conjunction with the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to put together a new population or “cohort” of participants for a research study called The MIND Center – Mayo Clinic Study of Aging that will include people

This study of aging is the culmination of years of collaboration with the Mayo Clinic and will provide a wealth of information we will use toward our end goal of prevention.

will focus on participants 55 and older to determine best practices for healthy aging. Denise Lafferty, Chief of Operations for The MIND Center, says that the clinical component of The MIND Center started in late 2013 and has grown exponentially since that time. “We have three ambulatory

Above: The Translational Research Center includes multiple diagnostic facilities including vision examination and dedicated hearing evaluation.


VERVE Summer 2018

clinics where we see patients in the Jackson

In addition to the three Jackson-area clinics,

area: the University Physicians Pavilion, Flowood

The MIND Center has partnered with the UMMC

Family Medicine Center and University Physicians

Center for Telehealth to set up satellite locations

Grants Ferry. Our clinics are staffed by a multi-

in Grenada, Lexington and Greenwood for patients

disciplinary team of internal and family medicine

to be evaluated by MIND Center providers via live

physicians, geriatric specialists, neurologists, a

audiovisual technology similar to skyping. “The

social worker, a nurse practitioner, and RN care

TeleMIND program is a way for us to provide the

coordinators. The MIND Center clinical staff

same services we provide locally to those who are

specialize in caring for patients with Alzheimer’s

unable to travel to Jackson,” says Lafferty. “We are

and dementia with a focus on promoting early

currently working to expand the program to other

d iagnosis and treatment.” La ffer ty says that

sites across Mississippi to create a statewide footprint

some of the causes of memory loss are treatable

of memory-care services.”

and potentially reversible. “The providers focus

The support of family and friends is critical to

on finding out what is causing the memory loss

the well-being of a patient with dementia, and The

and treat the underlying causes. Our doctors

MIND Center recognizes that caregivers also need

utilize the available medications that help to

significant support as the disease progresses. “A social

slow the progress of Alzheimer’s or dementia in

worker or RN care coordinator is typically present

some patients and may improve symptoms, but

on the initial visit so that they can get to know the

there’s no treatment yet to halt the progression.”

patient and their caregivers,” says Lafferty. “Our care



families battling Alzheimer’s and dementia in our state.” Education has been an ongoing priority with The

The support groups are open to anyone in the community who is a caregiver for someone with dementia. We also offer individual and family counseling to help families handle the stress and emotions that are commonly part of caring for a loved one with dementia.

offering free informational programs to the public every other month. Meetings are free of charge and held in the student union building at UMMC with speakers who share information that is helpful for both seniors and caregivers. “We have a good following with many people who come each time,” says Lafferty. “We’ve had great programs on legal and financial considerations, hearing loss and its relationship to cognitive decline, music and memory, the correlation between sleep apnea and cognitive decline and more.” This year The MIND Center is presenting the 19th Annual Conference on Alzheimer’s disease and other

coordination staff can always be reached by phone

dementias August 21-24 at the BancorpSouth Arena and

and are available to help with legal and financial

Conference Center in Tupelo. The theme of this year’s

issues or assist the family when it comes to finding

conference is “If I Could Turn Back Time: Strategies

a service or facility to provide a higher level of care.”

to Improve Brain Health.” The conference will center

Two caregiver support groups provide support,

on strategies to improve brain health and promote

education and camaraderie through monthly meetings.

successful aging. “We will have nurse practitioners,

“We hold one at the Pavilion at UMMC lead by our social

registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, social

worker and the other at the Grants Ferry clinic led by

workers, physical, occupational and speech therapists,

one of our RN care coordinators,” Lafferty says. “The

nursing home administrators, family caregivers, seniors

support groups are open to anyone in the community

and mental health providers at the conference,” Lafferty

who is a caregiver for someone with dementia. We also

states. Mosley will give the keynote address, and Kim

offer individual and family counseling to help families

Campbell, wife of legendary singer Glen Campbell, will

handle the stress and emotions that are commonly part

serve as the motivational and closing speaker.

of caring for a loved one with dementia.”


MIND Center. In 2014, Mind Matters was launched,

Firefighter Quinton Robertson knows what being a

In 2016, The MIND Center was designated by

caregiver is all about. For 16 months he cared for his

UMMC as a comprehensive center meaning it shares

father every day during his struggle with Alzheimer’s.

the tri-fold mission of the Medical Center: healthcare,

“My mom and I were his caregivers. I gave up my

research and education. “We are currently expanding

life in St. Augustine, Florida to come help my mom,

the educational programs we provide to caregivers,

and I don’t regret it at all. We lost my dad due to

healthcare providers and the community at large,” says

complications of Alzheimer’s on April 19, 2014.” After

Lafferty. “We have hired a new director of education

his father’s death, Robertson wanted to do something

and outreach, Kathy Van Cleave, who is a Masters-

to help fight Alzheimer’s but wasn’t sure what to do. “I

prepared social worker with a strong background in

purchased a new vehicle, and in the past I usually had

delivering education and services to individuals and

some sort of specialty car tag, like Ducks Unlimited

VERVE Summer 2018

or something. I asked the lady at the tag office if they

Brain, the race is put on by The MIND Center and

had an Alzheimer’s tag, and she was surprised to

the Reservoir Fire Department of Rankin County.

learn they didn’t. I told her I’d have to do something

The sunset run along the shoreline of the Reservoir

about that. She said if I did, she’d be the first to buy

is followed by a champagne reception. “It turns out

one because her sister has Alzheimer’s.”

that a little champagne in moderation is good for brain

Getting a specialty tag is easier said than done.

health,” says Melissa Robinson, Major Gifts Officer for

Robertson did a lot of research and made phone calls

The MIND Center. “The run has been super successful,”

to a lot of people before he was put in touch with

says Robertson. “We’ve had three events so far, and

Representative Tom Weathersby, who ultimately

each one continues to grow. The last race we had fifty

introduced a bill to the House and Senate which passed.

folks do walk-up registrations on the day of the race,

“To have a specialty car tag, you must have a beneficiary,”

and we doubled our attendance from the prior year. We

Robertson explained. “We made The MIND Center the

had no idea that many people would come. I’m thrilled

beneficiary.” The MIND Center is still working to pre-sell

that we are doing this because I want to help everyone

300 tags to have the tags go into permanent production.

in the state who is living and dealing with this disease.”

You can support The MIND Center by purchasing a tag

The MIND Center is shining a spotlight on Alzheimer’s

for $36 at

and dementia in our state and is making great strides

Robertson went on to coordinate a 5K race to benefit

in its mission to slow, stop and ultimately prevent

The MIND Center with the backing of his firefighter

these devastating diseases. For more information on

brothers. Called Brawn and Bubbles 5K Run for the

The MIND Center, go to

Above: Alzheimer’s car tag advocate and Reservoir Firefighter, Quinton Robertson, and his dog, Dewey.




VERVE Summer 2018

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Verve | Summer 2018