2014 – The Year in Review (July-December)

Published 11:09 am Friday, January 9, 2015

July 2

After a lengthy process, the Jefferson Davis County School Board has appointed John Daley as the interim superintendent. Daley was interviewed, along with Will Russell and Dr. L.C. Firle.  Dr. Firle was originally appointed to the position, but the appointment was rescinded after the Attorney General informed the county the interim must reside within the county. Daley just finished his 12th year with the Jefferson Davis County School District.

In an attempt to grow and unify our community, the Jefferson Davis County Chamber Partnership hosted a Community Event Planning Meeting Tuesday, July 1. The group met with the objective to promote Jefferson Davis County and its assets in a positive light as to attract visitors and businesses.

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Prentiss United Methodist Church was named Over-all Church of the Year at the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church following its recognition as Hattiesburg District Church of the Year.


July 9

Three people were injured after the single-engine plane they were traveling in crash-landed Saturday morning in a field in the Granby community. The crash happened at 11:40 a.m. at 116 Thurman Road on the eastern edge of Jefferson Davis County. The pilot told authorities the engine stalled and lost total power. Fortunately, he was familiar with the area and was able to coast to the open field. Sammie Hooks, 75, of Collins was piloting the plane and is  also the owner of the single-engine aircraft. The passengers were 38-year-old Kristy Wade and her five-year-old son Connor, both of Collins as well.

The 2nd annual 4th of July celebration sponsored by Unity in the Community was a huge success. Men, women, and children of all ages gathered Friday at the Longleaf Trace Park to enjoy music, games, food and fellowship. The event ended in a bang with a tremendous fireworks display and brought a larger crowd than last year.


July 16

The Jefferson Davis County Election Commission was added to a federal lawsuit over access to voting records in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Thad Cochran and Tea Party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel. The lawsuit, filed by Texas-based True the Vote, along with 13 Mississippi residents who are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit, seeks to compel Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, the Mississippi Republican Party, and nine county election commissions to release poll books without removing any information.

The Town of Bassfield held a special meeting Tuesday morning regarding Senate Bill No. 2547 which states any county, municipality or any other political subdivision shall not employ or continue to employ a person who has been convicted or pled guilty in any court of this state, another state, or in federal court of any felony in which public funds were unlawfully taken, obtained or misappropriated in the abuse or misuse of the person’s office or employment or money coming into the person’s hands by virtue of the person’s office or employment. Brenda Saulters and Bill Matthews have been terminated effective immediately. “I got the call yesterday from Attorney General Jim Hood’s office letting me know that Brenda and Bill can no longer work the Town of Bassfield,” Mayor Courtney added. “The board has to make the termination, there is no other choice”.


July 30

The Jefferson Davis County Forestry Association recognized Jeff Allen as 2014 Tree Farmer of the Year and Joe Burge as 2014 Logger of the Year during its banquet held Monday night at the Country Fisherman. Guest speakers for the meeting included MS State University Associate Extension Professor Dr. James Henderson and Adam Butler, biologist with the MS Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and statewide wild turkey management coordinator.

An early morning wreck Monday left a man shaken, but uninjured.  The driver of a Chain Electric bucket truck swerved to miss a deer on Hwy 84 west in front of the Foley Plant at John Street. The truck flipped several times and caught fire for a brief period. Both westbound lanes were closed for several hours while crews cleaned the roadway and repaired road damage.


August 6

Over 165 people came Sunday to celebrate at Prentiss Presbyterian Church and show their appreciation of the 50 faithful years Dr. and Mrs. F.W. Tripp have given our community. Elder Sam Porter presented Dr. and Mrs. Tripp with a plaque from the church and a proclamation from Mayor Charley Dumas at the conclusion of the church service Sunday morning.

Prentiss native and Charlotte Hornets center Al Jefferson had a record 225 kids take part in day one of his sixth annual Youth Basketball Camp held at Prentiss High.

The building that housed Beat 5 Supervisor Bobby Rushing’s supplies was struck by lightning Sunday during an afternoon storm.  Fire, smoke and water heavily damaged the building causing a total loss.  Lightning also struck Beat 1 Supervisor Corky Holliman’s building next door, but caused no structural damage.  The buildings are located just outside of town on Highway 13 North.


August 13

Casandra Lumpkins has been appointed as the interim Chief of Police for the Town of Prentiss effective August 5. Lumpkins resides in Columbia, MS, and is the mother of four children.  She is a member of Sunflower Baptist Church in Foxworth. Chief Lumpkins has been a member of the Prentiss Police Department for 16 months. Former Police Chief Harold Rhodes was relieved of his duties as chief by the Board of Aldermen.

Interim Superintendent John Daley reported to the board that school has gotten off to a great start.

“I have personally visited each and every school.  Students are doing what they are asked. Being a former high school principal, it was good to see our younger students excited about school and already learning.  Teachers were up teaching on day one and that is positive for our schools,” Daley said. One principal stated it was a “scary smooth” start to the year.


August 20

Cash awards were presented to Lawrence County and Jefferson Davis County youth for their creative writing entered in a contest in memory of the late Mary Katherine Coderre, The contest celebrates the life and aspiration of 14 year-old Mary Katherine Coderre who lost her life in a car accident two years ago. Mary Katherine was a participant in several writing workshops sponsored by New Walden Writers Retreat for the Environment & Arts organization and was one of the young people who inaugurated the New Walden Woods Walk trail formed on the property with assistance of the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

A fire broke out in a pit of old cars last Wednesday at the Prentiss Recycling Center.  The fire was contained but heavy black smoke could be seen for miles.


August 27

Senator Thad Cochran made a stop at Prentiss City Hall Tuesday afternoon while on the campaign trail.  Cochran takes on Travis Childers in the General Election November 3.  If Cochran is elected, it will be his seventh term as Senator of the State of Mississippi.

S & S One Stop on the north end of town was closed Tuesday afternoon by order of the Prentiss Police Department. According to Prentiss Police Chief Casandra Lumpkins, the business will remain closed while being investigated.

Fire destroyed the home of Rachel Woodard early Tuesday morning. The residence is located in the Whitesand Community on Al Williamson Lane. Clem VFD and Prentiss responded.


September 3

Interim Tax Collector Kelley Ross-Brown approached the Board of Supervisors with a proposal to collect city taxes for Prentiss and Bassfield within her office. She reported it would cut down on confusion as everything would be located in one location. The Board agreed and began the merging process.

BHS Students were treated to a tasty reward for their test scores The group of students, who made proficient or above on the SATP2 standardized tests, were rewarded for their hard work with a party complete with food, music and fun sponsored by their new principal, Will Russell.


September 10 

Jackets win the 9th straight county championship by defeating Prentiss High Bulldogs 44-16.

Carson Baptist Church celebrated its 110th anniversary August 31st with special services and a message by former pastor Bro. Ervin Goss (abt.1966-1967). Several former pastors were present for the celebration including Bro. Ervin Goss, Bro. Randal Walker, Bro. Varion Stogner, Martha Cole who is the widow of Bro. Russell Harris and current pastor Bro. Benjimen Sessums. A presentation of a special Bible was made to Sybil Cole for her 65 years of service as the church’s pianist and Duke and Linda Barnes of Hathorn presented a concert of special music after lunch.


September 17

JDC Economic Director Ben Hamby welcomed a large crowd of attendees of chamber investors and potential business owners to a networking session. The session served as an introduction to Jeff Davis County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development’s services, provided to help small businesses start, grow and become successful. The event was held Sept. 9th at the Prentiss Institute Rosenwald Building and the object of the meeting was to help local business owners to better market and network their business and educate them on the available grants or low interest loans available.

A dedication service was held at Whitesand Baptist Church Sunday, Sept. 7th to consecrate the newly constructed educational and family life facility to the service of the Lord.


September 24

Deputy John Wayne Tolar has been awarded for his service by the Domestic Abuse Family Shelter, Inc.  Charles Howell, a victim advocate and Law Enforcement Trainer for the Shelter, traveled to Prentiss to meet Tolar and bring the award. Tolar responded to a domestic violence call out of radio range with no back-up.  He found the victim severely injured, placed her in his patrol car and took her to the hospital.  He then went back and arrested the suspect.

The NAACP of Jeff Davis County sponsored a candidate forum at the Courthouse in Prentiss Sept. 18th. The South Central Chapter of Asa Philip Randolph Institute and Mississippi Association of Educators sponsored a morning of candidate speeches and forum as well as entertainment and food at the Long Leaf Gateway Park Saturday, Sept. 20th.

A morning house fire brought several volunteer units to Ramsey Road in the Clem area Tuesday morning.  Upon arrival, firefighters found the old Fannie Mae Ramsey house fully engulfed.


October 1

The newly formed Jeff Davis County Historical Group met in the historic old Blountville Bank building on main street. The group discussed goals of the organization and proceeding forward with an oral history project for JDC and elected officers for the upcoming year. Newly elected officers include President: Sylvia Ward, Vice President Mary Curtis, Treasurer Mary Ann Hudson, Secretary Sarah Parkman, Parliamentarian Elvert Cole and Project Coordinator Natalie Bell.

Jefferson Davis County Sheriff’s deputies were called to 6 Baggett Road in the Granby Community Friday afternoon after a report of shots being fired. According to Sheriff Ron Strickland, Oscar Hathorne shot and killed his wife Doris before taking his own life.


October 8

Three Jefferson Davis County men facing a multi-count indictment on federal drug charges have been found guilty on all counts by a jury in Gulfport. Kentorre Hall, a/k/a-Toto, Roger Randale Jones, a/k/a-Hitman, and Martel Torres Barnes, a/k/a-Marty Mar were all found guilty for the six-count indictment involving their connection with the alleged Cedar Grove drug trafficking organization.

Three Hattiesburg residents are facing federal charges stemming from a multi-count indictment.

Agents recovered around 18 kilos of cocaine along with $1.1 million in cash from  a Bassfield residence. FBI, DEA, IRS, and MBN agents arrested Fredrick Booth and Chris Booth at a Bassfield residence Wednesday afternoon after serving high risk search warrants. Shalonda Hill, a school teacher with Hattiesburg Public Schools, was also arrested Wednesday at a Hattiesburg location.


October 15

Joe Dale Walker, 61, of Monticello, Mississippi, pled guilty Tuesday, Oct. 7, in U.S. District Court to a federal charge of obstruction of justice. Walker was charged with instructing a federal grand jury witness to destroy documents and then lying to FBI agents in relation to the Victoria Newsome case that was filed in Simpson County in 2013.

The home of Mike Carrell located at Stamps Circle off 84 West in the county was destroyed by fire Tuesday morning. Firefighters from Prentiss and 84 West fought to keep the blaze contained.

Town workers are putting up new city limits signs after the expansion of the corporate limits in the annexation.


October 22

Bassfield High School defensive back Jamal Peters was given a personal invitation by members of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Tour team to play in the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Peters was presented his honorary jersey in front of family, friends, teammates and classmates in the BHS gym Tuesday and the Bassfield high gym exploded with cheers in celebration for this talented hometown young man.


October 29

Jeff Davis County has joined the list of thousands of places in the nation and world on geocaching.com that gives coordinates of hidden caches. Geocacher Howard Kelly states there are probably close to 25 caches now on the Rails to Trails Longleaf Trace from the Prentiss Gateway Park to the Jeff Davis Lake and many more hidden all along the way to Hattiesburg. He has hidden some himself and has found others in the county and in places he has traveled.

PCS Saints are headed to the AA playoffs after a 27-20 win over the Amite Rebels. In addition to a playoff berth, the Saints recognized their seniors and had a special pink game in honor of those who have or have had breast cancer.

PHS Bulldogs see the first winning season since 1996 after defeating St. Andrews 36-14.


November 5

Kelley Ross-Brown has been elected Jefferson Davis County Tax Assessor. Brown defeated Janice Bates 2696 votes to 926. Brown received 74% of the votes to Bates’ 26%. Brown will be filling the vacancy due to the untimely death of the previous tax assessor/collector, Sue Shivers Worthy.

There will be a run-off election between John Daley and Will Russell to fill the position of Jefferson Davis County Superintendent. This position was left vacant by the previous superintendent, Ike Haynes.

Daley received 32% of the votes to Russell’s 21%.

Jefferson Davis County voters overwhelmingly voted yes to Resolution 30 with 2881 votes to 517.

Von Norwood will continue to be the District 5 School Board member defeating Charline C. Browning 461 votes to 152.

Hancock Bank celebrates 115 year anniversary. The bank was formed in 1899 in Bay St. Louis and expanded into Prentiss in 2001 when Hancock and Lamar Capital Corporation merged Today, the bank consistently rates as one of America’s strongest and safest financial institutions.  Celebrating the milestone at the Prentiss Branch are bank employees Sissy Marchant, Duwanna Hawthorne, Walter Gatlin, Caren Davis, and Valerie Williams

Jeff Davis Community Hospital presented free services at its 17th bi-annual Health Fair held Oct. 30th.


November 12

Several business owners within Prentiss City Limits have approached the Board of Aldermen requesting the opportunity to sell beer on Sunday. The business owners explained to the board the amount of tax revenue beer sales on Sunday could bring the Town of Prentiss, as the stores just outside of town are always full on Sundays. If passed, beer would be sold on Sundays from 12:00 p.m. Until 10:00 p.m.

Business owners also requested they be allowed to sell beer on election days during normal store hours.

The Board voted to have a public hearing to allow the public to voice their opinions on both issues. The public hearing will be held Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 5 p.m., at the Prentiss Police Department.

Walkers, runners and cyclists came to enjoy the challenge of making it a kilometer per year of age on the Long Leaf Trace for the 2014 Birthday Challenge event. Participants came from Kokomo, Wesson, Jackson, Carson, Raymond, Terry, Brandon, Byram and New Hebron as well as Prentiss and Bassfield to take the challenge. For the enjoyment of even non-Challenge participants was a craft market in the Long Leaf Gateway Park showcasing local artists and crafts people where jewelry, pottery, wood work, home made cakes, photographs and numerous other specialty items could be found.

One of the county’s most unusual gatherings has taken place on the first Sunday of November for the past 10 years at Whitesand Baptist Church. Numerous leather clad bikers come roaring in to the church’s parking lot to attend a special biker day held for them. Whitesand members welcomed those to come in their usual leather garb and don’t blink at their beards and do-rags. Lunch is provided and all are welcome to attend.


November 19

According to Superintendent John Daley, all Jefferson Davis County schools and the district are currently rated a “C”.  Each district and school in the state is rated at one of five levels by the Mississippi Department of Education’s Accountability ranking system.

Robert Earl Stephens was named Prentiss Fire Department Firefighter of the Year 2014 at their annual banquet.


November 26

Three Jefferson Davis County men found guilty of a multicount indictment on federal drug charges were sentenced to life in prison today in federal court in Hattiesburg. Kentorre Hall, a/k/aToto, Roger Randale Jones, a/k/aHitman, and Martel Torres Barnes, a/k/aMarty Mar all appeared before District Judge Keith Starrett shackled and dressed in solid blue jump suits. The three were all previously found guilty for the sixcount indictment involving their connection with the Cedar Grove drug trafficking organization.

Former Jefferson Davis County Coroner Greg Blackwell. 53, was found dead Sunday night after a Prentiss police officer made a welfare check at his residence. According to the JDC Coroner Jimmy Slater, an autopsy report will be issued pending the completion of toxicology and histology procedures. No trauma or foul play was indicated. Provisional pathologic diagnosis is that the death resulted from natural causes.

Unofficial totals show Will Russell will be the next Jefferson Davis County Superintendent. With absentee votes counted, the unofficial totals were Russell 1114, Daley 1081. Also on the run-off ballot was the election for Chancery Court Judge District 13, Place 2.  Gerald Martin carried that race defeating Mary Burnham 922 votes to 901 (absentee votes not included). Will Russell will serve a one-year term, finishing the unexpired term left by Ike Haynes. The regular term election for superintendent will be held next year.

JDC Soil & Water Conservation District members recognized Mr. & Mrs. Daniel Pierce with the 2014 Outstanding Woodland Conservationist Award and father-son team Chuck and Charles Pruitt with the 2014 Outstanding Grassland Conservationist Award at their 45th annual membership meeting and banquet held at the M.G. Dyess Multipurpose building in Bassfield.


December 3

The Bassfield YellowJackets are South State Champs and have secured their opportunity to defend their back to back 2A State Championship in Starkville, MS this Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.

Five Prentiss Christian senior cheerleaders performed in the nationally televised Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City last week. Along with rehearsals and the parade performance, the girls were able to tour the famous sites in the Big Apple as well as take in a Broadway show and see the Rockettes perform at Radio City Music Hall. Participants were Courtnay Evans, Bayleigh Foster, Anna Williams Cochran, Kathleen Murphy, and Macy Thornton.

MDOT recently donated a truck to Jefferson Davis County for $1. The truck will be used for Sheriff Ron Strickland’s Litter Program for JDC. Tom King, Southern District Commissioner of Transportation, presented the title to Sheriff Strickland.


December 10

The Bassfield Yellowjackets have claimed the State AA Championship for the third consecutive year defeating Calhoun City 60-35.  This win ties Coach Willoughby’s record of state championships in 1984-1986. A special Bassfield, black and gold #42 jersey was made for the brother of Loyd Star deceased player Peyton Flowers.  Parker served as honorary team captain and was an inspiration to all who were there.

The home of Lynda Terrell on Berry Street was destroyed by fire Thursday afternoon.  Multiple departments provided mutual aid to Prentiss. The fire, according to a family member, is believed to have started in a back bedroom. Surrounding homes were spared.

Lovey’s Lunch Counter inside Farm Depot is now open and will offer a blue plate special with fried chicken daily and smoked ribs and chicken Thursday-Saturday. The lunch counter will be open Monday-Saturday 10:30-2:00. Farm Depot hours are Monday-Saturday 8-6.


December 17

Bethany Baptist Church held its first annual fundraising banquet donating proceeds to the Baptist Children’s Village this year. Accomplished musician Dwight Chance entertained on the piano while a home-prepared dinner was served by Bethany members. Well known WLBT-TV3 chief meteorologist and public speaker Barbie Bassett was special guest at the gala affair.


December 24

GFWC/MFWC Twentieth Century Club December Yard of the Month was awarded to Joe and Jeri Landry.


December 31

The Prentiss Board of Aldermen approved the sale of beer on Sundays and election days following a public hearing held December 16. The board voted unanimously to amend the original ordinance adopted November 6, 1984, regarding the proper rules and regulations for the control of the retail sale of beer. Beer sales will be allowed during the hours of 12 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunday and during the store’s regular selling hours on election days.The first Sunday this will take effect will be January 25 pending the 30 day waiting period required after the December 24th publication of the amendment in The Prentiss Headlight.

Jeanne Polk celebrated the home place and heritage of the Holloway/Polk families by inviting the public to view the antiquities and become a part of the unique history of the Holloway/Polk house situated just south of Prentiss on Hwy. 84. The home was built 150 years ago in the thriving town of Mt. Carmel and is the only building that continues to stand as a memorial of that town’s era.