Year in Review 2021: January -June

Published 5:33 pm Monday, January 3, 2022

Jan. 13

The five Jefferson Davis County election commissioners were sworn in on Jan. 4,  by 15th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Prentiss G. Harrell.  Election commissioners for JDC are District 5 Mattie Lewis, District 4 Stephen Abram, District 3 Towonder Applewhite, District 2 Ralph Hanegan and District 1 Linda Speights. Speights will serve as  chairperson of the commissioners and Ralph Hanegan will serve as secretary.

The Jefferson Davis County Sheriff’s Office received a call at approximately 5 p.m. on Jan. 7, regarding a man that had been shot and was sitting in his vehicle at this abandoned home at 143 Mt. Zion Road in Prentiss. Charlie Devon (Bo)  Williams was found deceased in the driver’s seat of a 2020 Toyota Camry. Williams died of multiple gunshot wounds to the left side of his head. Investigators with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the District Attorney’s office are assisting the Jefferson Davis County Sheriff’s Office with the investigation.

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Qualifying is now open for Prentiss and Bassfield municipal elections.

Jan. 20

The 125th Anniversary Celebration and Time Capsule Ceremony for Bassfield was held on Dec. 30 at Faler Park on the Longleaf Trace. Event coordinator Gary Russell Bass gave a history of the founding of Bassfield after discovering the document his great-grandfather used to apply for a post office in 1895. A time capsule was signed by those in attendance and placed to be opened in 75 years.

Malcolm Loftin was arrested after Prentiss Police Officers discovered him in a stolen vehicle on Park Street. A search of the vehicle resulted in a felony amount of illegal substances and drug paraphernalia.

Jefferson Davis County Superintendent Dexter Jordan has directed the Jefferson Davis County school district to return to full virtual learning until Feb. 10. No teachers or students should report to campus for in-person instruction. The district will continue the AA/BB schedule virtually.

Jan. 27

The Jefferson Davis County School District recently announced the district wide teacher and administrator of the year. Chosen as JDC Teacher of the Year is Melanie Jackson. The G.W. Carver Teacher of the Year is Melissa Adams. Barbara Gholar is Teacher of the Year at J. E. Johnson Elementary. Dr. Crystal Haynes was selected as JDC Administrator of the Year. She is the principal at G. W. Carver Elementary.Chosen as JDC Parent of the Year is Cindy Daley.

Nearly 450,000 COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed across Mississippi so far, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health. Jefferson Davis County has 841 cases and 25 deaths.

Feb. 3

The Jefferson Davis County Board of Supervisors approved the hiring of Gary Russell Bass as the new Economic Development Director for Jefferson Davis County at its first monthly meeting Monday.

Saulters-Moore Funeral Home has a new owner.The funeral home is now owned by Kevin and Jennifer Hughes. Joe Hutchins is now serving as the Managing Funeral Director.

The Jefferson Davis County Board of Supervisors deemed March as Clean-Up Awareness Month for Jefferson Davis County.

Feb. 10

Jefferson Davis County High School Jaguars Harold Rhodes and AlJurae Arnold have both signed to further their football career. Rhodes signed with Copiah Lincoln Community College. Arnold signed with East Central Community College.

The Director of Food Service for the Jefferson Davis County School District, Cindy Daley, was killed Saturday morning in an automobile accident. The one-car accident happened at 9:30 a.m. on Granby Road in Prentiss. Road conditions due to inclement weather were reported as the cause of the crash.

Ballots for municipal elections for the Town of Prentiss and the Town of Bassfield  have been set.

Prentiss Mayor Charley Dumas is unopposed. Candidates for Prentiss Alderman are Willie Davis, Patti King, Rudy McNeese, Hal “Moochie” Speights, Randy Stamps and Robert Young.

Angie Speights Ladner is running unopposed for Mayor of Bassfield.

Bassfield Alderman candidates are Lisa Blount, Kathy Gentry, Will Hendry, Erin Lee, Grant Tyler Matthews, Ken Roberts, James Speck and Robert Thompson.

Jefferson Davis Community Hospital recently received a new shipment of COVID-19 vaccinations for those eligible in the community.

Feb. 17

An ice storm hit Jefferson Davis County Monday morning and wreaked havoc throughout the entire area.

All county offices were closed for days as supervisors and town crews tried to keep the roads clear and power companies worked tirelessly to restore everyone’s power. Ice covered Columbia Avenue Monday morning following the winter storm that came through the area. Many residents are still without power and governmental offices and schools remain closed

Feb. 24

Fourteen firetrucks, the Mississippi State Fire Marshal and many first responders led Prentiss fireman Chuck Pruitt to his final resting place in Mt. Zion Cemetery Saturday afternoon. Pruitt succumbed to cancer after being diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma in September 2020.

Prentiss firemen work to extinguish a grass fire on Hwy 42 East at Green Grove MB Church in Prentiss Sunday afternoon.

March 3

Security has been heightened at the Jefferson Davis County jail after the installation of razor wire and fencing at the outside staircase.  Prisoners were able to access the outside staircase, after escaping the jail cell through the light in the ceiling and making their way to the roof.

Masks will no longer be required in Jefferson Davis County after the Governor Reeves removal of the statewide mandate. However, the JDC Board of Supervisors will still require masks in county buildings.

The annual Run for the Roses 5K event  has been canceled again for 2021. This is the second year the run will not be held due to COVID-19.

March 10

A new proposed school calendar has been presented to the Jefferson Davis County School Board implementing year-round school in the county. District 2 School Board Member Bobby Wilson made the motion to change the calendar. The motion died for lack of a second.

There is a group of people working to restore and preserve the landmark Prentiss Institute.

This year, it is poised to increase its impact and breadth of service to the community by

serving as a venue for state, national and community events, developing educational and job training programs for all ages and stabilizing operations, restoration and preservation to ensure its continuity as an important center of the community. The Board of Trustees is making an effort to support operations and develop new educational programs at Prentiss Institute.

Lula Mae Ross Bass celebrated her 100th birthday on Feb. 3 at her home among family and friends.

As part of Women’s History Month, the Mississippi NAACP is highlighting the work and achievements of strong, courageous and marvelous Mississippi women. Dedra M. Johnson of Prentiss was chosen as one of these women. Johnson was selected for her dedication to her community and commitment in showing that representation matters in all fields.

March 17

A J. E. Johnson student was killed March 10 following a four-wheeler accident in Prentiss.

The accident happened just after 2 p.m. and occurred roughly 1.5 miles off Hwy 42 on Two Miles Road.

Ah’Laysia Williams was pronounced dead on the scene. Tykevious Daniels, 20, was injured in the accident and rushed to Wesley Hospital in Hattiesburg complaining of back pain.

Det. Richard Browning and officer Deborah Rider with the Prentiss Police Department arrested Malcom Loftin of Bassfield, and his female companion, Audrey Goar of Sumrall, at the Jeffersonian Motel after

discovering drug paraphernalia, a large quantity of methamphetamine and a substance believed to be Heroin in the room. Loftin and Goar were charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and possession of a controlled substance and booked into the Jefferson Davis County jail.

A 19-year-old was killed just before midnight Friday evening after sustaining injuries in a car accident.

Jefferson Davis County Emergency officials were called to a one-car accident on Crossroads Church Road outside of Bassfield. Rafe Saulters was the only occupant in the vehicle and was pronounced dead on the scene.

Another accident on Saturday afternoon claimed the life of a  59-year-old Prentiss man.

Lonnie Holloway of Mt. Carmel Road, was traveling south on Hwy 541 when the ATV he was driving left the roadway at the Bouie River Bridge.  The ATV collided with a tree, causing it to overturn.

Holloway was ejected from the four-wheeler and pronounced dead at the scene. His fishing equipment was nearby.

March 24

All three Jefferson Davis County Schools opened this Monday to traditional learning. This is the first time the students have been in the classroom for traditional learning since March 2020.

The Town of Bassfield is having a Ceremony of Remembrance of the devastation and for the victims of the Easter 2020 tornadoes. The service will be held in Faler Park in Bassfield on Easter Sunday, April 4, at 4 p.m.

The youth from St. Peter Catholic Church in Bassfield, along with help from some parents and community members, joined in on the county clean-up effort and picked up 25 bags of trash on March 13.

March 31

Circuit Court Judge Tony Mozingo saw “no remorse or humility” as he sentenced a Prentiss man to 42 years in prison for the sexual battery of a young girl. Walker was found guilty of sexual battery of a minor child under the age of 14 on March 25 after a two-day trial. The case was tried by Assistant District Attorneys Carpenter S. Marsalis and Laurel Blue Brinkley.  Walker was sentenced on March 26, at the Jefferson Davis County Courthouse to serve 42 years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. He also will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his natural life.

Skyler Rashaud Jones, 26, of Carson, is being held without bond in the Jefferson Davis County Jail after law enforcement officers charged him with the shooting death of Johnny Demarrio Watkins.

A Jefferson Davis County prisoner is back in custody after escaping from the jail over the weekend.

Officials say Jerry Wayne Raynes escaped just before 3 a.m. Sunday morning. He was not discovered missing until 24 hours later, when the 911 dispatcher on duty received a call from a female friend of Raynes early Monday morning inquiring about him being out of jail.  Raynes was captured by Mississippi Department of Corrections officers Monday morning in Seminary at a gas station.

April 7

Bassfield residents gathered for a memorial service held Sunday, marking one year after two devastating tornadoes ripped through the area killing four people. The ceremony was held in Faler Park at 4 p.m., the same time the first tornado hit the area.

Members of the community had the opportunity to meet the new JDC Economic Development Director, Gary Russell Bass, last month at a reception held at the County Building in Prentiss.

The Prentiss Fire Department hosted its first annual Remembrance Walk this morning. The walk began at the Ronald Wayne Jones Memorial Complex on Hwy. 184 in and traveled down Columbia Ave. through Prentiss.

There was a great turnout despite the weather at the first ever JDC Chamber Partnership Easter Egg Hunt. The hunt was held in the Longleaf Trace Park in Prentiss for children 10-years-old and younger.

April 14

Jefferson Davis County Sheriff’s Deputy Pat Barnes, 50, was killed Saturday night in an accident on Hwy. 42 East. The accident happened just before 9 p.m. at Hwy. 42 and Ed Parkman Road as Barnes was headed to Prentiss to assist the Prentiss Police Department with an altercation at the Western Motel.

Signing Day took place on recently at Jefferson Davis County High School and Prentiss Christian School.

JDCHS Dandy Dozens Christina James and TyNerious Daniels officially became college athletes. James signed with Copiah Lincoln Community College located in Wesson, while Daniels signed with East Central Community College located in Decatur.

Prentiss Christian School senior Abby Barnett signed an archery scholarship with Copiah Lincoln Community College.

Five County Child Development Program, Inc. is currently accepting applications for Head Start children ages three and four for the 2021-2022 program year.

April 21

More than 200 gathered on Saturday at J. E. Johnsons Gymnasium in Prentiss to remember the life of Thomas Patrick “Pat” Barnes. Barnes, a deputy with the Jefferson Davis County Sheriff’s Department, and was killed in an on-duty car accident on April 10 while responding to a Prentiss Police officer’s need for back-up.

Jefferson Davis County Sheriff’s Deputies and the Mississippi Highway Patrol responded to a call of a pedestrian being struck on Hwy 84 just outside Prentiss. The preliminary investigation revealed that a Chevrolet passenger car, driven by Leshann Hamilton of Hattiesburg, was traveling east on Hwy 84 when it struck a pedestrian who was walking in the eastbound lane. The pedestrian, Latoya Barnes, 41, of Prentiss, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Mississippi State Rating Bureau has lowered the Town of Prentiss from a Class 7 to a Class 6 fire rating.

Also, the Prentiss Rural Fire District, which includes Granby Volunteer Fire Department and Highway 84 West Volunteer Fire Department, was lowered from a Class 9 to a Class 8.

Moderna Vaccine (COVID) appointments are now available at Jefferson Davis Community Hospital.

April 28

Jefferson Davis County will soon be growing industrial hemp and according Jefferson Davis County Economic Development Director Gary Russell Bass, this could lead to opportunities for the county’s economy.

Melanie Sorenson with the Mississippi Industrial Hemp Association discussed the process of growing industrial Hemp with the Jefferson Davis County Board of Supervisors at their monthly meeting.

Absentee voting is now open for Prentiss and Bassfield upcoming municipal elections.

Old Hebron Baptist will be celebrating its 200 year anniversary Oct. 31.

Firefighters from Granby and Bassfield Volunteer Fire Departments were called to Hwy 35 and Granby Road early Sunday morning. Vezino’s Club was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived just after 2:30 a.m. The club was closed and the owner was out of town at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.

James Ball and Dina Hagenson were honored at an appreciation dinner held recently by the Jeff Davis Farmers Cooperative.

May 5

A shooting in the drive thru at Wards in Prentiss has left one injured and one in jail.The incident happened April 29 just before 10 a.m. Jadarious Martin was in the drive thru when eight shots were fired into Martin’s vehicle, one striking him in the arm.

Prentiss Police Officers and Jefferson Davis County Deputies on the scene say a total of eight shots were fired into Martin’s vehicle, one striking him in the arm. The shooter fled the scene, but was pulled over shortly thereafter by Jefferson Davis County Deputies. Ladarious Taylor of Brandon was arrested and booked into the Jefferson Davis County jail.

Jefferson Davis County Sheriff’s dispatchers were trained last week after a new 911 system was installed.

The system has not been upgraded since 1980. The new equipment is the Intrado Viper system.

The Prentiss Christian School Junior Varsity Team has won the school’s first ever state championship in archery. The varsity team placed second, and the elementary placed third.

May 12

People waited in line to fill their gas tanks at the Exxon Fastmart in Prentiss Monday night after Colonial Pipeline halted operations after a weekend cyberextortion and it was feared a gas shortage would soon be imminent. Gas supply was low at all stations in Prentiss.

Jefferson Davis County Sheriff’s Deputies have discovered contraband outside the rear of the courthouse. The contraband was found on three different occasions over the past month, with the latest being found Saturday. Items discovered were marijuana, crystal meth, drug paraphernalia, cigarettes, cigars, cigarette papers, lighters, a cell phone and a motor from a toy car with its intended use believed to be for a homemade tattoo gun.

A retirement reception was held for Rosetta Ball recently at the courtyard of the County Building in Prentiss.

Ball retired from the Jefferson Davis County Tax Assessor Collector’s Office after 23 years of employment with the county.

Members of the Jefferson Davis County High School and Prentiss Christian School baseball teams met on the baseball diamond at PCS for the first time since ending their recreational baseball careers at Price Field. Many of them played together in t-ball and continued to be teammates through coach pitch and kid pitch.

May 19

A home on Blount Avenue in Prentiss suffered damage after what officials believe was a storm with rotation on Tuesday afternoon. The storm blew up with no warning and lasted roughly three minutes.

The Board of Directors at Prentiss Christian School has announced that Rev. Kevin Walker has accepted the opportunity to become the next Head of School. Walker has served Prentiss Christian for the past 10 years as a teacher, assistant administrator, elementary principal, high school principal, and most recently as interim Head of School.

Over 50 vehicles participated in a parade celebrating the residents at the Jefferson Davis Community Hospital Extended Care Facility in Prentiss last Thursday.

The color guard, elected officials, law enforcement officers, churches, Jefferson Davis County

Jaguar football players and loved ones all took part in the event sponsored by The Way There!, LLC.

The Town of Prentiss will resume its seasonal mosquito spraying this week. The city limits will be sprayed once a week during the late afternoon hours.

Firefighters battled a blaze for more than hour on Friday  as flames and smoke damaged a home at 1325 John Street in Prentiss. Residents said they awoke to the smell of smoke and managed to escape safely.

Corinthia Hollins resides at the home with her family.

May 26

More than 50 people participated in a candlelight vigil earlier this month in memory of fallen officers from Jefferson Davis County held by the Town of Prentiss. The vigil was originally scheduled to be held at Prentiss City Hall but was moved to the Ronald W. Jones Memorial Complex due to inclement weather.

Those who were killed in the line of duty in Jefferson Davis County are Prentiss Police Office Ron Jones, Jefferson Davis Sheriff Deputy Tommy Bourne, Jefferson Davis Sheriff Deputy J. P. Rutland and Jefferson Davis Sheriff Deputy Pat Barnes.

The Belton Sims’ trial is underway in the Jefferson Davis County Court- house in Prentiss. The jury was chosen Monday with the prosecution presenting its case on Tuesday.  Sims was charged with the murder of his 4-year-old son, Messiah, in 2016.

Prentiss Mayor Charley Dumas and Leaf River Extraction owner Eric Sorenson signed a lease last week that will allow the company to use the former KHL building on John Street Extension in Prentiss. Leaf River Extraction is a grower and producer of hemp products, including hemp oil and CBC products.

Jones College recently hosted WDAM-TV’s annual Top of Class recognition program, recognizing the Valedictorian and Salutatorians from 45 high schools in the Pine Belt. Jefferson Davis County High School Valedictorian Zaporia Betts and Salutatorian Danielle Hathorne participated in this year’s celebration. Prentiss Christian School Valedictorian Brylee Holder and Salutatorian Kaelin Berry also participated in the


June 2

A Prentiss detective “followed the money” as law enforcement officers worked quickly May 25 to capture a bank robber. The Hancock Whitney Bank on Columbia Avenue in Prentiss was robbed just after 1 p.m. The perpetrator pulled a gun on a teller, took an undetermined amount of money, and fled on foot behind the Shell Station on Columbia Avenue, officers said. Eric Lashay Boykin, 49, of Biloxi, was taken into custody just after 5 p.m. Tuesday behind the Department of Human Services building at 1185 Frontage Road in Prentiss. He was arrested and charged with armed robbery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and carrying a concealed weapon.

It was a beautiful morning for the Memorial Day program held Monday at the Jefferson Davis County Courthouse. The invocation was given by Sgt. Joe Bridges and welcome by Prentiss Mayor Charley Du- mas, followed by the National Anthem. The speaker for the event was Msg. Harry Carter, U.S. Air Force Ret.

The National Weather Service in Jackson has confirmed that a tornado did in fact touch down in Prentiss on May 18. The EF0 tornado reached winds up to 85 miles per hour. The path of the tornado was one mile long and 300 yards wide. It lasted approximately three minutes beginning at 2:58. This weak tornado touched down between 2nd Street and 3rd Street on Blount Avenue in the northwest side of the Town in Prentiss.

Belton Sims has been convicted of murder in his son’s death. Sims was convicted of killing his 4-year- old son Messiah Griffith in 2016. The jury, made up of three males and nine females, took less than an hour to reach the verdict. Sims was found guilty of the crime of capital murder unanimously by the 12 jurors.

Judge Prentiss Harrell sentenced Sims to life in prison and a $25,000 fine.

June 9

Following the Belton Sims trial at the Jefferson Davis Courthouse last month, the janitorial service discovered suspicious items in a garbage can in the witness restroom just off the courtroom. Cellphones, marijuana, cigars, headphones and more were among the items discovered hidden in a restroom garbage can at the Jefferson Davis County Courthouse after a recent murder trial.

Melanie Sorenson and her husband, Eric, opened their hemp dispensary to the public on Monday.

The business is located in the former KLH building on John Street Extension and is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

One man is dead and one is in custody after a shooting June 1 at the Sweet Beulah Garden Apartments on J. E. Johnson Road in Prentiss. Taurus Hill died as a result of a gunshot wound received during the incident, according to law enforcement officers.  Jefferson Davis County Deputies have charged Billy Quinn Lottis with murder in connection with the shooting.

A report of a stolen car led to the arrest of a Prentiss man on drug and gun charges

A victim told Prentiss Police that a car had been stolen in late May and at that time identified a suspected car theft, police said. Detective Richard Browing and Officer Debra Rider discovered both the car and the suspect several days later at the Western Motel, police said.

Hosie Preston was arrested and the car was recovered. In the process, officers saw a handgun in the car and conducted a search that produced illegal substances and drug paraphernalia, officers said.

Preston was booked into the Jefferson Davis County

Jail and charged with pos- session of a firearm by a felon, possession of marijuana, possession of drug para- phernalia, and two counts possession of a controlled substance with intent and grand larceny.

Jefferson Davis County Superintendent Dexter Jordan met with the Board of Supervisors this week regarding the sports facilities at the John Thompson Complex in Bassfield. The complex is home to Jefferson Davis County High School softball and baseball teams which have had to play out of town since the 2020 tornado damage occurred. The county received just under $300,000 from the insurance company to make repairs to the facility.

June 16

Only 28 percent of the registered voters in Prentiss turned out for the municipal election held June 8.

Aldermen elected for the Town of Prentiss who will be serving for the next four years are Wil- lie Davis, Patty King, Rudy McNeese, Moochie Speights and Randy Stamps. Prentiss Mayor Charley Dumas was unopposed and will serve as mayor for four more years. Aldermen elected for the Town of Bassfield are Lisa Blount, Will Hendry, Erin Lee, Ken Roberts and James Speck. Angie Speights will serve as mayor of Bassfield for the next four years after running unopposed in the election.

The Mississippi State Department of Health will host special pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Jefferson Davis County on June 23-26.

A short documentary about Prentiss Institute, a Mississippi historical and educational landmark, will be broadcast on Mississippi Public Broadcasting Television (MPB-TV) throughout the state in June.

Informative Hemp materials and products are now on display at the Prentiss Public Library as part of National Hemp Month.

A & K Nutrition owned by Valerie Holliman is now open at 1019 Columbia Avenue in Prentiss. The business specializes in loaded teas and meal replacement shakes and is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. and 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday

June 23

The Town of Prentiss recently received another perfect rating from the Mississippi State Department of Health after the latest inspection of its drinking water supply. A perfect rating of 5.0 is delivered upon receiving perfect scores in Technical, Managerial and Financial categories. The town has maintained a perfect water score for 16 consecutive years.

Authorities were searching Tuesday for a missing Bassfield man. Robert Earl Bass, 76, of 26 Bass Road, was reported missing to the Jefferson Davis County Sheriff’s Office just before 7p.m. Monday.

Leaf River Extraction held its grand opening and ribbon cutting Friday morning in Prentiss. Prentiss Mayor Charley Dumas and Aldermen Willie Davis, Moochie Speights and Rudy McNeese were all present at the opening. Former NFL wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars Jimmy Smith was also at the grand opening signing autographs.

The South Mississippi Regional Library system received a $20,000 Save the Children Community Engagement grant, which will be used to offer summer reading programs to children ages 5 and up in Jefferson Davis and Marion counties.

Jefferson Davis County and the Town of Prentiss Law Enforcement Officers, first responders and sheriff’s department employees were honored June 20 with a steak meal in memory of Jefferson Davis County Sheriff’s Deputy Pat Barnes. The event was held at Bethany Baptist Church and was sponsored by Steaks 4 Sheep-dogs.

June 30

Saulters Moore Funeral Home held an open house and ribbon cutting Sunday afternoon. Guests were able to tour the newly renovated funeral home and enjoy a reception after the ribbon cutting. Recent improvements to the funeral home include painting, new carpet, new furniture and landscaping. Kevin and Jennifer Hughes became the new owners of the funeral home in 2021 after owning and managing the Greater Jackson Mortuary.

A Carson man was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, announced acting U.S. Barrett Attorney Darren J. LaMarca and Brad Byerley, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration. According to court documents, Charles John “Charlie” Barrett, 37, of Carson, sold methamphetamine to an individual in Hattiesburg on multiple occasions between January and November of 2020. Barrett was indicted by a federal grand jury and pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

The Prentiss Mayor and Board of Aldermen were sworn in last Thursday and will begin their official duties July 1. The elected officials were sworn in by Prentiss Municipal Judge Albert Turnage.

Bridget Hathorn-Shield will be performing at Red, Hot and Blues July 4 at ball- park in Lucas just off Hwy 84.

Hathorn-Shield is a native of Prentiss and is the daughter of Robert and Alice Hathorn.