2018: The Year in Review
December 2018 was one of the top 3 wettest months on record in Mississippi and Scott County was no exception. Just as the year was about to a close torrential downpours on December 27 caused widespread street flooding. Here Forest city work crews use heavy equipment to clear drains on Old Hillsboro Street as a mortorist seems unwilling to observe the “No Wake Zone.”
As we close out 2018 we look back on a year that provided Scott County with a wide variety of news events. This past year included a mid-term election in which we saw voters turnout in near record numbers and maybe the biggest story of the year was Raytheon’s announcement that they will be making a $100 million investment in a new radar facility at the Forest Campus.
The construction project broke ground in mid-November and plans to be completed with construction during the first quarter of 2020.
The expansion at the Forest plant has already positively effected some local contractors as they are bidding and working on the current construction of the new radar test and production facility. Raytheon expects the new facility and production of the Navy’s SPY-6 Radar to create dozens of new jobs for years to come. This new expansion only further solidifies Raytheon’s commitment to Scott County and the dedicated workers that make the Forest operation a success.
There were plenty of other stories making the news in 2018. The month-by-month synopsis follows.
Brandon Lewis, 19, of Pelahatchie was arrested in connection with the Christmas Day homicide of this father Wayne Adcocks, 57. During initial interviews with Scott County Sheriff Department investigators Lewis admitted shooting his father as well as intentionally burning a ATV, shed and lawn furniture. Lewis was originally detained by the Rankin County Sheriff Department and transported to Scott County. Lewis is awaiting trial on the charges of Murder and Felony Arson.
Lake High School received the prestigious accomplishment of an “A” school rating. LHS was the only school in the Scott County School District to receive the highest grade. In January 2018 LHS Principal Lee Killen said, “There is no other place in my opinion that embodies the team work philosophies of team work, from Lake Elementary, Lake Middle School, and Lake High School — we always help each other, and this has allowed us to receive an “A” rating.”
The Scott County unemployment rate was once again one of the lowest in the state at 3.6 percent. The county ranked well below the state average and only 5 of 83 Mississippi counties had a lower unemployment ranking than Scott County. Those counties were: Lamar, Rankin, Desoto, Pontotoc and Madison.
The First Baptist Church of Morton called Brother Marty Wilson as their new pastor. “My objective is to glorify God by presenting Jesus Christ as Lord to as many people as possible and to minister to them in a way that will help each person find the love of God, our creator; and to help develop them in a personal relationship with God.” Wilson said.
Scott County had to withstand very low temperatures and a hard freeze that engulfed the county during the early part of January. The hard freeze brought with it fears that the severe weather elements could affect local water system infrastructures, but Scott County faired much better than other parts of the state.
Local residents braved the frigid January temps to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during 21st annual walk held on January 15, 2018. The annual walk honoring Dr. King was sponsored and celebrated by Legacy Education, Community Empowerment Foundation, Inc. and Slaughter Memorial Foundation.
Forest Municipal School District announced the year’s top teachers and administrator. Lindsey White, Robin Sistrunk and Katherine Grisham were all named Teachers of the Year. Sistrunk was announced as FMSD District Teacher of the Year. Kim Shoemaker was named as FMSD Administrator of the Year.
Lake Middle School went into lockdown after a 14-year-old eighth grade boy brought a gun to school in an attempt to scare another student. The Scott County School Resource Officer; Deputy Sammy Lovett was called immediately to LMS for a possible weapon on campus. Officer Lovett confronted the boy and disarmed him without incident. The teenager indicated that his actions were only an attempt to intimidate another student because of a previous disagreement. The student was taken into custody and transported to the juvenile facility at the Rankin County Detention Center.
A Scott County Sheriff Deputy stopped a vehicle that was traveling on I-20. The driver of the vehicle was Feliciano Flores, 37, of Houston, Texas. During the traffic stop the deputy was given a consent to search the vehicle and found 78 pounds of marijuana with an approximate street value of $300,000. Flores was charged with Aggravated Trafficking of Marijuana.
Scott County School District announced the year’s top teachers and administrators. SCSD Teachers of the Year were: Michelle Gibbs, Debbie Burnham, Melandy Henry, Marilyn Maseda, Tina Ware, Shawanda Matheny, Seana Williams, Emily Thrash, Sheila Thompson, Shelly French, Brandy Richardson and Jonathan Sigrest. SCSD Administrators of the Year were: Scott Wells, Lee Killen and Marylynn Crotwell.
Ronderrick Barlow was sentenced to a 40-year prison term after pleading guilty to Second Degree Murder in the 2016 Amber Watkins homicide. In August 2016 the body of 27-year-old Watkins was discovered in a wooded area behind Chamblee Trailer Park and all evidence at the time of the murder pointed directly to Barlow.
Dixie National wagon train riders made their annual trip through Scott County on their way to Jackson and the Dixie National Rodeo. The Central Mississippi Ride stopped in Lake for a Cowboy Church service before hitting the road again.
Steele Baptist Church was likely struck by lightning igniting fire and causing irreparable damage to multiple buildings. In the early morning of February 7, 2018, a lightning storm lit up the skies over Scott County and was the likely cause of the fire that engulfed Steele Baptist Church’s pastor parsonage. North Central Scott County VFD, Sebastopol VFD and Lake VFD all responded to the fire. The fire destroyed the parsonage and lightning is believed to have destroyed the church’s steeple.
Carthage man died after suffering a fatal gun shot wound on Highway 21 south of Sebastopol. When arriving on the scene of a reported one car accident Scott County Sheriff Deputies found an unresponsive male inside the wrecked vehicle. After further investigating the deputies determined the individual was Salvador Flores who was later pronounced dead as a result of a single gun shot wound.
Lake Schools won the Mississippi Blood Services Blood Drive Coordinators Award for 2017. Every year MBS takes one night of the year to recognize the individuals and groups who put in extra effort to ensure that there is an adequate, and safe, blood supply for Mississippi patients. The principal of LES challenged the principal at LHS to a duel to see which school could collect the most units of blood. While LES ultimately won the duel, but because the schools went above and beyond it was the Mississippi patients in need of blood who came out as the big winners.
Scott County citizens living on Morton Marathon Road, Mudline Road, Highway 501 S and many more who live within ten miles of the Chambers Clearview Landfill looking for help with awful odors in the air. One resident was quoted as saying, “On some days outside is not an option,” because of the disgusting smells originating from the landfill. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality requested an air monitoring sample and test be completed due to the complaints from residents. The overpowering and repulsive smells can be hard to deal with, but there is a possibility that dangerous chemical byproducts may also be present in the air. Some of the residents explain that their family has been in the area for generations and they intend to take all action available to literally deodorize the air.
Multiple law enforcement agencies investigated the hanging death of Willie Jones, 21, of Forest. On February 8 Jones’ body was found near Green Grove Road in Lake. Some of Jones’ family members believed either domestic violence or racially motivated foul play could have been involved. On the day Jones’ body was discovered multiple witnesses had observed Jones heatedly arguing with his girlfriend. Scott County Sheriff Mike Lee dispelled these allegations when he explained that Jones died from strangulation from the ligature around his neck and that there was no evidence to back up the family’s accusations that race played a part in the death.
Jeremy Michael Simmonds Paul, 39, of Forest committed suicide while in custody at the Scott County Detention Center on February 17. Paul apparently hung himself with his own pants. Sheriff Lee said that video surveillance showed Paul waking up in the morning, tying his pants around his own neck and then securing the opposite end of the pants to cell bars as he hung himself. Paul was incarcerated and facing a charge of Possession of Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Prior to the suicide Paul had bonded out, but was taken back into custody when his bond was surrendered.
Olivia Triplet was selected as Scott County’s Distinguished Young Woman. Triplett was selected after competing against three other young ladies in the 2018 SCDYW competition that was held at Forest Elementary School. In addition to being selected as the overall winner, Triplett won the talent and fitness portions of the competition. Haven Morehead was selected as first alternate and won the Be Your Best Self Award. Victoria Thrash won the Scholastic Award and Hannah Mitchell won the Spirit Award. Triplett moved on to compete against young women from around Mississippi in the statewide DYW competition in Meridian.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp #1666 located in Forest held their annual Lee-Jackson Banquet at the Forest Baptist Church Community Center. The yearly event celebrates their ancestors and pays tribute to Civil War service veterans. The keynote speaker at the 2018 event was SCV Commander and Chief Thomas V. Strain of Athens, Alabama.
The Scott County Times asked Scott Countians their opinion on arming teachers as a defense against school shootings. It was clear that the opinions vary greatly among county residents, county officials and school officials. All individuals that were asked believed that arming teachers and/or school officials could very well create a safer environment in a “perfect” world. Every one of the individuals that gave their opinion agreed that protecting the children should be the highest priority, but more than one individual believed that teachers already have a tremendous amount of responsibility and that adding to those responsibilities could be “over doing it.” More than one resident said that arming teachers would be a good idea, it should only be the absolute “last line of defense” in our schools.
The Scott County School District received $900,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Human Services to establish the STAR Academy Program. The grant was used to create the new child intervention program to help students who may have fallen behind in certain areas of their school work. The interactive scholastics program is a drop-out prevention and catch-up program Morton High School hosted a ribbon cutting for the STAR Academy Program on March 9.
During spring break residents of Union Grove/Steele Community took part in the annual Great American Cleanup for the 38th consecutive year. The annual road cleanup event is sponsored by Keep Mississippi Beautiful and through the years has become an annual community tradition for residents. Back in March, Margaret Patrick said that participating the annual road cleanup project brings back memories of watching her mother walking along the road with a brown paper bag she would fill with the garbage she cleaned up. Community residents were already looking forward to hitting the roads for cleanup in 2019.
Forest Boy Scout Troop 63 completed a practice hike around Forest with their fully loaded packs in tow on their backs. Members of the troop practiced for the 75-mile hike they completed over 12 days and reached elevations upwards of 12,000 feet during their trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. The scout ranch is made up of 140,177 acres in the southern Rocky Mountains. Members that traveled with Troop 63 were: Nate Reiss, Waylon Crimm, Regan Reiss, Tate Rushing, Bonner Cox and troop leader Vance Cox.
Community Bank honored Thomas Colbert’s 50-year career with gift to Ole Miss in his name. Colbert’s legacy in the banking industry began when he was named the youngest banking CEO in Mississippi in 1968. To commemorate Colbert’s 50th anniversary in banking, Community Bank donated $340,000 to the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration in Colbert’s name.
Alvin Seaney retired from the Scott County Emergency Management Operations on March 30 after serving 20 years as the SCEMO Director. Forest Fire Department Captain Mike Marlow was appointed as Seaney’s replacement.
Forest Police Department acted swiftly in apprehending burglary suspect. FPD apprehended Daryel Donald of Forest for allegedly breaking in to the Sprint Convenience Store on the corner of Highway 80 and E. Third Street in Forest.
Forest Fire Department improves overall rating from Class 7 to Class 6. Every five years the FFD undergoes a survey taken by the Mississippi State Rating Bureau. The ratings indicate the fire departments general readiness as to training, preparation, 911 call center and all the way down to apparatuses and man power. During the MSRB they closely review many factors that leads to the overall protection class rating.
Four deputies from the Scott County Sheriff’s Department ranked in the top ten overall at the North American Sniper Competition. The NASC competition included the nation’s top sniper teams in law enforcement and the military. The deputies were split into two-man teams and competed against teams from all over the United States. The deputies that earned top ten finishes were: Brad Ellis, Bryant Creel, Justin McDill and Joey Rigby. SCSD Team One (Ellis and Creel) finished third overall and SCSD Team Two (McDill and Rigby) finished eighth overall.
Scott Central graduate and Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs latest record book rewriter, Victoria Vivians, was drafted in the first round - eighth overall - in the Womens National Basketball Association’s amateur draft. After completing one of the best seasons in MSU women’s basketball history, Vivian’s a.k.a. “Queen Vivian” here in Scott County, became the second highest lady basketball draftee ever in the state. Vivians was drafted by the Indiana Fever.
The Forest Garden Club held their annual plant sale April 27 at Kats Kave in Forest. The annual plant sale is the FGC’s main fundraiser for the year and all proceeds will go directly to charitable causes and club expenses. The members prepared for the plant sale for months and offered and a large variety of plants for purchase.
Fourth class inducted into the Scott County Sports Hall of Fame April 28 at Livingston Performing Arts Center of Roosevelt State Park in Morton. The SCSHOF grew a little larger when the class of new inductees were installed in April. The 2018 hall of fame class had 10 new inductees that included: Tom Lee, Sheldon Thomas, Lisa Bustin, Ricky Rogers, Sammy Pace, Steven Boozer, Cecil H. Jones, Sappy Moore, Dutch Nichols and N.C. Eiland.
The Forest Relay for Life was held on April 27 at Gaddis Park and included a Disney themed survivor dinner. The American Cancer Society benefit night also included entertaining performances by the Forest Bearcat Cheerleaders, Kingdom First and Barefoot Highway. The Slaughter Library Relay for Life Team, led my Alderwoman Cynthia Melton, celebrated their 20th anniversary of participation in the annual event. The SLRFL team was started in 1998 in part as a memorial for Olivia Slaughter who lost her battle with cancer in 1991.
The Forest Public Library hosted seventy-five county residents for the National Library Week presentation by photographer Jeff Baldock as he explained in detail the editing process he enacts for his renowned still images. Baldock’s presentation was titled Discover Your Passions was the motto for NLW 2018. One of Baldock’s most well known photo series is Mississippi by Night which includes multiple still photos set in downtown Forest at night.
Will Chambers was named Forest High School’s STAR Student for 2018. The Mississippi Economic Council and its M.B. Swayze Foundation sponsors Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) Program selected Chambers as its STAR student and he in turn selected Chantelle Herchenhahn as his STAR Teacher. Herchenhahn was selected by Chambers as the person who has made the greatest contribution to his scholastic achievement.
Forest Municipal School District announced their 2017-2018 Parent of the Year. The honor went to Edwin Gonzalez, the father of three sons, Edwin, Jr. (FHS), Joshue (FHS) and Kleyls (HMS). Gonzalez was originally recognized as Forest High School’s Parent of the Year and then subsequently awarded the same honor for the entire school district. Both school and district officials said he is known for working the concession stand at every home football game and soccer match, as well as faithfully traveling to events to support the students of FHS and HMS.
The Bank of Forest sponsored and hosted the 9th annual Run Forest Run 5K run/walk on May 12. The annual event drew a large crowd of walkers, runners and spectators who all came out to enjoy competition, fellowship and raising money for Relay for Life. The streets of downtown Forest all the way to Gaddis Park were filled with competitors running and walking to raise money for individuals battling different forms of cancer.
Sebastopol Attendance Center’s Krystal White was set to leave for her second summer of a highly coveted summer internship with the ladies professional basketball team Atlanta Dream of the Womens National Basketball Association. Utilizing her strong determination, dedication and hard work she earned the opportunity. The internship allowed the aspiring professional sports sideline reporter the chance to visit and learn at corporations like CNN, NBA TV and TNT Sports. White is an all-star on the basketball court and in the classroom and which helped her earn her dream internship with the Atlanta Dream.
On May 1 an anonymous threat aimed at students from both Lake High School and Lake Middle School was sent out via text message. A second anonymous threat was sent through a social media website and the threats had school officials and parents extremely concerned. School officials immediately contacted the Scott County Sheriff’s Department and immediate action was taken to ensure all students safety. All Lake Schools had a much greater security presence on May 2 in the form of sheriff deputies on campus.
Jason Miller Band headlined at 2018 Lake Fest. The town of Lake held the annual festival on May 12, and the day’s festivities included arts, crafts, food vendors, live music, magic show, car show, bounce houses and a beauty pageant.
Following up on a tip from an avid reader of the Scott County Times, we discovered you don’t have to travel thousands of miles to the deserts of the Middle East or Africa to find a heard of camels. Mississippi’s first ever camel dairy, Frank and Friends, is located just west of Morton and as of last update was home to 10 camels. Jimmy and Tonia Goldby, own and operate the dairy where there are Dromedary Camels (one hump camel) everywhere you look. Frank, the couple’s very first camel, is quite popular in the local area and is hands down the star of the show. The couple travels all over the southeast to appear at events and they host camel parties at the dairy.
City of Forest passes Ordinance 465 limiting the use of non-stationary structures as residential homes within the city limits. As a direct result of the growing practice of repurposing utility sheds and storage sheds to be used as residential homes the city adopted the new ordinance restricting the use of these small buildings. The lower cost, high availability and ease of attainability people have been moving these buildings to their property and moving right in. City of Forest Mayor Nancy Chambers said that there are many problems with the aforesaid practice, but the main concern about living in these buildings is safety.
Sebastopol Attendance Center was recognized as being one of the nation’s upper echelon high schools. In the 2018 U.S. News Best High Schools rankings, Sebastopol was designated as a Bronze Badge School which indicates that the school is in the top 30 percent of all public high schools. Out of 20,548 schools that were reviewed Sebastopol is one of 5,958 schools that received recognition. The Mississippi Department of Education said that the schools on the list “scored high enough on test scores to earn gold, silver or bronze best high schools recognition list.”
Forest native and former Scott County Times Reporter, Dr. Christopher Gilmer, was named president at West Virginia University at Parkersburg. Dr. Gilmer credited his parents and grandparents for providing him with the belief and opportunity to do whatever he wanted to do in life and used those gifts to dedicate his professional life to higher education. He has spent most of his higher education career here in Mississippi but was nervously excited about moving to West Virginia with his husband to embark on this new position as president of West Virginia University at Parkersberg. Gilmer drew a direct correlation between the lessons he learned about life and people during his upbringing here in Scott County and the successes he has earned and enjoyed throughout his career in higher education.
In early May, Judge Tom Lee and wife Norma Ruth visited Washington, D.C. to attend the Ninth Quadrennial Conference of the Federal Judges Association. The national event was held at the Washington Georgetown Marriott and featured a variety of speakers, and museum tours. The highlight of the conference was a reception at the White House where President Donald Trump addressed the gathering and thanked the judges for their dedicated service.
During the month of May Scott County saw two of its elder lady residents reach the centenarian club when they celebrated there 100th birthdays. Lula Mae Fountain of Lake turned 100-years old on May 24 and celebrated her birthday with a restaurant full of friends and family. Fountain was born in the Salem Community in 1918 and has lived in Scott County practically here entire life. She said this is where she was born and raised, and this is where she will be when the Lord calls her home. Allie Mae Creel had her 100th birthday on May 30 and celebrated with friends, family and her church family at the Sebastopol Baptist Church. The Church feels like a second home to Creel and that makes perfect sense since she has been a member there for over 70 years. Like Fountain, Creel was born and raised in Scott County and has lived in Sebastopol for essentially as long as it has been a town. Creel holds a deep love for Scott County and her hometown of Sebastopol and said she can not imagine living anywhere else.
Schools from Forest Municipal School District and Scott County School District both held their 2018 graduation ceremonies during the last week of May. During those ceremonies held by the high schools throughout Scott County approximately 374 seniors graduated.
Raytheon in Forest announced the company’s plans for a $100 million facility and program expansion at the Forest campus. The expansion includes building a new 50,000 square foot facility that will house a new state of the art radar test and production program to join the current consolidated manufacturing facility. Raytheon will test, develop and produce the U.S. Navy’s next generation SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar. The new radar facility will create dozens of new jobs in Scott County and further solidifies the companies plan to remain on the of largest employers in the county for decades to come. Construction of the new radar facility is also expected to create construction jobs and possible contracts for local contractors to bid on throughout the entirety of the construction project. Raytheon’s is expecting to complete the construction phase of the expansion during the first quarter of 2020.
Brenda McCaughn announced her intention to retire from the Morton Chamber of Commerce after serving as executive director of the chamber for over 35 years. McCaughn’s date of retirement was set for June 28 at which time her replacement Lisa Alford will take over the duties of chamber executive director. McCaughn indicated that she is retiring from the chamber to take on the duties of a full-time “Farm-her”. Morton Mayor Gerald Keeton said that McCaughn will be missed after being a true asset of the Morton Chamber of Commerce for over 30 years.
Jimmie “Chuckie” Harrison, 43, of Forest was one of 11 individuals arrested, and accused, by federal law enforcement agents for trafficking narcotics through East Central Mississippi and several other states. U.S. Attorney Michael Hurst announced the names of the 11 suspects that were indicted and arrested in connection with the alleged drug trafficking ring. The indictments, and arrest, resulted from an extensive Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force investigation identified as “Operation High Life”.
Sergeant Ben McCurdy of Morton, a conservation officer with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, was honored as a “Top Cop” during the Police Memorial and Appreciation Day program. The program, sponsored by Crimestoppers and law enforcement agencies, honored 27 officers on the local level, 14 officers, including McCurdy on the state level and five on the federal level.
The Forest United Methodist Church was happy to announce their new pastor, David Slaughter, who took his place in the pulpit at the church on July 1. Pastor Slaughter and his wife, Deborah, came to FUMC from Shiloh United Methodist Church in Pelahatchie. The pulpit vacancy arose when FUMC former pastor Trey Harper took God’s plan for him in stride by accepting a surprise officer to fill a position on the Methodist Cabinet in Jackson.
A Forest man died as a result of a self-inflicted gun shot wound to the head. Chavares “Duke” Denham, 27, was pronounced dead on June 7 from a contact gunshot wound to the right temple. During the initial phase of this investigation there were accusations being made against the Forest Police Department as the family did not believe that Denham shot himself. FPD Chief Will Jones dismissed all accusations and rumors that this was an officer involved shooting, by indicating that no FPD officers discharged their weapon.
Forest native and former Forest Bearcat standout Luke Reynolds was drafted in the 10th round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft. After being forced to sit out two full baseball seasons when he transferred from Mississippi State University to University of Southern Mississippi Reynolds phenomenal hitting during the 2018 season caught the attention of a few major league teams. Reynolds was named 2018 C-USA Player of the Year, C-USA Newcomer of the Year and an All-American at 3B by multiple publications. But Reynolds had a dream come true when he was drafted by one of the most tradition rich teams in MLB, the Chicago Cubs.
An afternoon crime spree came to an abrupt end on Highway 35 just south of Forest on June 13. Rusty Squires, 51, of Quitman allegedly went on a one-man crime spree through three counties. During the afternoon Squires allegedly robbed at least two individuals at gun point, stole two automobiles, led sheriff deputies on multiple high speed changes while exchanging gun fire with them numerous times and crashed into innocent drivers on the highway while attempting to elude authorities. In the end Squire was taking into custody without anyone being shot or injured and was charged with numerous felony offenses.
The City of Forest was awarded the highly competitive 2018 Healthy Hometown Award sponsored by Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi. The requirements to even be considered for this award were strict and the year-long application process was tough and required meticulous attention. The application process began in January 2017 and required the creation of the Forest Healthy Hometown Committee that was comprised of a cross-section of people and met monthly to oversee the completion of the application. Along with the honor of receiving the award Forest will receive a $25,000 grant to help the city strengthen its already strong health and wellness programs and include more opportunities for children with special needs.
Senator Roger Wicker announced USDA grants totaling $232,000 to upgrade local facilities and purchase new vehicles. The City of Forest received a total of $137,000 that assisted with the purchases of a new garbage truck ($50,000), a new dump truck ($50,000) and two police cruisers ($37,000).
Carolyn Cooper was a mainstay with the Chancery Court of The Second Chancery Court District as the court’s administrator for 23 years. She was appointed to serve as the Court Administrator in July 1995 and proudly served the court in that capacity for over two decades. Cooper retired effective June 29. In appreciation for the years of hard work and dedication the Scott County, Jasper County and Newton County Bar Associations casted-her-off to retirement by sending her cruising into the sunset, literally. The three bar associations presented Cooper with an all-expenses paid cruise to Jamaica as a retirement gift.
Members from the Forest Baptist Church narrowly escaped Haiti before the countries capital city erupted in violent and deadly protest. The mission team enjoyed a wonderful and productive mission trip to Haiti from June 30 through July 6. The mission group found the villagers of Thoman to be inviting, friendly and extremely generous throughout their stay and had no idea their departure would put them in eminent danger. When the group made their way back to the capital city of Port-au-Prince to catch their return flight an already volatile situation exploded they were blessed as their flight was one of the flights that departed before the violent riots broke out.
The 8th Annual Nabs and Coke Party was held on the weekend of July 21. The event was well attended by FHS alumni of all ages and everyone enjoyed all the weekends festivities and fellowship.
Forest Elementary School hired Tracy Adcock to fill the open principal position. Adcock came to FES with years of experience as an educator and administrator and hit the ground running in the Forest Municipal School District.
Kalem United Methodist Church celebrated their 90th anniversary on August 5. Members of the KUMC congregation were joined by former pastors and family members of the church founders that came together to create KUMC in 1928.
Forest Municipal School District took a proactive approach to keeping the district’s school children, teachers and administrators safe by hiring a full time school resource officer. FMSD hired Forest Police Department Sergeant Coshune Bingham as the SRO for all three district schools. Bingham began his new SRO role at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
After eight years of slow moving legal wrangling and motion hearings Koch Food of Mississippi agreed to settle the lawsuit against them that alleged numerous acts of employee discrimination. Koch agreed to pay $3.75 million to the plaintiffs in the discrimination lawsuit that was originally filed in 2011 based on alleged employee treatment at the plant in Morton.
Scott County Emergency Management Agency held their Safety Expo at Gaddis Park in Forest on August 18. The event featured a multitude of attractions, displays and safety demonstrations for expo goers and was marked down a complete success by the SCEMA planning committee.
On August 7 the Scott County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call from a local Bienville National Forest worker. The deputies arrived to find a completely torched car with what appeared to be charred human remains inside the vehicle. The deceased was Latasha Patrick Johnson, a mother of three who had been reported missing one day earlier. This is still an ongoing SCSD murder investigation.
Fatal automobile accident on I-20 caused gridlock on Highway 35 from Lake to Morton. On August 14 there was an accident involving an overturned 18-wheeler. During the cleanup effort there was second fatal accident at almost the same location on the interstate. As a resulted in all westbound traffic was diverted onto Highway at Exit 100 in Lake and required to travel to Morton before being allowed to get back on the interstate. What ensued throughout most of the night was total gridlock from Lake to Morton on Highway 80.
Lions Club performs free eye exams at Forest Elementary School. On August 24, the Forest Lions Club turned the auditorium at FES into a children’s vision screening center. Volunteers completed screenings on all kindergarteners, second graders and fourth graders helping FES accomplish in one morning what could have taken weeks to complete.
All the cities and towns in Scott County were keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Gordon as September got underway. Every local took precautionary actions to prepare for the storm that trekked right through the middle of the county. Fortunately, by the time Gordon made it to middle Mississippi the storm had dissipated and did not cause any serious damage to the local area other than heavy rain and short lived power outages.
As September carried on the City of Forest was in full preparation mode for the Wing Dang Doodle Festival that was held on the last weekend of the month. Members of the Forest Area Chamber of Commerce kicked in to high gear during the whole month to ensure the festival would be a success in 2018.
Three Harperville residents were taken into custody by the Scott County Sheriff’s Department and charged with Felony Accessory After the Fact in connection to the Latasha Johnson homicide investigation. Kathleen Graffenread, Christopher Rutledge and Amy Rutledge were all arrested in connection with the murder and arson case.
Scott County and the cities, towns and municipalities within the county lines received word that the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act was passed in the MS Legislature. The passing of the bill means the county and all towns will receive additional funds earmarked to add to their infrastructure spending budgets beginning in 2019 and continuing annually.
Morton High School got proactive in bringing in new virtual reality learning software and hardware as well as 3-D printing technology to give students a true hands on experience with learning. Teachers and students alike are still learning all the capabilities their new learning toys have and look to utilize the learning tools to enhance the student’s opportunities.
Morton announced that the city would hold a special election to fill the Ward 3 Alderman seat unexpectedly vacated when Scott Herrod suddenly resigned one year into his second four year term. Neither Herrod nor Morton officials gave any explanation as to the unexpected resignation.
Carolyn Knowles was appointed and sworn in to fill the Scott County District 2 Election Commissioner seat after the resignation of John Herron. Herron resigned due to undisclosed reasons and Knowles was appointed to serve out the former commisioner’s remaining term.
The 15th Annual Wing Dang Doodle Festival went off without any hitches on September 29. The festival was well attended by locals and visitors from around Mississippi. They were all treated to full day of fun, food, music and community fellowship. The Community Bank Cooking Team took home the coveted grand prize in the 2018 WDD Chicken Wing Cookoff.
Both Forest Municipal School District and the Scott County School District did not get the news they were looking for when the Mississippi Department of Education released the “unofficial” school grades for the current year. FMSD was rated “D” while SCSD was rated “C”.
The Forest Garden Club hosted the Southern Pines District Fall Awards Meeting at the Gatewood Studio and Gallery in Forest. Members from 20 garden clubs around the state were in attendance along with the Garden Clubs of Mississippi leadership committee. The local club put on a beautiful event that was a wonderful time for all those in attendance.
East Central Mississippi Health Care in Sebastopol had two reasons to celebrate in October. The community health center celebrated 40 years of providing medical care to local residents, and received a $285,000 grant for hiring additional health care professionals and renovating their facilities. In addition the facility will receive and additional $110,000 in 2019.
The Morton Chamber of Commerce along with State Rep. Tom Miles organized and sponsored the 2018 Barter’s Day Festival which was held at Roosevelt State Park October 13. Barter’s Day festivities included many family friendly activities and entertainment throughout the day, and the event went down as a complete success of a community building festival.
Bound to Excel Mentoring Program took 100 local youths to Oxford for a day of food, football and mentorship. The group of kids that made the trip were made up of students that attend Betty Mae Jack Middle School, Morton High School and Scott Central Attendance Center.
Lackey Memorial Hospital celebrated Breast Cancer awareness month by offering discounted mammogram screenings all month long. The hospital and staff look to take the fight to Breast Cancer through education and early detection each October.
Four girl scout troops in Forest sponsored and hosted their Second Annual Pink Walk on October 20, to help fight and bring awareness to breast cancer awareness. The turnout for the benefit walk was very well attended and the organizers look forward to growing the event in the future.
Kalem United Methodist Church welcomed the James E. Swanson, the Resident Bishop of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church. Swanson gave his highly anticipated sermon to a full sanctuary on October 14.
Sebastopol held the 2018 Sebastopolooza Festival on October 28 and people from throughout the community and surrounding areas joined in the activities and festivities during this year’s event. This was the 12th annual event and organizers are looking forward to making it 13 in 2019.
To end out the month of October Forest and Morton hosted their annual trick-or-treat in the park events while the Forest Library held a Holloween Back Door event for teens. All activities were enjoyed by all this year.
Scott County was host to multiple Veterans Day ceremonies and observances all of which featured special guest as keynote speakers. The ceremony at Forest High School and the Scott County Courthouse was keynoted by Major General Janson Boyles, the current commanding general for both the MS Army National Guard and the MS Air National Guard.
Operation Christmas Child kicked off on November 12 and enjoyed tremendous success collecting, packing and shipping Christmas gift boxes that eventually found their way to five continents around the world.
Scott County voters turned out in near record numbers to vote in the November 6 midterm elections. County wide voting numbers showed that 42 percent of registered voters came out to vote for the candidates of their choice.
Raytheon hosted numerous local, state and federal elected officials in mid November for the ground breaking ceremonies for their new radar testing and production facility. Raytheon looks to complete the construction phase of the expansion project by the first quarter of 2020.
A Scott Central Attendance Center school bus crashed on Turner Road in the Ludlow Community on November 15. All children on board the bus escaped serious injury but the driver of the bus suffered a broken ankle and injured wrist.
Randy and Pat Dilley were named 2018 Forest Citizens of the Year. Both Pat and Randy were just as surprised as they were honor to be named COY by the town the will always call home. They were celebrated at a wonderful reception at the Colbert Commons on November 29.
Chancery Judge H. David Clark, II., announced his retirement from the Chancery Court bench after hearing and deliberating cases for over 29 years. Judge Clark was celebrated by family, friends and colleagues at a retirement reception on December 6.
On December 1 the Scott Central Rebels claimed the MHSAA Class 2-A State Championship with a dominating win over defending champion and previously undefeated Taylorsville. The Rebels finished their championship season 15-1.
Scott County hosted the Hope Outdoors Youth Hunt on December 7-8. Each year more than a dozen sick or ill children attend this event and really get to enjoy themselves during the hunting activities. Organizer Larry Crimm loves the excitement the hunt brings to the kids and can’t wait for next year.
The Forest Public Library held their annual silent auction fund raiser through December 14, and the community truly showed up to support the library during this year’s fundraiser. The community’s support allows the library to continue offering the wonderful youth learning programs every year.
The Scott County Sheriff’s Department hosted their annual Christmas Toy Drive organized by Marygrace Lee. This years drive benefitted 21 local children between the ages of 12 months to 15 years.
Scott County Sheriff’s Department and Forest Police Department worked as a team to take an alleged felon off the streets on December 6. Through the teamwork officers and deputies arrested Mackie May, 51, of Lake and charged him with felony drug possession.
The City of Forest passed Ordinance 471 which will regulate all garage sells within the city limits beginning in January 2019. Noe garage sell organizers must apply for a city permit before they can legal hold a garage sell. The ordinance further regulates such sales within Forest.
The Morton Police Department and Morton Fire Department teamed up with Fred’s Dollar Store in Morton for their first annual Christmas Toy Drive. The drive resulted in approximately 100 gifts that were dropped off and collected at Fred’s in Morton.
State Senator Terry C. Burton of Newton was charged with is third DUI in the last four years when he was involved in a single vehicle accident just south of Starkville. Burton faces charges of DUI Second Offense in Oktibbeha County. Burton Pleaded guilty to DUI in Rankin County in 2014 and was found not guilty of DUI charges in Scott County in 2016.