Relief from the Storms

Covington County has begun the long process of cleaning up the debris left behind from two catastrophic tornadoes that devastated the county on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020.  The people of Covington County, however, are resilient and once again, as with other disasters, are working together to put their lives back together.
Local churches (even some that suffered damage) stepped up and immediately helped clear debris and then set up places where anyone in need can receive meals, clothing, supplies, and an encouraging word.  Organizations have come into the county with food and clothing as well as equipment to help clear the debris.  The Board of Supervisors, the Mayors, and the County and City Employees are working hard to get the cleanup done.  First Responders provided rescue and medical services, and are providing resources and aid to victims of the storm.  Some of those that are aiding people in need are themselves victims of the storms but want to assist in helping others.
The power companies, with the help of fellow power companies, have come in and have restored the power in almost all areas.  The water and gas companies are working to restore service to all customers that are able to receive the utilties.
While dealing with the horror of the storms, many people for a short while had forgotten about the Coronavirus.  This global COVID-19 pandemic adds to the difficulty in cleaning up the massive debris.  While cleaning up, people need to practice social distancing and think about how to slow the spread of the virus.
The strong people of Covington County are grateful to their fellow citizens and to the many people who have come from near and far to their aid, bringing with them food, supplies, and equipment as well as a helping hand.  Restoration is on its way.

Storms and Tornadoes sweep through Covington County Easter Sunday

Many homes and businesses destroyed in wake of storms; 11 fatalities reported in surrounding counties
A storm system ravaged through the Pine Belt Sunday afternoon, April 12, 2020, causing extensive damage in Covington County and the surrounding counties.  Two strong tornadoes ripped through the county with winds estimated to be in excess of 200 miles per hour, possibly EF4 or EF5s.
The first tornado traveled through Walthall, Lawrence, Jefferson Davis, Covington, Jones, Jasper, and Clarke counties.  The second tornado caused more damage in Walthall, Lawrence, Jefferson Davis and Covington Counties.
The power of the storms was evident by the damage to the homes, churches, farms, and businesses throughout the county.  The first tornado is reported to have been on the ground for more than 103 miles.
There have been no deaths in Covington County reported at press time  but there were injuries.  Eleven fatalities are confirmed in other counties.
More than 22,000 people in the Pine Belt area are without power and many without water.

Statement from the Mayor and Board of Aldermen

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen have been closely monitoring the developments related to the situation with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The public health and safety of our employees and the Citizens of Collins will always be our number one priority. The City has taken what we feel are a series of appropriate precautionary measures to protect the public health and safety of employees and the Citizens of Collins. Therefore, we will follow the guidelines from the President of the United States concerning the Coronavirus for America listed below:

Do Your Part to Slow the Spread of the Coronavirus

Avoid Social Gatherings in groups of more than 10 people.

Avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts; however, use of drive- thru, pickup, or delivery options is highly encouraged.

Avoid Discretionary Travel, shopping trips, and social visits.

Do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance.

Practice Good Hygiene:

Wash your hands, especially after touching any frequently used item or surface.

Avoid touching your face.

Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow.

Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.


**This does not prohibit our citizens from visiting a variety of places, including grocery stores, restaurants,  gas stations, banks, parks, churches, nail salons and gyms so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Chamber Meeting features Rep. Michael Guest





A large crowd gathered in the Collins Civic Center to hear Representative Michael Guest, keynote speaker for the annual general membership meeting of the Covington County Chamber of Commerce, on Tuesday, February 18, 2020.   Everyone enjoyed a dinner provided by Shady Acres followed by recognition of guests by Chamber President Tommy Morgan.
Speaker Michael Guest, U.S. Congressman representing Mississippi’s Third Congressional District, was introduced by State Representative Noah Sanford.  Congressman Guest spoke about the low unemployment rate, the growth of lower and middle-income jobs, the strength of the stock market, and how Mississippi’s economy has benefited from a strong national economy.  He concentrated on 3 main areas of strength in Mississippi.
First he discussed the value of private businesses such as C-Spire, Sanderson Farms Poultry, and the Nissan and Toyota automobile manufacturing plants, which provide thousands of jobs to Mississippi workers and millions of dollars of revenue flowing through the hands of consumers, investors, and government.  He also told listeners that Amazon plans to build two distributions centers in Mississippi.
Second, he spoke about the benefits of having a strong National Guard presence in the state.  He informed Chamber members that Mississippi Guardsmen provided assistance in locating terrorist Al Baghdadi in Iraq, they are involved in helping protect U.S. airspace over Washington, D.C. and that Camp Shelby provides world-class training to military and National Guardsmen from all over the United States.
Third, he discussed  the military suppliers located in Mississippi such as Raytheon Corporation in Forrest  and Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula.  Raytheon serves as a hub for production and testing S-Band radar equipment, employs more than 800 people and produces radar for U.S. fighter jets, air-defense radar and other electronic warfare technology – some of which will be used by U.S. warships built at Ingall’s Shipyard.  Ingalls builds some of the world’s most modern and sophisticated warships in the world.  It  employs 11,500 employees, is the largest supplier of U.S. Navy surface combatants, and has built nearly 70 percent of the U.S. Navy fleet of warships.
He concluded by saying that, “In the United States, all men and women have the opportunity to work hard and achieve success”, and that we need to continue to strive to preserve our Republic.  The greatest threat to our Republic,  he said, is the growing rise of socialism.
Rep. Noah Sanford in his legislative report updated the crowd on events which have transpired so far in the 2020 legislative session, and said his focus was going to be on legislation to propose more funds to the Dept. of Corrections and for criminal justice reform, specifically legislation to require prisons to separate dangerous inmates from non-dangerous inmates.  He also said legislation has been proposed which would fund pay raises for State Employees and teachers.
Executive Director Marie Shoemake introduced Covington County’s Miss Hospitality for 2019, Larsen Sanford and Little Miss Hospitality Emma Grace Massey.  Larsen Sanford then presented Covington County’s Miss Hospitality for 2020, Laka Till to the members.  Chamber President Tommy Morgan presented closing remarks, thanked the members and guests for their help and participation and closed the meeting.

Black Heritage Celebration held in Collins

The 23rd annual Black Heritage Celebration of Covington County culminated with a parade on Saturday, February 22, 2020.  The theme “Remember the Struggle” was highlighted throughout the day.
Grand Marshals for the parade were Pastor Tony Duckworth, B. Joyce Barron Fairley (unable to attend), Lee Edward Gilliam, Coach Jeremy Jones, Markel “M.J.” McLaurin, Fenton Pope, Terry Price, and Peggy Weary.  Other honorees were charitable, educational and service organization award recipients.
The Battle of the Bands took place Saturday afternoon at Collins High School.
Residents came out to enjoy the celebration which included touring the heritage museum, live entertainment and much more.

Collins Rotary Club Paul Harris Recipients

The Collins Rotary Club recently recognized Paul Harris Fellowship recipients (pictured from left) Melinda Lott, Danny Frank McDonald and Patricia Speed.  This is a special honor for those Rotarians that chose to contribute to the Rotary Foundation and help international projects such as literacy, world hunger and other humanitarian efforts.  Pictured (far right) with the recipients is the newly elected club president-elect Josh Clayton.


    Laka Till was crowned Covington County’s 2020 Miss Hospitality Friday, February 14, 2020, by Covington County’s 2019 Miss Hospitality, Larsen Sanford, at the Covington County Chamber of Commerce in Collins.
She is a 2019 graduate of Seminary High School and currently attends Pearl River Community College as a Medical Assistant/Nursing major.  She received the Hunter Atwood Memorial Award and the Citizenship Award.  She was the top female archery shooter and was part of the 2018 Homecoming Court.  She is the daughter of Chris and Shalinda Till.
Laka will take part in the 71st annual Mississippi Miss Hospitality Competition July 17 and 18, 2020, in Hattiesburg.  This program was established in 1949 under Governor Fielding Wright and the Mississippi Legislature.  Throughout this time, the program has championed the state’s tourism and economic development sectors while supporting Mississippi’s best and brightest young women.  Contestants are eligible for more than $100,000 in scholarships and prizes.
As Covington County’s Miss Hospitality, Laka will spend a week in Hattiesburg participating in the state competition and judging.  Contestants will be judged on a one-on-one interview, panel interview, Mississippi speech competition, community commercial, and evening gown.
This will be the 35th year for the Covington County Chamber of Commerce to sponsor the Covington County Miss Hospitality Scholarship Program.  On the local level, scholarships were provided by Jones College, William Carey University, the University of Southern Mississippi, and The News-Commercial.  Laka was awarded a full-academic scholarship to Jones College and a cash scholarship from The News-Commercial.

Collins Police Department to participate in Crime Camera Program

Collins Police Department to participate in Crime Camera Program.  Cameras will be used to monitor public streets 24/7
The City of Collins Police Department has received approval from the Collins City Board of Aldermen to proceed with participation in the NOLA National Crime Camera Program.  The City Aldermen voted unanimously this Tuesday, February 4, 2020, at their regular board meeting to place cameras in high-crime areas to deter or help solve crimes.
This program is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that works with individuals, associations and municipalities to place cost-subsidized High Definition Crime Cameras, Gunshot Detectors and License Plate Recognition Cameras in needed areas.
Project NOLA has helped significantly decrease violent crime by dramatically increasing police efficiency and community support.
The cameras will be placed on public streets and property in the City of Collins at the discretion of the Police Department.  The cameras will be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  They can detect sounds, such as gunshots.
“We are hoping to be able to prevent crimes with the use of these cameras and to be able to more efficiently investigate criminal activity,” said Joey Ponder, Chief of Police of the Collins Police Department.  His plan is to have the cameras operational within the next few weeks.
Other cities participating in the program include Natchez and Hattiesburg.  Businesses and residents can participate in this program.  If you would like more information about the NOLA Program contact Chief Ponder at Collins Police Department at 601-765-6541.


Okatoma Festival date set for May 2

Okatoma Festival date set for May 2

The Covington County Chamber of Commerce will host the 31st annual Okatoma Festival on Saturday, May 2, 2020.
The special guest for the day and Grand Marshal of the parade will be country recording artist John King.
A native of Georgia, King has made a name for himself with his debut radio single, “Tonight Tonight.”  In addition to his success as an artist, he is earning recognition as a songwriter.  His current single, “Try Saying Goodbye” has garnered more than 15 million streams and was named one of Rolling Stone’s Top 10 Country Songs.  For more information on John King please visit, like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @johnkingcountry.
The event begins Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. with the annual 5K Run/Walk.  Meanwhile, numerous arts and crafts booths and food vendors will be located at every corner in downtown Collins. Live entertainment, a health fair, quilt exhibit, art exhibit, children’s activities, fair rides, rubber duck race, and much more will be provided.
For more information about the festival and vendor booth information, contact the Covington County Chamber of Commerce at 601-765-6012 or go to

Covington County Junior Livestock Show held January 17 and 18 in Collins

Covington County Junior Livestock Show held January 17 and 18 in Collins
by Ellen Russell
Covington County ANR/ 4-H Agent

Covington County 4-H, FFA, and Junior Livestock held there County Livestock show on January 17 and 18, 2020.  There was an outstanding amount of exhibitors and livestock at the show.  We would like to give a huge thank you to all of our Sponsors that help support and take part in our County Show. Exhibitors will be moving on to the District livestock show and Dixie National, look for more information on how they did and district and state competition level.
Placing for the Hog Market show on January 17th:
Champion Duroc Market Hog:  Jacob Russell
Reserve Champion Duroc Market Hog:  Wyatt McCray
Champion Hampshire Market Hog:  Jadyn Sanford
Champion Yorkshire Market Hog:  Sadee Nicholson
Champion Crosses & Other Breeds Market Hog:  Tucker/Mary Bradley Woods
Reserve Champion Crosses & Other Breeds Market Hog:  Britton Kirkland
Champion Spotted Market Hog:  Tucker/Mary Bradley Woods
Reserve Champion Spotted Market Hog:  Gracie Leggett
Champion Hereford Market Hog:  Gracie Leggett
Reserve Champion Hereford Market Hog:  Rileigh McClure
Champion Chester Market Hog:  Jayden Sanford
Reserve Champion Chester Market Hog:  Tralyn Hanegan
Champion Bershire Market Hog:  Sadee Nicholson
Reserve Champion Berkshire Market Hog:  Michael Phillips
Champion Commercial Gilt Cross:  Britton Kirkland
Reserve Champion Commercial Gilt Cross:  Tucker/Mary Bradley Woods
Champion Commercial Gilt Down Ear:  Tucker/Mary Bradley Woods
Reserve Champion Commercial Gilt Down Ear:  Wyatt McCray
Overall Grand Champion Market Hog:  Tucker/Mary Bradley Woods
Overall Reserve Grand Champion Market Hog:  Britton Kirkland
Overall Grand Champion Commercial Gilt Market Hog:  Britton Kirkland
Overall Reserve Grand Champion Commercial Gilt Market Hog:  Tucker/Mary Bradley Woods
Placing for Market Steer Show January 18th:
Best of Show English & English Crosses Market Steer:  Jadyn Sanford
Champion European & European Crosses Market Steer:  Trent Kirkland
Reserve Champion European & European Crosses Market Steer:  Jadyn Sandford
Overall Grand Champion Market Steer:  Trent Kirkland
Overall Reserve Grand Champion Market Steer:  Jadyn Sandford
Placing for Commercial Heifer Show January 18th:
Champion Brahman & Brahman Crosses:  Rylee White
Reserve Champion Brahman & Braham Crosses:  Jacob/Garrett McQueen
Champion English & English Crosses:  Josef Lowery
Reserve Champion English & English Crosses:  Sadee/Gunner/Gabe Dickens
Best in Show European & European Crosses:  Wyatt McCray
Overall Grand Champion Commercial Heifer:  Rylee White
Overall Reserve Grand Champion Commercial Heifer:  Josef Lowery
Placings for Beef Breeding Show January 18th:

Champion Angus Heifer:  Reagan/Weslee Odom
Reserve Champion Angus Heifer:  Hagen Hinton
Champion Angus Bull:  Hagen Hinton
Reserve Champion Angus Bull:  Shelby Smith
Champion Beefmaster Heifer:  Hailey Hamilton
Reserve Champion Beefmaster Heifer:  Hailey Hamilton
Champion Brahman Heifer:  Abigayle Rogers Case
Reserve Champion Brahman Heifer:  Abigayle Rogers Case
Champion Brahman Bull:  John Carter Dennis
Reserve Champion Brahman Bull: Abigayle Rogers Case
Best of Show Brangus Heifer:  Wyatt McCray
Champion Hereford Heifer:  Sadee/Gunner/Gabe Dickens
Reserve Champion Hereford Heifer:  Josef Lowery
Champion Simbrah Heifer:  Tatum Madden
Reserve Champion Simbrah Heifer:  Tatum Madden
Champion Simmental Heifer:  Tucker/Mary Bradley Woods
Reserve Champion Simmental Heifer:  Paige Ellzey
Champion Percentage Simmental Heifer:  Tatum Madden
Reserve Champion Percentage Simmental Heifer: Paige Ellzey
Champion Percentage Simmental Bull:  Jacob/Garrett McQueen
Reserve Champion Percentage Simmental Bull:  Weslee Odom
Champion Red Angus Heifer:  Sadee/Gunner/Gabe Dickens
Reserve Champion Red Angus Heifer:  Wyatt McCray
Grand Champion All Breeds Heifer:  Tatum Madden
Reserve Grand Champion All Breeds Heifer:  Tucker/Mary Bradley Woods
Grand Champion All Breeds Bull:  Hagen Hinton
Reserve Grand Champion All Breeds Bull: Jacob/Garrett McQueen