Collins Fire Department to begin hydrant testing

When it comes to extinguishing fires, one second could mean the difference between life and death. To ensure the best possible outcome when responding to fires, the City of Collins Fire Department is dedicating the next two months to flow testing and performing maintenance on all fire hydrants in the city limits.
“The safety of our citizens and their property is everything to us,” said Fire Chief John Pope III, who’s supervising the hydrant testing. “Testing of the hydrants is done to ensure that all hydrants are operating properly and repainting ensures that they are visible to fire officials during fire responses. The annual testing is also required in order for the city to maintain its Class 5 Fire Rating. This rating helps keep home and commercial insurance premiums and rates low for residents and business owners.”
The testing began June 6 and is expected to last through August. During the testing periods, residents may notice a slight discoloration in their water or low water pressure while hydrants are being tested in their neighborhoods. Pope said this is normal and should not cause concern.
“Normally, we have complaints about the water being discolored. There is no need to be alarmed. The best way to solve that is to run water in a bathtub or sink for a few minutes until it clears up,” he said.
According to the fire department, testing times will take place between 9 a.m. and 12 noon. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
“We have 200+ hydrants in the city. This is something we’ll be doing along with our other duties,” said Pope.  He also said that testing will take place depending on daily weather and other job duties.
Pope also explained the color code for hydrants throughout the city. The colors represent the measure of water flow the hydrant is capable of. For instance, blue means that hydrant gives off the greatest flow and red means it gives the least. Green and orange hydrants are in the middle of that scale.
We also use a very visible reflective paint coating for the barrels of the hydrants, which aids in helping the firefighters in locating the hydrants quickly during response calls.
Pope said these are all measures that are required to keep residents and local businesses safe in the event of a fire.
Anyone with questions regarding the ongoing hydrant testing can contact Fire Chief John Pope at (601) 765-5110. The department appreciates the communities understanding & cooperation during the testing period.

Collins native leads University of Alabama to College World Series

The Alabama softball team will be making its 11th trip to the Women’s College World Series after defeating Washington 5-2 in game two of the NCAA Super Regional Saturday afternoon May 28.
The win came in part thanks to Collins native Reagan Dykes.
Three of Alabama’s five runs of the came came off the bat of Dykes who hit a three-run home run in the third inning to give theTide the first lead of the game.
Dykes, daughter of Bob and Donna Dykes of Collins, is already one of just 11 freshmen in the Alabama softball program with at least seven homeruns in their debut season.
“I’m extremely proud of this team,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. “We’ve gone through a lot of adversity this year but they just kept going.”
The Women’s College World Series appearance will be the 11th for Alabama (51-12), the most for any SEC team. The Crimson Tide has now won nine of the 12 Super Regional rounds it has played in, including eight of the nine played in Tuscaloosa. The series sweep over Washington (39-15) is the seventh for Alabama in Super Regional play.
Alabama stranded a runner in scoring position in the first and second innings before finally breaking through with two on and two out in the top of the third on a three-run home run by Dykes to take a quick 3-0 lead.
Alabama will open play at the Women’s College World Series on Thursday, June 2 against No. 3 Oklahoma (52-7). Game times and broadcast information will be determined at a later date.
Dykes is the granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Granville McDonald and Mrs. Betty Dykes all of Collins.

Boy Scouts to honor Mayor V.O. Smith at Community Dinner

Collins Mayor V.O. Smith will be honored at the Boy Scouts of America-Pine Burr Area Council Covington County Friends of Scouting’s annual Community Dinner.
The event will be held Thursday, May 26 at the Collins Civic Center at 6:30 p.m.
Smith will receive the 2016 Good Scouting award from the Boy Scouts of America.
The public is invited to attend the event.  To RSVP, please contact Harvey Lott at or 601-245-3538 or Rosie Jackson at or 845-641-5865.
Members of the steering committee include: Zane Collins, Rosie Jackson, Amanda Matherene, Oliver Hitt, Harvey Lott, Jim Todd, Dorothy Magee, Karen Mosley, Jim Lindsey and Leon Smith.

Officers participate in training

The Collins Police Department in conjunction with the Mississippi Forensics Laboratory hosted a DNA class at the Collins Train Depot.  The class which was a mandatory training class for police officers was designed to teach officers how to collect DNA from suspects arrested for committing a violent crime.
Under Senate Bill 2430 “Katie’s Law,” every person 18 years of age or older  who is arrested for committing or attempting to commit a violent crime must provide a DNA sample at the time of the arrest.
The samples will be provided for analysis to the Mississippi Crime Lab.
“The training provided by the crime lab will help officers learn how to collect the sample,” said Collins Police Chief Joey Ponder.
While the law says that a sample will be collected, Ponder said the training will be beneficial because his officers will most likely come in contact with people who do not want to comply.
“The law says, ‘You shall collect DNA,’” said Ponder.  “There’s no doubt that we have to collect the sample.  That is sometimes hard to do when you arrest a suspect who does not want to comply.  That’s why this class was helpful to our officers.”
Other agencies also attended the class.  They included Smith County, Covington and Jones Counties.
The session was led by Deedra Hughes, DNA Technical Leader.

Collins High School Graduation is May 21

Commencement exercises for Collins High School are set for Saturday, May 21 at 1 p.m. at Jones County Junior College in the Fine Arts Auditorium.
This year’s Valedictorian is Jessica Ingram, daughter of Tasha and Doug Ingram of Collins.  Jaila Richard is the Salutatorian.  She is the daughter of Tamika Arrington and Tyrone Richard.

This year’s graduates are:

Triston Michael Anderson
Deon Rashad Arrington
Kamiya Marie Arrington
Vadall Demario Atkins
Cha’reka Rachena Omesha Baggett
Lee Guster Barnes, III
Summantha Angelica Barnes
Casey LeAnn Beasley
Diane Marie Bond
Timothy Allen Brown, Jr. Dontavius Rayshon Buckhalter
Daniel Logan Byrne
Kellie Renee’ Carter
Joy Abby Coats
Taywonn Orthinyell Donta Coleman
Nathan Kaine Conway
Thomas McKenzie Crocker
Timothy Donald Dossett, II
D’Andre Lamond Ducksworth
Timothy O’Neal Durr
Kevin Ty Edison
Jasmine Nicole Evans
Javin Gleen Fairley
Paullexia Breanna Flowers
Rakerian Daimek Forrest
Adam Romulus Graham Diawon Malik Gray
John Lewis Harris, Jr.
Derric Juan Hawthorn
Detric Javon Hawthorn
Johnny Curtis Hawthorne, III
Deonta Travon Ledrew Hayes
Kacee’ Satcher Olion Haye
Tre’Von Rashad Hinton Victoria Alexandra Hodges
Jessica Joanna Grace Ingram
Chilibra Knikoyle James
Triens Tristan Tyreck Johnson
Amanda LeAnne Jones Andrew Jermaine Alexander Keys
Calvin Dale Keys, Jr. Jahrina Erlisha Keys
Safari Shambra Keys
Deiondreikia Roshell Lee
Halle Alexis Leggett
Sakuma Jamale Magee
Tilaria Samantha Letia Magee
Brandon Scott Marcel
Dylan Tyler McDonald
Kordell Dae Cavoes McInnis
Dorrean Rashawn McLaurin
Joe Edward Owens
Zesmon Avonta Paige
Karshanda Lashae Polk
Nia Charnea Posey
Monquiter Conshalya Price
Taryanna Ly’esha Price
Sherman Louis Ratliff
Kenterrious Juwan Rhodes
Jaila Tyria’ Richard
Jasmyn Lakia Scott
William Cameron Scott
Raven Symone Slay
Demarreion Ty’Ree Spencer
Jakel Daquan Thompson
Keith Antoine Watson, Jr.
Nadia Quenisha Wheeler
Allyah Meshelle Williams
Tyrekuis Jamall Womak

City of Collins observes National Police Week

National Police Week is May 15-21 and Collins Mayor V.O. Smith and the Board of Aldermen would like to thank officers with the Collins Police Department for their service to the city.  The Collins Police Department under Chief Joey Ponder is made up of 24 employees including 17 sworn officers.

Boys & Girls Club Steak and Steak dinner is May 14

The Boys and Girls Club of Covington County will host its 19th annual Steak and Steak Dinner and Silent Auction on Saturday, May 14.  The silent auction will begin at 6 p.m. with dinner at 6:30 p.m.
The event will be held at the Collins Civic Center and will include food, fun and fellowship.  The theme for this year is a “Be Great Celebration, A Red-Carpet Event” with guest speaker Freddie McNair, head football coach at Alcorn State University.
Tickets are $100 for individuals and $500 for a table.
The event is designed for the club to celebrate the commitment of the community to support the Boys and Girls Club of Covington County.
The only major fundraiser for the club, the money received from the event goes to help operate four sites across the county:  Collins, Hopewell, Mount Olive and Seminary.  The clubs are open at least 10 months of the year, and during the summer the club operates ten hours a day.
For more information or for tickets, please call 601-765-6300.

Gregg Gibbes is named CEO at Covington County Hospital

Covington County Hospital’s Board of Trustees promoted the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer to Chief Executive Officer during its board meeting. Gregg Gibbes assumed the position on April 28.
“I want to thank the Board of Trustees for giving me this opportunity to serve the county. I have received a tremendous amount of support from the Board of Supervisors, the community and also the employees,” said Gibbes.
Gibbes previously served Covington County Hospital as Clinic Director and was later promoted to Chief Operating Officer. Before coming to the hospital, Gibbes was employed with South Central Regional Medical Center in Laurel, MS, as Clinic Director.
Gibbes is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi where he received his Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Health. He also obtained his bachelor’s degree in accounting from USM.
Covington County Hospital is a 25-bed critical access hospital that provides quality medical care to the people of Collins, Covington County, and nearby areas. It also operates four family care clinics; an Outpatient Specialty Clinic; Brightside, a senior behavioral service, and Arrington Living Center, a skilled nursing facility. Altogether, it employs nearly 300 people. For more information, visit or call 601-765-6711

STAR Student and Teacher named at Collins High School

The STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition) Student for the 2015-2016 school year by The Mississippi Economic Council’s (MEC) M. B. Swayze Foundation has announces the STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement 2 selected on the basis of academic excellence.  Both American College Test scores and scholastic averages are compared to determine the school’s STAR Student, explained Vickie Powell, Senior Vice President of Foundations for MEC.

“The STAR program encourages and promotes academic achievement among Mississippi’s high school seniors.

Each STAR student is asked to designate a STAR teacher, the teacher who has made the greatest contribution to the student’s scholastic achievement.

Jessica Ingram was named STAR student at Collins High School and her STAR Teacher  was Jan Rowzee.  Jessica is the daughter of Tasha and Doug Ingram of Collins.

Residents enjoy 27th annual Okatoma Festival

Crowds gathered Saturday, May 7 at the 27th annual Okatoma Festival.
The streets of downtown Collins were filled with vendors from all over the state selling arts and crafts and more.
The activities began Saturday with a 5K Run/Walk at 8 a.m.
The headline musical act was country music singer Travis Clark.  Other artists included the 6550 band and Rachele Lynae.
Honored guest for the festival was Mount Olive native and Miss Mississippi Hannah Roberts.  Roberts was named first runner-up to Miss America.
Other activities at the festival included a rubber duck race, art and quilt exhibits, performances, a parade and rides for the children.