Sales Tax holiday set for this weekend

Mississippi’s annual Sales Tax Holiday is set for this weekend. The 24-hour tax free event will begin on Friday, July 29, 2016, and end Saturday, July30.
The items exempt from sales tax during the Sales Tax Holiday are the same as previous years, according to the Mississippi Department of Revenue. Clothing and footwear meant to be worn next to the body and cost less than $100 per item are exempt from sales tax during this period. Items priced at $100 or more are subject to sales tax at the regular retail rate of 7 percent.
For example, a customer purchases two shirts at $50 each, a pair of slacks at $75 and a pair of shoes at $110. No sales tax is required on the sale of the two shirts and the slacks totaling $175, even though the combined cost is more than the $100 limit. However, tax is due on the entire $110 for the shoes since that single item exceeds the $100 limit.
Accessories like jewelry, handbags, wallets, watches, backpacks and similar items do not qualify for the Sales Tax Holiday. Cleats and items worn in conjunction with an athletic or recreational activity are also ineligible. School supplies and computers are not included.
For an official guide regarding the Sales Tax Holiday, including a list of eligible and non-eligible items, go to
With additional questions regarding the holiday, contact the State Department of Revenue at (601) 923-7015.

Students have new buses this year

Covington County students will head back to class with the help of 11 new buses.
“We are so happy to have these new buses,” said Dr. Arnetta Crosby, Covington County School District Superintendent.  “Everyone knows that our school district was in desperate need of new buses.  The school board was very clear that they wanted to purchase new buses.”
The district purchased 10 regular school buses and one special education bus, according to Crosby.
“We had planned to purchase the new buses when one of our special education buses was involved in an accident and was totaled.  So we had to go ahead and purchase a new special education bus also,” said Crosby.
The school district was able to purchase the buses with help from the state, explained Crosby.
“They grouped us with several other districts who were in need of buses and were able to purchase a larger number of buses at a better price,” she said.
The total cost for the new buses was $886,300.  Crosby explained that the buses were purchased on a lease purchase agreement.
“We have an annual payment of $139,185.52 that will allow us to pay off two buses per year,” she said.
The lease is a seven-year lease, and Crosby noted that the district plans to continue the rotation and purchase two new buses per year.
“That annual payment is the cost of two buses so we will replace two buses each year.
The district has been in need of the new buses for several years, but because of a very tight budget, that has not been possible.
“Because of all the budget cuts, there were so many other immediate needs that had to be addressed before our bus situation,” said Crosby, “but it’s no secret that we received a citation during the accrediting process for the age of our buses.  Some were over 20 years old, and we had to do something.
“With this new lease agreement, we will finally be able to update our buses.”
Not only are the new buses more comfortable, they are also much safer according to Crosby.
“The buses are designed to minimalize injuries if they are involved in an accident,” she said.  “They are going to be much safer for our children.”
Currently, the district runs 56-58 buses per day.  They will pull 10 of the oldest buses out of service and replace them with the new buses.
“The ones we replace will be used as substitutes when they are needed,” said Crosby.

Graves to represent Covington County at Miss Hospitality

Covington County’s Miss Hospitality Leah Graves joins 27 contestants competing for the title of Miss Hospitality.
The 67th annual Miss Hospitality Pageant will be held July 22 and 23 at the Historic Saenger Theater in Downtown Hattiesburg.  Graves will leave for Hattiesburg on Sunday, July 17 and participate in a week of activities OKand competition leading up to the final two days of the pageant.
This year, as the Pageant celebrates 67 years of hospitality and grace, as Mississippi’s best and brightest young ladies take the stage to compete for the 2016 title – a title that comes with a ticket to travel thousands of miles promoting the state’s economic development and tourism programs.
Graves is a graduate of Seminary High School and currently attends William Carey University.  She is a member of Gamma Chi Sorority and is on the President’s List.  Graves is majoring in nursing and plans to attend the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.
She is the daughter of Neil and Kristen Graves of Seminary.  She is the granddaughter of Rev. Jerry and Jackie McRaney of Collins and Lou Graves and the late Roy and Mary Graves of Collins.
Graves said she is looking forward to competing for the title.
“Excited is an understatement for how I feel,” she said.  “I have such peace as I go to represent Covington County.  I have done my part in preparation.  I just pray for whatever is God’s will to be done.”
She has worked tirelessly getting ready for the pageant.
“I have simply taken adavntage of every opportunity I have had to practice hospitality,” she said.  “I’ve spent time with our county’s children, traveled all over our state to experience tourist attractions for myself and learned fine, delicate details of my home.  I’ve also studied until the wee hours of the morning and stood to answer mock interview questions without fear.”
Naturally, Graves is looking forward to getting to Hattiesburg to compete.
“Although my favorite outfit is my destination costume, I’m just going and representing  my home which- is enough excitment for me,” she said.  “For all those who have helped me and supported me, I’m forever grateful to go and accomplish my goals.  It brings me so much joy.”
During the Pageant Week, contestants will explore Hattiesburg, attend social events, and participate in rehearsals and competitions, all leading up to the crowning of the 2016 Mississippi Miss Hospitality. Guests of this year’s pageant will experience a night filled with excitement throughout the production and discover why Miss Hospitality has been celebrated throughout the state since 1949.
Tickets to the 2016 Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant may be purchased by calling the Saenger Theater Box Office at 601.584.4888, or online at
The Mississippi Miss Hospitality Pageant is a program of VISITHATTIESBURG™, is presented by VISITHATTIESBURG™ and the Mississippi Development Authority, in conjunction with Forrest General Hospital, The University of Southern Mississippi and the City of Hattiesburg. For more information about the Pageant, contact the State Pageant Office at 601.268.3220 or  Additional Pageant information can be found online at

Location eyed for Covington County Nursing Center

Covington County Nursing Center has identified a site in Collins to build its new multi-million dollar facility.  The nursing home is planning to build a new 60-bed facility that will cost an estimated $7 million.  The challenge has been locating a piece of property in the City of Collins that is large enough to house the facility and that would be approved by the State of Mississippi.
A piece of property located on Old Highway 49 just across from the entrance to the Duckworth Subdivision has been identified as a possible location according to Collins Mayor V.O. Smith.
City officials and nursing home officials met to discuss the property being proposed.
“They will be at our next board meeting where the Aldermen will decide whether or not to rezone the location as commercial,” said Smith.
The city’s next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 19.
Smith noted that officials with the nursing home and the architect in charge of the design for the new building met and walked off the property to see if the new structure would fit on the piece of property.  The building will measure about 45,000 square feet – significantly larger than the current facility.
“Originally they were hunting 10 acres of land in the city,” said Smith of the project.  “They found this piece of property that’s seven and a half acres and walked it off.  The architect said the building would fit on the piece of property.”
The current location is nearly 40 years old and is a 60-bed facility but with mostly semi-private rooms.  According to nursing home officials, most residents today are requesting private rooms.
Regional Care is a management company that runs nursing homes in Misssissippi, including Covington County Nursing Center.
David Flippin, president of Regional Care discussed plans with the Collins Board of Aldermen in 2014 to build a new facility, but a location had never been finalized.
Regional Care is a management company that runs 23 nursing homes in Misssissippi, including Covington County Nursing Center.
Smith said Covington County Nursing Center has served the area since the 1960s and that he and the board are excited about the possibility of its new building.
He said a facility of this size and type would be an economic benefit for the area.
“Anytime you’ve got homes like that here, it brings relatives into your city, and that’s what all cities want is traffic coming into the city. If you’ve got traffic, they’re going to spend dollars,” he said.

Collins officers take part in domestic violence training

Collins Police Officers took part in a Domestic Violence course held last week at the Collins Train Depot.
The course was presented by Emiko Faust with Attorney General Jim Hood’s office.
The eight-hour class included instruction on laws pertaining to domestic violence, protection orders, strangulation and stalking. Additionally, the course covered information from case studies.
“It’s beneficial to law enforcement officers because domestic violence is one of the most common calls they respond to,” said Rachael Ring, Public Information Officer for the Attorney General’s Office. “Domestic violence laws are constantly changing and being updated and require certain actions from our law enforcement so it’s important to keep up with the laws as they change.”
Police Chief Joey Ponder noted the importance of officers having training in dealing with calls pertaining to domestic violence.
“Just about the majority of our calls are domestic violence calls,” he said. “It’s important for our officers to keep up to date on the laws and how to respond. These are dangerous calls.”

Collins native Buffington named JCJC tennis coach

A former Jones County Junior College tennis player is returning to lead the Bobcat tennis program.
Collins native Brooks Buffington, who played at JCJC in 2002-04, will replace Mark Easley as head tennis coach. Easley is now the fulltime Dean of Student Affairs at Jones.
Buffington was approved by the JCJC Board of Trustees during its monthly meeting in June. He said it’s a lifelong dream to be the Bobcat tennis coach.
“If I could take a job anywhere in the state, this would be it,” he said. “I love the junior college system in Mississippi and what it offers. This is exciting and I am really looking forward to it.”
Buffington graduated from Collins High School in 2002 before coming to JCJC. He received the Bobcat Award for men’s tennis after his 2004 sophomore season.
He then played tennis at Mississippi College and received his Bachelor of Science degree from MC in 2006.
Buffington is no stranger to hard work.
He walked on and earned a scholarship not only at JCJC, but also at Mississippi College.
“I walked on at Jones and made the team and I walked on at MC and made the team,” he said. “I’ve been teaching in the Jackson area since 2007 and now I’m the head coach at Jones. It seems like it has all come full circle.”
Easley remembers when Buffington walked on for a spot on the Bobcat tennis team.
“Brooks played here back in 2003 and 2004 and I remember when he came over and tried out,” he said. “He came over in the summer and I fed balls and did drills with him and I could tell right then that he was somebody who loved tennis and was a very hard worker.”
Buffington has served as head professional at the Reservoir YMCA in Brandon from 2014 until now and also in 2007-08. He was also head professional at Castlewoods Country Club in Jackson from 2008-14. He has played on the USTA circuit since 2008.
Buffington has served as head coach at Hartfield Academy since 2013 and assistant coach at Northwest Rankin since 2012. He led Hartfield Academy to a second place overall finish in the 2015 MAIS boys state tournament and Northwest Rankin perennially has one of the top public tennis programs in the state.
Easley said when JCJC president Dr. Jesse Smith asked him who would be a good choice to be head coach, Buffington’s name was at the top of the list.
“Dr. Smith asked me if I had anybody in mind that would do a good job,” Easley said.
“Brooks was one of the first people I thought of and he loves Jones. He loved his time here and this job is one of the only jobs in the state that he has really wanted. He always had a dream of coming back to coach at Jones.
“He has a great tennis mind, is a very good coach, will do a great job and, I think, he can take the program to another level.”
Buffington said he wants the program to continue to enjoy the success it has achieved under Easley’s guidance.
“Basically, I want to keep doing what he’s been doing because it has worked,” Buffington said. “You go into his office and you see all of the championship and Coach of the Year trophies and it’s impressive.
“Ultimately, I want the kids to be successful in moving forward and to take care of business on the academic side of things.”
Buffington is familiar with some of the returning Bobcats, having coached Luke Armstrong at Hartfield Academy and watched Chase Pennington at Madison-Ridgeland Academy.
He said the fall would be an important time for him and the team as they prepare for the 2017 spring season.
“Obviously, I am going to enjoy getting started and getting to know the players this fall,” he said. “When I played at Jones, you could not play matches in the fall. Now, you practice and you get to play some matches. I don’t know exactly what we can do, but it’s definitely an advantage for me coming in this fall.”
Being a Collins native, Buffington also wants to see tennis grow in JCJC’s eight-county district.
“On the Division I and II levels in the NCAA, everything is moving towards all foreign players,” he said. “In Mississippi junior college tennis, we are allowed two foreign players for the men and women’s teams, but the majority of the players on the teams in the state are from Mississippi.
“That’s what I really love about junior college tennis in Mississippi. I want to help develop players locally and across the state.”

Beginning Hand Quilting Workshop to be held

A hand quilting workshop for beginners will be held July 26, 27 and 29 from 1:30 until 3:30 at the Collins Senior Citizens Center located at 900 South Civic Center Boulevard.

The class, sponsored by the Covington County MS Homemaker Volunteers, will teach students how to assemble materials to make a quilt and how to hand quilt and finish the edges of a mini-sized quilt.

All supplies will be furnished except for scissors and a thimble.

Minimum enrollment is 5 people and the class size is limited to 10.  The fee for the class is $15.

Pre-registration and fees paid is required by Thursday, July 21 to the Covington County Extension Office, 68 Collins Industrial Park Drive.  For more information, call 601-765-8252.

Retirement reception held for Feazell

A retirement luncheon was held for Leon Feazell at the Collins Tran Depot.  Feazell retired after 13 years of service to the City of Collins.  He was recently named Parks and Recreation Director.  Mayor V.O. Smith presented Feazell with a key to the city and a plaque.

Faler to compete for DYW state title

Alyssa Faler, Distinguished Young Woman of Covington County, will be one of 31 Mississippi high school seniors competing for more than $30,500 in college scholarships when the 2017 Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi Program gets under way Thursday, July 14, in Meridian.
“I’m looking forward to competing,” said Faler.  “I’m also looking forward to meeting the girls and getting to know them.  “I’ve already talked with my host family and I’m excited to get to know them too.”
Faler said she has put in a lot of hours of preparation for the competiton.
“I’ve practiced my talent and fitness and done a lot of research and mock interviews to get ready.  I’m excited for the week.”
The state program, which is held in Meridian, Mississippi, is now in its 60th year celebrating and spotlighting outstanding achievements of the state’s best and brightest high school girls. The three nights of competition in Meridian’s Temple Theater concludes on Saturday, July 16. Curtain opens 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; 8 p.m. Saturday.
Reserved tickets for the 2017 Distinguished Young Woman Program are available for $60 for a three-night package. General admission tickets are available for $45 for a three night package, or may be purchased for individual evenings: $15, Thursday; $15, Friday; and $20, Saturday. Tickets are on sale now and may be obtained by calling 601-480-3438
“We are extremely excited about this year’s program,” said Sid Wilkinson, State Chairman of the Distinguished Young Women of Mississippi Program. “This program celebrates what is right with today’s young people and offers them cash scholarship opportunities to further their education.”
Alyssa, the daughter of Greg and Donielle Faler of Sumrall, attends Sumrall High School High School.  She is the granddaughter of Mike and Frieda Whiddon of Sumrall; Carolyn Faler of Seminary and Johnny Faler of Hattiesburg.  She is the great-granddaughter of Virginia Whiddon of Sumrall.
Academic accomplishments, membership and hobbies include the following: AP History Award
Citizenship Award Bobcat Award Outstanding Concert Choir Student and Beta Club Secretary She plans to attend University of Southern Mississippi to pursue a career Social Worker.
During the week-long program in Meridian, contestants are evaluated on scholastic achievement, fitness, self-expression, talent and interview. Faler has chosen a Violin presentation of “Ashokan Farewell” for her talent.
If selected as Distinguished Young Woman of Mississippi, Alyssa will compete in the Distinguished Young Woman for 2017 finals in June of 2017, held in Mobile, Alabama. There she will compete for the opportunity to win a share of more than $100,000 in cash scholarship awards, including the $50,000 national title scholarship award.
The Distinguished Young Woman Program (formerly America’s Junior Miss) was founded in 1958 and is the oldest and largest scholarship program for young women. More than 6,500 high school girls participate each year. This program has offered more than $1.1 billion in college scholarship opportunities to young women across the country. Past DYW participants include Diane Sawyer, Debra Messing, Deborah
Norville, Julie Moran, the late Mary Frann, Kim Basinger and Kathie Lee Gifford.
DYW’s national sponsors include Mobile County, the City of Mobile, and the Mitchell Company. National category sponsors include Alabama Power, Encore Rehabilitation, Mobile Gas, Regions Bank, and Wintzell’s Oyster House. The 60th annual America’s Junior Miss National Finals will be held in Mobile, Alabama, in June of 2017.