Shirley’s sets plans to rebuild

The news of which bargain fans have been waiting is finally set in stone, or concrete in this case.

After month’s of anticipation, Shirley’s of Collins has announced plans to rebuild their popular discount warehouse after one of the largest commercial fire’s in Collins history destroyed the previous building.

“We’re building back!” owner Tammy White told The News-Commercial. “We’re going to get in there as soon as we can. I’m hoping before Christmas.”

Concrete work is starting very soon, making a place for the new facility being built by Davis Construction of Collins.

“”We’re going to be bigger than before,” she announced. “It’s going to be 25,000 square feet instead of the 17,000 or 18,000 square feet. The building has been ordered. We also have to overlay the existing slab because of the damage.”

Even though Shirley’s will be larger, there will be another major change.

“We’re definitely not bringing back the furniture store,” she said. “We may have a few small pieces, but everything else will be back.
The March 10, 2019 fire was ruled an arson after a burglary.

The people arrested were also tied into several other burglaries that were solved through the investigation, including a local school and discount store. Camera footage at the discount store, according to its owner, was able to provide evidence to help identify suspects.

Kendrick Jordan, 19, of Collins, faces commercial burglary and other charges from the Collins Police Department in relation to the Shirley’s of Collins burglary and fire.

An unidentified juvenile also faces similar charges.

Collins enforcing youth curfew

Collins has issued a curfew that is effective now.

“Do to the rise in criminal activity involving juveniles, we will enforce this to the letter,” Police Chief Joey Ponder said. “We’re asking all parents to cooperate with us.”

The Collins Board of Alderman voted unanimously to pass the ordinance during their regular meeting held on Tuesday, July 16, and the full text is published as a legal notice in this week’s edition of The News-Commercial.

According to the ordinance, everyone under 18 years old shall not be in public after 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday nights and midnight Saturday and Sunday mornings. The curfew ends at 6 a.m. every day. This includes any public street, highway, park, vacant lot or any public place within Collins.

The ordinance also makes it unlawful for a parent (or other legal guardian) to permit a juvenile to break the curfew.

Violations can begin with a warning, but fees can add up very quickly with fines up to $1,000 and/or one year in jail. After the second violation, the youth court becomes involved.

There are some exceptions. Of course, underage people with their parents is exempt at any time from the curfew. Also, if a minor is legally employed, they have 30 minutes before or after work to travel directly between their place of employment and home; however, the juvenile must have proof in writing from the employer.

Minors also have 30 minutes to get home following a school activity or religious activity. Volunteer duties also count, along with leaving a place of public entertainment, but there’s a catch:
“If the event is not commercial in nature or does not have a fixed, publicly known time at which it will or does end, the sponsoring organization must register the event with the Chief of Police of the City of Collins, Mississippi Collins Police Department (or his assigned representative) at least 24 hours in advance, informing the Police Department of the time such event is scheduled to begin, the place at which it shall be held, the time at which it shall end and the name of the sponsoring organization,” the ordinance reads.

Homemaker members enjoy state convention

The Covington County Homemaker Volunteers group attended the annual conference from May 20 through May 24, 2019 at Mississippi State University in Starkville. A program of Mississippi State Extension, they enjoyed meeting and learning with other council members from Mississippi’s 82 counties. The convention included workshops, a meet-and-greet, a memorial service and ended with a grant banquet with awards ceremony. Members, both Bulldogs and non-Bulldogs, enjoyed the beautiful Mississippi State campus and exceptional hospitality. Those attending include, from left, Carolyn Williamson, Frances Speed, Margaret Ellis, Martha Douglas, Betty Pritchett, Jo Bucklew.

Hitt named Humanitarian of the Year

Photo/Rotarian Dr. Word Johnston, right, congratulates 2019 Collins Rotary Club Humanitarian Irving Hitt, center, during the annual awards banquet on Thursday, June 20, 2019. Hitt’s son, Oliver, is shown to the left and beside Mistress of Ceremony Jessica Bowman.

(The News-Commercial) An evening of great food, inspiring speakers, and a festive atmosphere celebrated the Collins Rotary Club’s Humanitarian of the Year and scholarship winners. Held on Thursday, June 20, 2019 at the Collins Civic Center, Irving Hitt was announced as this year’s recipient of the top honor. Member Dr. Word Johnston introduced the crowd to Hitt before giving the award. He recognized Hitt’s impact on Covington County through his work before retirement as a hospital administrator and after retirement as a community volunteer and trailblazer. He also recognized Hitt’s wife, Gwen, as being a vital part of the couple’s strong partnership. “People, we need you,” Hitt said after accepting the award. “Our world is in trouble. We take for granted our drinking water. We take for granted our health. We need to commit ourselves to building a better world, a better community. I dare you and me to recommit ourselves to be the kind of people to make our community a better place.” The banquet is now an annual event, used to unite the Rotary membership from the community. The audience heard from guest speakers and members.

AmeriCorps volunteers helping with Boys and Girls Club

The Boys and Girls Club of Covington County, in partnership with the University of Southern Mississippi Campus Link AmeriCorps, are excited to kick off the summer program with our AmeriCorps Volunteers. These recent high school graduates have displayed great interest in serving their communities and have met the requirements to serve as AmeriCorps Volunteers. As volunteers, these students will be tutoring fourth through eighth graders in summer programs with the goal of improving academic success. The current AmeriCorps members are Ta’Rasha Bolton, Madison Weary, Tamija Alexander, Kaitlyn Harvey, and Joanna Barnes (pictured above). Once these students have completed their hours, they will be awarded an academic scholarship to the institution of their choice. Organizers are proud to have these students and hopeful for the outcome of the program.

Collins takes steps to clean the city

Collins leaders have taken legal steps to clean up the city.

During the meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen at Collins City Hall Tuesday, June 4, 2019, a list of 32 dirty, overgrown, or unkept properties were presented. Property owners were required to mow grass, pick up trash, or otherwise clean their lots or face hefty penalties from the city.

Several property owners packed the board room and lobby before and during the meeting. About 10 of them cleaned their land before the meeting and made an appearance to be sure they were now good. Another nine didn’t show up at the meeting, but Public Works Director Bob Shoemake was able to confirm to Mayor Hope Jones, City Clerk Suzette Davis, and the board that they had cleaned their lots. A couple others had started cleaning, but were told to do more. Nearly 10 others were not at the meeting and did not complete any improvements with a couple of them telling the city to “do what you needed to do,” as quoted in the meeting.

Many of those in attendance at the meeting offered reasons to city leaders why the lots were in such bad shape. For example, the owner of one lot is now in assisted living care. A son said he cleaned up the yard, but doesn’t want to put too much effort into cleaning or repairs at this time.

“I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on it and then them take it away from us (to pay for a nursing home),” the man said.

Another property owner said she has spoken with Fire Chief John Pope about burning the house down for training. Pope wasn’t at the meeting, but the Mayor said she isn’t aware of that conversation, and questioned whether or not the city can do that, anyway.

Even for the lots that are now clean, the owners will remain on the list for one year. If any of those lots become dirty or overgrown again, just like the ones that haven’t been cleaned yet, Shoemake’s team can now go onto private property, clean it, and bill the services directly to property taxes.

In other city business, the board approved July 4 and 5th as city holidays due to a proclamation from the governor’s office, approved $26,258.30 for the purchase of a foam system for the fire department with $25,000 of that to be reimbursed by a Homeland Security grant, approved beer and light wine sales at the Family Dollar located at 816 Main Street, discussed some repairs needed on the outside of the Civic Center, discussed a scheduled power outage in late June or early July to replace equipment (details will be published in The News-Commercial when they are available), approved a speed limit of 35 miles per hour for the entire length of Fir Avenue with the exception of 25 miles per hour in school zones, and approved the purchase of flashing school zone signs for the lowest bids.


(The News-Commercial)

Sanderson Farms honored by 2020 Women on Boards

Sanderson Farms, Inc. has been named a 2020 Women on Boards Winning ‘W’ Company for the eighth consecutive year.

Winning ‘W’ Companies are recognized by 2020 Women on Boards for having at least 20 percent of corporate board seats held by women. According to the latest 2020 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Index, which measures companies on the Russell 3000 Index, the percentage of board seats held by women rose to 17.7 percent in 2018, up from 16.0 percent in 2017. Currently, women comprise 35 percent of those who have a seat on the Sanderson Farms, Inc. board.

“Sanderson Farms is honored to support the goals of 2020 Women on Boards by not only meeting, but exceeding their standards,” said Joe F. Sanderson, Jr., CEO and Chairman of the Board of Sanderson Farms. “Our company has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, which we know must start at the top.”

A non-profit education and advocacy campaign, 2020 Women on Boards is committed to raising public awareness about the value of gender-diverse boards with at least 20% women directors.

“We applaud Joe Sanderson Jr., and the board of Sanderson Farms for engaging the diverse opinions and perspectives of both genders on their board,” said Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, CEO of 2020 Women on Boards. “Studies have shown that the varied perspectives of women are uniquely valuable to corporations and the challenges they face today.”

Amtrak’s City of New Orleans detours to City of Collins

Good morning, America. How are you? Say don’t you know me? I’m your native son. I’m the train they call the city of New Orleans, and I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.

– Willie Nelson, “City of New Orleans”

Some people in Mount Olive, Collins, and Seminary got quite a surprise on Friday, June 7, 2019 as they saw one of the best known trains in America, made famous by Willie Nelson’s song “City of New Orleans,” detour from Jackson to Hattiesburg as it traveled from Chicago to New Orleans. With severe flooding ongoing in southern Mississippi and eastern Louisiana, the train has been beginning and ending in Jackson with charter buses completing the trip between Jackson and New Orleans for the past several weeks. The detour was part of a special train that completed the entire route. The photo shown here was taken by reader Michael Sumrall at the Collins Main Street railroad crossing.

Photo/(Submitted) Michael Sumrall

Top grads announced

Jones College recently hosted WDAM-TV’s annual Top of Class recognition program. Collins High School Valedictorian Ronnie Davis Jr., left, and Salutatorian Ambir Amacker, right, participated in this year’s celebration. WDAM meteorologist Nick Lilja, center, awarded the area’s valedictorians and salutatorians with a certificate of achievement. Students will be featured during WDAM-Sunrise at 5:58 a.m. through June 14 and on the WDAM-TV web page. WDAM-TV and Jones College are sponsors of this annual event.