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Farm to Table

HOUSTON – Do you like fresh vegetables? What about homemade treats, sure to stir up a smile on any face? If you said yes, then the Houston Farmers Market might be worth checking out.

Farmers from all over the area gather around the square to sell the fruits of their labor so to speak. This allows the community to get the vegetables that they want while supporting local farmers. It’s like Small Business Saturday but for farmers.

Not looking for any vegetables? Well, there are other options as well. People bring homemade treats such as pies, cakes and cookies just to name a few. There is also locally produced honey.

Farmers also bring fruit. Recently, there were fresh peaches available.

Some times, there will even be animals available. If you are looking for that little puppy to ware some of the energy out of the child in your life, then you stand a good chance of finding it here.

In short, if you have produce needs, odds are that the Houston Farmers Market can go a long way towards solving them.

The Farmers Market takes place every Saturday morning during the summer, on the square in Houston. It begins at 7 a.m. and goes until 10:30 a.m. So swing by and check it out, but get there early, so as to get the best pick. Be careful though, you just might get hooked.

Houston legalizes the sale of alcohol in city limits

HOUSTON – The city of Houston held a special election Tuesday, July 9 to decide whether to discard prohibition laws in favor of allowing for the sale of alcohol in the city, with strict ordinances.

People flocked to City Hall all day to vote. Ultimately, the referendum passed 681- 248 in favor of the sale of beer and light wine, and 661 – 264 in favor of the sale of liquor and spirits.

There is still work to be done before everything is set in place, as the ordinances will have to be finalized by the Board of Aldermen, but the wheels are in motion for Houston.

The sale of alcohol in Houston is currently slated to start Labor Day Weekend.

“The margin of victory was profound, with over 70 percent voting to end prohibition,” said Sean Johnson, Director of the Chickasaw Development Foundation. “There were a number of reasons this effort was started, but the most fulfilling part of it is knowing that we’ve given the community something that it clearly and overwhelmingly wanted.”

There was also a very large voter turnout for the special election.

“We expected a tight race and so we were very excited about the turnout,” said Johnson. “From what I understand, it was one of the largest, if not the largest, turnout for a special election in recent history, with over 900 votes cast.”

The alcohol vote has been a subject of great debate in Houston in the weeks since it was announced. Many were for it, and believed that it would bring numerous economic benefits to a dying Houston.

Others believed alcohol should be kept out because it would only damage Houston, and create a bigger mess. It caused quite the divide on social media.

“People were very passionate about this issue on both sides, with a lot of back and forth on social media,” said Johnson. “Hopefully we’ll be able to get past this sooner than later.

“From what I experienced in New Albany when it went though this transition, things really aren’t going to change very much on the surface: We’ll see more delivery trucks in town, but, otherwise, because of the no exterior advertising ordinance, you won’t see any other signs that say that alcohol is available.

“The deeper part of it is that we will start seeing an increase in sales and tourism tax revenues and will very, very likely see a new restaurant or two in the first year.

“Coupled with our upcoming downtown streetscape renovations, the completion of some downtown properties currently under renovation, and the development of the old theater, we’re hoping that by next summer Houston will become more of a regional destination.”

The ballot consisted of two sections, one pertaining to the sale of beer and light wine, which is wine coolers, and the other for the sale of liquor and spirits, which would also include regular wine.

A Good Man - and Well Remembered

He left his home in the country and an almost certain life as a sharecropper when he was only seventeen years old. Of course, there were other reasons as well. There was his mama who needed all the financial help she could get. There was no father in the picture at this time as Garner Parker had died sometime between 1910 and 1920. His mother, Katie Pinkerton Parker, lived to the age of 112! Katie’s mother had been a slave in her early life. As it turned out, this move not only benefited him and his mama, it was a long-term blessing for the people of Houston and surrounding area.

It was 1924 when Tommie Lee Parker, Sr., came to town. He was employed by Dr. Van B. Philpot, who was the administrator and surgeon at the Houston Hospital, located at that time on the northeast corner of North Jackson and Depot Street. Tommie Lee’s initial job there was a ‘boiler tender’ or, as noted on the 1930 census, “fireman”. He kept the boiler going, but it was soon evident to Dr. Philpot that this young man had much more potential than one who merely stoked the fires in the boiler. Tommie Lee Parker had a gift and Dr. Philpot recognized that gift. He soon became an “orderly”. I had to look this term up as I didn’t know what level of expertise was required in that day. I learned that they were ‘nurse assistant’ or ‘surgery assistant’ and Tommie Lee Parker served well in both capacities. I know that he assisted patients and medical staff in so many ways. He took X-rays, he applied casts, he removed casts, he sutured a patient after surgery or to close a wound. There were no initials after his name, but he was truly a medical assistant. Even today, one can hear stories of his kindness and helpfulness to patients at the hospital during his time there.

Dr. John D. Dyer, a local ‘lad’ as Dr. Philpot described him, came on board at our hospital in the early forties. This physician also recognized the abilities of our Tommie Lee. Many a patient in that era can attest to his helpfulness and abilities. Later on as the medical field became more structured and ‘certification’ became a reality, he assumed another responsibility, that of ambulance driver. Parker was employed at the hospital in Houston a total of sixty faithful years.

In 1926, Tommie Lee Parker married the love of his life – one Jessie Kennedy. She was born in Winston County. After graduating high school in Pontotoc County, Jessie was another young woman who ‘took nursing training’ at the Houston Hospital under the direction of Dr. Philpot. If you are a tad north of 60 years old, you probably remember a dark brick home, just north of the hospital and just south of the sunken railroad track, that housed nurses ‘in training’. Jessie worked as a registered nurse at the hospital and as a private nurse in the community for many years. She also served as school nurse for the Chickasaw County High School for several years. Tommie Lee and Jessie became the parents of four sons and one daughter. Only one survives today and that is their daughter, Mrs. Williestein Harper. She has been a much loved and respected teacher in the Houston School system for many years.

The medical world is not the only one where Tommie Lee Parker contributed his knowledge and abilities. In his church life, he served as a deacon of the Houston Second Baptist Church for forty years. Tommie Lee was also a 32nd degree Mason and was a member of the Masonic Lodge # 80 in Houston. He was a Shriner of Masonic Chapter at 441. Another area that was a recipient of his time and knowledge was the Boy Scouts of America. Tommie Lee served on the Executive Committee for the Boy Scouts of America and received the Silver Beaver Award.

Tommie Lee Parker departed this life in April of 1994, just after his eighty-eighth birthday. Jessie died in November of 1995, at the age of ninety-one.

I can barely remember this kind, soft-spoken black man in his white uniform. I know that he assisted my mother on numerous occasions as she brought my brother back to the hospital time and again after a rather complicated break in his leg. My mother spoke of him ‘helping get Jack in the hospital’ from the back seat of someone’s car, taking him to the radiology area and X-raying his leg. I remember him as being quite tall, especially when you are a little girl looking up at him.

Tommie Lee Parker was a man worth remembering and respecting and I know there are many of us in this community who appreciate him and his legacy.

Chickasaw trustees OK building renovation additions

HOULKA – The Chickasaw County School District School Board heard an update on the Houlka Attendance Center Building #200 renovation project, and approved several items in connection with it, during trustees’ meeting Thursday, June 27.

The board approved three items related to the renovation project using latent condition money – funds built into the project for unforeseen circumstances – for a total of $13,834.50.

The items included adding one window in the computer room – $1,034.50; adding interior painting to rooms as identified by Superintendent Dr. Betsy Collums (library, SPED classroom, science lab, counselor’s office) – $4,500; and adding a section of concrete sidewalk covered with an aluminum canopy to connect the sidewalk running east and west to the existing sidewalk running north and south – $8,300.

By a 4-0 vote at the board’ s Tuesday, April 2 meeting, trustees awarded the bid for the renovation project.

Trustees awarded the bid to C I G Contractors, Inc., of Corinth, for renovations to the building. That structure houses the cafeteria, some classrooms, the library, and several offices. The company was one of two bidders for the work.

The main scope of the project is to renovate windows and install a new heating and air-conditioning system, Superintendent Betsy Collums said.

The board also accepted all five alternates to the project listed in bid specifications.

The total cost of the work, including all five alternates, will be about $640,000, according to a copy of the bid. The money will come from on-hand funds, Dr. Collums said.

Those improvements include, by alternate:

--Alternate #1: Dry storage building, sidewalks, aluminum canopies and lighting.

--Alternate #2: New aluminum canopy and lighting for the sidewalk to Reed Avenue.

--Alternate #3: Repairs and improvements to the west end of Building 200.

--Alternate #4: Aluminum canopy and lighting at the existing cafeteria covering the existing south sidewalk to the east exit door of the cafeteria.

--Alternate #5: New freezer and new cooler.

The project is expected to be substantially completed by noon on Friday, July 19, according to the document.

In other action, trustees took care of the following items of business during their June 27 meeting.

The board:

--Approved Scott Petroleum of Calhoun City as the propane provider for FY 20 at 94.9 cents per gallon.

--Approved the Proposal for Student Involvement at Houston Career and Technology Center for the 2019-20 school year.

--Approved the Crisis Management Plan for the 2019-20 school year.

--Approved handbooks for preschool, kindergarten, students, and teachers.

--Approve Seth Burt as acting principal in Principal Willie Mounce’s absence for the 2019-20 school year.

--Approved paying certified teachers $30 to work the gate and concession stand for ball games.

--Approved an Agreement of Cooperation with Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services- Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. Under the agreement, the department will work with some older special education students, preparing them to transition from high school into a job.

--Approved paying Jazmin Poe at A2 on the salary scale for FY 20 instead of an A1 pending receipt of her five-year license. She completed the Teach Mississippi Institute.

--Approved board policies recommended by MSBA (Mississippi School Board Association).

--Discussed air conditioner units left at the school by a contractor during a previous project. The board will seek legal advice from its attorney to decide what to do with the units.

--Approved the Mississippi High School Athletic Association Security Plans (high school and junior high) for the 2019-20 school year.

--Approved the release of Jase Wilson Irvin to attend the Houston School District for the 2019-20 school year.

--Approved Principal Mounce as a purchasing agent for FY 20.

--Adopted the agenda.

--Approved the following consent agenda items: Minutes from June 4 board meeting, payment of claims, financial statements, budget amendments, and out of district travel .

--Adjourned until Tuesday Aug. 6.