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Supply surprise!

HOUSTON – Houston Lower Elementary School was treated to a surprise on Tuesday. This surprise came in the form of school supplies.

The Salvation Army hosted the “Stuff the Bus” drive. It was a national campaign wherein people who were shopping at sponsoring locations were asked to donate supplies. These supplies – including backpacks – were then taken by the Salvation Army and distributed.

Lower Elementary officials were thrilled with the donations.

“We are honored to have valuable stakeholders in our community who believe in the importance of education,” said Katonya Gathings, principal of Houston Lower Elementary School. “We would also like to welcome Ms. Miranda to our community and we look forward to future work with the Salvation Army.”

The Salvation Army representatives included Miranda Mansell, the Service Center Director for the Oxford, Pontotoc and Houston areas, and Stephanie Garcia, from the local office in Houston. Salvation Army officials were happy to be able to offer these donations.

“The Salvation Army focuses on providing communities with necessary resources and is grateful for the partnership with area residents that makes it possible to provide things like school supplies to our local youth,” said Mansell.

Houston Lower Elementary School started school Thursday, Aug. 8.

Officials: New Okolona fire truck will save lives, property, cut homeowners’ insurance bills

OKOLONA --The city of Okolona’s new fire truck displayed Monday, Aug. 26, is expected to help save three things important to all residents of the Okolona Fire District: Their lives, property, and eventually, the money homeowners pay for fire insurance, city officials said this week.

The new four-door International pumper truck is a classic example of state residents helping each other, Fire Chief Terry Tucker said. “The truck was built by Deep South Fire Trucks in Seminary, Mississippi, so you can say it was built by Mississippians, in Mississippi, for use by Mississippians.”

Added Mayor Sherman Carouthers: “It’s a great asset for the city of Okolona, and the citizens for whom we serve. It will help improve their quality of life, and eventually lower the cost of fire insurance.”

Getting the truck was the culmination of eight years of effort pursued through two administrations, seeking grants and/or low interest loans, and lining up city finances to pay for it.

The project took on added urgency when the city learned it would have to buy another engine if it hoped to be able to help homeowners lower their fire insurance rates.

The truck’s base cost of $253,000 swelled to $319,000 after all necessary equipment was installed. The truck can pour water on a fire at a rate of 1,250 gallons per minute.

The truck was paid for by a CAP loan for a 10 year term from The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA). The Capital Improvements Revolving (CAP) Loan Program provides loans to municipalities and counties for the improvement of public facilities and infrastructure to assist with business locations and expansions with community-based projects.

Loans made under the Capital Improvements Revolving Loan Program may be made for a maximum of 20 years. The annual interest rate on these loans is 3 percent for taxable activities and 2 percent for tax-exempt activities, according to MDA sources. Okolona’s loan was for 2 percent.

“The Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors through the Chickasaw County Fire Service allowed the City of Okolona and Okolona Fire Department to use their Round 11 Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Program (RFTAAP) from the Mississippi Insurance Commission. This is a $70,000 grant that has to be matched with $70,000 tax base money, with the remainder of the money being paid from the Mississippi Insurance Rebate Fund,” Chief Tucker said.

It’s the first new truck the department has bought since 2004, the chief said. It was purchased to help bring down the city’s fire rating – currently a Class 7 – at some point in the future, and thereby help reduce homeowners’ fire insurance premiums, Chief Tucker said.

The new 2019 engine will be the third engine in the department’s fleet, which also includes International trucks bought in 1997 and 2004.

The 23-person department responded to about 38 fires last year across its 77 square mile area of operation in Chickasaw County. The department also responds to fires outside the county via a mutual aid pact with other departments.

The new truck will benefit the city in several ways.

“This will be the next step in trying to lower our insurance rating and save our taxpayers and our citizens money on their insurance,” said Chief Tucker. “Hopefully we will be able to get to a Class 6 with this truck within the next couple of years. There’s a couple of other things we need to get done, but this is a step toward that direction.”

Busby’s post office history concluded

Dicks – Mr. Busby gives the date of June 30, 1892 when this post office opened. It closed Feb. 15, 1900. A Miss Josie Morris was the only postmaster. I found a Josie Morris listed on the 1910 Census for “Egypt” precinct but that was all the information I was able to find as to its location.

Luster – The sparse information on Luster is really a hoot as Mr. Busby states when Luster was closed, mail was sent to Sycamore. Did we ever figure out where Sycamore was? Anyway, Luster opened June 6, 1893, with William E. McKinnon as postmaster. He had a job until Jan. 2, 1906, when the Sycamore post office gained more customers. I found that Mr. McKinnon lived near the Neals precinct and east of the Natchez Trace. His obit stated he was buried in the ‘McKinnon’ graveyard but according to online info, he is the only one buried there. I wonder if his grave is lost somewhere in the Tombigbee National Forrest. Oh, and I thought this was a bit interesting. He had a son who was named William Luster McKinnon who was born around 1890. Did he have the privilege of naming the post office?

Lundy – A mister Lundy Gunn was the only postmaster here and looks like he named this one. It was established March 5, 1894, closed Nov. 14, 1896, when the mail was sent to Trebloc.

Trebloc – The post office opened here June 23, 1894, with Joseph M. Colbert as postmaster (remember that Trebloc is Colbert spelled backward!). Mr Busby gives two succeeding postmasters of Thomas Nabors and an Albert Colbert, appointed August 1909. Obviously, it was still up and going when Mr. Busby wrote his history.

Ruggs – Who knew? Doors opened April 4, 1895, with Mr. Love A. Houser as the postmaster. The mail was sent to Houston when Ruggs was closed Aug. 5, 1898. From present knowledge about the Houser family, I would think it would have been near the present Arbor Grove community.

Elise – Charles E. Couch was the first postmaster for Elise. He was followed by a James Brown, then Mr. Busby says Elizabeth Porter succeeded Brown in November of 1893. I was unable to identify her. The doors opened June 16, 1889 and from the family names, one would assume it was located in the Enon community. At the end of January, 1894, the post office was discontinued and mail routed to McCondy. It re-opened its doors June 14, 1900 with William C. Franks postmaster. On March 31, 1908, mail was directed to Houston.

Here, Mr. Busby states that between 1890 and 1900, fifteen post offices were established.

Bowles – Established Jan. 27, 1890, with Walter B. Bowles as postmaster. Other postmasters with surnames of Beeson, Brown, Sullivan, Phillips and Wardlow. The office was closed Jan. 7, 1908, and mail was re-routed to Reid.

Coleville – Another one whose location I am unable to find – it was established March 29, 1890, and closed March 31, 1897. J. B. Cole was the first postmaster and he was succeeded by Ira M. Cole.

Friendship –Opened Oct. 21, 1890, one can be pretty sure this one was in the neighborhood of where the Friendship cemetery is located, near Van Vleet. In fact, when it was discontinued Feb. 7, 1899, the mail was re-routed to Van Vleet. Moses W. Peden was the only postmaster.

Van Vleet – Opened its doors Sept. 14, 1891, with George W. Smith as postmaster. Surnames of Carter, Atkinson, Bean and Ashby were the postmasters through the decade of 1910-20. It was closed at some point and re-opened during the George H. W. Bush’s presidential term as stated on a plaque in the little building.

Holladay – Established Oct. 1, 1891, with James H. Holladay as its only postmaster. After it closed on Aug. 31, 1905, the mail was sent to Houston. One would assume this post office was located between Wesley Chapel and Houlka but neighbors were the Blue and the Turman families so – not positive. Also the last name is spelled in several ways as in Holladay, Holliday etc.

Parkersburg – Established June 23, 1897, with John W. H. Baskin as postmaster. He was succeeded by a Peden, Buchanan, Chenault, Carter, Neal and a Ray. Of course, this one would have been in the Parkersburg community and probably when the railroad stopped going through the community may have withered.

Jolly – Obviously named for the Jolly family of Okolona area. It opened March 1, 1898, with Stonewall Jolly as postmaster. After Dec. 31, 1903, mail was sent to Okolona.

Hayti – Never heard this word before – however, a post office opened there July 1, 1898, with Mary Foster as postmaster. It was discontinued Nov. 18, 1898. No idea as to location.

Leotis – Probably near Okolona as after its short lifespan from June of 1899, to Dec. 31, 1903, the mail was sent to Okolona. Margret Maudin was the only postmaster.

Chico – Location lost to time, at least to my time. It opened March 5, 1900, with Robert K. Craig as postmaster. Discontinued Nov. 15, 1901.

Irene – Opened March 5, 1900, with Robert F. Beasley as postmaster. He was succeeded by the above mentioned Love A. Houser. When Irene closed in March of 1901, the mail was sent to Chico. Who knew!

Pandora – (it gets worse all the time, huh?) Pandora lasted seven years in spite of its name. Opened in March of 1900 with Nannie Saxon as postmaster. Discontinued Feb. 15, 1907, when the mail was re-routed to Houlka.

Thelma – I’m thinking this would have been near Calhoun county. Established April 30, 1900, with John P. Johnson as postmaster. Discontinued April 15, 1907. Does not say where Thelma’s mail was re-routed.

Chewawa – I am reminded of Star Wars when I see this word – however, a post office was established there Jan. 29, 1902, with Mary Crosthwait as postmaster. William Millsaps followed. It was discontinued April 20, 1906.

Schooner – Obviously this one was near Houlka. It opened Feb. 18, 1903, with Gideon Roy as postmaster. After June 30, 1908, mail was sent to Houlka.

Hawkins – Wish I knew where this one was located, but no clue. It opened July 10, 1905, with Scott Embry as postmaster, followed by David E. Kellum. Discontinued March 12, 1906, but not a notation as to where the mail would have been re-routed.

Anchor – Since there is still an Anchor community, we know where this one would have been located. Edward T. Harrington was its first postmaster when it opened Feb. 23,1906, and apparently remained such until it closed March 31, 1912, and I feel sure mail would have been sent to Houston.

Pyland – located east of Houston, on Highway 8, Pyland began April 27, 1907 with a William Butler as postmaster. Surnames of Shepardson, White, Cooper follow until familiar names like Thomas Lowe in 1920, Cleve Doss in 1921, E.F. Dyer in 1922 and Thurman Lowe in 1924. Since this post office was still open when Busby wrote his history, I do not know for sure when it closed.

Brevard – Here, Busby states that this is the one and only post office opened after 1910. Better known as “Halls Siding”, it opened in April of 1911 with a William S. Gibson as postmaster. Closed in November of 1913.

That ends the list – in all I believe 60 post offices were opened within the county. Mr. Busby ends his history with the following comments: “After 1880, the South somewhat recovered from the destructive effects of the Civil War. The county was soon dotted with country stores. With almost every store, a post office was established for the community. About 1905, Rural Free Delivery began to spread from the larger towns along the railroads so as to give mail service to almost every section of the county. The outlying post offices, being no longer needed, were rapidly discontinued. This was partly the result of improved road and travel facilities.” And, I would bet some of these little post offices were the result of a political ‘pay-off’ – like, if you promise to get us a post office here, we’ll surely vote for you.

I was amused at some of the names and amazed at the number. Hope you have enjoyed reading about them.