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Franklin received United Way awards

HOUSTON – The employees at Franklin Corporation have given back to their community, and it has not gone unnoticed.

United Way presented Franklin with three awards on Thursday, July 25. The awards were a recognition of the contributions made to the United Way organization for the year, 2018.

They received the Bronze Award which means that 25 to 49 percemt of their employees contributed some of their pay as a donation. The employees are given the opportunity to have a donation deducted from their paychecks, and many of them did.

They also received the Community Impact Award. This award is given in recognition of the company’s impact on the community, as well as when they have achieved an employee donation amount of $50,000 to $99,999. Franklin achieved this goal in 2018 with an employee donation amount of just over $75,000.

“It means a lot that those employees give part of their paycheck every payroll to United Way,” said Gerald Wages, the United Way volunteer that presented Franklin with their awards. “That’s money that they would otherwise take home, but they give money out of their paycheck to United Way to help all of these people.”

Finally they received a plaque signifying their having won the All America Award. This award is given when a company reaches a corporate donation amount of $20,000 or greater. Franklin donated just over $26,000 in 2018.

Franklin and its employees have been contributing to the United Way organization for 16 years. In that time, they have contributed $1,011,000.

“We’re delighted to receive the awards on behalf of our employees, and we want to continue to be a part of United Way and what they’re doing to help folks in our communities,” said Jeff Cox, the CFO and General Council for Franklin. “United Way is about improving the quality of life for all of us in these counties served by United Way of North East Mississippi.”

Fire Academy for Kids offered fire safety lessons as well as fun

HOUSTON – The Houston Fire Department hosted its 12th annual Fire Academy For Kids Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of last week.

“The event gave about 29 children ages 8-13 the opportunity to see what it is like to use firefighting equipment, and learn an array of safety lessons, including, of course fire safety,” said Jonathan Blankenship, who is Fire Chief of Houston Fire Rescue and Chickasaw Fire Coordinator.

The classes were mostly held at the fire department, including the department’s training trailer, where fires can be set and battled during training exercises.

The classes were taught by department members, with some help from personnel from several area volunteer fire departments.

It wasn’t “all work and no play;” youngsters were often walked to nearby places for a snack.

Easton Bollinger, 8, of Bruce, a 2nd year fire academy cadet, gave his thoughts on the program.

“I like the fire academy because it is fun. I learned a lot about fire safety and how to be a fireman. My favorite part of the fire academy was going in the smoke trailer. The teachers are fun, and afterwards we got ice cream,” Bollinger said.

The classes are almost self-generating; many of those who come through the course each year are children of parents who are volunteer firefighters.

It’s likely that some of those firefighters came through the course as youngsters, Chief Blankenship said.

What the youngsters learn at the academy goes home with them, and sometimes the child teaches the parent, Blankenship said.

“We’ve had multiple parents tell us their child came home and taught them something about smoke alarms, escape plans or something else. One parent told me that their child ‘wouldn’t leave us alone until we checked the batteries in the smoke detector.’ “

What are the most important takeaways from the classes? “There are several. We stress the importance of smoke alarms. One of our presentations drives home hard the message to not play with matches and lighters,” he said.

The youngsters seemed to most like playing in the water. “We had an exercise Friday night that involved spraying water. We had someone hiding who sprayed them back. They really enjoyed that,” the chief said.

At graduation ceremonies Friday night, youngsters received an academy t-shirt and a medallion on a ribbon.

The idea for the academy began years ago with Curt Jernigan, who is now a volunteer deputy chief with the department.

“He works for the Department of Health, and that organization gave us a grant the first year or two to help pay for the program. The Columbus and Oxford fire departments also do a similar program, and we’ve gotten ideas from them over the years,” the chief said.

Houston Fire Academy for Kids is made possible through various donations from businesses and individuals each year.

“We are extremely thankful for our community support,” Blankenship said.

Kerr, Ball and Mason, you are a friend of mine

I like to hear Shelly West sing “Jose Cuervo, You Are a Friend of Mine” – not that I can relate to what she’s singing about as Tequila has yet to make me dance on the bar, or kiss all the cowboys, but the story the words tell, the rhythm, the music and her sounding so sincere when she sings it makes me visualize what she is describing. I hope you are familiar with the melody – if you are, just replace her words with this, “Kerr, Ball and Mason, you are a friend of mine!”. Jerry Clower used to tell of the “pop” heard up and down streets as mamas popped those canned biscuits when they first became popular. In my house, we listen for the ‘pop’ of that jar lid as it seals and we know we have more homemade goodies to add to our larder.

I am dead serious about this. For you young folk, Kerr, Ball and Mason are brands of canning jars. Old John Landis Mason is the initial culprit. He was born in New Jersey back in 1832 and was a tinsmith. Along about 1858, he invented a square-shouldered jar that had a threaded screw top, a special lid to fit it and a rubber ring that would ensure a safe and airtight seal. Just think how this changed our eating! Prior to this, you ate only what was in season unless your expertise as regarded to food included drying it, pickling it, salting it or smoking it. His invention revolutionized the way housewives across the country ‘put food by’.

Mason’s invention never made him rich. He patented his re-usable glass jar in 1858 but failed to renew the patent. Other inventors profited from his mistake as they added refinements through the years. He was later in life accused of having his home burned so that he could collect the insurance, but was not convicted of any such crime. Meanwhile, Mason worked as an accountant to support his wife and six daughters. He died in total poverty in a tenement house in New York City in 1902.

Meanwhile, about 1880, two brothers named Frank and Edmund Ball borrowed $200 from their uncle George Harvey Ball and bought an outfit called Wooden Jacket Can Company located in New York. Wasn’t long until their three other brothers joined in the venture. Those tin cans were encased in wooden jackets and they held items like kerosene, paint or varnish. They soon realized that the acid used to refine kerosene caused corrosion in tin and so they decided to use glass for the inserts of the wood-jacket cans. At first, they bought the glass inserts but a couple of Belgian glassblowers passed through Buffalo and encouraged the Ball brothers to build their own glass factory. And so they did. The Ball brothers, along about 1884, learned that the Mason patent for the “Mason improved fruit jar” had expired. They began manufacturing canning jars in their glasswork factory. Their early “Ball jars” came in a half-gallon, a pint and a ‘midget’ size, whatever that was, and in amber or an aqua colored glass. They manufactured the lids in their metal fabricating factory. This process was all being done in New York but the cost of coal to fire their furnaces was becoming too expensive so they began the search for an alternative source of energy for their furnaces.

While Frank Ball was on a business trip to Cleveland, Ohio, he learned about a boom in natural gas in Findlay, Ohio. There was much pondering and consulting among the brothers about this change in their manufacturing methods. Edmund Ball visited several towns in the natural gas field but Muncie, Indiana, did as so many small towns in today’s world do – the town leaders and several business men met with the Ball brothers and offered them various financial incentives to entice them to build their new manufacturing facility there. The Ball brothers were impressed. Muncie offered them seven acres of land on which to build their new factory, a gas well and $5,000.00 cash.

By 1888, it was a done deal. On February 18, the gas furnaces were first fired up and on March 1, the first glass products were made – oil containers and lamp chimneys, but not fruit jars at this time. More and more of the manufacturing operations were relocated to Muncie and soon all the Ball brothers had relocated there as well. There were some setbacks, as in fires at their factories and warehouses in 1891 and in 1898 that did some damage but the brothers soon rebuilt and started again. They persevered and in their fiscal year that began in September of 1894, they produced an unbelievable twenty-two million fruit jars! By 1897 it was thirty-seven million jars. Their facilities remained competitive in products and price and by 1905, they were producing an unbelievable sixty million canning jars per year!

Alexander Kerr, the force behind the original Kerr jar, began his production of glass containers in Portland, Oregon. In the following years, the Kerr company moved their manufacturing facilities through several states. The company still produces glass products but make about as many non-canning glass containers nowadays as jars for home canning.

Am I glad these fellows stayed the course in allowing us to ‘put food by’ in glass jars? Well, yeah. I am often asked ‘why do you do that?’ – the ‘that’ being scalding, peeling, cooking, jarring and sterilizing tomatoes, or peeling, and chopping peaches, adding a ton of sugar, then cooking them forever and jarring and sterilizing them in their “Ball” or “Mason” jars. And then there’s that beautiful muscadine jelly that looks like you’ve melted a pile of amethyst gems and poured it in a glass jar. I really have several reasons – I like looking over there on the shelf and seeing the fruits of my and my husband’s labors, I like how the contents taste absolutely scrumptious and besides that, my mama did it.