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New additions, old favorites at Flywheel Festival

HOUSTON – The 38th Annual Spring Flywheel Festival will include time-honored favorites, as well as a litany of new activities and demonstrations, all geared toward a full day of family fun.

Bluegrass music, primitive weaponry demonstrations, and old-time cooking are a few of the new offerings slated for the festival, on April 27.

“We’re excited to grow the events at the festival and we’re trying to make it an annual, destination event,” said Sean Johnson, executive director of the Chickasaw Development Foundation.

Bluegrass picking will start in late morning and last throughout the afternoon. The Highway 36 Bluegrass Band, and Mountain Connection, both from Arkansas, will be among the festival’s featured acts, along with The Good Times Express from Calhoun City. Area pickers are also invited to drop in and play their own impromptu, shade tree sessions.

The festival’s first-ever domino tournament, to be held in the air-conditioned civic center, is creating a lot of buzz as well, Johnson said. Folks can register by calling Billy Taylor, at (662) 456-6670

Adventurous souls can learn to throw an atlatl at the Flywheel Festival. An atlatl is a primitive spear apparatus. Members of the North Mississippi Atlatl Association will also demonstrate flint-knapping and tomahawk-throwing, and men in Civil war costumes will load muskets.

An homage to contributions of women throughout history will be another, new attraction at the Flywheel Festival.

“Inspiring the Next Generation–Exceptional Women of Mississippi,” is an exhibit by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and festival planners anticipate a lot of interest.

“It features women who’ve made a difference in the politics, industry, and culture of Mississippi, and will include exceptional women in Chickasaw County,” said Johnson.

Other attractions will include Flywheelers doing old-fashioned things like rending lard, making soap, and making fresh cracklin’s and meat skins (fresh pork rinds) behind the civic center. They’ll also setup a blacksmithing demonstration.

Also returning are the tractor pull and anvil shoots, both happening around noon. The kids’ area will have inflatables, a pony carousel, and a petting zoo. Cruizin’ Houston will also have dozens of cars on display in the High School parking lot.

“All the gubernatorial candidates have been invited and we know that many of the local candidates will be attending,” said Johnson. “If we can get enough of them, they may get to stump on the stage.”

Booth sales and food vendors, including lots of barbecue, will have a strong presence this year, according to Johnson.

“We’ve got more vendors this year than we’ve had in years – over 60 at last count,” Johnson said. “They’re coming from Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and from all over Mississippi.

Churches and other benevolent souls will be giving out free water and snacks to help festival-goers keep up their energy, Johnson said.

Antiques, antique pocket knives, jewelry, yard art, and yard accessories, as well as clothing, candles, gifts, and memorabilia, even plants from a nursery, will be among the goodies for sale.

Those wishing to register for the market, or with other questions may visit Houston’s Facebook page:

“As long as the weather cooperates, I think we’ll be looking at a great festival this year,” Johnson said.


Alexus Westmorland hunts eggs

Alexus Westmorland, 3, gathers eggs at an Easter egg hunt at the Joe Brigance Memorial Park in Houston. The morning’s activities, including bouncy-houses, and story-time, were sponsored by First Baptist Church Houston, Houston First United Methodist Church, and the Chickasaw Development Foundation. More than 200 children participated.

LaVicy is one of history’s mysteries in Chickasaw

Although there is a date of birth on her tombstone, she never knew exactly when she was born. That date of 1801 is not even close to the birth year of 1818 which she, at the age of 74, states under oath was ‘about’ when she was born. She really didn’t know who her parents were either. If this young orphaned Creek Indian girl, LaVicy Roberts Naron could speak from the grave and tell the stories of her life, it would be a sad but a most fascinating tale!

The Creeks were heavily involved in what came to be known as the “Creek Indian Wars” and the “Red Stick” war. The names of some of the participants in this era include William Cocke, Indian Agent who is buried in the Friendship Cemetery in Columbus, Miss., along side his second wife; John E. Coffee, a friend and fellow soldier of Andrew Jackson and a well-known surveyor of the time and for whom Coffeeville, MS is named; George Colbert – the probable progenitor of the Colbert family in our area. Her people – as well as her soon-to-be husband – had fought alongside Andrew Jackson in the Creek Wars. However, Jackson seemed to have had a very short memory span because later the Creeks were forced to sign a paper giving about 23 million acres of their homeland to the US of A.

Considering the woeful state of affairs in which LaVicy Roberts was born, she probably had very little home life, education or family support. Her Creek tribe of Indians were also known as the Muskogee or Muscogee Indians. LaVicy’s fellow Creek Indians were not a nomadic tribe. They were the first North American tribe to officially be considered by the George Washington government to be civilized. The men were skilled hunters and fishermen using their nets, spears, traps and bows and arrows to put meat such as deer, bison, turkeys and fish on the table. Corn was a major part of their diet. Ancestry in the Creek Indian family was through the female line (hmmm, what an idea!). Children belonged to the same clan as their mothers, not their fathers. The women owned the land and thus was passed on to their children through the female line.

Lavicy’s year of birth falls somewhat in the middle of the Georgia Land Lotteries, which began in 1805 and ended in 1833. It’s doubtful she was even aware of what was transpiring around her, politically. When she was about 14 years of age, she became the wife of one Samuel Naron. Their marriage (as per copy of their license) was the 232nd marriage performed in Coweta County, Georgia, on Aug. 14, 1832. Samuel was a trapper and of course at this time, food was there for the taking in the virgin forest of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

The newly formed little family from the Indian lands of Georgia slowly migrated westward. Their path can be documented by the birthplace of their children. Delila Ann, the oldest child, named for Samuel’s mother, was born in what is now Walton County, Georgia in 1834. By 1835 Lavicy and Samuel were living Tallapoosa County, Ala. There the next four children were born. By 1847 they were living in Chickasaw County where the last four of their children were born and where Samuel and Lavicy died.

Samuel continued his trapping from their home near the present-day community of Atlanta.

Living near the Topashaw and Bear Creeks in the most southwestern part of the county that you can get to, the rewards of trapping would have been worth the effort. Reading the online transcription of the 1870 Chickasaw Census is about like trying to read Russian with never a lesson. However, if you have quite an imagination and a lot of fortitude, you can still find LaVicey with various members of her family in the household. The date of the census is Aug. 31, 1870 and Samuel is not listed. There is information out there stating that a Mr. Duke signed an affidavit saying he helped dress Samuel for his burial and that he died March 8, 1870. There were several males by the name of Duke who lived in the county and could possibly have done this based on their age and occupation. Some say Samuel was killed at the battle of Shiloh but I can find no record of him among the Naron men who fought as Confederate soldiers in the Civil War. His age also makes me have doubts about this, as he would have been about 60 years old at the beginning of the war.

There is one legal document available pertaining to this couple. On the 30th day of January, 1893, in the presence of J. W. Morgan, Justice of the Peace for Chickasaw County, Lavisa (spelling varied for her first name) came and made her mark witnessed by a J. C. Logan and a W. G. Taylor on a document pertaining to her husband’s participation in the “Indian Wars”. In seeking a pension, she stated the following: she was 74 years of age, that she was born about the year 1818, and to the best of her knowledge her husband, Samuel, was born about the year of 1804. Morgan then stated “if she does not know these dates, have her say so in this affidavit”. She replied “I can only say I don’t recollect the exact date but I am about 74 years old. Samuel Naron, my husband, would have been about 89 years old had he lived until this date. I was raised an orphan and have no record of my birth.”

I have often thought of this Creek Indian woman, growing up an orphan in turbulent times in turbulent places. How was her life in later years? Was she accepted in her neighborhood by the local folk? What were her beliefs about an afterlife? She attended Midway Baptist Church in the early 1850s, could she remember her Creek Indian religious culture? As the years went by, just how much of her life as a young Indian girl could she remember? I was not successful in finding a defining photo of her, nor a picture of the picture. But somewhere in this vicinity someone has a picture of her smoking a corn cob pipe and family lore says younger members of her family were entrusted to light her pipe – usually by a hot piece of coal. Lavicey Roberts Naron was one strong lady. If you have an occasion to visit the Rhodes Chapel Cemetery in Chickasaw County, stop by her grave and tip you hat or say a prayer. This woman deserves both.

Fight between parents injures one,   triggers brief school lockdown

OKOLONA – Okolona High School was briefly locked down Tuesday morning, April 16, after one parent stabbed another during a fight near school grounds in front of the school, authorities said.

Okolona Superintendent Dexter Green on Thursday praised the courage of staff members who intervened to break up what he called a “horrific” fight.

Latoya Johnson was arrested and charged with simple assault in the fight that wounded Esperanza Baker. The fight took place about 9 a.m.

Baker was taken to a hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and will be charged with aggravated assault upon her release, according to published reports.

Said Green in a statement: “Okolona High school was temporarily on lockdown to a situation that occurred outside the building but in close proximity to the school on Tuesday, April 16th.

“Police were called and the situation was handled swiftly. Students were in class during the incident. All students are safe and regular operating procedures have resumed.”

He said Okolona High School Principal John Tacker, campus security officer Leslie Mabry, secretary Andrea Garth, Okolona Middle School Principal Markenston Jean-Louis, and the OHS office staff “did a great job in breaking up a potentially life-threatening situation. I thank God for your courage and for your willingness to intervene in such a horrific act.”

Okolona police investigator Robert Stokes said bullying between two Okolona High School students may have led to the fight, reports indicated. A call to Stokes seeking comment Thursday wasn’t returned.

Johnson has posted bail and been released. It’s unclear if the parents have lawyers.

Supervisors set May 21 public hearing on kratom ban

OKOLONA – Meeting Tuesday, April 16, Chickasaw County Supervisors voted 5-0 to hold a public hearing May 21 at 10 a.m. at the Houston Courthouse on whether to approve a proposed ordinance banning the possession, sale or use of the controversial herbal substance kratom, in Chickasaw County.

Supervisors acted after MBN Agent Jon D. Lepicier asked them to consider a ban on kratom, which he termed dangerous and addictive.

No one at the meeting spoke in support of the substance.

Under the proposed ordinance, the “use, purchase, possession, distribution, sale or offering for sale or publically display for sale of synthetic cannabinoids or other synthetic products,” or their seeds or extracts, would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and/or six months in jail. That list includes a series of chemicals, including kratom.

Lepicier said people often use kratom to supplement their drug use. It can produce effects similar to some drugs and can interact dangerously with other drugs.

The substance is made from the leaves of a tree in Southeast Asia.

It can be bought over the counter. It is mostly available in smaller stores, he said. Most larger retailers don’t sell it, he said

Kratom is not approved for human consumption by the FDA. MBN advises that kratom, which targets the same brain receptors as morphine, seems to have properties that expose users to the possibilities of abuse, addiction, and dependence.

Supervisors voted to set the hearing after Lepicier told them: “It’s a public safety concern. We want to keep kids who might buy it out of the stores. We’re currently going county to county seeking public feedback on the matter.”

He said he knows of no deaths from the drug in Chickasaw County. He said MBN officials believe they’ve connected kratom to numerous drug overdose deaths in the state, however.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, he indicated. The bodies of decedents are often not specifically tested for kratom. Since it is often used in conjunction with illegal substances, an overdose of those substances may mask the presences of kratom.

Dist. 4 Supervisor Jerry Hall said, “The biggest complaint by merchants may be the loss of revenue” from those who buy kratom.

In response to questions from Hall, the MBN agent said kratom is available in capsule, liquid or powder form, with pills the most potent. He said the cost ranges from $15-20 per shot.

Dist. 3 Supervisor Russell Brooks said he wants to insure that any legislation banning sale of kratom “locks up the perpetrator, not the victim.”

In other action, supervisors:

--Approved a list of homestead rejections.

--Took no action on a request from County Road Manager Doug Winter to consider a four-day 10 hr. per day work week for county road workers. Supervisor Hall said he was against it: “In July and August, with the sun coming down, workers are going to get mighty tired.”

--Approved putting a handicapped bus turnaround on CR 135.

--Approved an $8,000 bid from Chickasaw Equipment for purchase of a zero-turn mower. Three other bids were submitted.

-Voted to buy a culvert from the The Railroad Yard Inc., of Stillwater, Okla., at a cost of $11,800, to replace one which washed out from a off CR 52. The company’s bid was the lower of two received.

The 10 ft. by 60 ft. culvert weighs about 40,000 lbs. It has not yet been received, and for now, a cemetery is not accessible by vehicle.

--Approved the lease purchase of a mini-excavator from JBV of Memphis at terms of a 36 month lease/purchase agreement at $1,182.27 monthly.

--Approved County Administrator Norman Griffin. Jr., signing paperwork for a lease/purchase agreement to finance purchase of a tractor from Wade Equipment Company. A purchase order was issued for the tractor last December. The tractor is not yet available, and won’t be bought until it does become available, Griffin said. The paperwork is still being finalized. When it is finalized, it will be reviewed by the board at a future meeting.

--Approved the County Administrator submitting paperwork to apply for a handicapped accessibility grant. The grant would finance work for increased accessibility at several polling places.

--Approved deleting two microwaves from county jail inventory.

--Held an executive session pertaining legal matters, emerged from the session and took no action.