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$200K road improvement project to begin in Houlka

HOULKA – A major roads and streets improvement project will soon be under way in Houlka, funded by a $200,000 one-time payment the town recently received in connection with the BP oil spill settlement, Mayor Jimmy Kelly said this week.

“The street improvement project was drawn up by Cook-Coggin Engineers. Under the terms of the settlement, the town won’t have to pay any of the money back, and it must use the money for street improvement,” Mayor Kelly said.

The work involves about a half-mile of overlay. The work will begin on Oak Street at its intersection with Highway 32, then go south on Oak to Griffin Avenue, then west on Griffin to Jefferson Street.

The other work area begins on Viola at its intersection with Highway 32, and goes south to Fifth Avenue.

“We appreciate the efforts of State Representative Preston Sullivan and State Senator Russell Jolly, who were both instrumental in helping us get this money,” the mayor said.

The town recently accepted a bid from Falcon Construction of Columbus to do the work. A pre-construction meeting involving officials of the town, the construction company, and Cook-Coggin will soon be held.

After that, the overlay work is expected to begin, the mayor said.

“We hope to get stated in a couple weeks, hopefully before bad weather sets in,” the mayor said.

A five-day special session of the Mississippi Legislature ended in August, 2018 with the passage of legislation earmarking how $750 million in BP oil disaster settlement money would be spent in Mississippi.

The settlement money was from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil disaster.

Mississippi will receive installments of $40 million a year starting in 2019 and running through 2033. The Gulf Coast area will receive $30 million of the $40 million each of those years. The remaining $10 million will be disbursed in cities and counties in the state, according to published reports.

Celebrating 60: Houston FFA held anniversary celebration

HOUSTON – The Houston High School chapter of FFA recently celebrated their 60th anniversary. They held a reception at the Houston High School Career Technical Education center on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

The reception was open to all FFA members, past and present, to come and enjoy the success the chapter has achieved in its 60 years.

There was another reason for the event as well. The Houston chapter is hoping to set up an FFA alumni and supporters organization in Houston. The group would be open to all past members of Houston FFA as well as non-members who desire to help the chapter.

According to Monte Ladner, State Coordinator of Mississippi FFA Alumni and Supporters, these groups are the support behind the clubs. They assist their FFA Chapter in going to competitions, help with fundraisers and chaperone when needed. These are just a few of the things that they do, however.

“It is just an organized way to assist chapters in achieving their goals,” said Ladner.

The Houston FFA has a very favorable track record that should make an Alumni and Supporters organization favorable.

The chapter was established in 1959, with James Marion as the Agriculture teacher. Marion taught from 1959-1965. Since then, there have been four Ag. Teachers, Doug Love from 1965-1978, Jim Sappington from 1978-1989, Robert Burdine from 1989-2007 and Karen Cook from 2007-present.

There is also a long list of achievements under Houston’s belt, and some of the highlights include:

– 10 state championships in various categories.

– 33 first place awards

– 11 national chapter awards in 1966, 1967, 1972 and eight that have been consistently awarded since 2010.

There was a good turnout at the event, and according to Cook, that was a good sign.

“Parents are very supportive,” she said. “This is a good way to see that everyone is on the same page.”

There has been no definite time line laid out for an Alumni and Supporters chapter yet, but the Houston FFA is ready to take that step as soon as possible.

Season of giving: Families First chosen as BancorpSouth donation recipient

HOUSTON – Families First of Houston was treated to an early Christmas gift on Monday, Nov. 18. This gift was not a toy train or a new bike, however, it was instead in the form of a $500 check from BancorpSouth.

BancorpSouth makes donations to different local programs that help the community thrive, and more especially help those who are underserved and have low incomes.

With these being the criteria, according to Amanda Blissard, BancorpSouth Bank Manager, Families First was an easy choice.

“[We picked them] because of the work that they do in the community in supporting those low to moderate income individuals,” said Blissard.

Families First does many things including educational services, literacy programs, fall prevention exercise programs for elderly citizens and much more.

“We are pleased to support the valuable work that you do in our communities throughout Houston by presenting you with this $500 contribution to Families First to stimulate employment through job readiness, support family financial stability, promote literacy, increase graduation rates, support positive youth development and promote parenting skills development,” said Blissard in a letter written to Families First Co-Director, Anderson McFarland, informing him of their having been chosen.

The donation will go towards supplies necessary for Families First to achieve its goal of helping people who need it within the community.

“We are just working together in this community with different organizations to try to bring whatever we can to Chickasaw County and help the community,” said McFarland.

Families First is located on West Church Street in Houston. They can be reached by phone at (662) 362-8200 for any questions.