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Houston residents celebrate National Day of Prayer

In Houston and across the rest of America Thursday, May 2, Americans celebrated the National Day of Prayer, which traditionally is the first Thursday in May.

The theme of the national 2019 observance was “Love One Another,” based upon the words of Jesus in John 13:34, which says, basically, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you.”

About 25 people took part in short ceremonies on the east lawn of the courthouse square, under the flagpole.

Following a greeting, First United Methodist Church Pastor Greg Ducker led the group in prayer. The prayer time was closed by Arbor Grove Baptist Church Pastor Jason Brassfield.

Following that, some people read Scripture from the Bible, and some prayed.

Parkway Baptist Church Pastor Randy Rinehart led the group in singing “God Bless America,” and the group was dismissed.

It’s uncertain when Day of Prayer ceremonies first began in Houston. “It’s been at least 14 years, because I’ve been here that long,” Pastor Rinehart said.

The Houston event was sponsored by the Houston Greater Ministerial Alliance, which represents all churches in greater Houston, according to Pastor Rinehart. The group meets once monthly for administrative purposes, and to do whatever it can to help families in need.


EPA outlines year's work and ongoing projects

HOUSTON – Natchez Trace Electric Power Association General Manager Shawn Edmondson, P.E., gave an overview of the year’s activities, detailed several ongoing projects, and announced the names of three-newly elected board members during the group’s annual meeting Monday at 7 p.m., April 22, at the Houston High School Auditorium.

About 80 people were on hand, according to records of the meeting.

Natchez Trace EPA is a member-owned electrical cooperative headquartered in Houston, with district offices in Calhoun City and Eupora. It has 65 employees, over 15,000 members and 2,100 miles of powerlines. The cooperative serves portions of Calhoun, Chickasaw. Clay, Grenada, Pontotoc, Webster, and Yalobusha counties.

The meeting opened with several selections by the Houston High School Jazz Band, under the direction of Eric Malone. The selection included music from the comedy movie The Pink Panther, You’ve Got A Friend In Me from the computer animated film series Toy Story, Man in the Mirror, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, and Don’t You Worry About A Thing. Several of the selections also featured Malone on soprano saxophone.

Following the musical presentation, TVA Mississippi District General Manager/Customer Service John Malone gave a short overview of the year’s activities. He reminded his listeners that TVA’s overriding goal is to provide its customers with “safe, clean, reliable low-cost energy. To accomplish that, TVA offered a blend of power sources in FY 18 that included nuclear (40 percent), coal (26 percent), gas (20 percent), hydro (10 percent), wind and solar (3 percent), and TVA energy efficiency 1 percent).

Change is in the wind: FY 2027 projections see nuclear rise to 43 percent, coal fall to 22 percent, gas fall to 13 percent, hydro remain unchanged, wind and solar rise to 5 percent, and TVA energy efficiency remains unchanged.

Most of the evening belonged to Edmondson, who had a lot of ground to cover and covered it quickly and efficiently.

He welcomed his audience, reminding them they were “members and not customers, because when you signed up for electric service, you became a member of our electric cooperative. You’re co-owners who vote for the Board of Directors who determine how NTEPA operates.”

During the evening, he also presented Judy Gordon a plaque recognizing the service of her late husband Jim, who served 28 years as a director and secretary on the board from 1988-2016, resigning due to ill health shortly before his death.

The three new members elected to the NTEPA Board of Directors were also recognized. Beginning three year terms, which started at the annual meeting, are Kenneth Linton from Dist. 1, Robert Harrington from Dist. 2; and Sheila Freely from Dist. 3.

Edmondson added that all electricity sold by NTEPA is either generated by TVA, or contracted with third parties through TVA. “This guarantees reliable electricity for us and our members at a stable price,” he said.

He said TVA offers a variety of energy efficiency and economic development programs that give customers a credit on their light bill if they meet certain requirements.

He outlined several projects of a four-year construction work plan, started November, 2017, designed to help NTEPA continue to provide reliable electric service.

Among those projects:

--Replacing AMR (automatic meter reading) systems with radio frequency technology that will allow more efficient electrical system operation. Begun in Vardaman, the system-wide project is projected to be done in about 18 months.

--Converting to a higher primary voltage on Airport Road in Houston, and Highway 15 in Pontotoc County. The change will provide better quality, more efficient service, he said.

--In the Calhoun City District, converting lines that feed the lake area in Grenada to larger wire will also produce better quality and greater efficiency, he said.

--In the Eupora District, “We are upgrading lines to provide an alternate source of electricity for wells that provide water to the City of Eupora,” he said.

All the work has one overriding goal: “To keep our reliability high and our costs low,” he concluded.


FARTHER ALONG”

The words to this old familiar gospel song have always reminded me of my mother as it assures us that “we’ll understand it all by and by”. However, unlike me, who to this day still doesn’t understand it all, she never lost courage and faith that it truly would be better by and by.

Farther along we’ll know all about it,

Farther along we’ll understand why;

Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,

We’ll understand it all by and by.

Tempted and tried, we’re oft’ made to wonder

Why it should be thus all the day long.

While there are others living beside us,

Never molested, though in the wrong.

It was a cold day in early December, 1942, that Sydney H. Wilson walked about two miles from our home across Simpson bottom, the Long Bridge, as it was called back then, up the Dixon Hill, now Umberson, and on to the courthouse to see Clint Peden, the Chancery Clerk.

Her mission that day was to solicit the help of the Board of Supervisors to get her husband, Lex Wilson, in the Tuberculosis Sanatorium in McGee. He had tried in vain to overcome this deadly, insidious disease but he was down to one hundred and eighteen pounds and failing fast.

He was accepted and on Feb. 15, 1943, he boarded the Greyhound bus in Houston and began his lonesome journey to the Sanatorium.

Sydney’s journey began with five children totally in her care. We ranged in age from 13 to not quite one. While Lex was committed to total bed rest in the Sanatorium, Sydney had to manage not only five children with their usual whining, fussing, and rowdy ways, but a mortgaged 142-acre farm and a herd of Jersey milk cows. This was without any comforts of today’s world, as in no electricity, therefore no air conditioning, no refrigeration and no central heat and no light bulb hanging down from the ceiling in each room.

Sydney had sometimes gone to the woods and helped saw down a tree, then helped saw it into blocks of wood. She then cut those blocks with an axe to make wood for the cooking stove and for the heater in the wintertime. During this awful time, we would never have made it without the friendship and help from William “Sonny Man” Below, his wife Bettie and their grown sons along with the Ed Evans family with his wife Lottie B. and their grown sons.

They helped when they could with cutting wood, with cutting hay, plowing up the garden and of course at hog killing time. She, in turn, did their sewing for them. She sewed our bed sheets out of flour sacks, as was the custom for poor folks in those days.

She kept a pantry full of home canned produce from her garden, along with dozens of quarts of jelly and jam that were prepared on a wood stove. When the old alarm clock failed her in getting up on time to get the kids ready for the school bus, she kept a coal oil lamp burning close by so she could judge the time by the amount of light she could see from her bedroom window, or by the sound of the 4:41 Rebel as it passed through Houston with its whistle blowing on its way down to New Orleans. There was no money to buy a new alarm clock.

The “milk check” that came every two weeks varied from $36.76 to a meager $5.89. The essentials had to come out of those milk checks, like the children’s coats and shoes she couldn’t make herself, the large sacks full of meal and flour, hog feed, cow feed and just as importantly, a few dollars that she could stash away to help her buy a ticket about every three months to make the trip to McGee to see her husband.

I know all this because I have the letters my parents wrote to each other during this time. Sydney wrote almost every day while Lex wrote several times a week. Sydney expressed in every letter her faith that her husband would come home a well man. He didn’t.

When death has come and taken our loved one,

Leaving our home so lonely and drear.

Then do we wonder why others prosper,

Living so wicked, year after year.

I hope Sydney Wilson is reclining on the fluffiest cloud up in Heaven. I hope there are legions of angels around her, keeping her in the ripest, sweetest fresh fruit, the most tender and delicious peas and beans that Heaven can produce and the crispest pieces of cornbread.

I hope that Michael, the Archangel himself, is standing beside her chair with a never-empty glass of ice cold, sweet tea. I hope her joints no longer hurt from chopping wood, or washing clothes in an old black wash pot and rubbing them on a rubboard or from killing hogs or chopping weeds and digging potatoes.

I hope the blackberry jelly and jam is there for the taking and she doesn’t have to fight the heat and the chiggers to find the berries. I hope there is no waiting for the milk check.

I hope she and Lex can have conversations about things other than which cow they might have to sell to pay for food or medicine or to replace that alarm clock.

I hope she doesn’t even need an alarm clock. I hope he is healed and they no longer have to worry about what the doctors will tell him about his TB at the next ‘conference’.

“Faithful till death” saith our loving Master

Short is our time to labor and wait;

Then will our toiling seem to be nothing,

When we shall pass the heavenly gate.

Happy Mother’s Day, mama.


Flywheel Festival blended old, new  events into lots of fun for lots of folks 

HOUSTON – The 38th Annual Spring Flywheel Festival Saturday, April 27 – which included plenty of events traditional to the festival, and a healthy dose of new ones – will go into the record books as very successful, Chickasaw Development Foundation Executive Director Sean Johnson said this week.

There were a lot of cooks in the kitchen, so to speak, and they made sure the finished meal was a very good one indeed, he said.

The Flywheel Festival is actually produced by three partners: the Mississippi Valley Flywheelers, the Museum, and the CDF.

“The Flywheelers are the heart and soul of the event, bringing in tractors and flywheel exhibits and coordinating all the different events like the anvil shoots, tractor pulls and old time cookers.

“The museum brings complementary exhibits and demonstrations and the CDF manages the entertainment, market and promotions,” Johnson said.

According to Harry Collins of the Mississippi Valley Flywheelers: “I think it was our biggest show ever.”

Added vendor John Wooten: “We’ve been setting up at the Flywheel Festival for years, and this was, by far, the best one yet.”

Johnson also credited Mayor Stacey Parker and Alderwoman Kellie Atkisson, and Houston Public Works for making sure the grounds were in great shape for the festival.

“The Houston Police Department and Chickasaw County Emergency Management did an excellent job in traffic control and making sure that everyone knew where to find parking,” he said.

The city’s efforts in several other areas helped make the Festival as successful as it was.

“The city made some renovations to the existing stage which allowed us to forego the expense of renting a stage. The lack of this expense allowed us to use that money for upgrading our entertainment.

“Danny Watkins was instrumental (pun intended) in putting together the Bluegrass Showcase, bringing the Highway 36 Band, Mountain View Connection and Good Times Express to perform in the showcase.

“We plan on expanding on the bluegrass theme next year, perhaps creating a bluegrass competition and meet up,” Johnson said.

“This was my first Spring Flywheel, so I cannot compare it to others, but by all accounts it was the largest in recent memory, with over 60 registered vendors from three states and over 6,000 in attendance.

“We added a number of new events this year, including the Bluegrass Showcase, Stump Speeches, a Dominoes Tournament and Confederate Reenactors,” Johnson said. All were well received,” he said.

The stump speeches offered a wide variety of speakers. They included gubernatorial candidate Robert Foster; legislative candidates, Katherine York, Scott Griffin, Keegan Coleman, Jon Lancaster, Tommy Futral and Mark Hancock; and candidates for supervisor, Margaret Futral, Bill Blissard and Robbie Lynch.

“The Dominoes Tournament was successful with over 20 players. We’re planning on continuing this and perhaps adding a Checkers Championship in the future,” according to the CDF director.

Kids enjoyed the event with bouncy houses, pony rides and a miniature golf course provided by the Dream Riders.

If you were looking for good eating, you came to the right place. There was plenty of food, with BBQ, Street Tacos, Hibachi, Funnel Cakes, Smoked Sausage and more.