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World War II Army veterans Donald McGovern, left, and Clifton Cockrell, right, talk with Gen. T.K Moffett following a luncheon, last week, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Cockrell, from Mantachie, served on D-Day in the Army’s 79th Division, 315th Infantry, 43-47.

Farmers markets in Fulton, Mantachie to open this week

Those looking for fresh fruits and vegetables in Itawamba County this summer are about to have a bounty of options, because both Fulton’s and Mantachie’s farmers markets are set to open this week.

Vendors coming to the market fluctuate from week-to-week. Both markets are expected to run about 10 weeks.

Fulton Farmers Market

Fulton Farmers Market will break out the squash and, hopefully, a few tomatoes this Friday, June 14 at ICC’s Cypress Pavilion from 2-4 p.m. The market will be open on Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the summer. Customers are encouraged to come early if they want in on the best selection.

Bill Coggin is chairperson for the annual farmers market. This year, as in prior years, the group says there is a one-time fee of $10 to become a member of the market. It’s good for a lifetime. Any farmer or vendor from a county that touches Itawamba can join.

It’s not necessary to preregister, just show up.

Items put up for sale in the farmers market must be homegrown. Vendors with handcrafted items, such as wood crafts, are also invited to join. Commercial products won’t be allowed.

“Anything such as birdhouses or handcrafted barn wood items are welcome,” said Romona Edge, executive director of Fulton Farmers Market sponsor the MSU Extension Service.

Mantachie Farmers Market

The Mantachie Farmers Market will open this Saturday, June 15, from 8-10 a.m. at Mantachie Town Park. Organizers welcome vendors from adjacent counties as well. Vendors do not have to preregister, just show up. There is no fee.

Last year was the inaugural year for the Mantachie Farmers Market, and the market offered a mixture of locally-grown produce, honey and home-baked bread and pies.

Ed Calvert, organizer of the event, said he hopes to have the same variety at this year’s market, along with handmade crafts.

“Last year we had vendors who brought porch swings and handcrafted knives,” he said. “We welcome those type vendors as well.”

On opening day last year, an estimated 80-100 people filled the pavilion at Mantachie Town Park to purchase a mix of locally-farmed produce, honey, freshly-jarred preserves, eggs, watermelons and home-baked bread and pies from five area producers.

Calvert’s hoping to replicate or improve upon that success.

“We were very pleased with the turnout last year and hope it’s even better this year,” Calvert said.

No charges pressed following fight between Fulton mayor, Itawamba deputy

No charges have been filed and no arrests made following a physical altercation between Fulton Mayor Barry Childers and Itawamba County Sheriff’s Department deputy Andy Graham.

Fulton Police Chief Mitch Nabors confirmed, Monday morning, that the two men were involved in a brief fight at Legends Sports Grille in Fulton, Saturday. He said neither party has pressed charges at this time.

WTVA posted video of the fight on Sunday night, albeit without initially identifying either Childers or Graham. The video begins with the two men in apparent conversation seconds before Childers strikes Graham. Graham then strikes back and the two men begin to grapple with one another.

The conversation between Childers and Graham which led to the fight is inaudible in the video.

The Itawamba County Times reached out to both Childers and Graham, Monday morning. Both men have declined to comment on the incident at this time.

Fulton leaders decline to rescind kratom ban

Despite some concerns from local users of the drug, the Fulton Board of Aldermen declined to rescind its ban on kratom or kratom-related products, last week.

Fulton, Mantachie and Itawamba County made the possession and sale of the drug, which is derived from the leaves of a tropical tree and frequently mixed with synthetic additives to give it opioid-like properties, illegal in March. Those found in possession of it face a misdemeanor charge and a $1,000 fine.

Last Tuesday, a small group of kratom users spoke with Fulton aldermen about their concerns with the ban. Several of the speakers said they use the drug to mitigate pain and cut down on pharmaceutical expenses.

Patrick Sudduth, who previously made a similar appeal to the Itawamba County Board of Supervisors, asked Fulton leaders to reconsider their ban on the substance. Sudduth told the board he suffers from cluster headaches and a herniated disc and uses kratom to control his pain and to give him the ability to function in a normal capacity.

Sudduth told the board he orders the kratom he uses online as leaves, which he brews into a tea to drink for pain relief.

Alan Smith, a former heroin addict who said he uses kratom to control withdrawal symptoms, told the board kratom has changed his life. He told aldermen he leads a productive life now, holding down a steady job and cares for his wife and children. He cited the “God made plant” is the only thing that keeps him on track.

Kratom is derived from the plant Mitragyna Speciosa, a tropical plant-like tree native to Southeast Asia. Its leaves contain two addictive compounds, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, interact with opioid receptors in the brain and give users a high, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The substance is produced as bottled liquid, e-cigarette cartridges and in powder versions.

Prior to the bans, several Itawamba County stores were selling products that contained kratom, typically bottled as a liquid.

County leaders passed their bans on the recommendation of Itawamba County Sheriff Chris Dickinson, who said abusing kratom can cause dependence and mixing it with other substances like alcohol, opioids or even cough syrup can be deadly.

When speaking with the Mantachie and Fulton boards, Dickinson was supported by Capt. Tammy Reynolds with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN).

Both Sudduth and Smith told the board they agreed with regulating the synthetic products that are sold in convenience stores, but said outright banning the substance will do more harm than good.

Members of the board declined to make a motion to make any changes to the kratom ordinance that is in place. It remains as is.

Kratom remains legal at the federal level, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings about it.

Kratom bans have been growing increasingly common throughout Northeast Mississippi, although several municipalities that were seemingly preparing to ban its possession and sale have instead opted to study the drug and its uses further before outright banning it.

Opening the door to recovery

The decisions people struggling with addiction make can have far-reaching effects for those around them. Not only are addicts themselves fighting an uphill battle, but their children, family members and friends are often left to make the best of a difficult situation.

Four years ago, a group from Open Door Worship Center in Fulton attended a Celebrate Recovery Summit in Jackson, Mississippi and decided to localize the faith-based recovery program. Since adapting the program for their own church, they have ministered to over 1,500 people facing addiction issues either directly or indirectly in Itawamba County.

Pastor Shane Ray said he believes a church should serve its community. To him, that includes reaching out to both adults and children caught in the perils of difficult addictions.

“We want people to know we are here and available to help them,” Ray said. “Our meetings cover many addiction issues that people are faced with – drugs, gambling, divorce, eating disorders and others.”

The group meets Tuesday nights. Each meeting begins with a meal, designed as a time to fellowship. Their Celebrate Recovery meetings include a large group meeting and an open-share small group.

Ray says one of the most vital elements of the program’s success has been confidentiality and anonymity.

“We strongly stress to our members and people in the group the importance of both,” he said. “It’s important for those attending to know they have a safe place to come too.”

Each meeting begins with a large group worship. Mitch Campbell, a group leader and former addict, frequently shares his story with those attending. While speaking with a group of around 60 people during the May meeting, Campbell told listeners his earliest memory of childhood was of violence between his mother and stepfather. He watched his mother in the dire grip of addiction. At the age of six, he remembers giving her a nickel so she could purchase a “nickel bag” of marijuana.

“That’s not even something a 6-year-old should know,” Campbell told the crowd. “Over time, my situation just got worse and worse.”

After connecting with his father at 9-years-old, Campbell’s mother was killed in a car accident, leaving him in father’s care. His father purchased weed and vodka for his son during his formative teenage years. Campbell’s life then spiraled into heavy drug addiction, including LSD, ecstasy and meth. The trust fund left to him by his mother was quickly dissipated into nothing.

Celebrate Recovery helped Campbell turn his life around. Now, he’s trying to do the same for others like him.

“Through the program, we get to the root of the problem in people’s lives,” Campbell said. “Most of the people we minister to have been hurt or abandoned at an early age. Some haven’t felt anything or known anything but hurt and loss their whole lives. I speak from personal experience, of course.”

Celebrate Recovery started in 1991 at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. There are now over 35,000 Celebrate Recovery churches around the world, including Open Door Worship Center’s.

The program is based on biblical principals. At its heart are the “Eight Recovery Principles,” based on the Beatitudes found in the fifth chapter of Matthew. The first step in its “Twelve Steps and Recovery Comparisons” is having the addict admit her or she has no control over addiction.

Organizers say the program is meant to be a place of refuge, belonging and progress.

“I love Celebrate Recovery because it is a wonderful way to be able to minister to people and to be able to show them what God’s church is really called to be,” Campbell said. “I thank God for this opportunity to be able to lead this program in Itawamba County.”

The program offers a children’s curriculum, “Celebration Place,” for children aged 5-13 years. The studies mirror the lessons taught in the large group for adults. The children have small group meetings that help them identify their feelings and the reason behind them. They also teach the children healthy coping skills for tough issues they may be facing.

“The Landing” is Celebrate Recovery’s student ministry program, directed toward junior high and high school students. It, too, is designed to mirror the adult program.

Whitney Williams leads the teen-focused group and tries to help its young participants live emotionally and spiritually healthy lives.

“Our children and student programs are a great feature of Celebrate Recovery. We don’t just reach out to adults,” Ray said.

After all, Ray knows addiction has a lot of collateral damage.

“Many times the children and teenagers are struggling and simply get left behind when the parents are battling addictions,” he said.