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Fulton completing 2019 projects, looking to improve in 2020

During the weeks ahead, Fulton city officials are looking to put the final touches on two projects that Mayor Barry Childers says will be beneficial for all ages. Childers told The Times both the new walking track pavilion and the new press boxes at Fulton City Park are approaching completion.

Located at the north end of the Tenn-Tom Waterway walking track, the new pavilion will house seating, grills and tables. Childers said the goal is to create an area for families to gather for birthday parties and events or for individuals to relax after a brisk walk.

“The structure is ready. All that remains is getting the tables and other fixtures in place,” he said. “The new pavilion will be a place where families and friends can come and have a good time,”

Regulations set by the U.S. Corps of Engineers (USCE) prevented the city from building a beach attraction similar to the one in Bay Springs, but they were able to move forward with pavilion plans by placing it on city property.

“With the donations we received from Home Depot and then building it ourselves, we were able to do the project at minimal cost,” he said. “Every penny we can save helps the city.”

Fulton City Park’s press box and concession facilities also benefited from generous individuals and businesses. Childers said much of the work and materials were donated, saving the city even more dollars.

“The work that’s been done will offer a larger press box, an office and a concession area with a new kitchen. Functionality was key for the public and the park employees,” he said.

Renovations at the park also include new and improved restrooms.

Fulton City Park isn’t the only area the city hopes to get in better shape. Condemning, cleaning and clearing dilapidated properties remains on the city’s to-do list.

In early 2019, officials agreed to change the process so that public hearings will feature hard deadlines for having the property in question cleaned. If it isn’t cleaned up within a set amount of time, the board will have already ruled on the matter and can legally go forward with the condemnation and cleanup process.

If the clean-up of the property falls in the city’s lap, the cost of the building’s demolition will be passed on to the owners via the city’s tax roll.

“The board of Aldermen have voted on several properties to be condemned and demolished,” Childers said. “They are beyond being fixed and create a hazard so we have to move forward.”

Fulton officials also tackled a dilapidated culvert on South Adams in 2019. Attempts by city workers to replace the pipe failed after rainfall caused mud and debris to fill the pipe and essentially open a sinkhole.

Both McBride Drive and Rogers Drive were flooded.

Inevitably, officials voted to re-group and pay Phillips Construction $49,650 to make the repair. State law allows municipal leaders to bypass the $5,000 maximum bidding process during emergencies. Fulton leaders feared delaying the repair of the culvert and sinkhole could cause further damage to South Adams.

“We made a mistake in how we approached the culvert project,” Childers said. “Like in everyday life, mistakes can happen. When mistakes are made, we must learn from them and communicate to ensure that they do not happen again.”

Culvert issues on Selena Drive are complete and other culvert issues on South Adams are slated to be next according to the city’s plans.

In 2020, Childers said the city is looking into acquiring a grant to replace and upgrade the sewer system east of South Adams Street.

“We are continuously working on improvements to the infrastructure and beautification of the City of Fulton,” he said. “Our goal is to make it the best it can possibly be.”

Childers said the city also plans to continue hosting its annual Bluegrass, Blues & BBQ Festival in April. The city took over the festival’s organization from the former Fulton Chamber of Commerce organization which has overseen the festival’s planning for several years. Festival dates are set for April 24 and 25.

Mail carrier rescued from flash flood

Itawamba County Sheriff’s Department along with an officer from Mississippi Game and Fish rescued 76-year-old Sarah Fowler after she attempted to drive through flood waters Saturday afternoon.

Fowler, a mail carrier with Nettleton Post Office, was delivering mail on Deer Hill Road in southwest Itawamba County when her car quickly began to take on flood waters. When officers arrived on the scene, they suited her with a life jacket and carried her to safety.

Chief Investigator Jason Dickinson said the swift flood waters were waist deep and they were fearful that Fowler would be swept under if she attempted to walk out.

The Times reached out to Nettleton Postmaster Dorothy Dilworth for a statement concerning the incident. Questions regarding protocol for damaged or destroyed mail were referred to United States Postal Service Strategic Communications Specialist Tracie M. Finley.

Answers were not made available by press time.

Nettleton Post Office services much of the southwest portion of Itawamba County.

Sheriff Chris Dickinson said his department cannot stress enough the importance of not attempting to cross flooded roads.

“If you cannot see the road, do NOT attempt to cross it. You don’t know if it’s washed away underneath,” he said. “It only takes seconds to get in trouble, especially if you are in a small car.”

Fowler suffered no injuries from the incident.

Prominent Fulton business owner, coach Buster Davis dies

Windle ‘Buster’ Davis, prominent citizen of Fulton and well-respected owner of Davis Ford Sales died Thursday, January 9, at Sanctuary Hospice in Tupelo. He was 93 years old.

After serving in the United States Army during World War II, at the time of his death, Davis was the oldest veteran in Itawamba County.

Davis opened his business in downtown Fulton in 1964 and moved it to its current location in 1969. He was recognized by Ford Motor many times over the years, including receiving their coveted President’s Award 17 times.

Prior to owning Davis Ford, he coached both high school and junior college basketball. Davis led Kossuth, Thrasher and Belmont to high schools to grand-slam championships.

Itawamba Junior College basketball team would win six North Half titles and compete in eight State Finals under his coaching leadership. Davis was inducted into the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges Sports Hall of Fame in April of 2008.

In 1975 Davis ended his career as coach to focus on his business. He served on many economic leadership teams throughout his years as business owner including president of the board and as an unpaid director of the Itawamba County Development Council (ICDC).

As former director of the Appalachian Regional Commission, Davis was recognized in 2013 by the Mississippi Legislature for his community work over the years, steering millions of dollars in economic development projects as well as driving support for community projects and events.

Davis was instrumental in solidifying the location of the Mueller Copper Tube plant, the preservation of the Mississippi Railway, the opening of the Fulton Port on the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway and the Fulton Access Road.

In 2006 he was recognized as Business Person of the Year by the ICDC. Attorney Tom Childs spoke during the event in Davis’ honor.

“I’ve always believed that when determining whether a person is successful or not, it’s best to measure by the footprints of service that they leave embedded in the long stretching sands of time that flow across this land,” Childs said. “Measured by that standard, it’s evident that Buster Davis has earned a very deserving A plus. When you look at this community, you see his footprints all over in a very, very positive way.”

On March 9, 2007, the crown jewel of Buster and his twin brother, Bud’s crown, ICC’s Davis Event Center was dedicated. The 120,000 square-foot, 2,800 seat-capacity arena was named in honor of the Davis brothers and their contributions to the school.

Created in 1996 by Davis, the long-running bluegrass-gospel concert held at the event center was one Itawamba County’s most popular live music events. It originally raised funds for Tupelo-based Regional Rehab Center and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. From 2015 to 2018, proceeds from the concert benefited the Itawamba Community College Foundation.

During his 2007 speech at the dedication ceremony of the center, Davis received a heartfelt and resounding cheer when he concluded his time at the podium by expressing his gratitude:

“For all of the people whom we have worked within this place called Itawamba, and all the players who played for us, and the fans who supported us, thanks for the memories.”

Davis was preceded in death by his wife, Billie, in 2011 and his identical brother Bud in 2013.


Dixie Johnson

IAHS junior Dixie Johnson sends a kick to the back of the net during the Lady Indians game against South Pontotoc High School on Friday. The Lady Indians scored 12 goals in the first 40 minutes of play.

IAHS senior Nathan Chandler scores perfect 36 on ACT

Nathan Chandler, a senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School (IAHS) scored a perfect 36 on the ACT.

Chandler first took the test during his sophomore year and scored 33. Though an impressive score, he set out with a plan to get his score higher.

“Getting used to taking the test and understanding the format is just one step in the process,” he said. “Getting your score up higher is a grind.”

After receiving his scores the first time, Chandler evaluated his strengths and weaknesses to better prepare himself for taking it again. He offers that same advice to any students who want to better their scores.

“Look at what you need to improve on and focus on that,” he said. “Sometimes you feel good about it and other times it may not make sense, but keep at it.”

Chandler also says time management is an important factor in taking the ACT. To make sure he stays on track, the senior carries a pocket watch.

“When taking the test you need to manage your time well,” he said. “Keep a watch with you at all times and don’t spend too much time on one question, you need a good calculator as well.”

As a part of the Scholar’s Bowl team, Chandler credits its leader Chris Johnson with helping him prepare for the test.

“There’s no way I could have made the 36 without his help,” he said. “He’s done a lot for me in that respect. Also, my teachers Thomas Clayton and Chris Holder have been influential and helped me prepare.”

Chandler also serves as a senior class representative on the student council and is a first chair trombone player for band. As a hobby, he makes candles and markets them to fellow students.

“I just felt like I wanted to pursue a hobby and since ‘chandler’ is someone who makes and sells candles, that’s what I chose,” he said.

According to the congratulatory letter Chandler received ACT CEO Martin Roorda, fewer than half of 1% of test-takers earn a score of 36. Just 4,879 out of 1.8 million U.S. high school students in the class of 2019 who took the exam scored a perfect 36.

Since receiving the news, Chandler has applied to three colleges, MIT, Georgia Tech and Mississippi State. He plans to pursue a degree in engineering.

“I really enjoy anything math-related and how it applies to the real world,” he said. “My preference is MIT but that will be dependent upon acceptance.”

Chandler met with the representative from MIT on Saturday for a formal interview but will not hear from the college until March as to whether or not he has been accepted. As a part of the MIT process, he was required to write five essays and discuss them. He chose the candle-making process as one of them.

He is one of two students from IAHS to earn the prestigious ranking. Graden Jarrell, a junior, also had a flawless test.

“We are very proud of these two young men,” Itawamba County School Superintendent Trae Wiygul said during the January school board meeting. “We have several students who have scored more than 30 as well. That says a lot for both our students and our teachers.”