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Crook wins Democrat sheriff's primary

While some county office seats were determined by Monroe County voters during the Aug. 6 primaries, other outcomes will be known either through the Aug. 27 runoff or in November after the general election.

One race of interest for several residents was the Democrat side of the Monroe County sheriff’s race, which yielded Kevin Crook as the winner with 4,472 votes, or 50.91 percent, compared to incumbent Cecil Cantrell’s 3,523 votes, or 40.11 percent. The third candidate in the race, Kennedy Meaders, received 786 votes, or 8.95 percent, according to the official results.

Crook will face Republican candidate Andy Hood in November.

Since the three candidates for the District 1 supervisor seat, incumbent Joseph Richardson (D), Cody Hutson (R) and Tim Johnson (I) ran either in different parties or independent, that race will be decided in November.

For District 2, longtime supervisor Billy Kirkpatrick announced in December he would not seek re-election this term, prompting nine candidates to qualify for the race.

For the Democrat ticket, B.R. Richey and Bobby Camp, Jr. were the top two voter-getters. Richey had 546 votes, or 31.95 percent, compared to Camp’s 301 votes, or 17.61 percent.

For the other candidates results, Eddie Wilemon received 200 votes, or 11.7 percent; Greg Roberts received 103 votes, or 6.03 percent; Dudley Cantrell received 127 votes, or 7.43 percent; Stephen M. “Coon” Ballard received 218 votes, or 12.76 percent; Jimmie D. Fowlkes, Sr. received 159 votes, or 9.3 percent; and David Tubb received 55 votes, or 3.22 percent.

The winner of Aug. 27’s runoff will face Independent candidate Randy Minor in November.

District 3’s supervisor race had eight candidates. On the Democrat ticket, incumbent Chip Chism and Wayne Faulkner will advance to the party’s runoff. Chism had 688 votes, or 47.71 percent, and Faulkner had 471 votes, or 32.66 percent.

Jeff Doty, who also ran Democrat, received 266 votes, or 18.45 percent.

For District 3’s Republican primary, Brian Atkins received 424 votes, or 49.47 percent, compared to Carol Crawford’s 212 votes, or 24.74 percent. The two will advance to the party’s runoff Aug. 27.

Other Republicans running for the District 3 Supervisor seat were Jim Northington, who received 173 votes, or 20.19 percent, and Mark Linley, who received 38 votes, or 4.43 percent.

The winners of the Democrat and Republican primaries will face each other, along with Independent candidate Rubel D. West, in the November general election.

For the District 4 Supervisor race, incumbent Fulton Ware received 1,264 votes, or 68.81 percent, compared to Robert “Bob” Scott’s 559 votes, or 30.43 percent.

Ware will face Independent candidate Robert “Ben” Howell in the November election.

For the District 5 Supervisor race, incumbent Hosea Bogan received 1,188 votes, or 71.35 percent, compared to Robert Tomey’s 474 votes, or 28.47 percent.

Bogan will face Jason Sullivan (I) in the general election.

For the Monroe County Coroner’s race, incumbent Alan Gurley (D) won with 7,254 votes, or 86.33 percent, compared to fellow Democrat Charles “C.W.” Smith’s 1,145 votes, or 13.63 percent.

For the county attorney race, incumbent Candace Cooper Blalock had 5,491 votes, or 66.37 percent, compared to Diana Worthy’s 2,778 votes, or 33.58 percent, making Blalock the winner.

Both the coroner’s race and the county attorney’s race were decided by the Democrat primaries.

Longtime Monroe County Tax Collector Pat Birkholz is retiring at the end of this term, and three candidates qualified for his seat. For the Democrat primary, Jason Hood received 4,100 votes, or 52.48 percent, compared to Karen Crump’s 3,687 votes, or 47.2 percent.

Hood will face Independent candidate Alysia Wright in November.

For the District 1 Justice Court Judge seat, Tim “Timmy” Oswalt had 1,601 votes, or 62.49 percent, compared to Nancy H. Bishop’s 948 votes, or 37 percent, on the Democrat ballot.

On the Republican ballot, Joe Benton had 546 votes, or 59.67 percent, compared to Waylon Powell’s 316 votes, or 34.54 percent, and Juanell Hopper’s 40 votes or 4.37 percent.

Oswalt and Benton will advance to face Sarah Stevens (I) in November.

For the District 2 Justice Court Judge seat, incumbent Robert Earl Fowlkes (D) had 1,077 votes, or 39.51 percent, compared to Brandon Davis’ (D) 1,640 votes, or 60.16 percent, making Davis the winner of the seat.

The District 3 Justice Court Judge seat also only had two Democrat candidates, and incumbent Adrian McIntosh Haynes won with 1,902 votes, or 63.17 percent. Her opponent, Roderick Van Daniel, had 1,101 votes, or 36.57 percent.

The District 1 Constable race will be decided in November between Democrat Patrick Chism, who is the incumbent, and Independent Donnie Sloan.

For the District 3 Constable race, incumbent Herbert Harris won with 1,911 votes, or 63.09 percent, compared to A.J. Johnson’s 609 votes, or 20.11 percent, and Darrin Foster’s 505 votes, or 16.67 percent.

Incumbents running unopposed include circuit clerk Dana Sloan, chancery clerk Ronnie Boozer, tax assessor Mitzi Presley, District 2 Constable Ron West and county surveyor Keith Ashley Eaton.

For localized state races, incumbents, District 7 Sen. Hob Bryan (D) and District 20 Rep. Chris Brown (R), ran unopposed.

For District 17, incumbent Sen. Chuck Younger (R) will face DeWanna Belton (D) in the general election.

For District 16 in the Mississippi House of Representatives, Rickey W. Thompson (D) will face incumbent Steve Holland (I). For the District 36, Jimmy L. Davidson had 914 votes, or 38.91 percent, in Monroe County compared to incumbent Karl Gibbs’ 1,431 votes, or 60.92 percent. Gibbs, who received 65 percent of the vote for his district, will face Jessica Lewis (I) in the November election.

For the District 39 House of Representatives seat, Dana Underwood McLean unseated incumbent Jeff Smith in the Republican primary. For Monroe County, she had 53.16 percent of the vote and through the whole district she had 52 percent of the vote.

Monroe County man makes state’s most influential African-American list

From off-brand shoes to rejection to making the right connections, the past 30 years of Hozay Hausley’s life have come with their milestone moments. With the latest one, however, the Amory native and Aberdeen Renasant Bank president is trying to downplay it, as big of an honor as being named one of Mississippi’s top 25 most influential African-Americans is.

“I was literally speechless when I got the call,” said Hausley, who is known for a bubbly personality and rarely being short of words. “It’s a huge honor, and I’m humbled but I’m still hungry. There’s more in life, and each day is a new opportunity. It still feels like a dream.”

The honor is through Our Mississippi magazine, and the remainder of the list includes three Mississippi college and university presidents, a federal judge, businessmen, writers, politicians and the director of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, among others.

“This is God’s doing and His plan, and I have to acknowledge this God thing is His doing,” he said. “I want people to say, ‘This guy has so much positive energy, there needs to be an energy drink named after him.’ As far as my legacy, I want to be remembered by my positive energy, my servanthood, my smile and always letting people know it’s going to get better.”

From then to now

Hausley grew up in an underprivileged single-parent household, which in his adult years sparked his foundation, Hausley Inspirations. It serves underprivileged youth through mentorships, speaking engagements and holiday drives.

“Our main concern is encouraging people and letting them know the importance of education. We try to do all these things to let them know someone cares and is concerned. Our thing is, ‘How can we inspire them to make a little dream be a big dream?’ We try to reach kids who people don’t think will be anything in life,” he said.

When he was 13, his mother bought him a pair of shoes from Walmart after he asked for a pair of Air Jordans. Those shoes had a deeper meaning that still resonates to this day.

“She looked me in the eye and said, ‘If I could, I would get them, but I’m on a fixed income. But speaking of shoes, I found some at Walmart Discount Store. They’re called Winner’s Choice.’ She said, ‘I’m getting them not so you can run or play basketball. I want you to take these shoes and not just wear them on your feet but in your heart because deep down, you’re a winner,’” he said.

Three years later, he tried out for the varsity basketball team but was told by the coach he wasn’t good enough to make the cut, which crushed his spirit.

“She said, ‘Welcome to the real world. Are you going to let that coach tell you you’re not good enough or are you going to work hard and prove him wrong?’

“Not being good enough isn’t based off your last name, your shoes or what your friends’ parents drive. Not being good enough is when you don’t try,” Hausley said.

He kept practicing and soon enough proved the coach wrong and made the team. Those lessons in life make him want to keep pushing harder, especially with his place on the top 25 list.

“I’m 43 years old, and it makes me feel like, ‘Okay, Hozay, however you want to fly in life, this is the ticket; you’re on the right path. Keep on the right path,’” he said.

Putting Monroe on the map

Being named to the Jackson-heavy list of influential African-Americans, he sees the honor as also highlighting Monroe County.

“I hope this is a proud moment for the county that our own son is being put in this category. It speaks volumes for the community and county you serve in. It doesn’t matter how small you are, you can reach your goals,” he said. “I’m so excited to be a Monroe County resident. Aberdeen and Amory are so compatible. Just to have Renasant Bank be named the best bank in Monroe County [through the Monroe Journal’s Reader’s Choice awards] is exciting.”

Living in Amory and working in Aberdeen for the past 18 years at Renasant Bank, Hausley feels at home both places.

His work home came to be from a connection he made while volunteering at Amory’s Stars Over Mississippi after graduating from the Mississippi University from Women.

“I got to chauffer one of [Stars Over Mississippi founder] Sam [Haskell’s] agents and met a man named H.L. Robinson. He asked what I was doing with myself, and I said I was looking for a job and asked him if I could give him a resume,” he said.

In seeking a job later, Hausley applied for a position at People’s Bank in Tupelo, which is now Renasant Bank. Coincidentally, he took the stairs instead of the elevator after dropping off his application and ran across Robinson on the stairwell.

“He was an executive for the bank but is retired now but he asked them to give me an opportunity. I took that and made it a career,” Hausley said. “I think Robin McGraw, Mitch Waycaster, Scott Cochran and the board of directors for giving me a try.”

In his Aberdeen office, an 18-year-old ficus tree towers over his desk, growing towards a skylight. As with other moments in his life, it, too, comes with an inspirational story.

He noticed the dying plant on his way to his lunch break one day and asked the co-worker who threw it out if he could have it, saying he believed he could make it live again.

After planting it with fresh soil in a new pot, he talked to it and nurtured it to ultimately thrive.

“This plant is a symbol of Aberdeen. When they put me in the Aberdeen market, it wasn’t the number one market in the state. I’m in a place where I’m planted that I can help grow,” he said. “As our bank grows in Aberdeen, it means we’re growing here in Aberdeen. Now we’re a living example to where it may look like a dead situation but you can grow. We want to get bigger, so get ready, Aberdeen, you’re on the verge of growing, not just here but also with Monroe County.”

Hausley will be honored at a gala Aug. 23 in Jackson where the state’s most influential African-American will be named.

Aberdeen School Board approves technology to report bullying

ABERDEEN – Students in the Aberdeen School District will have an anonymous way to report bullying, cyberbullying and inappropriate behavior electronically thanks to action taken during a special-called meeting of the Aberdeen School Board Aug. 6.

The StopIt Solutions app is available for Apple and Android devices and online. It allows students and administrators to converse about such instances.

“A lot of times, kids feel uncomfortable and won’t say anything or feel like a snitch or a tattletale. This way the administrator can reach out to get more information to take it a step forward,” said district superintendent Jeff Clay after the meeting. “I felt like I got a lot of calls about bullying and I wanted to make sure we had a tool where students could anonymously report.”

School district staff began spreading the word of its availability this week to students. They can download the app to their smartphones, iPads or can go online to StopIt’s website to also report instances of fights; violence; drug or alcohol possession; or warning signs of other students threatening to harm themselves.

“It all goes back to the slogan, ‘If you see something, say something,’” Clay said.

The site and app have a dropdown box to where students can select their school, report what kind of instance they saw, include the date, details and optional photos and videos. For example, if a student is being harassed through text messages, he or she can include a screenshot with the report.

Students can choose to include their name or report completely anonymously. Administrators will be able to message back and forth with the ones who post reports to determine more information, and both parties can remain anonymous.

Clay said false reports will not be tolerated. The one-time fee for StopIt service is $250, and the annual fee is $1,150.

In other business, Earl Byrd of energy service company McNeil Rhodes gave a presentation about the Mississippi Development Authority’s energy performance contracting program, which would entail an energy audit to improve lighting and heating and air conditioning for better efficiency.

“It’s a funding mechanism for public entities, in particular the K-12 market, to upgrade assets with money you’re already spending on utility bills. It takes money you’re already spending, frees it up and puts it back in your buildings,” Byrd said.

Byrd said the school district’s complete utility bill from last year was $293,053. He said the Louisville School District went through the same program and witnessed a 23.8 percent reduction in energy costs from approximately $500,000 to $380,000 annually.

No action was taken on the matter. Less than an hour before Byrd’s presentation, the Aberdeen Board of Aldermen approved to advertise to seek a company to do a similar evaluation. Discussion from that meeting indicated the city and school district would work together on the energy audit.

The school board also approved its budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which is a total tax request of $5,730,540.27. It is estimated to be 57.11 mills, between operational and debt service mills.

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