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Marion County Informer will no longer post new content for time being

Written by admin on August 9th, 2010

As of Aug. 8, the Marion County Informer will no longer be updated with new content because Publisher Josh Mitchell has moved on to new challenges. Mitchell wants to thank all the readers, advertisers and donors who made this online newspaper possible. It was a privilege to serve Marion County and Columbia with daily news in a new online format. The Marion County Informer will stay up for the time being, but will no longer be updated. If anyone is interested in taking over this online newspaper, please contact Mitchell via e-mail at

Best wishes to all,

Josh Mitchell


The Marion County Informer


VFW Post 5393 donates school supplies

Written by admin on August 7th, 2010

For the third year in a row, the VFW Post on Highway 13 South in Marion County performed an excellent community service by donating 325 bags of school supplies to children. VFW Post 5393 spent over $2,000 on the supplies, according to Mattie Corker, Ladies Auxiliary president. Two hours before the doors opened for the school-supply giveaway, there were already about 25 people lined up outside the Frank B. Hendricks Jr. VFW Post. “This is one of our community service youth activities to supply kids with back to school supplies,” said Corker. The bags included items such as crayons, scissors, pencils, erasers, paper and notebooks. Each child also received a hotdog, juice and bag of chips.

VFW members and children stand by the 325 bags of school supplies that they donated. Back row from left, Taeshia Brady, Bobby Henry, John Scarbrough, Stanley Brady and Mattie Corker. Front row from left, Tron Scarbrough, Curtis Jefferson and Angelique Jefferson.

People line up outside the VFW for the school-supply giveaway.


Candidates can now qualify for Marion County School Board election

Written by admin on August 6th, 2010

Marion County School District Administrative Office

By Josh Mitchell/Informer Publisher

Those who want to run for seats on the Marion County School Board can now qualify for the Nov. 2 election.

Sept. 3 is the last day to qualify for the election which will be for seats in Districts 1 and 2. There will be a special election for District 3 to fill two remaining years of an unexpired term.

Anyone who wants to run for one of the seats must have a petition signed by 50 registered voters in the respective district. Candidates must reside in the district they are running for.

The petitions are available at the Marion County Circuit Clerk’s Office. The terms in District 1 and 2 are for six years, and School Board members are paid $200 a month.

The District 1 seat is currently held by Jackie Broom; District 2 Keith Stuckey; and 3 Samantha Armstrong. Broom, Stuckey and Armstrong were not immediately available for comment to determine if they will they seek re-election.

As of this morning, no one had qualified to run for any of the School District seats.


Cochran opposed Kagan Supreme Court appointment

Written by admin on August 5th, 2010

U.S. Sen. R-Miss., Thad Cochran

The U.S. Senate on Thursday in a 63-37 vote confirmed Elena Kagan as a new associate justice to the Supreme Court. Prior to the vote, Mississippi Republican Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker released statements saying they would oppose the confirmation. Wicker’s statement was printed in the Marion County Informer July 26 and can be read by clicking this link: Cochran’s statement released Aug. 4 is printed below:

In a speech to the Senate, Cochran outlined the reasons he would vote against confirming Kagan, the U.S. solicitor general who was nominated by President Obama to replace retired Justice John Paul Stevens. The following is the text of Cochran’s remarks:

Mr. President, as the Senate considers the nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court, I want to thank Senators Leahy and Sessions for their work in the Judiciary Committee on this nomination. The hearings were informative and respectful, and they produced a hearing record that gives all Senators a better understanding of the nominee’s background.

She graduated with academic honors from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She clerked for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, served as a White House policy advisor for the Clinton Administration, and as Dean of Harvard Law School.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan

Last year, on March 19, she was confirmed by the Senate as U.S. solicitor general. She has not had much experience as a practicing lawyer, and she has had no experience as a judge. Her lack of legal and judicial experience is not a disqualification, but it does make our job of evaluating this nominee a bit different.

We should ask ourselves whether Elena Kagan will perform the duties of a Supreme Court justice with the requisite fairness, restraint, and respect for settled precedent under the laws and constitution of the United States. After reviewing the record and her testimony, I believe serious questions about her respect for precedent have not been answered.

General Kagan has a history of political advocacy, and she has not shown that she appreciates the critical distinction between political advocacy and neutral judicial decision-making. As an example, General Kagan’s prior work suggests that she would not protect an individual’s constitutional right to bear arms.

As a policy advisor to President Clinton, Kagan promoted several gun control proposals, including background checks for all gun purchases in the secondary market, a gun tracing initiative, and giving law enforcement the ability to retain background check information from lawful gun sales. Click to continue »


Open Mic Night Friday at Second St. Bean

Written by admin on August 5th, 2010

Christi Mitchell will kickoff the Open Mic Night with a performance of her one-woman show "The Optimistic Adventures of Urnine Geraldine."

By Josh Mitchell/Informer Publisher

If you want to showcase your talent or simply sit back and enjoy the antics of local residents, attend Open Mic Night at Second Street Bean coffee shop in Columbia this Friday from 6:30-9 p.m.

Two performers are already lined up for the evening; Christi Mitchell of Columbia will act out her humorous and inspiring one-woman show the “Optimistic Adventures of Urnine Geraldine” and Eric Toomer will play songs on acoustic guitar.

Mitchell, who will kick off the Open Mic Night, has written and performed several one-woman shows and pursued an acting career in Los Angeles. She has acted in about 50 plays, taught theatre classes and earned her master’s degree in theatre from Wayne State University in Detroit. She is married to Marion County Informer Publisher Josh Mitchell.

The plot of the “Optimistic Adventures of Urnine Geraldine” deals with an awkward outcast attending a makeup party where she shocks the refined women with her unusual behavior. Mitchell describes Urnine as “an underdog with a heart of gold.”  In the show, Mitchell goes back and forth between playing Urnine and the president of Dazzle Dish Makeup Products.

Second Street Bean

Second Street Bean owner Paris Schepemaker said she plans on having open mic nights the first Friday of every month to give local residents an outlet to express their talents. Anyone who wants to perform is invited to do so this Friday or during any of the other open mic nights.

Performances can include theatrical displays, poetry readings, musical sets and anything else people may way want show off.

Schepemaker said if the open mic nights become a big success she will start doing them every Friday. “A lot of people in Columbia have asked me about doing an open mic night,” said Schepemaker. “I’m really excited and hope we have a good turnout. I hope people enjoy it and use it as an outlet to show off their talent.”

Second Street Bean is located at 321 Second St. in Columbia and can be reached at 444-9299. Your Voice, a radio show on Saturday mornings at 9 on WCJU 104.9, is also sponsoring the Open Mic Night.


“The Best Peach,” by Fran Ginn

Written by admin on August 5th, 2010

Fran Ginn

This weekly column, “Adventures in Good Eating,” by Back Door Café chef/owner Fran Ginn appears each Thursday in the Marion County Informer.

……I relish the opportunity of finding something new and different to eat wherever I go. I love to explore why people eat what they do and how food has shaped their lives. Adventures in Good Eating is my way of sharing the pleasure of culinary discovery and also the anticipation of tables and tastes yet to be found.

Do you have a moment in your life which is preserved in your memory like an insect in amber?  Can you remember everything about that moment…..what you were feeling, what the surroundings looked like, even what you were wearing?  Does it still seem fresh, more like yesterday that forty years ago?

I can recall in detail where I was and the taste of the most delicious peach I ever ate. I was thirteen years old, on a “Chevy Chase Family Vacation”-type trip with my family.  The date was June 10, 1967, the last day of the Arab-Israeli Six Day War.  We were in Johnson City, TX, on a  road leading to the LBJ Ranch.  There was a make-shift wooden fruit stand on the side of the road.  The fruit stand had an old cigar box (Roi-tan, I think) which served as a cash box.  There was a sign which gave the price of the peaches  ( .50 per basket) and instructed buyers to pay on the honor system. We passed by the fruit stand, but  my mother, who loved peaches, was insistent that we turn around and go back to the stand.  My daddy, whose temper was beginning to fray after 10 days on the road, reluctantly turned the car around in the middle of the road and drove back.  Mama and I got out.  My daddy and brothers were less than not interested in peaches.  The day was hot, with a light breeze,  the fields behind the fruit stand were full of wildflowers and the air was heavy with the scent of fresh peaches.  The sign offered one peach per customer as a free sample.  Mama carefully evaluated at least a dozen individual peaches before choosing one.  The peaches were small, not much larger than a plum.  The exterior was a deep pinky orange color, shading to almost burgundy toward the bottom of the fruit.  She rubbed off the velvet fuzz from the peach and took a bite.  My mother’s eyes flew open wide.  She had an expression of absolute bliss on her face.   When she handed the peach to me to taste, I understood.  The flesh of the peach had a consistency more reminiscent of a firm custard than a fruit.  The juice was wonderfully sweet and tasted of flowers.  Mama looked at me as she wiped the juice from her face and said, “This is what the peaches in heaven will taste like”.   We got my daddy’s pocket knife and cut open another peach.  The flesh was ivory,  shading to a deep magenta at the seed.  Neither Mama or I had ever seen a white peach before.  We were amazed by this new fruit – tiny, delectable and so sweet.  We bought 3 baskets.  To the end of her life, Mama always talked about those LBJ peaches.  We never found another peach quite so delicious.  Click to continue »


School supply giveaway Saturday at Marion County VFW Post

Written by admin on August 4th, 2010

The Frank B. Hendricks Jr. VFW Post No. 5393 on Highway 13 South in Marion County will be giving away school supplies on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The VFW Post will give away 350 bags of school supplies for children in grades K-6. Supplies to be given away will include all items that are listed on school supply lists.


Government has paid companies over $800,000 to store FEMA trailers in Marion County

Written by admin on August 4th, 2010

Some of the FEMA trailers stored on the land on Highway 43 South in Marion County.

By Josh Mitchell/Informer Publisher

The federal government has paid two Mississippi companies a total of $804,645 for use of land on Highway 43 South in Marion County to store FEMA trailers, according to the General Services Administration.

A company called 23467 Mississippi LLC of Hattiesburg was paid $480,645 by FEMA for use of the approximately 300 acres of land located at 1817 Highway 43 South, Columbia. The company leased the land to FEMA from April 9, 2007 to April 9, 2009.

The land then went under the ownership of Marion Clay & Gravel LLC, which has leased the property to FEMA since April 10, 2009, according to the GSA. To date, FEMA has paid Marion Clay & Gravel LLC $324,000 to store the trailers at the site.

In total, FEMA has paid $804,645 since it started leasing the land, according to the GSA.

It is unclear who owns Marion Clay & Gravel LLC. The Columbia phonebook lists a business address for Marion Clay and Gravel at 1917 Highway 43, Columbia, but a message left at the number was not returned. Likewise, it is unclear who owns 23467 Mississippi LLC.

The Mississippi Secretary of State Office does not require that the owners of LLCs be listed. According to the Secretary of State Web site, Marion Clay & Gravel LLC was created Feb. 23, 2009 and is currently listed in “good standing.”

The Mississippi Secretary of State Web site states that 23467 Mississippi LLC was created Aug. 21, 2006 and is also currently in “good standing.”

Over 9,000 trailers were stored at the Marion County site, but all of the units were purchased by Lubbock, Texas businessman Lance Inderman for $9.1 million in February. Inderman could not be reached for comment to determine what he plans on doing with the trailers.

The trailers were used as temporary housing after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita five years ago. A few months ago, a GSA spokesman told the Informer that the trailers had to be removed from the Marion County site by September.

The government issued over 100,000 FEMA trailers after the hurricanes, and many of the units had significant levels of formaldehyde. As a result of the formaldehyde issue, Inderman had to sign a waiver stating that the trailers he purchased would not be used for housing. Formaldehyde was used to make the wood products in the trailers and is a carcinogen.


Bloom where you’re planted

Written by admin on August 4th, 2010

Chloe Oliver

Chloe Oliver of Foxworth writes a community column for the Marion County Informer.

By Chloe Oliver

Those who have known me for only a few years find it difficult to believe that I was once shy. However, if you have known me since my youth, you would know that I  was what people refer to as painfully shy. When I overcame this handicap, I seemed to do it with gusto. I now find myself at the opposite end of the spectrum. In fact, my daughter frequently tells me that I have no filter. Maybe in another twenty years I can obtain a happy medium.

As a child in school, I had two teachers that made life miserable. While some teachers deplore rowdy behavior, these two seemed to abhor shy students. They called attention to my shyness at every opportunity.  “What’s the matter with you, cat got your tongue?” was a typical question often directed toward me in front of my classmates. Of course, this is what every shy person yearns for-someone to call attention to them on a daily basis.

It  also became obvious that these two teachers had labeled me as dumb because of my shyness. Even though  I will probably never work for NASA, neither am I a candidate for a “Rain Man” movie. What if I did have a learning problem?  Would the behavior of these two teachers  have been professional or helpful if I had a learning disability?  Fortunately, I had supportive parents and a couple of good teachers to counteract these two.

Too often, children are labeled by educators as dumb, worthless, not able to amount to much, or not college material because of learning disabilities, shyness, or behavior problems. What happens if these children don’t encounter good teachers or have supportive parents?

I think of flowers as beautiful blossoms. Some weeds have blossoms. Originally, all flowers were wildflowers or weeds. Garden flowers are simply cultivated wildflowers. There are still thousands of uncultivated flowering plants growing in the wild. Since they are not yet cultivated, some would consider them weeds. Yet, with proper cultivation and environment, you might someday purchase these “weeds” from a plant nursery. Each species grows best in a particular type of environment such as sun, shade, wet, dry, cool or warm. A flowering cactus won’t thrive in a water bog and the Artic Poppy would not adapt to the Florida heat.

Many children are labeled as weeds. However, like the flowers, they only need the right environment and proper cultivation for some to realize that they too are flowers. For example, a child with dyslexia is not dumb. He merely learns differently than others. He is just an Artic Poppy in the Southern heat.

I know that there are many capable teachers and parents. I also know that there are those parents and teachers who destroy instead of build. As the school year begins, I hope that parents and teachers will think before they label a child as dumb or tell a student that he is not college material.You see, the only difference between a weed and a flower, is a judgment.


Local law enforcement knows how to party

Written by admin on August 3rd, 2010

National Night Out on Tuesday night at the Columbia Water Park drew hundreds of people who enjoyed free hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza as well as live music. The Columbia Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Office sponsored the family-fun event.  Other activities included a DUI golf cart course and water slides. Despite the heat and humidity, people had a great time.


Marion County Jail Docket

Written by admin on August 3rd, 2010

Scott Edward Freeman, 38, MCSO, public drunk

Dennis Sumrall, 34, MHP, DUI 2nd, driving under suspension

Donald Ishman, 50, MCSO, child support warrant Click to continue »


Church League Softball Champions

Written by admin on August 3rd, 2010

The 2010 Men’s Church League Softball County Champions, Shiloh Baptist Church, finished the season with a 19-3 record. Back row from left, Drake Graham, Eric Thornhill, Ryan Davis, Daniel Graham, Perry Graham, Derek Jones. Front row from left, Colby Stewart, Derek Morgan, Eric Magee, Hoyt Jones- Coach, Brandon Hudson, and Chris Brumfield. Not pictured, D.J. May, Dillon Reid, and Cindy Graham-Scorekeeper.


National Night Out is tonight

Written by admin on August 3rd, 2010

National Night Out

A family fun event with a fireworks display, free hotdogs, hamburgers and pizza will take place tonight at the Columbia Water Park.

 The event, called National Night Out, is from 5-9 p.m. and is sponsored by the Columbia Police Department and Marion County Sheriff’s Office. The night will conclude with a big fireworks display around 9 p.m. Other activities will include a DUI golf cart course, fire department will put on safety events, jumping houses for children, neighborhood watch groups will be on hand to talk to others about starting a similar organization, and church groups will be singing.


Marion County Informer for Sale

Written by admin on August 2nd, 2010

The Marion County Informer online newspaper is for sale.  If you are interested in taking over this Web site, please call Publisher/Editor Josh Mitchell at (601) 549-3974.

The Marion County Informer averages 4,000-5,000 unique visitors per week and currently has many loyal advertisers. The Web site specializes in coverage of the local city and county government, crime, courts, human interest stories, sports and also has obituaries, classifieds and calendar of events. The people in Columbia and Marion County love the Web site and hope someone will come in and take it over.  The current owner of the Marion County Informer, Josh Mitchell, is having to move on for personal reasons and is looking for a buyer to continue providing this area with up-to-date online news. The Marion County Informer adheres to all professional newspaper standards of accuracy, fairness and AP style.  This is an ideal opportunity for someone who wants to be an entrepreneur in the growing field of online reporting and advertising.

For more information contact Publisher/Editor Josh Mitchell at (601) 549-3974 or e-mail


Marion County resident celebrates 97 years

Written by admin on August 2nd, 2010

From left, Annie Hammond, Georgia Thompson, AZ Toney, Mary Ann Hathorn and Dianne Hayden.

Marion County resident AZ Toney celebrated his 97th birthday surrounded by family and friends Saturday at Doskey’s Family Restaurant in Columbia. Toney served in World War II, worked at Orleans Furniture Company and currently enjoys gardening. He is a lifelong Marion County resident and is of sound body and mind. “I think he is in better shape than I am,” said his daughter Mary Ann Hathorn of Lake Charles, La. Asked how it felt to turn 97, AZ Toney said, “fine.” His wife of 60 years, Gertrude, passed away over a year ago. Kwanza Toney of Hattiesburg said he grew up without a dad and AZ was like a father to him. Az’s four daughters, Mary Ann Hathorn, Dianne Hayden, Georgia Thompson and Annie Hammond, organized the party for their dad. Party goers sang gospel songs, gave short speeches in honor of Toney and ate food from the delicious buffet at Doskey’s.

Family and friends gathered at Doskey's Family Restaurant in Columbia to celebrate Az Toney's 97th birthday.

Pam Blanden sings a gospel song at the party.

AZ Toney sits at the head of the table.

The sign at Doskey's wishes AZ Toney happy birthday.


July 30 Marion County Jail Docket

Written by admin on July 30th, 2010

Jerry L. Collins, 43, CPD, shoplifting, disturbance in public

Donavan T. Brent, 18, CPD, shoplifting

Deante Alexander, 19, CPD, shoplifting

Peggy Rutland, 39, MCSO, simple assault

Lorenzo Perez, 21, MCSO, DUI, no driver license, no headlights, no insurance

Angela M. Quinn, 30, MCSO, DUI, disorderly conduct, public profanity


Sheriff’s Office cracks burglaries

Written by admin on July 30th, 2010

Marion County Sheriff's Office Investigators Michael Stevens, left, and Jamie Singley stand by some of the stolen property that was recovered.

By Josh Mitchell/Informer Publisher

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office has charged four local residents in connection with three recent burglaries.

George Edward McCraw, 27; Alvin David McCraw, 24; Jimmy McCraw, 26; and James Engelhardt, 20; are suspected in connection with two residential burglaries and one commercial burglary. Stolen items included an air conditioner, push lawnmower, battery charger, Shop Vac, tools, toolboxes, air compressor, air tank, two long guns, a pistol, knives and swords.

One of the residential burglaries occurred July 19 in the area of Rayburn Road, and the other house burglary happened on Hutson Morris Road about a month ago. The commercial burglary was to a shed on Lillis Road around July 3 or 4.

George McCraw and Engelhardt were arrested July 20, and Alvin and Jimmy McCraw were arrested Thursday after turning themselves into the Sheriff’s Office. All four suspects were already out on felony bonds; Alvin and Jimmy McCraw for burglary and George McCraw and Engelhardt for grand larceny, according to Sheriff’s Office Investigator Michael Stevens.

Investigator Jamie Singley said the case is an ongoing investigation, and anyone with information should call him or Stevens at the Sheriff’s Office, (601) 736-5051.


Local inventors create system to reduce AC costs

Written by admin on July 30th, 2010

The Evaporative Roof Cooling System in action at a Columbia residence.

By Josh Mitchell/Informer Publisher

In the dog days of the Mississippi summer heat wouldn’t it be nice to keep your house cool without having to pay an expensive electric bill?

Jerry Pirkle and Michael Brown, both of Columbia, have invented the Evaporative Roof Cooling System to keep air conditioning costs to a minimum. Currently the system can save almost 20 percent on cooling costs, but they hope to increase the amount of savings as they continue to improve the product.

“My goal is to save people money,” said Pirkle. “If I can save them 20 percent on their cooling costs, I’m happy and I know I can do better than that.”

They have high hopes that their invention will spread across the United States. “Who knows where this will take us?” said Brown.

Pirkle turned his parents’ Columbia house into a laboratory as the testing ground for the system. A hose runs across the ridge of the roof, and a computer system controls how much water is released based on the temperature. Pirkle has been precise in his research by taking temperature readings on shingles to determine the best way to cool the roof with the least amount of water.

Columbia residents Jerry Pirkle, left, and Michael Brown created the Evaporative Roof Cooling System.

The system involves more than just running cold water over the roof. Evaporation is what causes the cooling, as heat is absorbed when water turns from a liquid into a gas. Brown and Pirkle said the cost of the water involved does not eat up the electric bill savings.

On the hottest days, the system uses about 30 gallons of water. “Water is much cheaper than electricity,” said Brown.

The system currently uses sprinkler heads, but Pirkle said he plans on switching to a new nozzle that will cut the water consumption down by 50 percent. Moreover, Brown and Pirkle have considered collecting rainwater to use in the system.

Brown noted that the system is a “green technology” which are becoming more popular these days. “The population is getting larger, and there are going to be demands on the grid. We have to go green,” said Brown.

To make the invention more “green” they have considered making the system solar powered. Since it is a green technology, Pirkle and Brown may be eligible for government subsidies for research and development.

They can begin installing systems today, and anyone interested in purchasing one should e-mail Brown at The cost is $650, and Pirkle says the system will pay for itself in electric bill savings in two to three years.

“We can do this today,” said Brown. “It’s all proven technology. I think every house and business in Columbia needs one.”


Big sale at Say It With Flowers today and Saturday

Written by admin on July 30th, 2010

Say It With Flowers

Say it With Flowers on Church Street in Columbia is having a massive storewide sale today and Saturday in which everything will be 35 percent off.  With home décor and many other gift items, Say It With Flowers is Columbia’s Favorite Place to Shop. The sale will exclude Tyler, Arthur Court, Gracious Goods and Eco Glass.


July 29 Marion County Jail Docket

Written by admin on July 29th, 2010

Lewrence R. Hill, 25, Marion County Constable, domestic assault

Debra Thomas, 52, Marion County Constable, grand larceny

James Thomas, 53, Marion County Constable, grand larceny Click to continue »