New leaders in Washington, new leaders in Pittsboro, at Bruce City
Hall, and a Calhoun County Circuit Judge becoming the talk of the state
and nation were among the biggest news stories in 2008 for Calhoun
By JOEL McNEECE
New leaders in Washington, new leaders in Pittsboro, at Bruce City Hall, and a Calhoun County Circuit Judge becoming the talk of the state and nation were among the biggest news stories in 2008 for Calhoun County.
Circuit Judge Henry Lackey of Calhoun City was the biggest newsmaker in Calhoun. Judge Lackey was the centerpiece of an investigation that brought down reknowned attorney Dickie Scruggs.
Judge Lackey was the target of a bribery scheme led by Scruggs. Lackey, who wore a wire to capture some of the illegal conversations, was the lead witness and was honored with numerous awards throughout the year for his stance for the truth.
Other newsmakers included President-Elect Barack Obama, Sen. Roger Wicker, Con. Travis Childers, new supervisors Gwen Longest and J.B. Rogers, and new Bruce Mayor Robert Edward Oakley.
Following is a look back at the events of 2008:
Jan. 3 – Roger Wicker is appointed to the U.S. Senate to complete the term of Sen. Trent Lott who retired. Anthony Pierce was arrested a week after robbing Wayne’s One Stop in Calhoun City during which he struck store clerk Jimmy Hatfield in the head sending him to the hospital. Pierce initially escaped, but was stopped a week later by Derma Policeman Charlie Jackson. Pierce jumped into Jackson’s patrol car in an attempt to escape again, but Jackson shot out the tires and made the arrest without further incident.
Jan. 10 – J.B. Rogers and Gwin Longest meet with the board of supervisors for the first time since being elected to succeed Tom Weeks and Binnie Thompson. Barney Wade is elected the new president of the board and Howard Morgan vice-president. Newly appointed Sen. Roger Wicker speaks at the Sweet Potato Council Annual Meeting in Pittsboro. David and Jo Ellen Doss take over for David Laughlin as the new owners of Calhoun City’s NAPA store.
Jan. 17 – Calhoun City Alderman Marshall Coleman announces he will run for U.S. Congress. Bruce Trojan RB Richard Freelon attends the U.S. Army All American combine in San Antonio. Vardaman High School teacher Judy Doolittle is named the county’s “Teacher of the Year.”
Jan. 24 – Janie Smith, Charles Pulliam, Walter Goodman, Jessie Goodman, Earnest Fox, and Tora Cousin are among the honorees at the 2nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dream Banquet sponsored by the Loggins Scholarship Committee. Bill Ross retires as Bruce Postmaster after 41 years with the U.S. Postal Service.
Jan. 31 – Mike Moore convenes over his first school board meeting as the new county superintendent. Bro. Billy McCord is elected the new school board president. Jim Blue joins the school board replacing Grover Edington who resigned. Calhoun City City Hall moves out of its offices to the Square in the former Factory Connection building to allow renovations to begin. The Calhoun City Wildcat basketball team defeats Eupora at the Fed Ex Forum in Memphis prior to a Grizzlies game.
Feb. 7 – Supervisors and Three Rivers Director Randy Kelly Honor Aubrey Enochs for more than 20 years on the Three Rivers board. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood begins an investigation into the owners of Pinecrest Cemetery for lack of maintenance and failure to provide prepaid services. Calhoun City golfer Will Black signed a scholarship with East Mississippi Community College. Bruce Trojans Justin Shaw and Chance Inman sign football scholarships with Northwest and Mississippi Delta Community Colleges respectively.
Feb. 14 – A tornado strikes the Caterpillar plant in Oxford while several Calhoun countians are in the building.
Feb. 21 – Weyerhaeuser demolishes the M&SV Railroad Depot at the end of South Newberger. It was believed to be the oldest building in Bruce at the time constructed in 1925. David Rumbarger, executive director of the Community Development Foundation in Tupelo, is the speaker for the 1st Annual CEDA Banquet.
Feb. 28 – Calhoun County high schools adopt the block schedule. Vardaman Chamber of Commerce holds its first meeting. The new softball field at Calhoun City High School is dedicated.
March 6 – Elvis Tribute Artist Mitchell Johnson, of Vardaman, entertains at the Bruce Chamber Banquet. Big Creek employs the county’s latest drug dog owned by Police Chief David Poynor.
March 13 – The county receives an inch of snowfall. Gilbert Denley’s NAPA and Kim Lovorn’s Southern Belle store in Vardaman began expansions. Jerry “The King” Lawler wrestles in Bruce. Heroes and Horns rodeo event draws large crowds to Pittsboro.
March 20 – Travis Childers wins the Democratic Primary for Congress; Greg Davis and Glen McCullough are winners on the Republican ticket. Sen. Hillary Clinton carries Calhoun in the Democratic presidential primary, but Sen. Barack Obama carries the state. Sen. John McCain carries both on the Republican side. Mark Bray accepts coaching job at South Pontotoc after 23 years at Vardaman.
March 27 – Jesse Quillen resigns after nine years as mayor in Bruce. Alderman Gary Edwards takes over as interim.
April 3 – Vardaman approves raises for aldermen to $350 per month, the highest salary in the county. Bruce Regional Center honors Manda Griffin of Houlka by naming Bruce Group Home in her honor. Calhoun School Board agrees to borrow money for new vo-tech.
April 10 – Quay Wolfe resigns as Calhoun City Chamber Secretary after 13 years. Citizens complain to supervisors about vicious dogs and ask for county ordinance. Water Valley hires Bruce native Brad Embry as new head football coach.
April 17 – Board of Supervisors raise the county garbage rate $1. Amory assistant Justin Hollis is hired as the new head football coach at Vardaman. Calhoun City’s Dante’ Jennings signs a basketball scholarship with Northwest. CEDA unveils new website. Robert Edward Oakley, Chick Hensley and Richard Freelon are qualifiers for Bruce mayor election. Judge Henry Lackey takes the stand in bribery trial of Dickie Scruggs.
May 1 – 7-year-old Chris McDonald, of Calhoun City, drowns in Yalobusha River at Big Creek. Bruce Lady Trojans Jami Taylor and Brittany Venson sign softball scholarships with Coahoma, Jayla Hubbard signs with ICC.
May 8 – Richard Freelon and Robert Edward Oakley advance to runoff for Bruce Mayor. Vardaman board lowers pay for aldermen to $250, still highest in county. Calhoun City Elementary students release balloons during ceremony remembering Chris McDonald. Stephanie Johnson and Dakota Ferguson are valedictorian and salutatorian at Calhoun Academy.
May 15 – Storms wreak havoc around the county. Fallen tree smashes Wayne Johnson’s potato digger. Small electrical fire is contained at county courthouse. Calhoun City baseball team falls to Ingomar in North Half.
May 22 – Robert Edward Oakley elected new Bruce mayor by 316-260 vote count over Richard Freelon. Athletix, an apparel manufacturer from Kosciusko, suspends plans to expand to Calhoun City. Jotavius Jones and J. Robertson are val and sal at Bruce High School. Paul Clemons and Monique Welch are val and sal at Calhoun City. Anamaria Caradine and Brian James are val and sal at Vardaman. Will Black wins Class 1A State Golf Title. Rep. Sid Bondurant switches parties to Republican.
May 29 – Courthouse fills with smoke again after another “mystery” fire.
June 5 – First proposal for a new courthouse is made to supervisors with $3 million estimate. Robert Edward Oakley is sworn in as Bruce mayor. County music artist Jake Owen sings at Calhoun City’s Ace Cannon Festival.
June 12 – Judge Henry Lackey is presented the Tom Cole Award at the Calhoun City Chamber Banquet. A truck overturns on Hwy. 9 in Calhoun City spilling crushed cars throughout the yard of Doris Ferguson and taking out a light pole in front of Evans’ Eye Clinic.
June 19 – Macedonia Pastor John Bryant returns home from a tour in Iraq. Relay For Life is held on the Bruce Square.
June 26 – Vardaman Sportsplex is presented a Mississippi Municipal League Award. School Board approves a 4% tax increase. Vandals break-in to Calhoun City High School office. Wildcat Travecus Coffey signs a baseball scholarship with Alcorn State.
July 3 – School board bans flip-flops and crocs for teachers as part of new dress code. California bank sells equipment at Bruce Sawmill. Murphree Frames Supply moves to former Brookwood building in Bruce. Several churches around the county and region are burglarized.
July 10 – Allie Hillhouse presides as 2008 Sawmill Festival Queen. Judge Lackey is honored by the Mississippi Bar. Barbara Fox named Calhoun City Chamber President. Crestview Apartments in Bruce damaged by fire.
July 17 – Judge Lackey receives award from Supreme Court. Vardaman Schools are broken into. C&J Restaurant in Calhoun City destroyed by fire. Paula and Tracey Hamblin honored at WNBA game for Olympic achievements.
July 24 – CEDA holds open house for new office in Pittsboro.
July 31 – Calhoun Vo-Tech receives $173,423 grant for new equipment. Mississippi Highway Patrolman Jason Jenkins, of Bruce, becomes county’s first on motorcycle in decades.
Aug. 7 – The latest proposal for a new courthouse is estimated at more than $4.6 million. County mayors gather in Bruce. Vardaman gets garbage carts for residents. Bruce native Fred Thomas retires from the New Orleans Saints after 12 years in the NFL.
Aug. 14 – Original steam engine is salvaged from the demolition of the Bruce Sawmill.
Aug. 21 – Supervisors continue to wrestle with decision over where to put new courthouse. School enrollment is down around county – Bruce 982, ‘City 876, Vardaman 670, Academy 185. ‘City Mayor J.R. Denton is appointed to MML Board.
Aug. 28 – Supervisors choose courthouse plan on the Pittsboro Square by 3-2 vote. Supervisors warn of large tax increase in 2009. Students give new vo-tech high marks.
Sept. 4 – Calhoun County Journal Publisher and co-founder S. Gale Denley dies. Vardaman defeats Calhoun City 21-12 to begin the football season.
Sept. 11 – Two Bruce citizens – Dorothy Roane and Flash Gordon – are killed is separate, violent crashes. Local banks announce no hats/sunglasses policies. Bruce beats Vardaman 27-16 in football.
Sept. 18 – Efforts begin to establish a dive rescue team in the county. Fear of Hurricane Ike causes rush to gasoline pumps emptying many gas stations’ supplies. Supervisors approve county dog ordinance. Whitney Casey unopposed in bid for District Five School Board seat.
Sept. 25 – Supervisors approve college tuition program for all county students. Work begins to restore Bruce mill whistle. Kellwood Outlet announces its closing in Calhoun City. Linda Haimes is Vardaman Homecoming Queen.
Oct. 2 – Ole Miss student J. Robertson, of Bruce, wins a seat at the presidential debate. Calhoun City City Hall renovation is complete.
Oct. 9 – Kathryn and Elizabeth Hathorne, Marissa Vaughn, Lee Jenkins, Toney Armstrong, Emily Hardin, Anna Gant, Stephen Morgan, Danicqua Stephens among students honored for excelling on state tests. Alyssa Beasley of Calhoun City is in the Ole Miss Homecoming Court. Deanna Reynolds of Calhoun Academy and Janae Harrelson of Bruce chosen as Homecoming Queens.
Oct. 16 – Supervisors receive petition with 316 signatures opposed to new courthouse plan on Pittsboro square. Board passes $3 million bond resolution anyway.
Oct. 23 – Fine Arts Club of Bruce celebrates 70 years.
Oct. 30 – Big Creek holds open house for new fire truck and community center. Apache and Lakota helicopters visit Bruce Chamber meeting.
Nov. 6 – Barack Obama elected president. Roger Wicker and Travis Childers win senate and congressional seats. Sen. John McCain carries Calhoun in presidential race. County courthouse broken into, approximately $300 stolen from tax assessor’s office.
Nov. 13 – Ole Miss photo laboratory named in honor of former Calhoun County Journal Publisher Gale Denley. David Farley named Tater Boy at Sweet Potato Festival Banquet. Randall Langford receives Pioneer Award and Daphna Cook Mama Grace.
Nov. 20 – ‘City Chamber agrees to move Ace Cannon Festival back to the square. Bridget Brown introduced as new chamber secretary.
Nov. 27 – Bethany Pratt wins qualifier to compete in Miss Mississippi pageant.
Dec. 4 – Calhoun City loses to Puckett 25-21 in Class 1A State Championship Football Game.
Dec. 11 – Ace Cannon is inducted into Mississippi Musicians’ Hall of Fame. Log truck wrecks on Hwy. 9 narrowly missing Calhoun City home. Mid South Marketing in Bruce announces plans to close. Don Bell serves as grand marshal in Bruce Christmas Parade. Judge Lackey is grand marshal in Calhoun City.
Dec. 18 – Storms hit hard in Vardaman area. James family survives when mobile home is flipped while they’re inside.