Looking Back on the year 2017
Extreme weather conditions all across Mississippi and Scott County often dominated the headlines in 2017. This past year there were reports of tornadoes and hurricanes, and even a perfect pre-Christmas snow, within the pages of The Scott County Times.
Folks got married, babies were born and more often than any reporter likes to report the obituary pages told the stories of those who left us.
Although there is much more to find in our archives than what space allows here, some of the events of the year follow by month. Readers can search our complete archives for these stories and many more by logging on to www.sctonline.net and clicking on the archives button.
• The City of Morton received a grant in the amount of $442,242 to install new sewer lines in two areas of the city.
• The County bid farewell to a longtime servant. Judge Robert G. Wilkerson died at age 82.
• The Circus came to Forest. A Florida based circus traveling the southeast stopped in Forest to do an act at the Scott County Forest Coliseum
• An EF-2 tornado blazed through Scott County.
• Scott Regional Hospital received a 4 star rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
• On February 21 Forest Fire Department responded to a report of smoke coming from Wings and Things restaurant in downtown. The eatery never reopened after the fire.
• A team of 32 members of Forest United Methodist Church left for a week on a mission trip to Central America where they assisted in light construction projects in helping to improve the quality of life in that area.
• The Forest Area Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony for Rapid Rentals which opened its doors at its new Forest location on Highway 35 North in the former Movie Gallery location after moving from Morton.
• The Morton Panther Basketball team did not return from Jackson with a gold ball and a state championship, but the players claimed their place of honor in school history. The Panthers finished the 2016-2017 season with a 30-1 record with their only loss, 56-53, coming against East Side High School in their 31st game in their bid to reach the Class 3A state championship game.
•The Bank of Forest completed agreements leading to the bank’s first expansion in 12 years with the acquisition of the Bank of Walnut Grove.
•About 160 people including parents who live in Newton County and send their children to Lake and Sebastopol schools attended a meeting at the former Branding Iron Restaurant location in Lake to discuss the issue of transfers being denied by the Newton County School District. Many of them signed up and paid dues to participate in an organized group to support efforts to have the decision reversed.
• The Mississippi Recycling Coalition announced Morton as one of the 2016 Environmental Hero Award recipients honoring outstanding recycling programs and organizations in the state.
• Sabastopol celebrated its 100th year
• Circuit Judge Vernon R. Cotten’s retirement became effective after nearly 20 years on the bench serving Scott County. A long line of people stretched outside the National Guard Armory in Carthage as colleagues, friends and well-wishers gathered at a retirement ceremony honoring Cotten. “More than anything I can say here today, this room is a testament to you,” fellow Eighth District Circuit Judge Christopher Collins of Union told Judge Cotten and those who gathered to honor him.
•Memorial Day weekend brought visitors out to Roosevelt State Park as the unofficial start of the summer was celebrated. Thanks to a park official’s quick action, tragedy was avoided with the saving of a young boy from drowning in the lake.
Louis Correro, who had joined the staff as assistant park manager in April, was in the beach area of the park where he is credited with saving a 5-year old boy’s life. The boy’s name was not released due to his age.
“I was just blessed that I was in the right place at the right time to help him when he needed it,” Correro said. “Making sure everyone has a positive experience at the park is part of what I am here to do.”
• Steven S. Kilgore was appointed as the new district attorney in the Eighth District.
• Bill Wilbourne who was a former Constable in Scott County passed away.
• Dr. William Shaw, Jr., a former teacher, principal, and school administrator who retired in June, died unexpectedly on July 13 at his home.
• Thomas Great M Store started to see renovation, having new windows installed on the front of the long-empty building. The city acquired the lease to the property in September of 2015 from the Forest Municipal School District after the previous lease holder defaulted.
• By a 4-1 vote, the Morton City Council passed a measure to rezone residential property as industrial property on Morris Tullos Dr. to permit Koch Foods to build a new processing plant. The plant is said to be state of the art and will utilize new air filtration technology to prevent odors from polluting the air of the residential properties which will be within a mile of the plant.
•East Central Community College in Decatur opened a Career Advance Center in the city of Forest to serve the residents of Scott County through high school equivalency, adult basic education, and workforce training classes. It is ECCC’s first Career Advancement Center in Scott County and gives the college a presence in all five counties it serves. ECCC is leasing property at 316 South Main Street in Forest (a portion of the old Thomas Great M building) from Aug. 1 to June 30, 2018, thanks to federal grant monies provided through the Mississippi Community College Board’s (MCCB) Office of Adult Education.
• All eyes were on the sky on 21st day of this month as the Great Solar Eclipse of 2017 developed over Scott County
• Rush Health Systems officials announced that Heather Davis, who had served as the controller at Scott Regional since 2011 would succeed Mike Edwards as Administrator who retired on July 24.
• The scars of Hurricane Katrina were brought to memory with the arrival of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and multiple groups in Scott County immediately began collecting items to transport to Texas. Some organizations concluded their collection operations while some continued into the following week. Among those known to have been collecting donations were the Morton Police Department, Forest Police Department, ADD Trucking in Sebastopol, Future Farmers of America in Forest, and Cub Scouts Pack 63 in Forest.
• Former Forest resident, jazz trumpeter, Dalton Smith was inducted to the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame,according to a press release from the University of Southern Mississippi.
•Dr. Michael V. Williams, author of Medgar Evers: Mississippi Martyr visited the city and spoke to a gathered crowd at the Forest Library.
• On October 25 Tyson Foods, Inc. in Forest, held a Safety Event to celebrate the achievement of reaching one-million man-hours without incident.
• According to the Mississippi State Department of Health at least one new case of the West Nile virus was reported and two cases had been recorded this season in Scott County.
• Forest Walmart recognized three decades of dedicated service with a 30-year Anniversary Party for Nell Russum, Betty Bell and Annie Stowers last.
• On October 16 two Marines,Gabriel Vasquez and Jason Bailess,embarked on a 155 mile “Ruck” across Mississippi, trekking from the Alabama state line to the Mississippi River, in only five days, to raise awareness and support in the battle against Veteran Suicide and Veteran Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
•A new Dollar General went up in the Branch Community located north of Morton.
• Tommy and Gail Lee were named 2017 Citizens of the Year in Forest
•Winter Storm Benji pushed across much of the Magnolia State dumping record high snow in some places. Forest and the surrounding areas received around 4 to 5 inches.
• Janet and Harry Culpepper renovated the old Thomas Great “M” building in downtown Forest. The newly renovated building will be the home to Triplett Realty Services which includes credit recovery, home owners insurance and the listing and purchasing of a home.
Now as 2017 comes to a close and Scott County residents turn their attention to the year 2018, resolutions will be made and broken, the weather again will be good and bad and everything in between, and likewise there will be good news and there will be bad news it will all be reported here.