• Sebastian & Pam Blanchard: A love story

    It’s the type of unlikely love story that Hollywood screenwriters spend their entire careers dreaming about.

    They were a beautiful young couple straight out of Central Casting.

    She was a blonde bombshell. Born in Louisiana. Raised in Mississippi by a single mother who did her best to teach her three daughters to be strong, independent women.

    She was a brilliant student. A natural teacher – just like her mama. Sweet. Sassy. Brave.

    Hardworking with a heart of gold.

  • signature Q&A: Brandilyne Magnum-Dear

    BRANDIILYNE MANGUM-DEAR (Bb), is the pastor and founder of Joshua Generation Community Church, a radically inclusive and all affirming church in Hattiesburg. She and her wife, Susan Mangum, also own The Red Jasper, a metaphysical crystal shop. Bb and Susan believe that everyone should have a place to express their spirituality without fear or shame. Whether it be in a church or a metaphysical shop, everyone's spiritual walk is valid and important.

    What is your idea of happiness?
    Loving what I do and doing what I love.

  • Meet Your Neighbor: Anastasia Walrod

    The opportunity to study abroad as a freshman at The University of Southern Mississippi lit a fire inside 2019 graduate Anastasia Walrod to become more involved as an international volunteer.

    Enter the Peace Corps. Since last June Walrod has been serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the African nation of Malawi. As part of the Peace Corps’ 27-month commitment policy, Walrod expects to be in Malawi until August 2021.

    At this moment, the Pass Christian, Miss., native can’t imagine living anywhere else.

  • Meet your neighbor: Bob Press

    An abiding love for Kenya and its people has drawn University of Southern Mississippi Associate Professor Bob Press back to the African nation to research past and present non-violent, human rights social movements.

    Press arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on August 1 of last year, along with his wife, Betty, who is a professional photographer. The couple plans to stay approximately one year. Bob spent eight years in Kenya previously working as a foreign correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor.

  • Signature Q&A: Jim Prout

    JIM PROUT, executive director and CEO of Christian Services Inc., is a licensed and ordained minister who has grown up with a passion for helping hungry, hurt and lost people. He attended The University of Southern Mississippi and has a background in business and restaurant management. Returning to Christian Services Inc. in the ‘90s as director of operations, he has been fully devoted to the vision of reaching the community for Jesus. Prior to accompanying Jim in full-time ministry, his wife, Maggie, also worked in the food industry.

  • Meet Gerrell Payton: A Hub City man in his 13th year ringing the bell

    You can hear Gerrell Payton’s Salvation Army bell ringing out in the far reaches of the Walmart parking lot on Hwy. 98 West in Hattiesburg.

    Payton, who is the longest serving bell ringer in the Hub City at 13 years, has been on duty at his regular spot.

    Payton greeted customers with a hardy, “Hello, how are you?” as customers walked by, some in a hurry, some wrestling with youngsters while others were talking or texting on their mobile devices.

    He gave a heartfelt, “Thank you, Merry Christmas,” as they pushed a few bills or sprinkled some change in his red kettle.

  • MEET Marty Anklam: Purple Parrot's new chef

    The Purple Parrot has a new chef, only the sixth in its 32-plus years. Marty Anklam, who arrived on the scene in the spring, has had time to get his feet wet – having survived Mother’s Day and graduation weekends and a south Mississippi summer, helping launch a catering division and a new fall menu for the Parrot and feeding more than 600 at a recent fraternity tailgate at Mississippi State.

    A Mississippian by birth, his parents moved to Washington, D.C., when he was just 18 months old (not much say in that).

  • Merry Griswold Christmas

    “If you build it they will come” may be a line most remember from Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams.

    But the line from the 1989 movie is also working for Hattiesburgers Abby and Brandon Thaxton with the vignettes they are building and showcasing at their downtown business, The Lucky Rabbit. This time they’ve gone over the top and blown the budget to allow their fans to enjoy a completely immersive experience in the living room of Clark and Ellen Griswold of National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation.”

  • Signature Q&A: Demaris Lee

    DEMARIS LEE is a 1972 graduate of Petal High School. She and her husband, David, started ServiceMaster in Petal in 1988. The following year, Lee and Jesse Rowell started the Petal Children’s Task Force when two families needed help with Christmas and food. This year it is celebrating its 30th year. Today, Lee serves as executive director for the nonprofit where she oversees the daily operations at their center. She and David have been married for 42 years and they have two children, Anthony and Brian Lee, and five granddaughters.

  • MEET THE... America READS Mississippi

    Since 2010, when Ekklesia Church in Hattiesburg first took part in the America Reads Mississippi Program – an initiative through Americorps Mississippi which helps place tutors in local schools – nine full-time reading tutors have been placed throughout the Hattiesburg Public School District, putting in more than 5,500 hours of one-one-one tutoring for more than 139 students.

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