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Roses and thorns: 12/31/11




A rose to Mississippi State Head Football Coach Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs for overcoming four turnovers to beat Wake Forest 23-17 in the Music City Bowl Friday night in Nashville, Tenn. 


Vick Ballard ran for a career-high 180 yards and two touchdowns to help the Bulldogs (7-6) close the season on a high note. The victory also enabled MSU to win its fifth straight bowl game -- the second consecutive under Mullen. 


The finish, which also included a victory against the University of Mississippi in the Egg Bowl, capped a season that started with high expectations. The victory against Wake Forest secured consecutive bowl wins for only the second time in school history and first since 1999-2000. 


MSU's defense played a key role, earning six sacks, its highest total since it had seven in a win against the University of Florida in 2000. 




A rose to Marcus Sims for his return to the basketball court after a June wreck left his Acura 3.2 TL crushed and him to endure a long and painful recovery. 


Sims, 17, was airlifted to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. He had damage to his lungs, and several ribs were cracked. 


Sims wasn't sure his doctor was going to let him return to the court for the Victory Christian Academy Eagles. But he's been scoring in the double digits since returning this season. 


It's almost miraculous Sims was able to go back to the game so quickly. He was sedated for an extended time and required plastic surgery to repair damage to his face. 


Sims is in his senior year at Victory, and he and his family weren't sure he'd be able to participate in any athletics his senior year. 


LaShanda McCarter, Marcus' mother, knew he wouldn't be medically cleared to play quarterback for the football team. 


We applaud Sims for rising above adversity to play the game he loves. As young as he is, he is an example to all of us that we can turn what could be tragedy into triumph. 




A rose to Glenn Miller, owner of Miller Marine and Outdoor Center in Southside Columbus for his annual "shop party." 


He and his wife, Jan, hosted the sixth-annual community party at the business in the old Marble Works building at Third Street and Seventh Avenue South. 


What started as a thank you to his Southside neighbors who always looked out for the business has become a holiday tradition. If Miller left a door open or a light on, someone in the area would let him know. 


So he opened the doors to the shop after Christmas one year, cleared enough space for tables and cooked for his neighbors and friends. About 50 people came. 


Tuesday, the sixth year for the shop party, he and the Mrs. opened his doors to many more people, feeding about 225. 


Each year, the event grows, requiring more willing volunteers to help with the grilling. And visitors come in waves, eating, talking and lingering to enjoy the company. 


Jan Miller calls it a true "neighborhood party," for an area she calls with unashamed bias, "the best place to live" -- Southside Columbus. 


Of course, the party now reaches more than just Southside. 


City officials and firefighters were welcome guests, as were dozens of others who don't call Southside home. 


We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the food, most of which was either cut from an animal, fried or both -- pork butts, ribs, barbecue chicken, fish, deer, the list goes on. 


A crowd favorite is the red-neck beignet -- a Twinkie fried and dusted with powdered sugar. 


And why not? Anything to please their friends and neighbors. 


"We love our people," Jan Miller said. "We love our neighbors." 




A rose to the venerable Crown Victoria. In the years to come, we will see the queen of police vehicles phased out of Mississippi law enforcement. Though local officers say, "Long live the queen," Ford has says her time is up. The last model rolled off the assembly line Sept. 15 at the company's Ontario, Canada, plant. 


Police fell in love with the Crown Vic's roomy interior and smooth ride. The Crown Vic's police units have been the car of choice for Mississippi law enforcement for decades. 


Until 2006, it was the only police vehicle with rear-wheel drive, which led to its widespread adoption. Its body-on-frame construction adds durability. The police model also offers more room between the seats for weapons and gear. 


Ford has 85 percent of the market for police vehicles. The remaining share is divided between the Chevrolet Impala and Tahoe models and the Dodge Charger. 


Ford has alternatives ready for 2013 -- police-purposed Taurus and Explorer models. What cars we get locally likely will depend on who wins the bidding war for a state contract. Local agencies can purchase cars at a discounted price through the state of Mississippi. 


As for the Crown Vic, Watson Quality Ford in Jackson ordered 300 additional models when they got the news the cars would no longer be made. As of Wednesday, they had 195 left. We predict they won't last long, as agencies do their best to prolong their love affair with Queen Victoria.



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