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Roses and thorns: 4/8/12




A bouquet of roses to all the churches and organizations that brightened our week with Easter pageants, plays, egg hunts and other holiday observances. Out in Caledonia, Michelle Cox organized a flashlight Easter egg hunt for children. Evangel Church in Columbus and Life Church in Starkville also held Easter egg hunts, as did many others.  


Roses also to the cast and crew of "Living Pictures," an Easter drama in its 26th year of production at Fairview Baptist Church. It's daunting enough to take on such a sweeping production, but to write a new script each year -- and keep track of nearly 400 people who all must be on cue at the right moment -- is impressive and requires weekly practice sessions which begin in January.  


Holiday traditions may vary, but no matter how you chose to observe Easter this year, we hope you take time to build new memories with loved ones. Children, as well as adults, benefit from the firm foundation such traditions build, whether rooted in faith, family or a mixture of both. 




A rose to 86-year-old Mary Thomas as she begins her new life, and a bouquet of roses to all the people who worked so hard to rescue her from unsafe living conditions.  


The feisty Thomas earned the respect of many when she refused to give up her dream of an education. Not one to take "no" for an answer, she enrolled in GED classes at the Greater Columbus Learning Center last year, and instructors say she's on track to graduate soon. But few realized every night she studied in a house literally crumbling around her. Since her husband's death, the widow has been unable to keep up with maintenance. Several times, she fell through the rotting floors.  


When Thomas made an offhand remark to employees at the Learning Center, they sprang into action. Executive Director Darren Jordan called Ward 1 City Councilman Gene Taylor, who called Columbus Building Inspection Official Kenny Wiegel and Code Enforcement Officer Derrick Nash. They inspected the property and agreed it wasn't fit for human habitation. Community Resource Connection Project Coordinator Jennifer Garrard was contacted, as was Columbus Police Department, Columbus Housing Authority, Mississippi United to End Homelessness and the Lowndes County Furniture Bank.  


In less than a week, those organizations -- along with Evangel Church and Apostolic Outreach Church -- secured an apartment for Thomas. But that's not all; they also were able to modestly furnish it, thanks to donations from anonymous good Samaritans.  


Thursday, Mayor Robert Smith presented her with the keys to her new home. Thomas was so happy, she danced a sassy little jig in the hallway.  


Helping people is part of the city's mission, said CPD Public Information Officer Glenda Buckhalter.  


We're glad this story had a happy ending, and we are reminded once again to look out for our elderly residents, even when they seem more than capable of looking out for themselves.  




A rose to Mississippi State University's affable "Miss Effie," a shuttle bus driver with a heart of gold. Few know Ann Hopkins by her real name, but almost everyone on campus knows her reputation for loving her passengers, whether that means offering encouragement or just getting them to their destinations on time.  


For the past year, Hopkins has continued her largesse beyond the confines of her regular shift. After hours, she returns to campus in her Chevy Blazer, taking international students to Walmart, the Asian Market or wherever they need to go. She neither expects nor accepts payment. Her payment comes from the smiles of her grateful passengers.  


MSU student Emmie Johnson said she knows her life matters to Hopkins, because no matter how long it has been since they've seen one another, Hopkins is able to pick up the conversation right where they left it. She remembers everything her passengers tell her, not because she has an extraordinary memory but because she cares. 


Academic stress, homesickness, relationship troubles, work problems. A lot of things can weigh on a young person's mind. Sometimes the one person to whom they'll spill their joys and sorrows is the one who bothers to ask -- and listen.  




A rose and a warm welcome to Rick Ray, who was introduced Monday as Mississippi State University's new men's basketball coach. 


Ray, who spent the past two years as men's basketball associate head coach at Clemson University, faces a challenge after losing Renardo Sidney, Arnett Moultrie, and DeVille Smith, in addition to key senior starters Dee Bost and Brian Bryant.  


But Ray acted quickly this week and retained George Brooks as an assistant coach from Rick Stansbury's staff. He also announced the hiring of Wes Flanigan, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach for Doc Sadler at the University of Nebraska.  


We wish him well as he begins this new chapter of his career, and we look for good things to come.  




Roses to all our librarians as we celebrate National Library Week today through April 14.  


Dollar for dollar, a library card remains one of the best values around, opening doors to worlds we might otherwise never have known. Even as digital media sounds the death knell for venerable institutions like Encyclopedia Brittanica, which ceased publication last month after 244 years in print, there's still plenty happening at the library.  


It's becoming even more important for those without home computers or Internet access. Many employers now expect digital savviness, and some even require job applications to be submitted via Internet. Bridging the digital divide, continuing to open doors, are librarians.  


Even if you don't have a library card, if you happen to be near the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library Wednesdays at noon, we encourage you attend the always excellent, and free, Table Talk speaker series.  


This Wednesday, Arkansas attorney and author Grif Stockley will be on hand to discuss "Daisy Bates: Civil Rights Crusader from Arkansas."  


Graphic designer, book artist and letterpress print shop owner Jessica Peterson will talk about the art and craft of book making on April 14, and on April 25, award-winning national syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson will discuss her latest book, "Hank Hung the Moon ... and Warmed Our Cold, Cold Hearts." 


And speaking of books, it's Sunday, which means we have a standing date with our own favorite authors. If you don't currently have a book-in-progress on your night stand, we encourage you to stop by the library this week. We guarantee it will be time well-spent.



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