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Roses and thorns: 3/2/13




A Rose to the tutors at HEARTS (Helping Every Age Reach and Teach Students), who for 10 years now have volunteered their time to help struggling kindergartners through fifth-graders in the Columbus Municipal School District. We especially like the emphasis HEARTS places on reading -- the basic building block of learning.  


Without fanfare, and with no infusion of taxpayer dollars, the volunteers quietly make a real difference in the lives of children who might otherwise fall so far behind that they are tempted to drop out of school altogether. If you are looking for a way to serve the community, HEARTS is looking for you. Prospective tutors should call executive director Mary Ezell at 662-244-8444. 




A thorn to Columbus attorney Steve Wallace, who admitted in court this week that he accepted payment from a defendant he was representing as a public defender.  


Carolyn Orr, who claims she paid Wallace $4,000 to represent her son, Eli Orr, on drug charges, said she will file a complaint with the Mississippi Bar Association. Since Wallace is paid by the county for his work as a public defender, accepting the payment could be a violation of MBA's Code of Professional Conduct.  


Wallace admitted to Circuit Court Judge Lee Howard that he had accepted $900 from the Orr family and was now Eli Orr's private attorney, but it wasn't until later that day that Wallace filed the required document informing the court of the change -- two years after Wallace was appointed as Orr's attorney. Was this a case of a gross oversight? Or was it a matter of being caught red-handed as a double-dipper? 




A rose to Mississippi State University head football coach Dan Mullen, who was a huge hit as guest speaker for Thursday's Boys & Girls Club of the Golden Triangle fund-raiser dinner on the Mayhew campus of East Mississippi Community College.  


A sold-out crowd of 220, including 70 kids, was captivated by Mullen, whose speech emphasized the importance of believing in oneself. Mullen told the kids that as long as you do your best, you will succeed. Mullen was also gracious with his time, signing autographs and mingling with the audience. All too often, big-time coaches remain aloof from regular people. Mullen's generosity and approachable manner is a welcome deviation from the norm. 




A rose to the United Way of Lowndes County's board of directors for their diligence in finding the right person to replace former executive director Jan Ballard, who resigned from her post in early February to accept a position with the Columbus Municipal School District. 


Board President Stewart Stafford said this week that though the board recognizes the need to fill the position quickly, they are also carefully vetting the 50 candidates who have applied for the job. 


It is impossible to overstate the United Way's contribution to Lowndes County through the thousands of lives touched by the agencies it funds. Ballard left big shoes to fill, and we are glad to see the board understands the importance of finding the right fit.  




A rose to the Starkville Academy girls basketball team for completing a perfect season and a run to a second consecutive Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Overall State title. Starkville Academy beat Bowling Green on Friday and Presbyterian Christian on Saturday to wrap up a 43-0 season and extend its winning streak to 52 games, dating back to last season.  


A year ago, the Lady Volunteers won their final nine games of the season to sweep the Class AAA, Division II, the Class AAA, and the overall state championships. This season, coach Glenn Schmidt's team rode the play of seniors Tiffany Huddleston, Anna Lea Little and Maggie Proffitt and juniors Nora Kathryn Carroll and Sallie Kate Richardson to a repeat of its three-peat. All five of the team's starters were named to the all-tournament team.



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