August 6, 2020 10:16:14 AM
By mid-September, there's going to be a new pumpkin patch in Caledonia.
William Darnell of Darnell Farms, 8989 Wolfe Road, planted about eight acres of pumpkins to prepare for the inaugural Darnell Farms Pumpkin Patch. He first got the idea when Caledonia's Country Pumpkins, long a fixture for fall recreation in the Golden Triangle, closed in 2018.
"We'll start off small, and if it goes good, the next year we can add and add on to something like (Country Pumpkins)," Darnell said. "I just don't want everybody to think they are bringing Country Pumpkins back this first year. It's not going to be that, it's going to be different. But we're going to try to build it to something like that."
For Darnell, preparing for the pumpkin patch has been a highlight in a very sore farming season. Typically, farming success is indicative of the weather, but this year COVID-19 took its toll.
"Cotton and soybeans are just in the dumps," Darnell said. "...The prices with this COVID mess are terrible. I've started growing more produce. I even took cotton acres out and put produce on it because I'm making more on produce than cotton acres."
According to the Mississippi State University Extension Services, this problem is no stranger to cotton farmers in Mississippi during the pandemic. When Darnell said the prices are bad, they are really bad. The price for December cotton has dropped about 30 percent, which was one of the main reasons Darnell pulled acres of cotton and started selling produce.
Despite having to pinch pennies, Darnell said he's excited about opening his pumpkin patch and corn maze in mid-September.
"I'm going to have something for everyone," he said. "I've got some little ones, I've got warty ones, I've got big ones, jack-o-lanterns, just a little bit of everything."
Moving over to Starkville, there's a new specialty health clinic open.
Five Horizons Health Services, 807 Hwy. 12, opened last month. Five Horizons now has two locations, with the first opening in Tuscaloosa, Alabama more than 30 years ago.
Starkville's Executive Director Jamil Dawson said the clinic aims to provide care to populations in need. The clinic's focus is on HIV and STD testing, prevention and primary care.
Dawson said though a health clinic, Five Horizons offers more than just health care to clients.
"We do a lot of advocacy work for those populations in need, whether it be trying to assist with people understanding their voting rights and polling locations, with people understanding their rights as the LGBTQ, Latin or African-American community," he said. "That's kind of where we aim our focus."
When a client enters the clinic, they start by meeting with a caseworker or social worker to assess their non-medical needs.
"We believe in providing care to the whole person," Dawson said. "People are more than their HIV status or more than just whatever particular STD they have at the moment. That's when we get into questions about food and security, housing stability, behavioral health issues and then we provide care for individuals when we can and if we cannot we will be making partners across the community we can refer them to."
Five Horizons is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Moving toward Mississippi State near the roundabout on Blackjack Road, there's a new electronic billboard that's been advertising a little differently lately.
Christian Good, of Good Billboards, said business was going well until about March.
"During COVID, any industry with advertisement has really gotten hit," Good said. "We started filling our slots with meaningful ads. We put up thank you messages to essential workers like policeman, nurses and doctors."
With advertising space to spare, about a month ago Good partnered with Oktibbeha County Humane Society to start advertising a "Pet of the Week" to encourage pet adoption in the area. Good Billboards has self sponsored the pets of the week for the past month, and will continue up to three.
Beyond those three months, Good said he's urging local businesses to help sponsor a pet of the week to keep helping more and more pets find homes.
"Our country is divided in a lot of areas, but we know everyone deserves and enjoys having a pet to love on," he said. "We have a need to adopt different pets that otherwise wouldn't have a home. We felt like this was an organization that we could rally behind."
1. New pumpkin patch prepares to open in Caledonia COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY