Congratulations to Pat Thomasson, Chief Executive Officer, Thomasson Company, and Phyliss Anderson, Tribal Chief, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, on their selection to the Mississippi Business Journal's 2013 Class of 50 Leading Business Women in Mississippi. This selective list was revealed in August 2013 at a two-day seminar held at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center in Raymond.

Quoting from The Journal, "We look for the most powerful, influential women business leaders in Mississippi. As senior decision-makers, this elite group is making a significance impact on the economy of our state."

As members of the 2013 Class of 50 Leading Business Women, Pat and Phyliss will attend the "Business Woman of the Year" program held in February 2014. Attended by over 500 statewide business leaders, this program honors the achievements and contributions of women in business from across the state. Eleven finalists are selected from the 2013 Class of 50 Leading Business Women and are honored during the luncheon. The highlight of the day is the naming of the "Business Woman of the Year." And the winner is . . . Pat? Phyliss?

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'Tis said that Nashville is the City of Dreams. For Madison Hardy, it is the city where all her dreams have come true. A 2011 music business graduate from Belmont University in Nashville, she now works full time as a Licensing Agent for MTV Networks, and tours regularly with a wedding and corporate events band, The Respectables. It was in Nashville that Madison met Daniel Dennis. Born and raised in Nashville, Daniel is a 2004 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University. He currently owns and operates his own recording studio in Nashville, Prime Cut Studios, where he is producer and graphic design artist for independent recording artists.

Sarah and Mike Hardy hosted an engagement party Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013, in honor of their daughter, Madison, and Daniel at their home on McKee Street. Chad and Kellie Penson greeted the late afternoon guests as they arrived in vans under the direction of Granville Stewart and Jacob Stewart, driven by Cole Stewart, Ben McDaniel, and Peyton Penson. Belynda Adkins invited guests to sign the register.

Circular tables covered in cream linen with overlays of burlap, filled the carport and tent, erected on the lawn. Each table was centered with a candle-lit hurricane globe encircled by a ring of fall leaves. A beautiful and delicious selection of foods, prepared by Linda and Carson Waltman, were offered from tables accented with fall flowers, lighted from above with festive white lights.

Special guests included Madison's brother, Michael Hardy, and her grandparents, Harvey and Elizabeth Krumm of Foley, Alabama and Bobby and Joyce Hardy of Philadelphia. Other out-of-town family and friends included Dale and Charlie Goforth of Foley, Leah, Olivia and Sydney Barter of Daphne, Alabama, Skye and Sutton Jenkins of Chesterton, Indiana, Jerry and Jimmy Ruth Addy of Oxford, Kate Thomas of Union, Tommy and Terri McCarver and Meagan Anthony of Brandon, Griffin Burk of Starkville, and Patsy Clark and Phyliss Sullivan of Louisville. The reception was photographed by Brandy Stuart. Belynda Adkins and Michelle Chandler lent a friendly hand on the day of the party. Sarah expressed deep appreciation and thanks to Jacob Stewart who assisted her in most all of the preparations.

The party's beautiful setting, stirred guests to exclaim, "This should remain forever!" The party, of course, could not last forever. Madison and Daniel will be married in Nashville on April 5, 2014, and this will last forever!

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Mildred Risher has seen the throng of "trick or treaters" increase from "no more than 100,"to upwards of 600, since she and her late husband, John, bought their home on Poplar Avenue in 1963. Halloween stirs sad memories for Mildred. Their daughter, Donna, died of cancer on Oct. 31, 1987. They lost their son, Steve, to cancer seven years later. The smiles on the faces of the little "trick or treaters" has a brightening effect on Mildred's heart.

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HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE. Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013, 1-5 p.m. Come join in the fun, catch the spirit, and check out the bargains!

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Judy Barnes, Earlene Peebles and Martha Lewis from West Philadelphia Baptist Church, along with Erica Peebles from Booneville, attended the Extraordinary Women's Conference in Southaven Oct. 18-19. Women from other local Baptist Churches in our area were among the "I'd say at least 5,000 women from all over," Martha told me. Julie Clinton, president of Extraordinary Women Ministries, was hostess for the Enduring Love Conference Tour, the theme of which was taken from "the love chapter," First Corinthians 13:13. The vision of the conference was to draw women closer to the heart of God and His extraordinary plan for their daily lives.

Speakers included Julie Clinton, Angela Thomas, Donna Vanliere, Kasey Van Norman, and "our favorites," said Martha, Candace Cameron Bure, known as D. J. Tanner on ABC's hit television series "Full House," and Miss Kay Robertson, the revered matriarch of the "Duck Dynasty" family. Michael O'Brien, lead singer of the Christian band, NewSong, for seven years, provided music throughout the weekend. Grammy nominated artist, Natalie Grant, winner of the GMA Female Vocalist of the Year five times, was the featured solo artist Friday evening. It was indeed a time for every woman there to celebrate and encourage her faith in Jesus Christ.

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Susie-Hannah Williams, a 2009 graduate of Philadelphia High School, now a senior at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, was home last weekend to attend the memorial service for her great-uncle Henry F. Peebles, along with her grandfather, Claude Peebles, Jr., and aunts, Claudette Peebles McMichael and Patti Peebles. While in Philadelphia, Susie-Hannah visited her mother, Doni Williams, and her grandmother, Inez Hamilton Peebles. Following her graduation on December14, 2013, Susie-Hannah will enter graduate school at The University of Alabama, Birmingham.

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Brenda Matthews, Jo Fulton and I made it back to the beach in Gulf Shores last week, and so, Thank God, did all the birds of the air and the fishes of the sea. Unmindful of the fact that their very existence was at stake after the oil spill, the little sand birds followed the waves pecking unceasingly for food, the long-legged cranes stood undisturbed on the beach, looking out across the blue-green water, the seagulls read the "do not feed the seagulls" signs with disgust, while the fishermen fished, and the dolphins jumped in the water to their delight, and to the delight of us watching. God is good. All's right with the world!

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A group of 21 seniors from East Philadelphia Baptist Church enjoyed a tour of one of the nation's premier art museums and one of the state's most beautiful historic districts when they recently visited Laurel, Mississippi.

This is an account of the trip as shared with us by Harold Anderson, a member of the group and a native of Laurel.

"The Philadelphians were treated to a guided tour of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art - considered one of the best small art museums in the nation - where they viewed the institution's priceless art collection, its famed basket collection (including the second smallest basket in existence; it is woven from a single blade of grass and must be viewed through a magnifying glass) and a beautiful collection of Georgian silver tea services .

The guide explained that the museum was established by the Rogers family - one of Laurel's founders - in honor of their son, Lauren, who died of appendicitis at the age of 21, and donated their extensive art and basket collection in 1923. Both the facility and collection have grown, and it is now a well-endowed non-profit foundation.

Museum historian George Bassi presented an illustrated program explaining the history of Laurel.

Laurel was founded in 1882 by four wealthy timber families from Clinton, Iowa who were looking for a new source of timber.

They discovered the village of Laurel, Mississippi in the midst of the extensive yellow southern pine belt.

They established the city and built four large sawmills. The city thrived, and by 1919, surpassed Natchez as the per capita richest city in the state, and more lumber was shipped from Laurel than any other city in the world.

The Eastmans (another founding family), through their relative George Eastman, of Eastman Kodak fame, had access to the inventor Thomas Edison. They requested Edison's help in finding a use for the wood scraps produced as a by-product of lumber manufacturing. He sent a protege, engineer William Mason to Laurel, where he invented Masonite and established a factory that eventually employed more than 2,000 people.

A Laurel native, a Mr. Lindsey, invented a log wagon that revolutionized the logging industry. Lindsey wagons were sold world-wide and were manufactured in Laurel until 1960.

The founding fathers were sophisticated and generous people who were determined to develop a livable and beautiful city in the wilderness. They built fine homes for themselves and donated schools and other public buildings to the city. One of these was Oak Park Institute, the state's first high school for Black students - at a time when it was against the law to educate a black person beyond the eighth grade!

Laurel's early leaders would not allow any mill to pay in script redeemable at a company store that lead to the development of a thriving business district and middle class.

They hired pioneering landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmstead to design the city's parks which still exist today. Olmstead's other works include Central Park in New York and the grounds of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina."

Following a buffet lunch at Western Sizzlin', Harold lead his fellow church members on a driving tour of the Laurel Historic and Downtown Districts. Those enjoying the day were Harold and his wife, Paula Anderson, Randy and Jackie Hearn, H. G. and Mary Jo Cooper, Ray and Lilly Partridge, Hoyt ans Marjorie Payne, Kenneth and Polly Massey, Brother Mark Cloys, Curtis Blocker, Bobbie Anthony, Carolyn Smith, Maudine Beckham, Janice Thomas, Glenda Hardy, Mazelle Skinner and Ray Fleming.