Heidi Starks and her husband Jacob are transplants from Cincinnati. She is a behavioral health therapist at Neshoba General and her husband is the director of the Neshoba County Library.
Heidi Starks and her husband Jacob are transplants from Cincinnati. She is a behavioral health therapist at Neshoba General and her husband is the director of the Neshoba County Library.
Cincinnati native Heidi Starks has made her home and raised her family in Neshoba County for five years. Now, she cannot imagine living anywhere else.

“I have lived a lot of places and I am from Cincinnati, but this is home,” Starks said.

Starks and her husband, Jacob, have certainly put down roots in five years. Jacob is the library director at the Neshoba County Library where he has seen steady boosts in community participation and book circulation.

They have had two children in Neshoba County— Ivan, who is three-and-a-half, and Lillian Joan, a ten-month-old.

“Everyone has been very welcoming and helped us acclimate to a new environment,” Starks said. “Our kids were born here, they are Mississippians.”

Heidi works as a behavioral health therapist at Neshoba General Hospital and also does some work with patients at the nursing home. She says that she enjoys helping patients of all ages.

“We work with people of all ages. I have always had a desire to work with people to help overcome barriers that keep them from making progress on their goals,” Starks said. “It's so rewarding to see them make progress.”

Starks says that even after five years she has not managed every colloquialism.

“I learn something new daily and I am sure people get a kick out of it,” Starks said.

One that sticks out to her is a time she had to interject into a long story to find out what “Nabs” were.

“Jacob and I had no idea what he was talking about,” she said.

Aside from the occasional misunderstanding, Starks has also found elements of the South and specifically Neshoba County that speak to the heart.

“People really have a commitment to faith and fellowship,” she said. “There is an extra value placed on family. Spending quality time together is part of the culture.”

For Starks, this shows itself with how often people cook at home, rather than dine out. They enjoy making meals that that remind them of their native Cincinnati. They miss local favorites like Skyline Chili and Larosa’s pizza, the former of which can be found in a can in grocery stores in Jackson.

She said efforts to introduce people to some of their favorites have been mostly positive and that she looks forward to the next thing she can learn or the next opportunity to introduce someone to something new.



4 ripe avocados chopped, 6 green onion stalks chopped, 4 tbsp. chopped sundried tomatoes (in a jar), 1/2 tsp. fresh garlic minced, salt pepper to taste, fresh lime or lemon juice to taste, 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice. 

Mix all together, and chill several hours before serving. Serve with favorite tortilla chips! 


1 large plain or vanilla yogurt, 1 large vanilla instant pudding, 1 cool whip, 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring.

Mix all ingredients together and let sit in fridge. Best if stirred before you serve. Serve with any fruit.



• 1/4 cup cream cheese - softened

• 1/4 cup herbed cheese spread

• dash fresh cracked pepper

• 2 4 oz package sliced salami


1. Mix together cream cheese, herbed cheese spread and pepper.

2. Fold each slice of salami in half. Spread with cream cheese mixture. Roll up and secure with a party pick.

3. Can be made ahead of time and stored in fridge until ready to serve


• 8 oz cream cheese , softened

• 8-12 oz Cincinnati-style chili, warmed slightly

• 1 - 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


• Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.  Spread cream cheese in an 8 or 9" pan, like a pie pan, in an even layer.

• Top with chili and bake 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with cheese.  Bake 5-8 minutes, until melted.

• Let stand for 5 minutes or so, then serve with tortilla chips or Fritos.



5 cups water

6 oz can of Tomato paste

1/2 oz baking chocolate (unsweetened - I use Baker's brand)

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, or less, depending on your desired heat level

1/8 tsp black pepper

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp sugar

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/4 lb lean ground beef


• Add the 5 cups of water in a large pot.  I like to use my dutch oven for this.

•  Add the tomato paste and chocolate and heat over medium heat stirring to combine for about 3 minutes. (I stir with a whisk to really break up the tomato paste).

• Add chili powder, cinnamon, garlic powder, cumin, allspice, cloves, red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt, sugar and vinegar.

• Next, crumble the raw ground beef into the pot with your fingers, then use a potato masher, whisk or fork to break up the meat into very fine pieces.

• Turn heat to high to bring to a boil.

• Once boiling, turn the heat down to med-low.

• Cook, uncovered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, at a low boil… stirring occasionally until sauce has thickened quite a bit.

• Serve over thin spaghetti or a hot dog.