The second half of 2019 held as much excitement as the first, with national and state championships and the news that one of the largest health providers on the Mississippi Gulf Coast would be taking over Stone County Hospital.
Memorial Hospital announced it was purchasing Stone County Hospital and its associated Family Medical Center and Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
The change officially went into effect Nov. 1 and, after extensive renovations, a grand re-opening and ribbon cutting is expected early in 2020.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College won its fifth national football championship, finishing the season 12-0 after besting Lackawanna 24-13 in the title game in Pittsburg, Kansas.
The Stone High Pride marching band won its first state title in 13 years with its show, “EmBELLish.”
The Pride earned first-place in percussion, first in visual, took second in color guard, third in general effect and third in music.
Two suspects were taken into custody in connection to the shooting death of 24-year-old Wiggins resident Martin Atkinson, Jr.
At approximately 5 p.m. June 26, Atkinson was shot in the midsection near the Wiggins Apartments on McGregor Street and, after police and medical personnel responded, was transported by helicopter to Forrest General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Frederick Arnez Alexander, a 24-year-old Poplarville resident, was arrested and charged with murder while Gamod Tyrese Youngblood, a 20-year-old resident of Lumberton, was charged with accessory after the fact to murder.
Those celebrating the Fourth of July at Flint Creek Water Park were unable to swim in the reservoir because samples of the water showed unacceptable levels of E. Coli and fecal coliform bacteria.
Officials blamed the contaminated water on geese and nutria.
Haylee Eaton was pleased when her fiber arts creation, a skirt and sandals made of pop-top tabs and paracord, won first place in the Mississippi state Beta convention.
Imagine how excited she was when she placed sixth nationally.
Eaton, the junior daughter of Randy and Robin Eaton, earned the honor at the National Beta Convention in Oklahoma City.
A former employee of the Stone County Utility Authority was arrested and charged with embezzlement.
State Auditor Shad White announced last Tuesday that special agents from his office had arrested Shellie Dickens [aka Shellie Martin], former administrative assistant for the authority, after she was indicted by a grand jury assembled by Joel Smith, District Attorney for the Mississippi 2nd District.
She was accused of embezzling more than $6,000 from December 2016 to May 2017 by taking cash from individuals who were paying their utility bills.
Several members of the Stone County 4-H Horse Club qualified to compete in the Southern Regional 4-H horse show in Perry, Ga.
The qualification was based on finishes in the June Southeast District Horse Show at the Harrison County Arena and the Mississippi State Horse Show in Jackson.
If one has seen a dentist in Stone County, the odds are good one has been treated by Dr. Ray Cooley.
Cooley celebrated his 50th year in practice; 48 of those at his Stone Dental Clinic on Critz Street.
Once again, Samantha Roberts brought home the gold.
Roberts won both the qualification and elimination rounds in the 12-14 age group at the Junior Olympic Archery Development Outdoor National competition in Raleigh, N.C., defeating the silver medalist with a tie-breaking arrow to top off an incredible performance.
Roberts, a 13-year-old Perkinston resident, hit 63 bulls eyes, 60 10s and 21 nines with her 144 arrows to tie the national scoring record 1,419 points out of a possible 1,440.
In response to complaints, the Pat Harrison Waterway District Board of Directors amended the Flint Creek Water Park rules regarding long-term camping at the facility.
The board heard from campers who complained they couldn’t get a waterfront site because other campers leased them by the month.
The board eventually voted to adopt the new policy, which will restrict stays on the first come, first serve waterfront sites to 14 days during the peak camping season.
During the offseason, waterfront sites will be available in four-month increments.
Splash of Fun Water Park, LLC, a company which signed a 50-year lease with the Pat Harrison Waterway District in 2014, was issued a notice to vacate.
Splash of Fun was on a 20-acre parcel inside Flint Creek Water Park, located on the east side of the reservoir.
The PHWD reopened the attraction under its old name of Watertown USA.
Hayden Miller was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout in a Court of Honor at First United Methodist Church.
The 18-year-old son of Lee and Arlene Miller and Richard and Monica Marlowe, Miller is a 2019 graduate of St. Patrick High School.
First United Methodist Church of Wiggins partnered with the Society of St. Andrew, an ecumenical, non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to leading others into lives of Christian community and service to host a food drop.
FUMC Pastor Stacey Douglas said his church’s first partnership with SoSA was an incredible success.
“We were able to distribute more than 30 pallets of food to food banks,” he said. “Not just the local Our Daily Bread, but food banks as far away as Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., Meridian, Picayune and Saucier.
“In addition, we were able to give food packages to more than 300 families here in Stone County.”
There were four runoff elections for Stone County elected offices following the August 6 primary election.
Samuel ‘Tom’ Smith ultimately defeated Scott Strickland in the race for Chancery Clerk.
Clark Bond defeated Danny O’Neal in the race for District 4 Supervisor
In District 5, Nathan Joel Bond defeated incumbent Dale T. Bond and
Mike Allen defeated incumbent West Side Constable Louis Simmons.
Brent and Whitney Hickman reopened Pine Burr Golf Club after extensive renovations to the clubhouse and course.
Two Gulfport residents were arrested after a Wiggins home was the target of a drive-by shooting.
Investigators believed the shooting was the result of an argument on social media.
Several area cattlemen combined to offer a reward after several head of cattle were rustled from a field in Perkinston.
The case remains under investigation.
A team from he Stone High Tomcat Bass Anglers won the Bass Tactix open tournament held on the Ross Barnett Reservoir in Jackson.
Jaron Cunningham and Jacob Comerdelle’s four fish weighed 10.99 pounds, enough to claim first place, $1,000 in cash, rods and reels and $45,000 scholarships to Kentucky Christian University, should they choose to accept them.
Deputy Nick Freeman received his certification as a K-9 handler and he and K-9 officer Roxy began patrolling county roads.
Roxy had been out of commission since the resignation of her previous handler.
The Wiggins Fire Department used the 2019 Scarecrow Convention to announce it has ordered the newest fire truck in its fleet.
The Wiggins Board of Aldermen voted to authorize the purchase of Engine 10, a dual-purpose truck which will make firefighting a safer and more efficient endeavor for the department.
Not only will the truck be a pumper, it will also feature a 75-foot ladder.
“This is big for our department and the city of Wiggins,” said WFD Chief Jody Hatten. “Engine 8 will be 22-years-old when this truck is finished and delivered.
For 17 years, Shannon ‘The General’ Lee chased a national points championship on the dirt tracks around the southeastern United States.
In September, he finally caught one.
The Wiggins resident earned enough points at Hattiesburg Speedway to lock up the title with two weeks left in the racing season of the Durrence Layne 2019 National Weekly Championship.
The ninth annual Pretty in Pink event was deemed a success by organizers.
More than $2,000 was raised for the Pink Hearts Fund, a Gulfport based organization which assists victims of breast cancer.
Stone County Circuit Clerk Jeffrey O’Neal was ordered to appear before all four Circuit Court judges, “. . . to show cause why he should not be held in contempt of court for his failure to prepare orders of disposition, preparing and transmitting commitment papers to the Mississippi Department of Corrections, and/or posting the Court’s orders to the MEC system.”
O’Neal eventually produced the requested paperwork and the order was dismissed.
Eight individuals, all from outside Stone County, were arrested in a prostitution sting conducted by the Pine Belt Human Trafficking Task Force.
The task force, of which the Wiggins Police Department is a member, set up shop at a local motel and took into custody those who set up encounters on an internet page.
“One of the individuals traveled all the way from Tylertown because he believed he was going to have sex with a 14-year-old,” said investigator Steven Taylor with the WPD.
Three individuals were arrested following a shooting at the Keith’s convenience store on Hwy. 49 in Bond.
Law enforcement officials called the shooting the result of a drug deal gone bad.
After qualifying for the playoffs for the fourth straight season, the Stone High Tomcats fell, 24-23, to host Moss Point in the first round of the MHSAA 4-A playoffs.
Representatives of business, industry and higher education gathered at Stone High School to take part in the Tomcat Futures Expo.
The annual event allows students to interact with those who are actively engaged in career or educational fields which may hold their interest.
“Every year it gets bigger and better,” said principal Adam Stone of the fourth annual event. “Schools are taking the route that college isn’t the only path forward and events like this give the students real-world experience instead of reading it in a book or online.”
Vendors in Stone County began selling tickets for the Mississippi Lottery.
Monroe Stewart, the owner of Big Level Grocery, said his store sold $555 worth of tickets and paid out $346 in prizes on the first day.
The first ticket was sold by clerk Shawna Stansberry to customer Bill Davis shortly after 5 a.m.
Christmas celebrants came from as far away as Jackson to experience Bethlehem as it was in the time of Jesus’ birth this past weekend.
The biennial production, put on by First Baptist Church of Wiggins, is an immersive experience in which attendees are guided through the village, hearing tales of the birth of a Savior from women at a well, shepherds by a campfire and others conducting the business of the village.
It culminates with a live nativity scene in the church’s sanctuary.
Inda Martin, thought to be the oldest resident of Stone County, died.
A beloved school teacher who spent nearly her entire life residing in the Wiggins house in which she was born, Martin was 109 when she passed away at home.
The Stone High boys’ soccer team set a new consecutive-victories record by starting the season 12-0.