Two notable ribbon cuttings in Madison County

Ribbon cuttings happen every day in the metro area, but here are two that deserve some attention today: the completed renovations at Nichols Middle School in Canton and the Boundless Playground/Adam’s Project at Freedom Ridge Park in Ridgeland.

On Friday at 9 a.m., meet Canton Public School District and city leaders at Nichols Middle School, 529 Mace Street, for the ribbon cutting celebrating the completion of two phases of renovation. Phase 1 encompassed new student bathrooms; new classroom doors; new canopy and sidewalk connecting the southwest building to the gym; new south and west parking lots and driveways; new stucco on the gym’s north side; new halls and canopy to the cafeteria from the north and west sides; new communications hub room and new water and sewer infrastructure. Phase 2 consisted of a new administrative wing; library and computer lab; new east parking lot and driveway; new locker rooms and new masonry sidewalk and canopy along the east side of the existing building.

At 4 p.m. on November 7, the city of Ridgeland will unveil the new (and I’m sure the first of its kind in the area) Boundless Playground made possible by grants and donations to Adam’s Project. The universal design playground allows for children and adults with disabilities access to the unique parts of the playground. Looks like disabilities will be a thing of the past at Freedom Ridge Park.

The new front entrance of Nichols Middle School that was completed over the summer.

The rendering of the completed playground.

One of the last photos taken by the Ridgeland Recreation and Parks department on its Facebook page.


Glimpse of Gary Road in Byram

While working on my Suburban Digest article about the delay of the Gary Road paving project, it was important for me to get out and see the road for myself. Police Chief Luke Thompson was so kind enough to give me a tour of Gary Road between Terry and Siwell roads so I could see its poor condition. While riding over, Chief Thompson gave me some history of Gary Road and how it came to be so riddled with potholes. In the past 20 or so years, subdivisions and private properties have popped up adding to construction and school traffic on the two-lane road. I took some pictures of the worst parts of the road and I totally understand why citizens are so frustrated with Hinds County and the city is asking for their patience. Will the project begin before the end of the year?

Here’s the article from October 25:

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Stream Stewards program comes to the Ross Barnett Reservoir

Residents around the Reservoir care about their drinking water source and are concerned about the high levels of sediment. The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District has plans to dredge the Rez and remove sediments, but a new program for volunteers has started to get them more involved in the process. A monthly monitoring program involves measuring and tracking the health of the water in the Rez and nearby creeks. Adopt-a-Stream Mississippi offers the Stream Steward program through the state Wildlife Federation.

If you want to read my story from the October 11 edition of the Suburban Digest, click this link:

Here’s a short video of how stream stewards will monitor sediment levels in the Reservoir.

Ridgeland to host TOPSoccer Jamboree

From the city of Ridgeland Recreation & Parks:

Ridgeland Recreation & Parks has partnered with Northwest Rankin Athletic Association, South Madison County Soccer Organization, Chicago Fire Juniors of Mississippi, Mississippi Youth Soccer Association and Trustmark National Bank to host the annual TOPSoccer Jamboree on Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at Freedom Ridge Park. Stations will be set up at Freedom Ridge Park with various activities and skill levels of participation. All participants will receive a medal, a soccer ball and a t-shirt.

 TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a community-based training and team placement program for youth athletes with special needs. The program provides meaningful learning, development and physical participation opportunities to these young athletes through the game of soccer. The emphasis of the program is on development, training and meaningful participation rather than on competition.

 For more information, contact Wendy Bourdin, Special Events Coordinator at 601-853-2011.

Mississippi’s first Dollar General Market store opens in Canton

Short video taken of the grand opening celebration at the Dollar General Market Store on West Peace Street in Canton. There was plenty of food and beverages provided by Pepsi (Brown Bottling Group, I’m sure) and other local businesses. Store officially opened September 21.
[Names l to r: Assistant to Mayor William Truly Tammy (her last name escapes me, sorry!), store employee Stacey Cheeks, Alderman Eric Gilkey, Fire Chief Andrew Hughes, store manager Kawaun Terry, Alderwoman-at-Large Alice Scott, Alderman Rodriguez Brown, store employee Walter Slater, Police Chief Vickie McNeill, Canton Municipal Utilities General Manager John Wallace and store employee Ashanta Gardner.]


Clinton students become “Top Chefs” in recipe contest

Clinton Alderman Tony Hisaw (right) and Carolyn Hisaw

Last month, the Clinton Public School District’s Child Nutrition department accepted submissions in the “Taste of CPSD” recipe contest. Students at all grade levels were eligible to win the “Top Chef” designation at their school. Recipes had to be healthy entrees that came from a range of ages and grades. A school committee reviewed the recipes and chose finalists. A panel of judges then selected the winners. 

The top recipes from each school will be featured on the school menu on Wednesday, Oct. 17 as part of National School Lunch Week. Parents are invited to eat with their children at school during that week. Each of the recipes will be prepared using low-fat cooking methods and without excessive butter or salt, said Child Nutrition Supervisor Keba Laird. We all should give these tasty dishes a try!

Winning students and their recipes include:

Chicken Rollups submitted by Bryce Henry, Clinton Park Elementary School. Grade: Kindergarten


2 cans reduced fat crescent rolls

2 cans reduced fat cream of chicken soup

2 cans of water

4 chicken breasts, cooked & chopped (or 2 large cans of chicken)

Paprika to taste (optional)


Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9×13 casserole dish with non-stick spray. Separate crescent rolls into triangles. Spoon cooked chicken onto the long end of each, rolling up toward the point of the triangle. Place seam side down in dish. In separate bowl, mix soup with water, and pour over roll-ups. Sprinkle with a light dusting of paprika over casserole (optional). Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza submitted by Katie Tracy, Northside Elementary School. Grade: 2


1 pound whole wheat pizza dough or prepared dough (enough to make two small pizzas or one large)

1 cup shredded skim or low-fat mozzarella cheese

2 grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled (unseasoned)

1/2 cup + 4 Tbsp barbecue sauce


Child Nutrition Supervisor Keba Laird (on right)

1.     Preheat oven as directed for pizza dough recipe.

2.     Prepare pizza dough as directed to make two small pizzas (or one large pizza).

3.     Cut grilled chicken into small chunks, about ¼” square.

4.     Toss chicken lightly in 4 Tbsp barbecue sauce and set aside.

5.     Spread remaining barbecue sauce on pizza dough. Top dough evenly with grilled chicken, then with shredded cheese.

6.     Bake pizza as directed for pizza dough recipe.

Makes 4-6 servings

Mexicali Soup submitted by Emily Ouellette, Eastside Elementary School. Grade: 5


2 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth

¼ c. minced onion

1 can 97% fat free cream of chicken soup

1 cup skim milk

1 4oz. can diced green chilis

2 c. cooked and chopped chicken breast

1 can whole kernel corn, no salt added (drained)

1 tsp. cumin

Toppings: light sour cream, skim or low-fat cheddar cheese


Add all ingredients to large sauce pan , stir to combine and cook on medium heat. Once the soup has started to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve and top each bowl with a dollop of sour cream and cheddar cheese.   This tastes especially good with cornbread.

Ground Beef, Corn & Tomato Pie submitted by Kayla Byrd, Lovett Elementary School. Grade: 6


6 tablespoons of butter substitute

1 clove garlic, sliced

1 pound extra lean ground beef

2 cups canned tomatoes, no salt added

2 cups whole kernel corn, no salt added

5 tablespoons flour

½ tablespoon brown sugar

¼ tablespoon chili powder

2¾ teaspoon salt

¼ tablespoon paprika

14 small biscuits, canned


Preheat oven to 400. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter substitute (i.e. Smart Balance) in a cast iron skillet. Saute one clove of sliced garlic. Stir in 1 pound of lean hamburger meat and brown. Add 2 cups of canned tomatoes and 2 cups of whole kernel corn. In another pan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter substitute. Stir in 5 tablespoons of flour, add this to the other pan, stir in and cook to a boil. Season the mix with: ½ tablespoon brown sugar, ¼ tablespoon chili powder, 2¾ teaspoon salt, ¼ tablespoon paprika. Place in a greased oven-proof dish. Top with biscuits. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the top is done.

Chinese Hamburger Casserole submitted by Lance Johnson, Clinton Junior High School. Grade: 8


1 pound extra lean ground beef

Foreground, clockwise from bottom, Judges CPSD student Naia Baskin, CPSD parent Carla Baskin, Clarion-Ledger copy editor Shanderia Posey, Clinton Park Elementary teacher Brittany Pickle and a rep from the Mississippi Department of Education

¾ t. salt

1 large onion, chopped

1 (10 ½ oz) can fat-free cream of mushroom soup

1 (10 ½ oz) can fat-free cream of chicken soup

1½ cups warm water

¾ cup uncooked brown rice

2 T. low sodium soy sauce

¼ t. black pepper

1 (3 oz) can chow mein noodles


Brown ground beef and onion with salt until crumbly.  Add soups.  Add water.  Stir in rice, pepper, and soy sauce.  Pour into 1 ½- quart casserole dish (sprayed with PAM).  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Remove cover, stir, and continue baking for 35 minutes longer.  Cover mixture with chow mein noodles and bake another 15 minutes.

Mexican Casserole submitted by Jessica Williams, Clinton High School. Grade: 12


Celebrity judge Ruth Cummins of The Clarion-Ledger, CPSD Child Nutrition Director Regina Ducksworth and The Economist reporter Charlotte Howard

2 lb very lean ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

2 Tbsp garlic, minced

8 oz mild taco sauce

10 oz mild enchilada sauce

2 cups plain yogurt

4 oz. green chilies, diced

12 tostado (flat taco) shells

3 cups low-fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated

10 oz mild salsa

2 tsp salt

2 tsp black pepper


1.     Preheat oven to 350°.

2.     Brown meat, onion, green pepper and garlic. Drain off fat. Season with salt and pepper. Add taco and enchilada sauce.

3.     Heat yogurt and chilies in a separate saucepan. Add to meat mixture. Blend well.

4.     In a 9×12 casserole dish, line bottom with 6 layers tostado shells, broken in quarters. Add half of meat mixture, cover with cheese. Top with salsa and repeat tostado, meat and cheese.

5.     Bake for 35 minutes.

Makes 8 servings

Note: The theme of National School Lunch Week is “School Lunch — What’s Cooking?” Lunch menus are posted online at Student meals are $2.25 and adult meals are $3. During National School Lunch Week, students, parents and staff can look forward to healthy Southern cuisine like Fiesta Chili, Barbecue Chicken Sliders and Beef Tamale Pie, along with a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods. The “School Lunch — What’s Cooking?” campaign is sponsored by the nonprofit School Nutrition Association and the Milk Processors Education Program to highlight all the components of well balanced school meals. For more information about healthy school meals, visit Photos and content from Clinton Public School District.