Jones College costume contest winners

ELLISVILLE – The nice weather brought out about one-thousand princesses, superheroes, goblins and ghouls to have fun at the annual Jones College Treats in the Streets on the JC campus.  Hundreds of kids participated in the costume contests for babies and teens, with the winners of the creatively dressed kids receiving a variety of goodies and sweet prizes from the JCJC Office of Student Affairs.

College students who dressed the best were also given cash prizes for their efforts.  Winning the first place prize was Lexus Jackson of Laurel dressed as DJ Marshmallow. The second place winners were the Cheetah Girls played by Baili Meadows of Richton; Mackenzie Jordan of Laurel; Sydney Whigham of Millry, Alabama and Kate Broom of Laurel. The third place winner was Jordan Cochran of Lucedale as “The Last Air Bender.”

Treats in the Streets is an annual, free, community event that is hosted by the JCJC Student Government Association and the city of Ellisville.



Jones College dedicates Legacy Trees to four legends

ELLISVILLE – Four community legends and founders of Jones College, Harry Bush of Laurel, Julius “Judy” King of Heidelberg, Judge Charles W. Pickering of Hebron and Vic West of Wayne County and Laurel were recently selected to be honored during a Legacy Tree dedication ceremony. Located in the heart of campus, a live oak tree and bronze plaque with a summary about each person will serve as a lasting legacy for each individual. Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith explained recognizing these men with a live oak tree, which can live a millennial or two, is very appropriate.

“We thought it only fitting to put these ‘Legacy Trees’ in this ring of honor (in front of Jones Hall) to recognize graduates and people involved with the college; those who built the foundation of the college and everything that has been accomplished and for the foundation for the future.  These people were selected for their service,” said Dr. Smith. “It is a testament to the men who came from humble backgrounds, who took their education and made something significant in their communities and made the world a better place.”

In memory, a Legacy Tree was dedicated to Harry Bush who was born in Magee and passed away in 2014. He graduated from Gardiner High School and attended Jones County Junior College before graduating from Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in construction management. He served his country in the Army from 1954 to 1956 and shortly after leaving the Army, Bush married Jeanne Cain and they had three children.

He joined his father’s construction business in 1962 and expanded the company’s interests. While actively working in the family business, he established the Mississippi Asphalt Pavement Association and served as president and board member before he was inducted as a Life member in 1996.

At Jones, Bush provided leadership for JCJC as a Foundation Board of Directors, chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee, chairman of the Audit Committee and a “tireless” fundraiser. Utilizing his business experience and education, Bush assisted in the establishment of the construction materials course and provided materials for the course.

The 2006 JCJC Honor Alumnus was also active in the community, playing an integral part in the organization of the Economic Development Association of Jones County in 1982. Ten years later, he would be elected to the EDA Hall of Fame.

At the Legacy Tree dedication, Bush’s daughter, Linda Bush Burdine said JCJC has always been a part of her life and she especially appreciates this unique memorial for her father.

“We are deeply grateful for this honor. We thank you for the effort you’ve taken to honor dad and the other honorees,” said Burdine. “(Harry) knew that education is truly the key to success and he knew an educated workforce was the key to a vibrant and healthy economy; that’s what he wanted for Jones County and why he loved Jones County Junior College so much.”

In 2016, “Judy” King’s earthly life of serving his country, community, JCJC and his family came to an end.  A man of humble living in the Jasper County town of Heidelberg, he graduated from high school in 1940 and JCJC two years later.  Following his graduation from the University of Mississippi in 1943, he graduated as an ensign from the U.S. Naval Midshipman’s School at Notre Dame University and served in the South Pacific during World War II. In 1955, he returned to Laurel where he worked in the automotive, real estate, and oil and gas industries.  Soon after, he married Marion Louise King and they had two daughters.

King is credited with fostering education in Mississippi by serving as president of the University of Mississippi White House Selection for Fellowships. He was also a member of the transition team for the Reagan White House and a member of the state GOP executive committee. As a faithful member of the First Baptist Church of Laurel, King served as the Property Acquisition Committee Chairman.

Among his contributions to Jones, Judy chaired the JCJC Foundation Board and co-chaired the Reaching New Heights major gifts campaign. He was selected as the Honor Alumnus of JCJC in 2001. Also, the King family provided seed money for the construction of the King Chemistry Center on campus.

King served the community as the Jones County EDA president, a board member of the United Way of Jones County, President of the Laurel Jaycees, Jones County’s American Red Cross and the Laurel Country Club. His daughter, Kendall Waggoner said she is grateful the college has chosen to memorialize her father.

“He loved JC and he was so proud of the time he spent here,” said Waggoner. “He was proud of Jones County and being a Mississippian, and so thankful to be a part of the Foundation here. He was so excited about all that was accomplished. Thank you so much for honoring him in such a special way.”

Laurel entrepreneur, Vic West graduated from Jones County Agricultural High School in May of 1942. He served his country in the Navy from 1943 until 1946. He was later called to serve fourteen months of active duty in the Naval Reserve during the Korean Conflict.

In 1946, Vic married his wife, Louise Parrish and they became parents of four sons. He went to work with Southern Bell Telephone Company after serving in the Navy.  In 1967, he became a franchisee of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Additionally, he and his wife and sons opened one KFC restaurant in Laurel and eventually expanded to open multiple KFC restaurants along with Rally’s Hamburgers in the region and Vic’s Biscuits in Laurel.

The West’s established an endowment to support the JCJC Foundation and in addition, endowed the Vic and Lou West Scholarship to provide for needy students.  He also served as a member of the JCJC Foundation Board of Directors and held lifetime memberships to the JCAHS and the JCJC Alumni Associations. In 1996, Vic West was selected as an Honor Alumnus of JCJC.  Twenty years after that honor, West passed away.

“When you think of all of the honorees, you think of the ‘Greatest Generation.’ They served in World War II, came back to their homes and impacted their communities, like my father,” said Bill West.

While Judge, Charles Pickering may not have served in the military, he battled in other ways. After earning his Bachelor of Laws in 1961 from the University of Mississippi School of Law as first in his class, he established a law practice in Laurel. The 1957 JCJC graduate and president of both the freshmen and sophomore classes, entered into Jones County politics. He served locally as city prosecutor, county prosecutor, municipal court judge and state senator before President George H.W. Bush appointed Pickering to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in 1990. Pickering received a recess appointment from President George W. Bush in January 2004 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, retiring at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, he practiced law for the Blackstone Legal Fellowship and was on the board of directors for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal advocacy organization. Pickering also published books about the politics of judicial confirmation and the judiciary in jeopardy.

He served as the former president of the Mississippi Baptist Convention and for the William Carey University Board of Trustees. Pickering was also the chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party and on the board of the Foundation for the Civil Rights Museum in Mississippi. Additionally, Pickering serves on the board of Mission Mississippi, Wildlife Mississippi and Magnolia State Bank. While serving First Baptist Church of Laurel for more than 50 years, Pickering has taught Sunday school and is a Gideon.

JCJC has honored Charles and his wife, Margaret as Honored Alumni in 2000. Several years ago, the judge was instrumental in establishing and raising scholarship funds for the Charles Pickering Honors Institute at Jones. The eighty-one-year-old also has the distinguished honor of being the first generation honor graduate at Jones County Junior College in 1957.

“I am deeply honored and humbled by this recognition, first because I have such great respect for the other three being recognized…. But I am more honored because of Jones County Junior College. JCJC has been a part of both our lives; my wife’s parents were both part of the college administration when we were students here. I drove the bus for two years while in school and that $35 a month paid for my first two years of higher education. It was an economical education and it was also a good education….Also, by staying here, I had an opportunity to convince Margaret I was a better choice than the other boyfriend!” Judge Pickering explained.

During the retired Judge Charles Pickering’s Legacy Tree dedication, Dr. Smith shared all of the honoree’s names are embedded in the fabric of the college and the country. However, Judge Pickering also influenced him personally.

“This graduate has been an oak tree for our community for quite a long time. Judge Charles Pickering Sr., this is a dedication not only to you, our community, state, and our country but also for me personally, because of the influence you’ve had on my life and our family. This is what Jones College is all about and we thank you for your legacy.”

The first Legacy Tree was dedicated in memory to Ellisville’s Dick Anderson in 2016, after decades of leading and serving his family and his community.  For more information about the Legacy Trees, contact the Alumni and Foundation Office at 601-477-4049.

New leaders emerge in final week of Jones College’s Bobcat Math League regular season

ELLISVILLE – In the final week of the regular season of Jones College’s Bobcat Math League, new division leaders emerge, leaving previous winning teams nearly missing a playoff bid.  The Sacred Heart Crusaders secured its division leader ranking from the first week and never slipped.  In fact, the Technology Division’s ranking remained the same all season, leaving Columbia Academy, Wayne Academy and Perry Central out of the hunt for a championship this year.  The Crusaders clobbered Columbia Academy in its final match, 56 to 49.  While Wayne Academy easily defeated the Perry Central Bulldogs, 55 to 6, both teams will be watching the playoffs from the sidelines. The Crusaders enter the playoffs as the third-seeded team behind the division leaders, Presbyterian Christian who comes in as the second-seed and Oak Grove who captured the top spot.

The Warriors of Oak Grove knocked off the Wayne County War Eagles who had been Engineering Division leaders all season in a tough battle with Oak Grove earning 65 points to Wayne County’s 51 points. The War Eagles’ record earned them the fourth-seed in the playoffs.  Quitman capped the Heidelberg Oilers with its 35 to 23 win. However, neither team will be competing in November.

The Presbyterian Christian Bobcats’ victory over the West Jones Mustangs, 72 to 41 secured their Science Division leader ranking, but it leaves the Mustangs in the last place of the six-team playoff standings. Overcoming all odds, the Northeast Jones Tigers managed to take the fifth-seed in the playoffs despite having the week off.  Laurel’s Tornadoes whipped up a big win against Raleigh, 55 to 25 but it was not good enough to make the playoffs for either team.

In the individual competition for Most Outstanding Player, Sacred Heart’s Benjamin Dunn is the sole winner with the highest accuracy average this season. He will be awarded a prize before the Championship Playoffs on Wednesday, November 7. Earning All-League honors are Erin Choi from Oak Grove, Nicholas Cooksey from Wayne County, Joshua Curry from Wayne County, Maxwell Dobbs from Laurel, Benjamin Dunn from Sacred Heart, Grayson Nocera from Presbyterian Christian, Remy Porrier from Sacred Heart and Sam Powell from Presbyterian Christian.

The playoffs and Super Bowl will take place on Wednesday, November 7, 2018, in the Jones College Fine Arts Auditorium.  Registration and photos for finalists in the competition will be held from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m.  The season’s overall Most Outstanding Player, the 13-Most Outstanding Players from each team and the All-League Team will be recognized at 9 a.m., prior to the start of the competition.  The final playoff rounds are expected to begin shortly after lunch around 12 p.m. and concluding around 2:30 p.m.

Results will be posted on the JC Bobcat Math League web page under “Division Standings/Schedules at: and scores in real time will be posted on the Bobcat Math League Facebook page: Bobcat Math League – Facebook. Weekly results can also be found in local media outlets.  For more information about the Bobcat Math League contact Dr. Jessica Bunch (JC Bobcat Math League Commissioner) at 601-477-5422 or email at

State Historical Marker unveiled at Jones College; honors 1955 Jr. Rose Bowl football team

ELLISVILLE – Before a handful of the remaining Jones County Junior College football team members that made history on December 10, 1955, a historical marker honoring the special occasion was unveiled during Homecoming festivities. The bold act by college officials allowing the first all-white athletic team from Mississippi to cross racial barriers and play an integrated team is now officially recognized by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History with a historical marker located on the Jones campus in a rose garden. Accepting the invitation to the Jr. Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California to play Compton (California) Community College was an exciting honor for the Bobcat football team that got mixed up in politics.

“This group of men faced the spotlight they had no intention of being a part of; they just wanted to play football,” said Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith, as the historical marker was unveiled. “It is an honor to share this signature moment in the history of the college that goes back to 1955, and the impact it has had on our state and college is remarkable. I will look back at that time as a defining moment in our college’s history.”

Members of the team have gathered regularly on campus and have been honored as their story has been shared for more than 60 years. Seeing the state officially recognize this monumental occasion with a historical marker has taken on a new meaning for the former players.

“It means an awful lot to us,” said Sidney “Buck” Anderson who came to Jones on a football scholarship as a Petal High School graduate. “We were aware of the tensions, but Coach Jim Clark told us, ‘Boys, you understand we have a chance to play at the Jr. Rose Bowl. How many of you want to go?’ We all wanted to go! It was unanimous! We were undefeated and they thought we were good enough to play at this prestigious event,” said Anderson.

Teammate, John Bishop, formerly of Ellisville, added he’s always been proud to be a Bobcat and this recognition of history makes him even prouder.

“Our governor tried to tell us we weren’t going. However, the college president, J.B. Young made me proud to be a Bobcat because he kept his promise despite the pressure to keep us from participating,” said Bishop.

The historical marker reads, “JCJC president, J.B. Young stood firm against statewide opposition to the school’s participation, saying that he gave his word the Bobcats would play.” As the sign explained, JCJC also faced threats of losing state and local funding.  However, Young was more concerned about keeping a promise than the threats. JC President Dr. Smith sums up the importance of Young’s actions.

“It’s a telling thing when you play a ballgame and lose, and still come out to be one of the best winners in Mississippi’s history.  I’m thankful for that,” said Smith.

Father & son “band” at Jones College

ELLISVILLE – The bond between a father and son is special. However, Jones College’s Director of Bands, Dr. Ben Burge not only gets to bond with his son Max who is a freshman at Jones, but he also gets to “band” with him.  When the younger Burge contemplated playing in the band in middle school, his proud father, who was the High School Director of Bands at Northwest Rankin School District was hopeful.

“He actually tested high on all of the instruments. He could have chosen any one of them. I thought it was cool for him to pick the saxophone,” said Dr. Burge, who also plays the saxophone.

While Max said he will not follow in his dad’s footsteps in the role of drum major for Mississippi State University or Pearl River Community College, his younger sister Emma has come the closest as the drum major at Oak Grove High School this season. A career around music is also not likely in Max’s future because he is pursuing a career in graphic design with aspirations of becoming a storyboard artist. Regardless of his career decision, the father and son duo are uniquely bonding for the first time in the Jones College band.

“I have never been my son’s band director, even though I may have been teaching at the same school.  I have conducted maybe a piece his band was performing, but I’ve never been his teacher.  This is really unique and I love it!” said Dr. Burge.

After playing throughout his high school career at Oak Grove High School, Max realized high school and college marching bands are very different; but not because his dad is his director.

“I prefer concert season over marching season because it’s hot and agonizing. However, at Jones, it’s more relaxed here. I like playing for the audience and not judges. If high school band was like this I may have stuck it out because preparing for high school band competitions was very stressful!” said Max. “My dad pushes us but it’s more enjoyable at Jones.”

Dr. Burge noted his son doesn’t get special treatment in his band. In fact, he said he expects more out of his son.

“He takes criticism well and makes adjustments as needed. He is a very good student and we’re very proud of who he is. He knows I expect a lot out of him.”

Some of Max’s bandmates said he’s just part of the family. They don’t look at him as the director’s son.

“We treat him like everyone else.  In fact, the older students watch out for him. He’s cool,” said super-sophomore, Cheyenne Fraun of Moselle.

On the first day of band camp, the father-son duo shared an awkward moment. They did not discuss how to address each other in this new situation they were sharing for the first time. While Max said he wanted to be respectful of his father, his new name for his dad was perfect and set the tone for the year.

“I called him ‘Doctor-father.’  I didn’t know what else to call him!” said Max, while his dad snickered at his explanation. “My dad will tell you I’m the ‘grammar Nazi’ too.  I text him his mistakes so he doesn’t embarrass himself, especially in front of the band,” added Max.

Max admitted there were some things he didn’t really like about growing up as a band director’s son, like the long rehearsals. However, both said they are glad they are able to share this priceless experience bonding in the band.

“It is a very special thing for me to have Max in my band at Jones! I get to see him every day!” said Dr. Burge. “We may not speak to each other but I’m able to tell my wife he looks good marching around with his bandmates. Band has taken so much time away from my family over the years. Having him here with me during his college years is very special!”

While music may always be a part of Max’s life in his future endeavors, his true passion is art. Dr. Burge explained, when Max was very young, he would kneel at his bed and draw. He was always drawing, even when cooking. Max is talented at making “pancake art.” Without hesitation, Max said he is not interested in being a traditional artist. His plans include creating a very specific type of art.

“Giving life to the art or creation through animation is really what I love. As a storyboard artist, I visualize the story,” said Max. “The movie, ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ made me see things differently. I became more interested in seeing how they created the movie in the bonus features and the behind the scenes clips than the actual movie. I especially have huge respect for the stop-action movie directors,” said Max.

Growing up, the Burge family followed dad to the school on weekends for concerts or games. They often traveled on the road for football and basketball games too. Even though mom is a speech pathologist for the Lamar County School District, Cindy Burge has supported her husband coaching color guard students and dance teams, or just being a fan. Traveling most likely will continue for the ladies in the Burge household as the father-son duo cherish doing “band” together at Jones College for the next two years.