Jones College selects three Honor Alumni of the Year

ELLISVILLE – Jones College honored three of its alumni, Dennis Bohannon of Laurel, Paul Culliver of The Woodlands, Texas and formerly of Raleigh, and Clyde Dease Jr., of Picayune and formerly of Ellisville, during Homecoming festivities.  Each of the three Honor Alumni of the Year has poured their heart and soul into their work and volunteering in various ways at JC according to Vice President of Advancement, Charlie Garretson. Bohannon has dedicated his life to education and athletics and has been a loyal supporter of the college. Paul Culliver and Clyde Dease, Jr., who are also lifetime members of the JCJC Alumni Association, have impacted their field of expertise too. Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith added that each of the alumni has inspiring accomplishments and are worthy of recognition.

“Each of these men has had different, unique and challenging circumstances they had to overcome to get to Jones but from those experiences, they left Jones and made the world a better place wherever they went. It’s very inspiring to see all of their successes,” said Smith.

After graduating from Roosevelt High School in1969, Clyde Dease Jr. said he credits Coach Walter Clark who inspired him not be afraid to “sail out in the harbor where the big ships are.” Excited about being able to go to college close to home, Dease said Jones was the first desegregated school he had ever attended.  After completing the first test in a class, Dease said he was challenged by a teacher who didn’t accept his high test score because of the color of his skin. That experience taught both men a new lesson about life, along with the teacher mentoring Dease and becoming friends. That test also carried Dease through future challenges, he shared with guests.

“I learned from experience what people respect, regardless of color or where you come from is they respect quality work, performance, accomplishments. That’s what it taught me. I took that lesson in life because I needed it everywhere I went after that,” said Dease.

After graduating from USM with a bachelor’s of science degree in biology with certifications in chemistry, physics, instrumentation and biochemistry, some of the places Dease ventured to include the Science department at Picayune High School where he served as chair of the department. Later, he would serve as a NASA satellite and rocket scientist as a member of the NASA leadership team at Stennis Space Center where he also served as Lead within the Center Operations Directorate.  He provided a variety of scientific, engineering, laboratory, programmatic and institutional support to the flight certification testing of rocket engines, in addition to overseeing an annual budget of $75 million. After 35 years working at NASA in various leadership roles, Dease retired with the privilege of being selected from the 25,000 employees on the Gulf Coast, as the Federal Employee of the Year and received the Mississippi Gulf Coast Association of Federal Administrators Award.  Currently, Dease is the President of the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation which helps to build stronger communities by improving health, education, social and economic vitality.

Ironically, his nephew from Taylorsville and 2002 Jones forestry graduate was also selected as a Jones Honor Alumnus in 2014.  The Area Environmental Manager at LafargeHolcim in Pueblo, Colorado traveled back to Ellisville to see his uncle honored.

“My uncle has been a role model to me since I was a young child, but I don’t believe I ever truly appreciated what an amazing figure he is until I became an adult. I’m elated that I was able to share this experience with him, and I’m immensely proud that he is getting the recognition he deserves,” said Derrick Dease.

Another former Smith County resident and Jones 2018 Honor Alumnus, Paul Culliver left his hometown of Raleigh shortly after earning his associate’s degree in construction engineering from Jones. The All-Conference and MVP football and track star moved to Texas and started the first of several oilfield service companies at the age of 23. Two years later, Culliver became operations manager of Triad Drilling & Supply, Geosouthern Energy Corporation and USX Exploration. The independent real estate, timber, and healthcare industry businessman always kept in touch with Mississippi. Over the years, he served as an officer and director of a retirement center in Raleigh and as vice president of the JCJC Foundation Board of Directors and on the Foundation Finance & Investment Committee. Culliver shared with the audience gathered at the Honor Alumni of the Year luncheon his thoughts on how to be successful in life.

“It’s about your DNA, work ethic, upbringing and even your birth order.  All of these things help in how we succeed in life.  An old man told me, ‘If you’re not willing to get up in the morning and get your boots on to get to work, you’ll never amount to anything but go hungry,’” said Culliver.

Dr. Smith praised Culliver for his ability to have an intense focus on the task before him, and yet look across the world to see how to do things best. He’s also not afraid to take on the world, Smith said. Culliver is very encouraging, very loyal. In fact, Culliver’s special project, Adam’s Angels Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families cope with the diagnosis of childhood cancer led him to Washington D.C. for several years.  Culliver acted as a representative with the Children’s Oncology Group seeking legislation and funding for pediatric cancer research.

“I tell young people all the time. It’s about relationships and it’s about working hard. I hope I’ve inspired others to succeed,” said Culliver.

Laurel’s Dennis Bohannon, or “coach” as many know him, was also selected as a 2018 JC Honor Alumnus.  He retired from West Jones after teaching for more than 26 years.  He spent a couple of more years teaching ACT Math at Wayne County High School before fully enjoying retirement. One of his coaching honors includes being the coach for the South team of the Mississippi Association of Coaches’ Girls Soccer All-Start Team in 2004. Dr. Smith said, as a Jones student, Dennis knew everyone and was always encouraging to everyone.

“You could always count on Dennis to give you an encouraging word.  In fact, he convinced my wife I was an OK guy to date!”  Smith added, “Dennis has always consistently donated to the college as far back as we can remember.  He’s given part of his earnings every month to the JCJC Foundation.”

The Northeast Jones graduate came to Jones in 1974 to play football and baseball. After lettering in both sports, he pursued his B.S.B.A. in accounting at USM.  His math skills assisted his parents who owned the Popcorn Place in Sawmill Square Mall in Laurel for 27 years. Bohannon returned to Jones in 1985 to be a part of the football radio broadcast crew as the color commentator for 15 years. Retired South Jones coach, retired Principal, and former radio commentator for JC, Bobby Murphy shared Bohannon was a friend and great help during those years.

“Dennis is one of my true friends. We did the Bobcat football broadcasts together for 10 years and basketball for two years. We had many great times and I still count those football broadcasts as some of the best times of my life and Dennis made it all possible.  Congratulations to him!”

At the luncheon, Bohannon said JC has always been good to him. He proudly shared with the audience, most of his family, including his parents, two sisters and numerous nieces and nephews looked to Jones for their college education and workforce training.  Jones has always been a part of his family.

“I have always loved this college. It is a great honor to be selected as one of the Honor Alumni of the Year. I am very thankful for this opportunity,” said Bohannon.

While Bohannon has served the community in numerous ways, some of his most important work has been as a member of the Oakland Grove Baptist Church in Laurel, serving as Sunday School Director and sound system director since 1984 and as the treasurer for twenty years.  Bohannon has served as a Gideon and is most proud to have earned the Boy Scouts, “God and Country” medal.



JC’s “Santa’s Swingin’ Pajama Party” Christmas show partners with Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program

ELLISVILLE – The Jones College Fine Arts Department is pleased to continue its partnership with the Salvation Army in providing a bit of Christmas cheer for kids in the Pine Belt. The public is invited to begin the holiday season by attending this year’s Christmas show, “Santa’s Swingin’ Pajama Party” on Thursday, November 29, at 7 p.m. in the M.P. Bush Fine Arts Auditorium.  This whimsical and very kid-friendly show invites everyone to wear pajamas and listen to Jazz, Swing, Pop and all of your favorite Christmas songs.  Admission is one, unwrapped toy for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.

“We are excited to work with Bruce Smith who is directing the Christmas Show this year featuring our musical and vocal groups and a few guests from the North Pole!” said Fine Arts Division Chair, Mark Brown.  “We want to stress the purpose of our Christmas production is to provide toys for children who normally may not have much of a Christmas. We hope our local angels will be able to give a Santa filled sled full of gifts with a little help from our audience.”

Gift suggestions include toys, sports equipment, board games and plush animals. All the donations will be given to children in our area this Christmas.  Necessities and Christmas gifts are provided for disadvantaged children from infants to age 12, through the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program in Jones, Jasper, Wayne, Clarke, Smith and Simpson counties.

The Christmas Show will feature an evening of beautiful holiday favorites like the JC Voices group will perform, “Sing We Now of Christmas,” under the direction of Dr. Susan Smith. “Silver Bells,” and “Let it Snow” will feature the JC Jazz Band under the direction of Dr. Ben Burge and The Bridge will sing, “Christmas Song” along with other Christmas favorites like “Mary Did You Know?”

“Many of our students receive scholarships and this is an opportunity for them to give back to the community while also highlighting their talent in a fun show,” said Brown.

Show hosts include, “Jingle and Belle” who are two of Santa’s elves, along with JC Voices, JC Jazz Band, The Bridge, Touch of Gold dancers and special guests, “Ken and Barbie,” and Santa and Mrs. Claus. For more information, call the Fine Arts Office at 601-477-4203 or follow JCJC Fine Arts on Facebook and Twitter. For more information about the Angel Tree project, go to

Guest Stars in order of appearance

Jingle – Landon Williams of Waynesboro

Belle – Coco Caldwell of Laurel

Barbie – Sydney Brady of Madison

Ken – Jared Woullard of Leakesville

Mrs. Claus – Shaylee Thames of Petal


Members of JC Jazz

Dr. Ben Burge, Director

Joshua Anderson, Sandhill

John Harrison, Laurel

Kenton Henderson, Richton

Kendall Herrington, Enterprise

Sydney Herrington, Enterprise

Ryan Nowell, Ellisville

Hunter Gammil, Petal

Logan Donald, Ellisville

Michael Brown, Laurel

Bethany Miller, Ellisville

Linda Echenique, Laurel

Cole Johnson, Laurel

Clay Whitt, Vancleave

John Ivey, Petal

Zack Gregore, Petal

Matthew Dodd, Petal

Matthew Haight, Mobile, AL

Tristan Garrett, Laurel

Courtland Goff, Ellisville

 Members of JC Voices

Dr. Susan A. Smith, Conductor

Ms. Jennifer Bruton, Assistant Director

Dr. David Goldblatt, Accompanist

Kenneth Anderson, Sand Hill

Kalyn Bales, Stringer

Ella Barker, Hattiesburg

James Bilbo, Hattiesburg

Faith Bufkin, Ellisville

Jorge Castillo, Ellisville

Kassidy Chandler, Laurel

Mary Coats, Taylorsville

Hayden Dillistone, Laurel

Reagan Dukes, Laurel

Nathaniel Gamblin, Waynesboro

Shedrick George, Laurel

Matthew Haight, Mobile, AL

Victor Harris, Laurel

Dakota Malone, Raleigh

Addison Nelms, Brandon

Lamar Saddler, Quitman

Jordan Sistrunk, Mize

Kendra Stevison, Lucedale

Alyssa White, Laurel

DeMoynedre Morgan, Houston

Davonzell Moncrief,  Montrose

Eli McMellon, Moselle

Stuyuncey Nobles, Laurel

Caleb Pearce, Ellisville

Shellie Roberts, Ellisville

Members of The Bridge:

Dr. Susan A. Smith, Conductor

Mr. Gregory Wascoe, Assistant Director

Dr. David Goldblatt, Accompanist

James Bilbo, Ellisville

Jorge Castillo, Moselle

Kassidy Chandler, Laurel

Reagan Dukes, Laurel

Shedrick George, Laurel

Addison Nelms, Brandon

Davonzell Moncrief, Montrose

Caleb Pearce, Ellisville

Kendra Stevison, Lucedale

Touch of Gold Dancers

Anna Catherine Hampton, Petal High School

Sydney Jolly, Petal High School

Ryleigh Meadows, Petal High School

Lauryn Wheat, Petal High School

Sydney Beech, Laurel Christian High School

Rylee Gavin, South Jones High School

Lauren Hankins, Northeast Jones High School

Mary Hanna, South Jones High School

Holly James, South Jones High School

Taylor Martin, South Jones High School

Timber Prince, South Jones High School

Victoria Strickland, South Jones

Ashley Sumrall, West Jones High School

Courtney Thigpen, Laurel High School

Faith Lewis, Lawrence County

Julia Fairley, Richton High School

Victoria Carter, Brandon High School

Audrey Johnson, Warren Central High School

Lakeryia Lacey, Wayne County High School


Oak Grove fends off Jones College’s Bobcat Math League competitors to repeat as Champions  

ELLISVILLE – After battling all day at the Jones College Bobcat Math League playoff competition, the first-seeded Oak Grove Warrior team won the 2018 Championship title for the second time in recent history. It literally came down to the last question in the final round of 30-questions with the second-seeded team, the Presbyterian Christian Bobcats.

“I’m super proud of this team because they worked hard and fought to the end,” said Oak Grove Math Coach, Whitney Necessary. “We lost a lot of seniors so we weren’t sure how we’d do in the playoffs.”

It looked like there would be some upsets in the Championship round when the sixth-seeded team, West Jones knocked off the third-seeded Sacred Heart team in the first round and the fifth-seeded Northeast Jones team blanked the fourth-seeded Wayne County team. In close matches, Oak Grove held off West Jones, 26 to 19 and Presbyterian Christian fended off the Tigers of Northeast Jones, 24 to 19. Sacred Heart finished off the Mustangs of West Jones in the following round, 29 to 17 and Northeast Jones fell to Wayne County, 10-5.

Oak Grove would have to battle against the Wayne County War Eagles twice before getting to the Championship round of the double-elimination competition. Losing in the first round of the semifinals, Oak Grove was uncertain about their fate. Wayne County came out blazing earning 26 points, keeping Oak Grove scoreless and desperate to win. The Warriors tried to regroup during the third-seeded Sacred Heart match against the undefeated Presbyterian Christian team in the semi-final round.

“It was a little intimidating at first but we got in our groove and managed to win,” said Presbyterian Christian freshman, Sam Powell.

It looked bleak for Oak Grove as they saw Wayne County quickly scoring again in the last attempt for both teams to earn a spot in the Championship round.  Wayne County’s Luke Bowles earned the first five points against Oak Grove, with Nicholas Cooksey and Dakota Brewer assisting to put the Warriors up 15 points. Oak Grove sophomore, Ethan Choi answered correctly on the fourth question, helping his sister and senior, Erin Choi to earn two bonus points.  The score remained 15 to 7 until Warriors’ sophomore Tegus Kotikalapudi earned five points on a math question to bring the Oak Grove score to 12.  Wayne County’s Brewer tried to take control earning five more points but Oak Grove’s Ria Patel answered with five-points and the Choi siblings added seven more points on the next question ending the match with Oak Grove ahead, 24 to 20. The War Eagles ended the series in fourth place overall.

In the first match-up between the two Hattiesburg area schools, it appeared Presbyterian Christian had the edge coming into the final round as the only undefeated team in the playoffs. PCS quickly scored 12 points by the ninth round of questions with the Warriors scoreless. However, Oak Grove’s Ethan Choi and Kotikalapudi managed to disrupt the 12 point lead the Bobcats had on the Warriors in the first half of the final match by scoring the team’s first, 7 points.  The momentum continued with the two gaining 10 more points.  In the second half of the final “Super Bowl” round between the Warriors and the Bobcats, Kotikalapudi and Choi were hot on the buzzer with the correct answers in the math and science categories and racked up 22 points and kept PCS from scoring again until late in the half.  Presbyterian Christian’s Matthew Morgan managed to get the next science question correct giving Carson Dorsey and Jackson Polk the opportunity to earn two-points each by correctly answering the bonus questions. The Bobcats earned 21 points and were ready to close the gap when Kotikalapudi took control two questions later. Ethan Choi answered the bonus question correctly surging the Warriors’ score to 29.  Then, answering the next technology question, PCS freshman, Sam Powell scored 5-points correctly giving the Bobcats 26 points. It appeared PCS was going to win the match when Dorsey earned 5 points allowing Polk to score a two-point bonus.  On the 28th question, the score was in favor of PCS, 33 to 29.  The two teams failed to answer the following question leaving it all to be decided by the final question about engineering. Kotikalapudi buzzed in first and correctly answered, ending the match with the Oak Grove Warriors winning by one-point, 34 to 33.

“I’d like to thank Percy Jackson!” exclaimed Kotikalapudi.  “I read the books and watched the movie about Percy Jackson and I remembered the part about Archimedes screw in Greek mythology and that’s how I knew the answer to the last engineering related question. Also, I’d like to thank my fifth-grade Accelerated Reading class because I read a lot of books which helped me today.”

The Oak Grove Warriors captured the title, 2018 JC Bobcat Math League Champions for the second time with the team coming in second place last year and first place in 2016. Oak Grove High School, their coach, and the team earned a total of $3,250 this year, as well as trophies, plaques, medallions and scholarships to Jones for the senior team members. Presbyterian Christian’s last appearance in the finals happened in 2014 and 2013 when they took the title both years. The second place school, coach and team earned a total of $2,725 this year, as well as trophies, plaques, medallions and scholarships to Jones for the senior team members. In 2012, the Bobcats were runner-ups so perhaps this could be the beginning of another series of wins for Presbyterian Christian. Sacred Heart ended the day in third place taking home $2,000. The fourth place Wayne County team and its coach earned $1,525.

Sacred Heart’s Ben Dunn earned a laptop from Howard’s Computer as the overall individual with the highest average accuracy rate during the regular season and the title, the Most Outstanding Player.  He is also a member of the All-League team, which recognizes the top scoring individuals during the regular season. Other All-League team members include Erin Choi-Oak Grove, Nicholas Cooksey and Joshua Curry from Wayne County, Maxwell Dobbs-Laurel High School, Grayson Nocera-Presbyterian Christian, Remy Poirrier-Sacred Heart and Sam Powell-Presbyterian Christian.

The Most Outstanding Players from each of the thirteen participating schools were: Columbia Academy,  Warren Parker; Heidelberg HS, Jamicgra Morgan; Laurel HS, Maxwell Dobbs; Northeast Jones HS, Lexi Berlin; Oak Grove, Erin Choi; Perry Central, Shanna Stewart; Presbyterian Christian HS, Grayson Nocera; Quitman HS, Logan Kelly; Raleigh HS, Trace Bowen; Sacred Heart, Ben Dunn; Wayne Academy, Hannah Burke & Ryan Miller; Wayne County HS, Nicholas Cooksey & Joshua Curry, and West Jones HS, Eva Kiparizoska.

Sponsors of the Bobcat Math League at Jones College include the Chisholm Foundation, Corner Market, Jones County EDA, Wayne County Economic Development District and Howard Computers.

Results are posted on the JC Bobcat Math League web page under “Division Standings/Schedules at:  and the Facebook page: Bobcat Math League – Facebook as well as 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

JC Schedules Most Beautiful Pageant

    ELLISVILLE – Jones County Junior College will host its annual Most Beautiful Pageant on Tuesday, November 13, at 7 p.m. in the M. P. Bush Fine Arts Auditorium. The pageant is sponsored by the JCJC yearbook staff.

            Twenty-six contestants will compete for the title of Most Beautiful. Serving as the emcees for the evening will be Mr. JC Jared Woullard and pageant director Tessa Flowers.

            Entertainment will be provided by Jones OnStage show choir members and Joe Mauldin on piano.

            There will be several additional awards, including Miss Congeniality, Essay Winner and People’s Choice. There will also be a Most Photogenic contest with photos on display.

            Tickets are $6 general admission and $3 for those with a valid JC ID. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and there is no reserved seating.

            For more information, call 601-477-4084.

Gene Haas Foundation grant provides scholarships for Jones College students

ELLISVILLE – A $10,000 grant from the Gene Haas Foundation has provided each of the five Jones College precision manufacturing and machining student-recipients with a one-thousand dollar tuition scholarship. Receiving the scholarships are Tanner Bryant of Laurel, Jason Williams of Laurel, Christian Daniel of Prentiss, Emmett Searles of Hattiesburg and Troy Leiva, Jr. of Gloster. Jones College’s precision manufacturing and machining instructor, Chase Elmore said the recipients are all outstanding students in the program.

“Each student who applied through the Jones College Foundation had to submit a resume’ to be considered for the scholarship,” said Elmore. “Besides scholarships, some of the grant money will also be used to provide credential testing fees for qualifying students.”

Freshman, Troy Leiva, Jr. said he was thrilled to receive this scholarship.

“It will take care of paying the rest of my tuition so I can complete this program. I am very happy about that!”

This is the second year the Gene Haas Foundation has donated to the program since the partnership began in 2017, providing many opportunities for Jones College students.

“The Gene Haas Foundation along with Haas and Machine Tools LLC has contributed greatly to the program. They have also provided new equipment for us to use in the lab which also serves as Haas’ showroom for business customers and for the company’s ‘Demo Day.’ They also provide maintenance for these high-tech machines and opportunities for our students to meet some of the industry leaders who purchase the machines,” said Elmore.

He added he is optimistic about continuing to receive funds/grants from the Haas Foundation for the precision manufacturing and machining program at Jones and encourages students to take advantage of an incredible opportunity to learn a valuable skill that can also offer tuition assistance for qualifying students. Elmore said job placement in the machining and manufacturing industry is usually at 100-percent. The workforce needs young men and women to lead this nation to provide better manufacturing nationwide.

“We are grateful at Jones to be able to provide an opportunity to train students where there is demand for our graduates. Our partnership with Haas has also allowed us to take our training even further by providing Jones students with experience and training on the newest technology furnished by Haas,” said Elmore.