Jones College offers resources & campus Wi-Fi for students

PHOTOS BY: Megan Clark, JC Social Media Coordinator 

ELLISVILLE- As Jones College students embark on a new journey taking all classes online beginning March 30, college administrators are aware some students may need help to overcome some obstacles to finish the semester. Among the top issues specifically being addressed by the college include access to a computer and Internet service.

Executive Vice President CMO, CIO, CEMO, Finee’ Ruffin said, “To understand the challenges and the needs of our students who may need access to the internet or a computer, we’ve asked students to complete the Technology Accessibility Survey, located in the campus portal, Canvas.”

Currently, college officials are working to understand the technology needs that students are facing in this new model of Learn from Home.

“I live in the middle of nowhere!” said sophomore Layne Boykin of Waynesboro. “I have a laptop and Wi-Fi, but the Wi-Fi just doesn’t work well at all. I can’t get a quiz to load.”

Accessing Wi-Fi is a problem for many in South Mississippi. However, before Jones College launched the Learn from Home format, the college’s Internet Technology department went to work finding equipment to increase the availability of Wi-Fi from the campus parking lots for students like Boykin to use.

“If access to the internet is an issue for students, the college is allowing students to access free Wi-Fi from three designated parking lots on the Ellisville campus. The technology department continues to work on plans for additional off-campus sites to come on board with parking lot Wi-Fi in weeks to come. As students prepare to come to campus, we ask that students remain in their cars and come prepared to work on their online courses,” said Ruffin.

Students planning to visit the campus for the use of the Wi-Fi should bring their Jones College parking decal as well as their student ID. Campus Wi-Fi will be accessible to Jones College students for use from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Additional Wi-Fi access points will be available in more areas on campus and at the County Centers in the upcoming weeks as more equipment becomes available. Additionally, Jones has listed several resources for free or reduced cost for Internet service on the college’s Learn from Home webpage, Tips are also provided for students using the online portal Canvas on the webpage.  For more information regarding Jones College and the Corona Virus updates, visit the website at

Jones College students move off campus & leave with memories

ELLISVILLE- Once students were dismissed for spring break, the dorms at Jones College were thoroughly cleaned following the CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of all residents. Students were allowed to return to campus for scheduled move-out days, by appointment earlier this week (March 23-24) to collect their personal items from the college’s seven residence halls. Over two days, the majority of the 825 students who were living on campus picked up their belongings, wishing they had more time to continue to make memories at the two-year college.

“Leaving Jones so abruptly leaves me feeling disappointed and sad because I didn’t get to finish my full freshman experience as a college student,” said nursing major, Shaderia Fairley of George County. She shared a dorm room with her cousin, Paige Fairley. “I will miss the campus life and hanging out with my friends the most. Because my parents work out of town, the friends I’ve made here at Jones became my family. I will miss being around them the most.”

Even more difficult than making the transition back home to Davison, Michigan for Wilfrid Hufton was leaving behind missed opportunities and friends at Jones.

“I am really going to miss being able to spend time with my friends in the dorms and around campus. The thing I will miss most about Jones is the student community and how close I came to be with all my friends. I will certainly remember the shenanigans with my friends and with ‘Suite G’ and how close we all became to each other,” said the freshman biology major.

Hufton was hoping to play soccer next season at Jones but an injury this year, kept him off the field. His sights are now set on playing for William Carey University.

“Personally, aside from leaving Jones, my family and I have been lucky enough to be relatively unaffected by the Corona Virus. Also, I will always have my memories of how Jones helped give me one of the most exciting years of school in my life and the friendships I made here are certainly ones that I’ll take with me wherever I go after Jones.”

Also not returning to Jones is sophomore, Ty’Rikus Hayes from North Forrest. The biochemistry major said he had hoped to attend the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society conference which was canceled because of the Corona Virus. Additionally, he said he is disappointed he will miss performing in the final band concerts of the year.

“I have worked hard on the music for my last band concert performances but most importantly, I lost the rest of my time with the amazing friends and teachers I probably will not see again after I transfer. The staff at Jones went to great lengths to show how much they cared for me as a person. Jones has felt like a second home, allowing me to break out of my shell so I could grow into an even better individual who is finally ready to make an impact in the community,” said Hayes.

Two sisters and band students were also not ready to say their goodbyes to the Maroon Typhoon and the Indoor Winter Guard performing group. The colorguard performers, Rachel and Annabelle Bryant of Ellisville shared a dorm room and admit to a few squabbles. However, the younger Bryant, Rachel said she is thankful for big sisters’ guidance.

“What I will miss most is being able to spend every day with my sister who next semester will be going to Ole Miss. She showed me everything I needed to know at Jones and guided me through the process. I couldn’t have done it without her, and I’ll miss that the most,” said Rachel Bryant.

Both sisters wished they could perform one last time together, and with their friends in the Winter Guard. Regardless, Annabelle said she treasures her time at Jones.

“This was my last year to spin (flags) since I am not participating in the band at Ole Miss. Even though I won’t be able to spend the last few weeks living on campus with my little sister and friends, I am grateful for the time I did get to spend on campus. What I’ll miss most about Jones is definitely the Maroon Typhoon because it not only allowed me to continue doing what I love for two more years after high school, but it also allowed me to do it with my closest friends, which I am forever thankful for,” said Annabelle Bryant.

Faculty members, like Director of Bands, Dr. Ben Burge also returned to campus this week to let students pick up instruments and personal belongings left in the Band Hall. In a two-hour period, Burge said 25 students stopped in the M.P. Bush Fine Arts Building. While keeping a distance, he snapped a few pictures and reminisced about the short semester and the future.

“I miss my students and our normal!” said Burge. “Our Jazz Band was superb this spring and I’m so disappointed they won’t have the opportunity to perform. I’m confident though, the JC band students are resilient and will be more motivated than ever once they get in rehearsals.”

Preparing for next fall, the Maroon Typhoon will be holding all auditions online, said Burge.

“All spring auditions for dance, guard, feature twirlers, drum majors, and instruments must be submitted online by April 10. Students can also apply for service scholarships to be in the many performing organizations Jones College offers by filling out a form on our Jones College Fine Arts Facebook page or on the JC Fine Arts webpage.”

While learning from home, Jones College students are encouraged to monitor their campus email and the Student Affairs Canvas shell for support.

“Jones is not the same without our students and we look forward to the day that we once again get to welcome our Bobcats back to campus. As Director of Housing, I will be supporting our housing students through the Housing Canvas shell, focusing on their mental well-being and helping them remain focused in the Learn from Home environment,” said Chuck Robertson.

For more information about Jones College and any updates about campus operations go to the website,

Photos by Kelly Atwood, JC Yearbook & Newspaper Advisor & Dr. Ben Burge, JC Director of Bands

TEAS Testing rescheduled; Practical Nursing applications postponed

ELLISVILLE- The application deadline for the Practical Nursing program at Jones College has been postponed. One of the requirements for the program, the TEAS Test that was scheduled for Tuesday, March 24, 2020, was canceled. Anyone scheduled to take the TEAS test on that date should contact ATI Client Care to request a refund at 800-667-7531. All students registered for the March 24, 2020 test date should monitor the Jones College Practical Nursing webpage for a future test date at

Jones College inspires three generations at Blackwell Timber Company

**In recognition of World Forestry Day, March 21, we’re spotlighting a successful family of foresters consisting of three generations of Jones students/graduates.

ELLISVILLE – The Ricky Blackwell family tree is full of foresters and Jones College graduates. In 1993, when Ricky Blackwell Jr. came to Jones to major in forestry, a family tradition began that now spans over three generations. Technically, his father, Ricky Blackwell Sr. planted the “forestry bug” in his son and grandsons while hauling pulpwood. He also had previous experience working for the Mississippi Forestry Commission as a crew leader and then a surveyor on a seismograph crew before coming home to haul pulpwood. However, at 45 years of age, Ricky Sr. was forced to make a career change.

“A tree fell on my leg and I had to have surgery,” said Ricky Sr. “That’s what made me decide to come back to school to learn how to buy timber instead of cut and haul timber.”

Jones College forestry instructor at the time, Jim Walley signed up Ricky Sr. for the forestry program as his son Ricky Jr. was about to graduate in May 1995. Walley taught both of the Blackwells and is proud to welcome Ricky Jr.’s oldest son Brady, who is currently taking forestry classes under one of Walley’s forestry graduates, Jeff Keeton.

“I’m proud that three generations of the Blackwell family have confidence in Jones and have come through our forestry program over the years,” said Walley, current V.P. of External Affairs and former forestry instructor. “The Blackwell Timber Company started about 23 years ago and when they expanded their business they looked to our graduates and hired them. I’m glad we were able to offer a solid foundation for their family and their business.”

Having taught the elder Blackwells, and now Brady, Keeton said he believes the family’s success is due partly because of their work ethic.

“Ricky Sr. had a family and was working while going to college. If you want an education, you’ll get it.  He worked nights, weekends, and whatever he had to do and made ‘As’ and he graduated at the top of his class. He never complained and he was 45 years old,” said Keeton. “Education is 50 % and work ethic is the other 50% of the equation for success. That’s the secret to the Blackwells’ success; they have both.”

Blackwell Timber Company was established in Jones County, just down the road from Jones College, after the father and son team both graduated with their forestry degrees from JCJC. Initially, the two worked out of Ricky Sr.’s home before moving the operation to the former Ellisville Woodyard near the JCJC campus in 1997.

Pictured in Ricky Blackwell Sr.’s office, (left to right) is JC forestry instructors Jeff Keeton and Jim Walley, Ricky Sr’s grandson, Brady and his son, Ricky Jr. with Ricky Sr. seated at his desk.

“When a lot of people said I couldn’t do it, I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of being successful and running a timber business without a four-year degree,” said Ricky Blackwell Jr. “I learned the ropes and met a lot of people in my first job at Georgia-Pacific in Columbia, which helped me feel more confident.”

Forestry related jobs were plentiful, but for Ricky Blackwell Sr., moving away was not an option. Starting a timber business with his son seemed like the best solution.

“We’re established here in Jones County but starting a business isn’t easy. We didn’t have a financial backer and we went out on our own,” said Ricky Sr. “My son left a successful job with a great salary and benefits so we could go into business on our own.”

Eventually, Blackwell Timber Company grew with hard work, self-discipline and wise money management.  Ricky Jr. added, his desire to work with his dad and his determination to succeed may have also helped to keep each other from making mistakes.

“I’m appreciative of everything Jones College has done for my family. I feel like the ties we’ve made and the people we’ve met here have made a difference in our success rate. Jim Walley and Jeff Keeton have always been there if I needed them, and I trust them with my son, Brady,” said Ricky Jr.

Brady Blackwell knows his future is in forestry. Growing up and hearing his dad and granddad talk about forestry and watching the crews work in the woods is a way of life he’s anxious to begin.

“Years ago, my younger brother and I would go out and play on the four-wheelers and act like we were logging, pulling trees around,” said Brady. “Since I was little, I also knew I would come to Jones for forestry. We would pass by the campus every day and I knew one day I’d be here. It’s a family tradition now.”

The Blackwell’s love for the outdoors and forestry has grown to include helping other Jones students understand the work-world they love. The family of foresters is often seen in the JC classroom and on the job site sharing their wisdom with other Jones College students. Staying connected with the college and the friendships they made because of Jones, is important to the Blackwells.

“A lot of the people I graduated with, I still do business with,” said Ricky Jr.  “They may work in another facet of forestry or the same, but we’re still connected and that’s important.”

For Walley and Keeton, working with three generations of the same family has been a unique experience.

“The Blackwells have a great reputation in our industry, and it’s been a pleasure to be involved in their education and watching them as they’ve grown their business over the years,” said Keeton.

Jones College postpones graduation & other campus updates

ELLISVILLE – Jones College is complying with the restrictions on event sizes recommended by the White House due to the global, Covid-19 Corona Virus pandemic and has postponed spring commencement ceremonies.  The college is planning to mail diplomas to graduates and is also considering opportunities for in-person ceremony options later this summer for the May graduates who want to participate.

“Jones College’s administrative leaders recognize how cancellations and changes associated with the virus have created uncertainty and disappointment,” said Jones College President, Dr. Jesse Smith. “However, the success of managing any crisis is to recognize the significance that our individual actions are the building blocks of our collective action as a community.  We here at Jones College are dependent on each other to keep our community strong. As we look ahead, we encourage our graduating students to not let this current moment in time dampen the excitement of their bright futures waiting for them since embarking on their journeys at Jones College.”

Beginning Monday, March 30, 2020, and until further notice, the college will hold all classes and related coursework online. The timeframe for this approach is open-ended; however, the administration will monitor this, “Learn from Home” approach continuously with the hope of returning to normal operations before the end of the spring semester. Specifics questions or concerns from students about the Learn from Home model can be sent to the email,

“The campus is essentially closed to the public through March 27. Only essential personnel and approved guests are allowed at this time,” said Smith.

For students interested in enrolling for the Fall open enrollment that was scheduled to begin Wednesday, March 25, enrollment has been delayed until Wednesday, April 1, 2020.

All testing centers are closed until April 16.

All events hosted by Jones College or in a Jones College’s facility has been suspended indefinitely.

All Spring athletics have been canceled by the NJCAA.

Please look for announcements from event coordinators and contact them directly if you have questions. Campus notifications can be found at