Unprecedented.

It’s been the word of the year for Prentiss County as the community has come together to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Even as the pandemic has changed lives and routines, life has gone and the county has experienced both tragedies and triumphs through the year. This week the Banner-Independent takes a look back at the stories that have shaped 2020.

January

Two new supervisors take office. Robert Botts was elected to serve as the Fourth District Supervisor and Gary Cleveland was elected to serve as Fifth District Supervisor for Prentiss County. Also taking office for the first time is Kimi Kitchens as Justice Court Judge South and Trent Moore as Justice Court Judge North.

The newly elected Justice Court Judges attended training in Jackson.

A shooting occurred on Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. No fatalities were reported.

Alcohol sales became legal inside the city limits of Booneville.

Deputy Sheriff’s and jailers were sworn into office by Judge Bradley Tennison.

Three tornadoes were reported to have touched down in the county. Sixty homes sustained damage, along with a building at Baldwyn School and a church also sustained damage.

NEMCC was recognized by Apple as an Apple Distinguished School, for their multi-year effort to integrate technology into every aspect of student life and learning.

Ole Miss Chancellor Glen Boyce stopped by to speak to juniors and seniors at Booneville High School. The Chancellor encouraged the students to stay focused and find their greatness. He also met with NEMCC President Ricky Ford and congratulated him for the school’s designation as an Apple Distinguished School.

Man kills wife in a murder-suicide. Bobby Olive, 54, killed his wife Krista Olive, 35.

NEMCC’s softball team plays the first game on the Field of Dreams softball-baseball complex located on the Booneville campus.

New Way Trucks rolled out the first of many trucks built in their new factory in Booneville.

February

The Daily Corinthian added a Quad Stack 4 color printing tower giving the ability to print four more color pages for a total of as many as eight broadsheet color pages.

Kratom was banned from being sold within the city limits of Booneville.

Sign up was opened to allow residents of Prentiss County to sign up for Prentiss Connect. The fiber broadband high-speed internet service will be available to every recipient of the PCEPA.

Booneville High School Senior, Henry Lindsey, was selected as a candidate for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

Mayor Chris Lindley presented Governor Tate Reeves with a key to the City of Booneville.

The board of alderman declined to approve the sale of individual bottles of beer.

March

Prentiss County Board of Supervisors approved upgrades to jail computers. They approved a contract with Tiger Correctional Services to provide jail management software and hardware for the facility.

The first coronavirus headline for The Banner Independent reads, “Hospital ready to respond to coronavirus”. At the time there were no confirmed cases in the state of Mississippi.

Terry Tolar became the new Veteran Service Officer for Prentiss County and Booneville.

The announcement was made that Prentiss County Schools would remain closed until March 27, 2020. Superintendent Jeff Palmer and the district’s administration reevaluated the situation daily and stayed in contact with local healthcare providers and others to make the best decisions for families.

House Bill 499 was sent to the Senate that would designate a section of Highway 45 to be named Speaker William J Billy McCoy Memorial Highway.

Prentiss County received their first positive coronavirus case the last week of March.

County and city officials put limits on the operations of businesses and restaurants in response to the pandemic.

Eight Prentiss County officials switched party affiliation. Constable Harry Allen, Constable Sammy Henderson, Circuit Clerk Mike Kelley, Tax Assessor Bob Maddox, Second District Supervisor Matt Murphy, Chancer Clerk Bubba Pounds, Coroner Greg Sparks, and Sheriff Randy Tolar all signed a letter stating their intent to change their party affiliation to Republican.

Many churches move to online-only services, via Facebook, YouTube, and other sites, as concerns rise about the pandemic.

April

Five were charged with capital murder. Trakendric Neal Young, Jesse Dean Crabb, Truth Davareus Brown, Jacob Allen Gurley we charged with the death of John Michael Ross Berryman of Dry Creek.

Olivia Jackson was crowned Booneville’s 2020 Miss Hospitality.

Iconic local restaurant owner Willie Weeks passed away. Weeks Café was a staple for the citizens of Booneville. Willie Weeks’ funeral was the first drive-by funeral held at McMillian Funeral Home.

Booneville City Parks canceled park league sports amid Covid-19 restrictions.

Prentiss County reported its first Covid-19 related death.

May

Restaurants were allowed to resume dine-in service under strict safety guidelines.

NEMCC hosted a drive through nursing graduation. Eighty-three nursing students received their degrees in a drive-by fashion.

Salons and barbershops were allowed to re-open, with new restrictions and guidelines placed by the state of Mississippi.

June

Hunter Newman was sentenced to 20 years in prison, after pleading guilty to culpable negligence manslaughter. Newman struck a child loading a school bus near Baldwyn.

Booneville City Parks were allowed to re-open.

Michael Brian Rutledge pleaded guilty to capital murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for the brutal murder of his estranged wife.

Wheeler assault suspect, Jackie Brandon Neblett, was shot by a concerned citizen after assaulting a female subject. Neblett faces attempted murder charges after assaulting two people before he was shot.

Booneville High School held a social distanced graduation ceremony on the NEMCC football field.

Booneville’s organizers of the Neighborhood Fourth of July parade canceled the event amid Covid-19 concerns.

The Prentiss County Fair was canceled amid Covid-19 concerns. Prentiss County Supervisors unanimously voted to cancel the fair.

July

Prentiss County School District graduates were finally allowed to hold a socially distanced graduation. Graduates were given vouchers for family members.

Jefferson Street bridge was re-opened after being closed for almost two years.

The previously canceled July 4th parade was re-organized by community members who wanted it to be held.

Investigator Jerry Bridges retired from the Booneville Police Department after many years of service.

Pam Keeton, retired from the Prentiss County Circuit Clerk’s office, after serving as a Deputy Clerk.

Prentiss County School District began preparing for off campus learning for students who would be considered remote learners.

Booneville City Park and Recreation started to make improvements to Kids Town and the walking trail.

Baldwyn murder suspect, Gary Scotty McDonald, was captured and charged for the murder of Coner Noel kyle.

Prentiss County Justice Court was closed after an employee was exposed to and tested positive for Covid-19.

Jimmy Weatherbee, retired from the Prentiss County Landfill after serving 18 years as the landfill director.

Prentiss County School District made the decision to move the first day of school from August 5 to August 10. Parents were able to choose between in-person studies or remote learning.

Booneville School District made the announcement the fall semester would begin on-line only. The decision was made to begin on-campus learning after the Labor Day holiday.

VFW Post #4877 was honored for the second time as All- American.

The decision was made by the Board of Supervisors that all Prentiss County offices require masks for entrance.

August

Governor Tate Reeves issued a state-wide mandate but did not delay the beginning of the school year.

NEMCC returned to on-campus classes.

Plumrose announces plans to donate $400,000 to Booneville to help respond to needs resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Prentiss County Fall Festival which was normally held October 15-17, is canceled due to the pandemic.

Jumpertown completed improvements of their park and community center.

Tate Dickerson claimed his third straight title for Booneville Golf and Country Club golf championship.

Greg Beard and the Cox-Blythe drug store donated a section of the walls of their building to have murals painted on them. Booneville’s own Khyla Shumpert was selected to paint the postcard mural on the corner of West College and West Church Street, while Brian Tull painted to Coca-Cola mural at 122 W. College Street.

Booneville School District announced students and teachers would return to on-campus classes on September 8.

September

Booneville School District plays its first-ever volleyball game against Corinth.

The City of Booneville named Paul Carpenter as the new water manager, after the retirement of Billy Spencer.

A 15-year-old boy was charged with threatening violence against his school online.

Booneville unveils plans for a new playground replacing the former Kids Town supported by a $400,000 grant from Plumrose and $200,000 from the city’s tourism tax and other reserves. The city also announces a new name for West Side Park which will now be known as Plumrose Park.

The community and fellow athletes mourned the loss of Booneville High School student Logan Harr in an automobile accident. Harr was a dedicated member of the Booneville football team and soccer team.

The city began seeking a new tourism director after the position was left empty with the resignation of Lexi Gamble.

An idea to build a giant cross sparks a community effort. Deryl Saylors had an idea to build a large cross to serve as inspiration for the community and for people driving up and down the highway. The land was donated by Bill Spain and Marie Spain. The property is located at the Blackland Crossing.

October

Prentiss County School District rolled out new buses, which will replace older models. The buses were paid for with a grant and local monies and are part of a long-term plan to modernize the bus fleet.

Relay for Life held a drive through luminaria ceremony along Cunningham Boulevard. The community celebration wasn’t able to be held this summer due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Katelyn Hollis was charged with malicious mischief in connection with a fire that damaged the Barnett Bridge on County Road 1213 in Lee County’s Pratts Community, just south of the Prentiss County line.

Annie Justice was honored with a retirement celebration at Baptist Memorial Hospital. Justice retired after 50 years of dedicated service as a financial counselor.

Utility and site preparation work continued at Plumrose Park in preparation for the construction of a massive new playground where Kids Town previously stood.

Booneville School District used state allocations to purchase 700 new Chromebooks and 100 new laptops for teachers through the Mississippi Department of Education’s Equity in Distance Learning Program.

Northeast Mississippi Community College selected Kossuth’s Alli Seago to reign as the college’s 2020 Homecoming Queen.

Work was well underway for the West Prentiss Industrial Site to make the location more attractive to potential new industries.

The City of Booneville Board of Alderman approved the purchase of a new fire truck at the state contract price of $550,000.

Booneville aldermen selected Prentiss County native, Lori Tucker as Booneville’s Director of tourism, marketing and community development and director of the Booneville Main Street Association.

TVA presented a check for $1,000 to the Prentiss County Career and Technology Center in support of their educational programs.

November

VFW Post #4877 Auxiliary put together 10,000 Buddy Poppies. Due to the recent coronavirus pandemic, the centers where Disabled Veterans put together the Buddy Poppies have been closed. In an effort to continue to support those Veterans, the National Department of the VFW asked for any post or auxiliary to help. Kits requiring assembly were mailed out to be put together and shipped back to the National VFW. Presently over nine million Buddy Poppies have been shipped to post and auxiliaries.

Asya Branch, a Booneville native, was crowned Miss USA 2020, with the “Power of Positivity” Crown, presented by Mouawad, the official crown sponsor of the 2020 Miss USA competition, at the Miss USA Competition on Nov. 7 at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn.

Robin Michelle Storey, 28, is charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bond in connection with the death of her mother, 56-year-old Paula Storey. The mother and daughter lived together in the home on County Road 5011 just north of the four-way-stop in Wheeler where the mother’s body was discovered.

State Auditor Shad White announced the arrest of Amy Haynie, a former employee of Northeast Mississippi Community College, following her indictment for embezzlement. She surrendered to agents at the Prentiss County Jail and bond was set at $10,000. The state auditor’s office issued a demand letter for $68,762.87 including interest and investigative costs.

A Prentiss County Jail escapee was recaptured at a Baldwyn residence, just hours after he fled from the jail. Shaun Franklin Reed, 34, fled from the jail through an unsecured door from the booking area of the jail.

Prentiss County School District Technology Director Andrea Allen provided an update to the district’s board about on ongoing projects. She said the district has recently purchased a total of 1,776 iPads for students that are in the process of being distributed. They’ve also been able to purchase 809 mobile Internet hotspots which will be provided to families who don’t have Internet access at home so their students can have access to the Internet for online learning.

The former Fred’s building on North Second Street will get a new life as home to the Booneville Police Department. The Board of Alderman voted to purchase the building.

December

Booneville’s annual Christmas parade fell victim to the pandemic, but officials found other ways to spread joy this Christmas season and are recognized a dedicated community servant as this year’s grand marshal. Longtime Booneville businessman and community supporter Billy Hester was chosen as the 2020 Booneville Christmas Parade’s Grand Marshal.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) along with Prentiss County Electric Power Association (PCEPA) announced a 2.5 percent rate reduction to all customers, beginning December 1 through September 30, 2021.

VFW Post 4877 celebrated 75 years of serving veterans of Booneville and Prentiss County. The post was opened on Dec. 4, 1945, and is named for George Robert Mitchell a World War II veteran and Naval officer who died in the Pacific while serving his country overseas on a prisoner of war ship that sank while on their way to a prison camp in Japan.

Christmas Queen 2020, Civitan Club nominee Meg Bailee Michael was selected as this year’s queen, chosen from nominees put forth by each of the city’s civic clubs. Caroline Thompson, nominated by the Rotary Club, was selected as alternate.

Wheeler’s principal and assistant principal swapped roles. Prentiss County School Board members voted to approve the move of longtime principal Todd Swinney to the role of assistant principal and current assistant principal Denny Shaw to the post of principal, beginning January 1, 2021.

The Booneville / Prentiss County Boys & Girls Club honored the late Jeffrey Powell who was a loyal supporter of the club with a special plaque in his honor. Powell, a webmaster at Northeast Mississippi Community College, was a member of the Executive Board for Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Mississippi and Board Member of the Booneville Unit. He passed away in June. Club members Kaidon Grove and Jaston Anderson spoke of Powell and what he meant to the club. On hand for the dedication were his dad, John Powell, cousins Charlotte Powell, Bobby Powell & former state senator Eric Powell. Other dignitaries present were NEMCC President Ricky Ford, Randy Tolar, Executive Board member & President of the Booneville Board and Kenny Floyd, Executive Board member.

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