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Welcome to Pearl River County Library System’s Picayune Item Blog! Here, library staff highlights memorable articles and provides commentary for various Picayune Item articles throughout the years. Just use the navigation menu to the left of the webpage to cycle through blog posts by month and year.

July 2022 – December 2022

December 21, 2022

Picayune Item Tuesday September 11, 1990, Volume 86, Number 73, 1 Section. New Guard Armory ‘opened.’

Patriotism was apparent in area residents, political and military leaders during formal opening ceremonies of the Picayune Nation Guard on Sunday. Despite typical Mississippi humidity and heat, guests listened intently to serval speakers about the purpose of the guard and the history of the guard in Picayune. Children and adults were pleasantly surprised by the arrivals and takeoffs of two

Mayor Woody Spiers said the ceremonies were to honor people who served their city, county, state, and nation in the Picayune National Guard over the past 42 years. He said he especially wanted to recognize those who served with distinction in Korea. Among the guests was Brig. Gen. Charlie D. Brackeen, military advisor to Gov. Ray Mabus. Brackeen thanks National Guardsmen both past and present for their dedication and hard work toward the new facility. He said the first guard unit in Picayune used an old vehicle storage building and a lean-to as an armory. He said the transition is a reminder that today’s guard is ever changing.

He said the Mississippi National Guard played a role in World War II, the Korean Conflict and may play a vital defense role in the Mideast. He said guardsmen need modern equipment, technology, and facilities to keep the guard progressing.

He noted that the $500,000 construction cost and costs of other projects had a positive impact on Picayune’s economy and asked for continued support of legislators and congressmen.

Retired Air National Guard Maj. Gen. Delos H. Burks said the Army National Guard in Mississippi is older than the state itself. He spoke of how the military men play an essential role in preserving state property, freedom, and religion. He also spoke of the persecution and lack of political and religious freedom for America’s European forefathers. He said that recently there has been a reawakening of patriotism. He said that the guard is a strong link in the chain of military preparedness.

A wonderful dedication service day for Picayune’s New Guard Armory!

Lanett Hawthorne
Microfilm/Digital Document Coordinator

November 21, 2022

Picayune Item Wednesday February 14, 1990, 3B. Picayune Jr. Auxiliary begins student mentoring program. (As written in the Picayune Item)

The Picayune Junior Auxiliary Inc. members have committed themselves to yet another ambitious project. Debbie Bounds, president of Picayune Junior Auxiliary Inc. and Gail Criss, principial of Picayune Memorial High School, along with school staff and members of Picayune Junior Auxiliary have mapped out a pilot program targeting young people with a potential disposition toward dropping out of high school. The students would be paired with mentors from the community. Each mentor would be asked to donate an hour weekly, over a three-month period, to the student.

The National Association of the Junior Auxiliaries Inc. has targeted “Teem Esteem” as its national focus for the next two years; all chapters are encouraged to have programs embracing this focus.

The mentors will be carefully matched by the high school staff and if there isn’t a current good match, an application of a particular mentor may go on file for future use when the appropriate student enters the program.

The mentors may be from many walks of life – from the homemaker to the local banker. Some of the businesses are willing to give release time, for the amount of time spent on the worthwhile volunteer project.

Some of the activities of The Picayune Jr. Auxiliary today.

Per Mrs. Ashley Hayden, (Counselor at Picayune Memorial High School) the Junior Auxiliary of Picayune still serves the community, working for the welfare of all children. They donate a “caring closet” for all schools that provides hygiene items for students who are in need and they also provide scholarships for local students.
Junior Auxiliary has several different fundraisers throughout the year to help fund their community projects. 

Their website is and you can follow their Facebook page “Junior Auxiliary of Picayune.”

Lanett Hawthorne
Microfilm/Digital Document Coordinator

October 20, 2022

Honoring our Veterans

Picayune Item, Sunday, November 12, 1989, Volume 89, Number 118, ‘Brick by Brick’ memorial drive now underway.

The Career Women’s Club held a kickoff luncheon on Friday afternoon for their ‘Brick by Brick’ campaign to raise money for a Veterans’ Memorial.

Sheryl Smith president of the women’s organization told community leaders in attendance of the importance of the proposed memorial. “Our goal is to honor all veterans, especially those from Pearl River County and especially those who served in a war.” Smith said.

Memorial committee chairperson Jane Smoot said the Career Women’s Club felt the overwhelming need for the memorial on their last Memorial Day, when they held a special ceremony near the gazebo on Highway 11 and noticed the reaction of some of the veterans in attendance. “Many of the veterans had tears running down their cheeks crying as they reflected on their past experiences,” Smoot explained.

State Representative Ezell Lee (a Korean War Veteran) gave an emotional speech about the 28 million living veterans and their families. “Sacrifices were great to the family and the Americans who gave their lives and to the prisoners of war.” Lee said. He challenged members of the community to join in the fundraising and to honor those “who made sacrifices so that we might have the freedoms we have today.”

To raise money for the memorial monument, bricks engraved with veterans’ names will be sold through Wednesday, Jan. 31, of the following year at $50 each. Smith said the veterans need not be Pearl River or Hancock County natives. The bricks then will be placed around the base of the proposed veteran’s monument, which is to be erected at the circular walkway in front of the Picayune City Hall. Those buying bricks will be given a certificate of ownership which states the donors’ name and the name of the veteran whose name appears on the brick.

Smith said some of the private donations that the club has received would be used for the purchase of bricks for veterans’ families who can not afford bricks for those veterans. The club wants to recognize all area veterans. Smith said the club hopes to dedicate the memorial on Veteran Day 1990.

To coincide with the dedication, Smith said the Pearl River County Bank, formerly First United Bank of Picayune will publish a list of veterans from the area. The publication will include pictures, some of which appear in the special Pearl River County Armed Forces Honor Roll tabloid that is in today’s item.

The tabloid is a reproduction of the one which appeared in an August 1944 edition of The Weekly Democrat. The list is not a complete list of all who served in the armed forces during World War II, but efforts are being made to have a complete list for the Pearl River County Bank publication.

G.P.A. president James Fleming said that his organization is planning to match up to $15,000 anything the Career Women’s Club raises above the $5,000 that the club already raised.

Fleming said, after talking to Smoot, monument committee members, and the city council, the future memorial site was changed from Highway 11 location to the walkway in front of city hall.

There was supportive participation for some of our Picayune HQ Library Staff family members, Lamont Pearson (System Director), Phyllis Lee (Head of Technical Processing/Network & Automations Administrator), Melissa Whitfield (Assistant Technical Processing/Circulation Crosby/Inter-library Loan Crosby, and Megan Miller (Circulation/Assistant to Children’s Librarian Crosby/Youth Services Coordinator).

One year later…

Picayune Item, Sunday November 11, 1990, Volume 86, Number 117, Picayune dedicates Veteran Memorial.

Picayune unveiled and dedicated its Veterans’ Memorial on Saturday. Patriotism ran high as an estimated 4,000 veterans, their friends, and families of other citizens from throughout Pearl River County gathered in front of the Picayune City Hall.

A tribute to the departed veterans was given with a 21-gun salute by the U.S. Naval Construction Battalion 130-3. The Mississippi Air National Guard 186th Tactical Reconnaissance Group staged a flyover.

The actual unveiling/cutting the cord was done by two women who lost family members to war. Vivian McLaurin-mother of Staff Sgt. Willie James McLaurin who was killed in the Vietnam War- and Vita Fristy-wife of Bigelow G. Fristy a U.S. man killed during World War II. The Mississippi National Guardsmen help finish removing the veil from the Brick-by-Brick Veteran’s Memorial.

To name a few of the attendees, State Representative Ezell Lee (A member of the 138th for Korea), Retired Mississippi Air National Guard Major General Delos Burks, Mr. Burks went on to introduce speaker G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery.

Jane Smoot (former President of the Career Women’s Club) said speaking of the monument, “May it also prove to be a symbol in which we as a community can draw strength to meet tomorrow. For our veterans, may it be a symbol that the war is over in your hearts…” Montgomery commended the group for all the hard work to make the monument possible.

This was a huge and spectacular affair. Montgomery said that “the group gathered at the city hall is the largest crowd that has ever gathered in Mississippi on Veterans’ Day.” He went on to say that he had attended many veteran celebrations.

Mayor Woody Spiers gave U.S. Representative G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery the key to the City of Picayune. He is a retired Major General in the Mississippi Army National Guard. Rep. Montgomery addressed the crowd saying, “This project has united and reunited the community.”

The crowd was entertained by the 41st United States Army Band, followed by dance routine from Pearl River Community College String of Pearls, songs by Boley Creek, and Veterans marched down the boulevard as the crowd cheered on.

What a wonderful celebration in Picayune!!!

“A Giant Thank-You to our Faithful Clubs/Leaders & Participants who made this local historical landmark possible acknowledging our Veterans.”

Veterans’ Day Activities for November 2022

Major Jim Luke announces Veterans’ Day…. Veterans’ Day Parade will be held on November 7, 2022, at 6pm on Goodyear Blvd. and Wreath Laying Ceremony will be held on November 11, 2022, at 10am in from of Historic City Hall, at the Veterans Monument! A Veteran Day appreciation lunch will be held in Jack Read Park 11am-1pm hosted by our Exchange Club of Picayune.

Lanett Hawthorne
Microfilm/Digital Document Coordinator

September 20, 2022

Picayune Item, October 19, 1989, Page 5, Fireman gives explanation. Firefighters explain rules for fire safety.

The first-grade students at Southside Elementary were given the facts on fire safety that previous Friday, when members of the Picayune Fire Department, along with two fire engines visited their school.

In connection with fire prevention week, Captain S.D. Quave and firefighters (Scott Sullivan, John Mark Mitchell, Louis Moak and Darin Dennis) told the first graders the basic things that they needed to do in the event of a fire, including how to use the 911 Emergency System. They were told to never play with the 911 number system. They also told the children not to hide in the event of a fire, and that smoke kills faster than fire. The children were given the opportunity to ask questions and receive the answers. “Those children can ask the best questions”, Quave said. “They pay better attention than the 15- year-olds. Their little minds don’t miss a thing.” It was quite an enlightening & enjoyable day for all.

Janet Guidry from the Picayune Fire Chief (Pat Weaver) Office spoke with me concerning some of the fire stations events. Today, there are three (3) Fire Stations in Picayune:

Central Station      601-799-0614        435 S. Loftin
Station 1                  601-798-7862       2233 Adcox Road
Station 3                 601-798-4811        1800 Goodyear Blvd.

Fire drills are given at the Picayune Public Schools, annually. They also continue to do truck visits to the schools, per request. It is good to know that we still have these great community services and more available today.

Lanett Hawthorne
Microfilm/Digital Document Coordinator

August 22, 2022

Picayune Item, Page 3, Sunday August 13, 1989, New Programs abound at Picayune High School.

New programs and renovations were what students returned to at the Picayune Municipal School District for that fall in 1989.

One such new program was learning German via satellite with an instructor at Oklahoma State University. While the students would view on a monitor in the library, a “live” foreign instructor would always remain in the library with the students to help them along. PMHS Principle (Gail Criss) stated there was such a demand for students to take foreign languages, it was decided that German was the best.

The satellite teaching program was given to the school through a grant from the University of Mississippi. One of the courses planned by satellite was the PSAT pre-test Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). Another new program was gifted high school seniors were able to take advanced placement English and European History, pre-algebra for the first time, and Diversified Technology at the Vo-tech Center. These courses would help give students a good idea of what college classes would be like.

In addition to the new programs, renovation was apparent at many of the schools making significant improvements. One example, while the junior high was undergoing a lot of renovation, the entire back and front wing had already been redone.

This is only a few of the stories of what the Picayune Municipal School District accomplished back then. Today, they strive to promote continuous growth in advanced technology and renovation improvements to prepare students for today’s society.

Lanett Hawthorne
Microfilm/Digital Document Coordinator

July 20, 2022

Picayune Item, Number 238, 1 Section, Friday April 28, 1989, County to take part in Trash Bash

Pearl River County 14 participating Adopt-A Highway geared up for a big day. Saturday April 29,1989 marks the first statewide cleanup day, “Trash Bash 89” sponsored by the Mississippi State Highway Department. The program was an anti-litter campaign to generate public involvement in keeping Mississippi highways liter-free and reduce the high cost of litter removal.

Private and civic organizations were allowed to adopt a section of highway for a minimum of one (1) year.  In exchange for the work, organizations received credit in the form of a large sign erected on each end of the section that displayed the groups’ name.

Many sections were adopted, 65 of the 82 counties. Pearl River County’s 14 adopters lead the way for the most adoptions in the Southern Highway District. To name just a couple of the participating groups, the Picayune Rotary Club and Picayune Jaycees. This effort was a great success throughout Mississippi.

Looking further back in the past, the following article was another interesting story pertaining to the cleanup & beautification of our great city of Picayune.

Picayune Item, Number 231, Volume 80, 5 Sections, Sunday April 21, 1985.

War on Trash Brightens City- Picayune looks cleaner this morning, thanks to the efforts of dedicated public officials, city employees and public interest groups.

The “Picayune Trash Brigade Parade” was sponsored by the Greater Picayune Chamber of Commerce and the city. On that bright Saturday morning at 8:30 am, featured citizens, city officials, area service clubs, city employees and public interest groups gathered at City Hall for the clean-up drive. The former mayor sounded the civil defense whistle to mark the beginning of the cleanup on Goodyear Blvd. Each councilman headed a crew that picked up garbage and litter along streets within their precinct.

Charles Hayes, president of the Chamber of Commerce said, the idea behind the parade was to make the city more attractive both for residents and visitors.  The overall cleanup parade was success.

Today, Picayune has been considered by many, to be one of the cleanest & well-kept cities around this county. Mayor Jim Luke and the members of the City Council have promoted and appointed Sydney Stubbs as the Keep Picayune Beautiful Director under Lisa Albritton, the Special Projects and Grants Administrator for this specific purpose.

These articles remind us of how Picayune’s leadership strive contentiously to improve and promote the beautification of our town.

Kudos to this wonderful group for their outstanding efforts!!!

Lanett Hawthorne
Microfilm/Digital Document Coordinator


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