• 5 Years Ago, Dec. 31, 2009 – The year-end review for 2009 painted a gloomy picture after the jobless rate in the county soared to a 22 year high with a global recession raging. In July, 2009, over 17 percent of the county’s workforce were unemployed. That rate was the highest recorded since late 1986, when unemployment topped out at 21.1 in the county.
Another story in the year-end review traced the sheriff’s department’s calls for service and automobile accidents topped the list according to Sheriff William “Lance” Humphreys. The number of accidents were 90, with deer blamed for almost half of them. Humphreys’ department also made 30 D.U.I. arrests during 2009 including 21 for first offense, seven for second offense and two for third offense. That number was up from 23 in 2008 and 16 in 2007.
Expert Herald photographer Jack Gurner also captured a number of unusual animal pictures during 2009 including a groundhog captured by Mike Williams and a giant lizard that roamed the streets after escaping from Eric Lago.
The last edition in 2009 closed with a report of two homicides registered in the county during the year, the murder of Columbus Buford in December in Water Valley and an earlier murder in Coffeeville in February that took the life of Ernest Moore. Neither case has been solved.
• 10 Years Ago, Dec. 30, 2004 – In the year end review highlighting the events of 2004 there was sad news and happy news. Water Valley honored the soldiers of the 223rd Engineering camp and other veterans returning home from America’s war on terror. Meanwhile prayers were extended to Water Valley SVC Btry, 1/114 Field Artillery that were preparing to deploy in early 2005.
The year also marked changes for both of the county’s newspapers. The North Mississippi Herald changed hands in May, 2004, following the tragic vehicle accident that claimed the life of Edward Shearer III in late 2003. Shearer had published the paper since 1977, following his father’s footsteps. Edward Shearer published the paper from 1943-1977.
The county’s second publisher, James Hamilton Denley, passed away on April 12, 2004. Denley was 56 and published the Coffeeville Courier.
The year also marked a number of new faces in county politics, as a four-year term started in January, 2004. The group included Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney, Sheriff Steve Shuffield, District 2 Constable Randy Simmons and supervisors Tommy Vaughn, Butch Surrette and George Suggs.
After a decade of business in Water Valley, Steele Manufacturing Company closed in July, 2004. The plant manager reported the company was one of the last “cut and sew” operations left in the state.
Three businesses in Coffeeville were consumed by fire in the late hours on Dec. 27 and the early morning hours of Dec. 28. People’s Hardware, Brewer’s Oil Company and L& M Baskets Warehouse were destroyed in two separate fires. Firefighters responded to the first fire at Peoples Hardware around 9:15. The second fire started just after midnight at Brewer’s Oil Company and caught the L & M Baskets Warehouse on fire.
• 20 Years Ago, Dec. 29, 1994 – Mrs. Rebecca Maynor was an enthusiastic participant at her 100th birthday party held earlier in December. She was born in 1894 in the Sand Hill community and was one of a dozen children.
A reception was scheduled to honor Jennifer Sartain on her selection as Miss Mississippi Farm Bureau at the local Farm Bureau office. She reported a busy itinerary for the coming year that included a trip to St. Louis to represent the state at the National Farm Bureau Convention.
The City Masons were preparing to install new officers for 1995. The group included Buford Wilton Adams, Worshipful Master; Horace Eugene Upchurch, Senior Warden; Edward Leroy Barton Jr., Junior Warden; Robert Lynn Partain, Treasurer; Henry Allen Lynch, Secretary; Samuel Edward McCain, Senior Deacon; Cecil Benjiman Walker, Junior Deacon; and Robert Lee Smith, Tiler.
Freddie Folson’s Sport Activities promoted a Live Band Show at the Water Valley City Auditorium. Three groups from Memphis would take the stage including the main attraction, former Oakland and Coffeeville resident Vernice Rucker, who would sing her blues hits. Rucker had been touring in Europe in the days leading up to the concert in Water Valley.
• 30 Years Ago, Dec. 28, 1984 – Tommy Potts became a celebrity the hard way after injuring his hand in a fireworks accident. Potts was on the Channel Five TV News from Baptist Hospital Central in Memphis after losing two fingers in the accident. According to his grandmother, the youngster found a firecracker at her home and lit it with a kitchen match, causing it to explode in his hand. He was expected to be in the hospital for about two weeks.
Walt R. Hardy, Jr. was honored with a retirement dinner after working for the Highway Department for 34 years. Hardy started with the department in Clarksdale in 1948, but he was in the army from 1951 to 1953.
The Water Valley police report from Chief John D. Watson was extremely light for the holiday week. Watson reported two tickets, one for speeding and one for driving under suspension. The report also included four warrants with four arrests, three for contempt of court and one for burglary of a house. Officers working at the police department included Watson, Captain R.E. Eady; and patrolmen C.E. Truly, B.C. Billey, R.G. Thomas, M.W. King, C.C. Jenkins, L. Turner and B.C. Sellers, Jr.
Outstanding students selected from the Senatobia campus of Northwest Mississippi Junior College included Kirk Kimmett, law enforcement, and Tammy Martin, journalism, both of Water Valley; and Robert Lawrence, commercial art, of Coffeeville.
• 40 Years Ago, Jan. 2, 1975 – What started as a hobby for Aubrey Trusty had turned into a full-time job as he labored in his shop over forty-hours a week creating wood crafts and furniture. Trusty had retired as a Chemist before his new hobby turned into a full-time job.
The population of Water Valley increased about 1,500 on January 1, 1975, as new territory was annexed by the city. Judge Lester Fant of Batesville signed the decree in Chancery Court on Dec. 21. Citizens in the expanded area would receive fire and police protection along with garbage disposal service. Water and sewage services would be available as soon as possible.
Edward Shearer reflected on the end of 1974 and start of 1975 in his weekly Shearings column. “We are not alone in believing that Richard Nixon was guiltless in the actual Watergate episode. His guilt was in his denial of knowledge of the affair and his participation in the attempt to cover up the incident,” Shearer wrote.
• 50 Years Ago, Dec. 31, 1964 – On the day of his release from jail, an African-American from Indiana who was jailed in the county gave Sheriff J.G. Treloar a letter in which he expressed thanks for the treatment accorded him by the sheriff and local people. Charles Edward Bond was jailed for five months and 20 days in connection with the traffic death of John William Runnel, a Memphis youth.
In the letter, Bond wrote that he did not come here looking for trouble, he was on vacation, and he could not believe the people of the North don’t leave the people alone down here.
Ben I. Toole, an Oakland merchant for 32 years, died at noon on Christmas Day at East Tallahatchie Hospital following a short illness. Toole was 62 and a lifelong resident of Yalobusha County, a deacon and treasurer at Oakland Baptist Church and served 20 years as an Oakland alderman.
F.B. McCullar of Water Valley sold several registered Polled Hereford bulls including one to Garner S. Baker of Oakland, another to Dale Johnson of Water Valley and a third to C.F. Nix of Big Creek. Garner Baker also purchased a registered Polled Hereford bull from Wilford McCullough of Paris.
Charles Mays was pictured with a nice six-point buck he bagged at the Morgan farm, 15 miles east of Oxford. Hunting with Mays was John Watson.
• 60 Years Ago, Dec. 30, 1954 – Clark Motor Com-pany announced they plan to be open for business in early 1955. The new company was owned by Earl Clark of West Point and his father, Douglas Clark, of Water Valley.
Another car dealer who had served Water Valley since 1933 passed away earlier in the week. Prentiss M. Hendricks, a Ford dealer, died Dec. 27, 1954.
Showing at the Grand Theater was The Caine Mutiny with Humphrey Bogart, Jose Ferrer, Van Johnson and Fred McMurray.
Jobless Rate Soared In ’09 To 22-Year High