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The end of the year always brings a little time of reminiscing, especially with the production of the last Herald edition of 2021. It was a little strange as I thumbed through the papers during the last 18 months. For months there were pictures of people wearing masks. School pictures, ribbon cuttings, voting – the normal activities recorded in the newspaper with the addition of face masks.
It’s funny how history always repeats itself, even at the local level. You can look at newspapers from earlier decades and the stories will usually be on similar issues. But the masked people in photos mark the first time in the 90-plus years of archived Heralds we have at the office. It made me ponder what future generations will think if they thumb through Herald editions from this era. Hopefully by then Covid-19 will be a distant memory that only lingers in our history books.
Back to the reminiscing, I think we can all agree 2021 was a tough year – not unlike 2020. One of the saddest stories was the loss of our sheriff. It is still hard to believe that Mark Fulco is gone. I remember Camp Deputy, only weeks before his death. Mark was doing what he enjoyed most, spending time with the youth in the county. Prior to Camp Deputy he traveled down to the coast for the sheriff’s convention. It was the first time in a long time he had planned to be off work and out of the county.
The night he left was when all hell broke loose – Ashley Henley was found gunned down in the Boat Landing Community. I can promise you he didn’t enjoy a minute of the convention, he agonized over the investigation every second he was gone even though state and local investigators were diligently working the case. We talked almost every night that week, and I realized the support, advice and comradery from sheriffs across the state made the trip meaningful for Mark.
I remember he cut short a quick visit with his family in El Dorado, Ark., after the convention. It was another visit that had been planned for a long time, but he said he had to get back to Yalobusha County. The stress of serving as the county’s top law enforcement official was very visible during this time.
And then there was the week before he was admitted in the hospital. That was just after Camp Deputy. Mark had been feeling bad for over a week before he went to the hospital. He called me that Monday morning after he was admitted to Panola Medical Center. You could tell he was feeling tough, but he was still his usual jovial self, joking and carrying on. He said he even slipped several cans of Copenhagen into his hospital room to make sure he wouldn’t go without.
We talked briefly the next day and that was it. I tried to check on him in the days that followed and never got an answer. And then the following Tuesday, eight days after he was admitted to the hospital, he was gone.
It is still hard to believe.