Ole Miss women’s basketball player Valenica McFarland excels on the court and in the classroom.
Edwards, Miss., native and daughter of David Daniels and Betty McFarland, is a senior point guard for the Lady Rebels. She attended Raymond High School in Raymond, Miss.
McFarland is one of the team’s leaders and top scorers this season. But Valencia and her parents are even more proud of the points McFarland scores in the tough classes she takes as an exercise science major. Just as competitive
in the classroom, McFarland earned honor roll recognition last fall.
On the court, McFarland has been a finalist for the C-Spire Gillom Trophy that is presented annually to the best female college basketball player in Mississippi. She has been named to the coaches Pre-Season All-SEC second team and to the Winter SEC Academic Honor Roll.
“Coach (Matt Insell) wants us to play at a faster pace and he’s pushing us every time on defensive and offensive possessions,” McFarland said. “The game is going to be a lot quicker for us.”
The new coach has pushed McFarland hard, but that pressure is something she has embraced.
“He has been hard on me, which I like because I want him to push me to be the best,” McFarland said. “Every time we come out he wants me to lead the team in any way possible.”
Mayor Pat Patterson, in his second term as Oxford mayor, doesn’t shrink from a challenge in the competitive arena of city politics.
Whether it’s traffic flow problems associated with Ole Miss football, the Bell Utilities purchase, or discussions about the fate of the Conference Center, the plain-talking Ole Miss and Oxford High grad tells you what he thinks.
“In 2009, we were coming out of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression,” he said. “We kept our heads down and were able to weather the storm. We didn’t raise taxes, nor did we lay off a single city employee.”
After winning an extremely hard fought election campaign against Ole Miss and NFL football star Todd Wade last summer by less than a thousand votes, Mayor Patterson and the Board of Aldermen have taken on an aggressive agenda.
Mayor Patterson conceded that parking and traffic flow after Ole Miss home games has been a problem for the city and University, but maintained that Oxford and Ole Miss will continue to work together as partners to help improve traffic and parking issues during football games.
“The shuttle operations we’ve implemented off campus worked better every game,” Mayor Patterson said. “The timing of games and even the outcome will have a significant impact on people’s attitudes. Trying to facilitate 60,000 to 70,000 fans leaving the game at the same time is always going to require patience and time.”
One thorny issue Mayor Patterson had on his plate was the city’s downtown parking situation. Some business owners felt the two-hour parking limit on the forced people to choose whether to eat or to shop. Mayor Patterson was instrumental in changing that time limit to three hours.
Ann-Marie Wyatt is a working Oxford mother who has successfully started her own photography business, Taylor Square. But getting to where she is now wasn’t a snap-and-shoot.
Wyatt has been taking pictures since she was 16. At Ole Miss, she majored in magazine journalism. After graduating, she returned to a job at a local law firm where she had contributed as an administrator since her teenage days.
Then an Ole Miss friend suggested they team up to form their own photography studio, Sweet Water Images, in Memphis.
Wyatt drove from Oxford back and forth to Memphis regularly, but with three kids at home under age 7, the drive became a huge problem and Wyatt decided that it was time to make a change.
“We owned Sweet Water Images for five years, but last October I realized I was tired of driving to Memphis and back,” Wyatt said. “It was really hard on my family.”
She opened Taylor Square Photography in Oxford on her own and so far the response has been positive. In addition to photography Wyatt continues to work as a as paralegal. Juggling two jobs in addition to being a mother is a constant challenge.
“Balancing my life is hard to do because I’m getting busier,” Wyatt said. “I work eight to five every day. Then I come home and do mommy duty until they’re all in bed. Then I edit until one in the morning. I’ve been doing this for about six years now and every year it seems to get harder because I get busier and busier.”
Contractor Bruce Massey’s love of history and his construction skills blend perfectly in the renovation of historical Oxford homes.
“I started working with architectural firms after graduating from Ole Miss with my degree in business,” said Massey, whose father made a living in as a heavy-equipment operator and put son Bruce to work on sites around their Natchez, Miss. home in the summers.
After graduating in 2001, the young history buff immediately began pursuing his goals, landing jobs with Alger Design and Howorth and Associates, both architectural firms.
“I always enjoyed collaborating with architects as a construction contractor because I like being involved in a plan from first draft to the final build,” Massey said with a smile of satisfaction.
Massey’s first historical project was a home owned by Catherine and Ray Hill on North 14th Street. The home was built in 1900. It has a distinctive tin roof, and while it isn’t on the official Historical Register, Massey and his team used Register standards while renovating the structure. That meant his builders had to work piecemeal, meticulously taking apart the home and putting it back together. The crew labeled each piece in the home and raised the original low ceiling to 8 feet, another challenge requiring detailed structural work.
Massey’s next stab at historical construction was on a project renovating an Oxford Square building that currently houses the Old Venice Pizza Company. In recent years, Massey has focused on renovated family homes like the structure on South 8th Street where William Faulkner used to play pool in the original basement.
“The owner and the architect are at the head of my chain of command,” Massey explained. “Sometimes owners can be difficult but usually half way through the project, we’re in such close communication that we’ve become friends.”
Two Oxford-area women are donating part of their Mary Kay Cosmetics sales to Life for the Innocent, a non-profit organization that rescues children around the world from human trafficking.
Kathy Brummet and Elizabeth Jones are donating 100 percent of all profits from special Mary Kay lipstick and mascara sales.
According to Life for the Innocent, saving one child from the horror of human trafficking costs around $1,040. That amount guarantees an eight-month restoration process that includes medical check ups, food, clothing counseling and school.
“If I could sell 450 lipsticks I know I could help save three children, that is my goal for these holidays,” Jones said.
Kathy Brummet said that she has been interested in these kinds of problems for quite some time now. She started reading and learning about human trafficking, as well as looking for a program that would help her enter into action.
“I began to pray that God would just show me where he was already working, to know what my next step would be,” Brummet said.
The women are raising money until Dec. 21 to send to Life for the Innocent, so that by next year more children can be saved and put in Christian homes.
“My motivation behind it is that I know how precious children are and these people are taking children as young as 3-years-old. Their little bodies are being sold several times a day for someone’s pleasure,” Jones said.
“I’m committed for long as I feel God is leading me in this direction to tell the story to anybody that would listen, and to do everything I can to raise money to rescue children,” Brummet said.
For more information about how to help visit: http://www.lifefortheinnocent.org/index.php
To order lip gloss, lip stick and any mascara to help support Life For the Innocent, visit: http:www.marykay.com/lizjones888
Third generation funeral director and mother of two Sally Kate Walker lives every day remembering a note her grandmother left taped to the office wall: “It’s not just another funeral.”
“I think a lot of people are surprised to learn that I’m a funeral director,” Walker said. “I’ve learned more about life in the past eight years than i will ever understand about death. It’s not a very glamorous job, but it is very fulfilling.”
Waller Funeral Home in Oxford was founded by her grandparents, Don and Patsy Waller, in 1977. Walker’s parents, Bob and Beth Rosson, are both licensed funeral directors too. It is truly a family affair, living up to their principle of “our family serving your family”.
Walker said that her generation is starting to experience the death of parents and grandparents. She has learned that she can’t make the death of a family member any easier, but she can keep it from being any more painful or more difficult.
Walker admits that one of the hardest parts of her job is dealing with the irregular hours of the funeral home business. She and her family work weekends, nights, holidays, and can’t usually plan more than a day in advance. Her husband, Jonathan, understands that an afternoon planned for hunting often turns into an afternoon at home with their two boys, Tom and Rosson, because Sally Kate has to work.
“I’m in awe of moms who blog and craft with their children — when I feel like I have conquered the world if all the laundry is done,” Walker said. “We have learned to become a very flexible family. We strive to work and home life, family time, and social time with our friends. We are also so fortunate to have both of our families in town to help!”