South Central Regional Medical Center Honors Teen Volunteerss

Posted on: May 12, 2022

In 2018, South Central Regional Medical Center began a teen volunteer program in conjunction with its adult program. The Caring Teen Volunteer Program is open to local teenagers, ages 16 to 18. Along with providing volunteer opportunities, the teens are able to observe and develop new skills, network with medical professionals, become educated on the various careers available within the healthcare field and make new friends.

South Central Regional Medical Center wishes to recognize three of the Caring Teen Volunteers that donated hours of service during the 2021-22 year; Olivia Burchfield, Northeast Jones High School, WyKendrick Jones, Heidelberg High School, and Anne Marie Sullivan, Laurel Christian School.

SCRMC’s Caring Teen Volunteer Program is designed to encourage teens in our community to join the volunteer team while learning about the various roles in healthcare and earning community service hours. Volunteering makes an immeasurable difference in the lives of others. Volunteering for SCRMC offers many opportunities of service for individuals, ages 16 years old and up. To apply, please visit, email or call 601-426-4704 today.

Information about the Caring Teen Volunteers:

Olivia Burchfield

South Central Regional Medical Center honors Northeast Jones High School Senior, Olivia Burchfield, for serving as a Caring Teen Volunteer. Olivia will graduate with Highest Honors as NEJ Salutatorian in May 2022.

As a Caring Teen Volunteer at SCRMC, Olivia donated 50 hours of service.  She donated her time at ComfortCare Nursing Center, Human Resources, Admissions and other areas of the hospital.  She was presented with a Certificate of Recognition and a 50 Hour Volunteer Service Pin.

She will be attending the University of Alabama at Birmingham this fall and will major in Neuroscience with a minor in Chemistry. She plans to receive her master’s in public health with an emphasis in healthcare management and then attend medical school.

 WyKendrick Jones

South Central Regional Medical Center honors Heidelberg High School Senior, WyKendrick Jones, for serving as a Caring Teen Volunteer. WyKendrick will graduate with Highest Honors as HHS Valedictorian in May 2022.

As a Caring Teen Volunteer at SCRMC, WyKendrick donated 100 hours of service.  He donated his time at ComfortCare Nursing Center, Human Resources and other areas of the hospital.  He was presented with a Graduation Honor Cord from SCRMC, a Certificate of Recognition and a 100 Hour Volunteer Service Pin.

WyKendrick will attend college this fall and will be majoring in Biology. He aspires to attend medical school and become a psychiatrist.

Anne Marie Sullivan

South Central Regional Medical Center honors Laurel Christian School Senior, Anne Marie Sullivan, for serving as a Caring Teen Volunteer. Anne Marie will graduate with Highest Honors as the LCS Salutatorian in May 2022.

Anne Marie is the daughter of Dr. W. David and Katie Sullivan.

Volunteering is her passion and she has earned over 200 hours of service in our community through organizations such as The Glory House and South Central Regional Medical Center. During her time at SCRMC, Anne Marie provided volunteer assistance in Human Resources, Long-Term Care, Community Blood Drives and in the Medical Office Complex at SCRMC. Anne Marie was presented with a Certificate of Recognition and a 50 Hour Volunteer Service Pin.

In the fall, she will be attending Mississippi State University and is enrolled in the Honors College. Anne Marie has received numerous scholarships. She will be majoring in Kinesiology and hopes to be a Physical Therapist.

SCRMC Healthcare Foundation to offer free cholesterol checks

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High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. The only way to know whether you have high cholesterol is to get your cholesterol checked. Your health are team can do a simple blood test, called a “lipid profile,” to measure your cholesterol levels.

Who Needs to Get Their Cholesterol Checked? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following should have their cholesterol checked:

  • Most healthy adults should have their cholesterol checked every 4 to 6 years.
  • Some people, such as people who have heart disease or diabetes or who have a family history of high cholesterol, need to get their cholesterol checked more often.
  • Children and adolescents should have their cholesterol checked at least once between ages 9 and 11 and again between ages 17 and 21.

South Central Regional Medical Center is hosting a FREE Cholesterol Screening on Thursday, May 19 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at South Central Place in Laurel. To schedule your time, please call 601-399-0506. This screening is provided at no charge to the community thanks to the South Central Health Care Foundation.

Laurel PR Specialist Romero honored in MBJ Top 40 under 40 Class of 2022

Posted on: May 11, 2022

City of Laurel Public Relations Specialist, Kat Romero, APR was recently honored by the Mississippi Business Journal as a member of their Top 40 under 40 Class of 2022. The MBJ is a weekly newspaper, based in Jackson, that features coverage on economic issues in Mississippi and hosts a variety of awards programs honoring leaders in business, finance, and technology.

The Top 40 under 40 program recognizes professionals under 40 who are working to improve the business and economic environment in the state. Honorees were recognized during the MBJ’s Top 40 under 40 annual awards luncheon at the Old Capitol Inn in Jackson on Thursday, April 28th.

The honor comes on the heels of several personal and professional accomplishments for Romero, who has been working for the city since last September.

In December, Romero attained accreditation in public relations (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). In January, she joined the board of directors of the Pine Belt chapter of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi (PRAM) where she has been a member since 2019 and currently serves as their director of communications.

Additionally, the employee relations campaign that she developed and implemented last year while serving as the public relations director at South Mississippi State Hospital, “Fill the Cup: Combatting Compassion Fatigue at SMSH”, received awards at both the chapter and state level.  It was aimed at raising awareness among hospital staff about compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress. The campaign won a SPARK award from the Pine Belt chapter of PRAM in February and was again recognized with an award of excellence during the association’s statewide conference in April.

In March, Romero and her husband, Jason, celebrated the birth of their second child. In April, Romero returned to work where she continues to develop and manage the city’s website and social media accounts and works with the Jones County Chamber of Commerce, the Jones County Economic Development Authority, and the Laurel Mainstreet Association to promote the city and improve communication between the city, these agencies, and local residents.

The Romeros live in Calhoun with their daughters, Miranda (3) and Roseanna (2 months) and a multitude of cats, chickens, and assorted critters. They are members of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Laurel.

The Glory House/ HGTV working to rebuild home for elderly couple

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Grant Staples of the Glory House in Laurel is amazed at how much progress he and his team have been able to make in the last few years. Since 2019, they have raised almost $900,000 that they have spent to rebuild and restore homes lost or damaged during the active 2019/2020 storm season. “That’s all the Lord,” Staples said noting that he never worries about the financial end of things. He’s a people person. The local missions agency began in 2015 to provide support for people in Laurel, Jones County, and the surrounding areas. Their food pantry alone currently provides for 1,000 families in seven counties.

Restore Jones County, the part of their organization designated to provide recovery services to those affected by natural disasters, has helped more than 20 families across Jones County repair and restore their homes following the December 2019 and April 2020 tornados.

Their latest project involves working with HGTV. “We have one more home to build and we are partnering with HGTV to do it,” Staples explained. The home belongs to an elderly, African-American couple. It sustained significant damage during a tornado in 2019. In order to complete the project, Glory House must raise $97,000. They are currently at $50,000.

For more information visit To donate click here.

Stamp Out Hunger returns post-Covid

Posted on: May 6, 2022

The Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger food drive will celebrate two milestones for its 2022 campaign—its 30th anniversary and its return after a two-year, Covid-dictated hiatus. On Friday, May 6th, Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee met with Demetria Bridges from the Laurel post office, Grant Staples from Glory House, and other members of the community to read a proclamation promoting the return of the annual food drive.

The drive will take place on Saturday, May 14. Those wishing to participate can leave their donations in or near their mail boxes that day for volunteers to collect. Donations will be presented to local charities including Glory House whose food pantry currently feeds over 1,000 families in the Pine Belt area.

The full proclamation can be found  at Proclamation-Letter Carriers’ Food Drive

A note from Lee Bounds, President of Laurel Mainstreet:

Posted on: May 4, 2022

A note from Lee Bounds, President of Laurel Mainstreet:

Our organization has an important announcement regarding the position of our Executive Director. On behalf of our Board of Directors, we would like to bid Susan Ladd, our now former Executive Director, a fond farewell as she relinquishes the duties of her position at Laurel Main Street. In tandem, we would like to extend a warm welcome to Caroline Burks, our new Executive Director in interim.

Susan has served Laurel Main Street since September of 2020 after moving to Laurel with her husband, Seth. Earlier this year, Seth and Susan welcomed a baby boy into their family, resulting in a call home for Susan.

We are grateful for the time we had with Susan, as well as all of her hard work while she served as Executive Director. As an organization, we offer our well-wishes and hopes for her future as a new mother.

Effective today, the Board of Directors has voted in Caroline Burks to fill this position in the interim. Prior, Caroline has served as a member of our Board of Directors, as Secretary on our Executive Committee, and as a member of the Promotions Committee. Caroline is also the President of Junior Auxiliary of Laurel, a member of Laurel Arts League, and a member of the Promotions Committee of the Jones County Chamber of Commerce. She also is the owner of Downtown small business, “Guild & Gentry”.

“Laurel Main Street has always been close to my heart because of its commitment to both the community and small businesses, and I am so honored to be an advocate for all our merchants, partners, and stakeholders as the interim executive director of LMS.” Caroline Burks, Executive Director.

Eagerly, we share this good news and look forward to the future of our organization with Caroline as our new Executive Director. We will continue in our best effort to support a vibrant and sustainable Downtown Laurel by means of design, promotion, organization, and economic vitality.

Spring heats up for Laurel’s local businesses

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Local business owners have been keeping the Jones County Chamber of Commerce busy with celebrations and ribbon cuttings in 2022. May the trend continue!

On Tuesday, May 3rd, the chamber celebrated the year’s first dual ribbon cutting at Pine Burr Apartments. Members of the Chamber of Commerce met with the Tillerys to cut the ribbon on Pine Burr Apartments across from Sawmill Square Mall at 1 p.m. The group was treated to a tour of one of the last nine remaining units available to rent. “I’m so happy its completed,” Dr. Tillery said of the two-year long project to turn the building which once housed Gibson’s and, later, the Jones County alternative school into apartments and commercial spaces. Included in the celebration was Lewis Goins, who served as the school’s principal for 20 years and now serves in the Chamber of Commerce’s Ambassador’s program. He expressed surprise at how well the project has transformed the property.

Afterwards, the group reconvened on the other side of the Pine Burr apartment building to celebrate the ribbon cutting for the Elysian Beauty Bar owned and operated by Lucy Nguyen. “We are proud to be a part of Jones County,” Nguyen said before she cut the ribbon at her new nail and hair salon.

But Tillery and Nguyen haven’t been the only ones with something to celebrate this spring.

On Tuesday, April 5th The Christian Bookstore in the Window celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting.

On Wednesday, April 13th Ellis and Walters dental clinic hosted a ribbon cutting to celebrate changing their name to Laurel Oaks Dental Care to ensure that the practice they established would continue long after the original doctors retire.

On Wednesday, April 20th, Woodland Cottages celebrated their grand opening with a ribbon cutting.

The Jones County Chamber of Commerce live streams and posts these events on their Facebook page so that members of the community who would like to see them and show their support for local businesses can do so.

Congrats to all of our local entrepreneurs!

Mayor read to children at Laurel- Jones County Library

Posted on: May 3, 2022

Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee dropped by the Laurel-Jones County Library Tuesday morning to read to children during their weekly story time. Magee read Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall, drew names for a contest sponsored by the Friends of the Library and signed a proclamation recognizing National Library Week.

The library will be hosting its annual summer reading program from June 1st to July 30th. This year’s theme is Oceans of Possibilities. More information can be found at the library’s website

Residents asked to call in for some pickup items

Posted on: May 2, 2022

The Laurel Public Works Department is working hard to get back on schedule following several instances of severe weather have left fallen trees, limbs, and other debris scattered around the city. As the work crews continue to clean up, Laurel Public Works Director Tyrome Russell wants Laurel citizens to know that they are working toward getting back on a normal schedule for picking up randy dandy (large household trash such as old mattresses and appliances). In the meantime, citizens are encouraged to call the public works department at 601.428.6455 to schedule a pickup time for any of those items that would not go out with the regular trash. Thank you for your patience as our team works to keep Laurel the City Beautiful.

Laurel well represented at recent public relations event

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Pine Belt PRAM- 2022 Spark Awards


Pine Belt Public Relations Association of Mississippi Awards Local Professionals


HATTIESBURG, Miss.(February 24, 2022) — The region’s best public relations professionals were recently honored for their achievements by the Pine Belt Chapter of the Public Relations Association of Mississippi. The awards, bestowed annually at Pine Belt PRAM’s awards banquet, recognize outstanding work in the field of public relations and celebrate select individuals for their contributions to the profession. This year’s event was held at the Ogletree House on the University of Southern Mississippi’s campus on Tuesday, Feb. 22.

“Public relations practitioners work tirelessly behind-the-scenes to help their organizations thrive in spite of challenges like a global pandemic,” said Pine Belt PRAM awards chair, Marissa Landon. “These awards allow us to recognize their efforts and the skills required to achieve success, but also reward the technical proficiency in the four-step process that is the foundation of any productive campaign.”

Sanderson Farms was awarded the competition’s highest honor as the judges’ choice recipient for their wage increase campaign, a strategic integrated communications program launched in 2021 when the company awarded hourly employees across-the-board wage increases. The nation’s third largest poultry producer’s corporate communication team also received SPARK Awards from the association for the same campaign and a long-term employee education campaign regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.


“The entry selected as the Judge’s Choice Award winner demonstrated an expert-level understanding of using the public relations process for a successful campaign,” said the judging panel from the Starkville/Mississippi State University chapter of PRAM. “Excellent writing made the reader care about the issue at hand and want to know more about how public relations practitioners tackled the challenge.”


Other SPARK Award recipients were the Office of University Communications at the University of Southern Mississippi for their “Back in Black and Gold” campaign and Kat Romero, APR for “Fill the Cup: Combating Compassion Fatigue at SMSH” campaign. Also among the practitioners honored was Jessica Breazeale Consulting, receiving a Certificate of Merit for the Mississippi Health Ambassador Initiative on behalf of the Mississippi State Department of Health.


In addition to SPARK Awards, which are evaluated amongst the member organizations who submit public relations entries, Pine Belt PRAM recognizes three chapter award winners annually from member nominations. Ashley Rea, 2021 vice president of programs and incoming president for Pine Belt PRAM, received the chapter’s highest honor as she was named the 2022 William E. “Bud” Kirkpatrick Practitioner of the Year.


“It is always an honor to be recognized among your peers, and this award is certainly no exception,” said Rea, chapter and multi-SPARK Award recipient and manager of communication at Sanderson Farms. “I have been involved in this organization since 2017, and I have learned so much from these talented practitioners in such a short period of time. I look forward to witnessing what the future holds for this inspiring organization and its members.”


Recognizing achievement in the field of public relations for nominees with five or more years of experience, recipients of the William E. “Bud” Kirkpatrick Practitioner of the Year award have contributed to the success of the chapter, PRAM and the Southern Public Relations Federation, and have realized success in the practice or teaching of public relations. The award was named after PRAM founding member, Bud Kirkpatrick, who also holds the distinction of being the longest continuous serving employee in the history of USM with 45 years of service.


In addition, Southern Miss Alumni Association assistant director for constituent relations, Anthony Palazzolo, was named the recipient of the chapter’s Burlain O’Neal Professional Promise Award, which is presented to an individual who has practiced public relations for less than five years or is a student currently enrolled in a public relations curriculum and showing considerable promise in the field. The final chapter award, the Pine Belt Image Award, was presented to the Laurel Main Street organization for their promotion and downtown revitalization of Laurel, Mississippi.


“Laurel Main Street is honored to be recognized by the Pine Belt chapter of PRAM,” said Keri Rowell, promotion committee chair and board member for Laurel Main Street. “We hope that our dedication to the revitalization of Downtown Laurel can be an inspiration for all to support our community.”


In an effort to promote the practice of public relations, Pine Belt PRAM presents scholarships to deserving students in the public relations field. Alyssa Schiaffino, a junior at USM majoring in public relations and advertising, was awarded the organization’s William E. “Bud” Kirkpatrick Scholarship. Schiaffino comes highly recommended by her professors who recognize her unwavering drive and passion for the field of publication relations.


“To me, receiving this scholarship is an honor and a steppingstone toward a future career in the public relations field,” said Schiaffino. “This recognition has given me more confidence in the skills I am developing and in my hard work.”


Outgoing Pine Belt PRAM president, Brittney Dykes, closed out her presidential duties at the awards ceremony by presenting Jonah Taylor, 2021 director of social media and website for the chapter, with the organization’s President’s Award. Given annually by the chapter president, this award recognizes service to the association including, in this case, developing innovative and engaging social media content and launching a new website for the organization.


During the awards ceremony, the chapter’s 2022 board of directors were sworn in to the association by current PRAM president, Amanda Parker, public relations specialist at Singing River Electric. Board members are as follows: Ashley Rea, president; Brittney Dykes, interim vice president of programs, past president and state board representative; Marissa Landon, vice president of membership; Matt Martin, treasurer; Kat Romero, APR, director of communications; Shelby York, director of social media and website; Anthony Palazzolo, scholarship and student affairs chair; April Jordan, community action chair; Vanessa Henson, awards chair; Jessica Breazeale, APR, professional development chair; and Caitlin Bradshaw, secretary and treasurer understudy.

Pine Belt PRAM is an affiliate of the statewide Public Relations Association of Mississippi, serving practitioners and students in the Hattiesburg-Laurel area with professional development opportunities aimed at enhancing and growing individual skill sets, contributing to the expanding science of public relations policies and practices. Chapter meetings are held virtually on the third Tuesday of each month.