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Barry Bingham: ‘that they be remembered’

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Barry Bingham

Don’t the monuments in the Rose Garden on Monroe Street look great? The two oldest ones glisten as if they were new.

You can thank Barry Bingham for that. He painstakingly and professionally cleaned them of grime and dirt and mildew that had accumulated on the oldest for 137 years, on the other for about a century.

You probably couldn’t have hired Barry to do that. The work is a result of his love of heritage and pride in Vicksburg’s history.

His love of history goes beyond just reading about it. He has always been interested in the past, but what sparked his interest into action was when he met two elderly maiden ladies at his grandfather’s funeral in 1975. The ladies were his grandfather’s first cousins.

“Barry, we want you to have this,” they told him and gave him a copy of the family history.

Because of that gift, he said he felt a responsibility to study and preserve the past. Growing up in Vicksburg, he said, with history all around, he feels that one can’t help but develop an interest in it, to absorb some of it.

That history is not just monuments and historic buildings. He reflected that as a youth in the Boy Scouts, the hiking trails he went on had been there since the Civil War.

Barry was born in Canton, and the family moved to Vicksburg in 1965 when his father went to work at the Waterways Experiment Station. He attended city schools, went to Hinds Community College, and graduated with a degree in business from Ole Miss. He is the manager of the Roses store on Halls Ferry Road.

When he can find some spare time, Barry likes to play bass guitar, which he taught himself, “and I mess around with a few other instruments,” he says. He and a friend, Jerry Stuckey, play music mostly from the ’60s, “dance music.” They call the duo Williams Road because that is where they practice.

Barry Bingham stands beside the World War I monument in the Rose Garden holding a photo of his grandfather dressed in his World War I uniform.

His primary interest in history was hearing accounts his grandfather told about growing up in Calhoun County near the Webster County line, “way out in the country,” he says. “If you want to get away from it all, that’s where you go.”

He also heard stories about World War I, for his grandfather was in the 82nd Division, stationed in France “in the thick of things.”

That’s probably why World War I is special to him. Barry is a re-enactor, and while most recreate scenes around here from the Civil War, he portrays a doughboy from World War I.

It’s likely what turned his interest into a civic duty, that of cleaning historic monuments. Of the four large ones and numerous small ones he has cleaned, he said the World War I monument in the Rose Garden, the first one he tackled, was also the most challenging. The marble monument bearing the likenesses of two service men, one in the Navy and the other in the Army, was dedicated about a century ago, soon after the end of World War I.

He uses professional items, either D2, that you can buy online, or Wet and Forget, which is available at Sam’s. If one uses D2 it should be sprayed on, let it set, then scrub off the filth. If you use Wet and Forget, Barry said, just spray it on and the weather will take care of it.

He cautions not to use bleach as “it is not good for the minerals in the stones.”

Barry took on the first project “not knowing what I was doing,” he says. “It includes getting others to help. I learned you don’t do some things by yourself,” so he has enlisted the help of Boy Scouts and of Wayne McMaster.

For a large monument, he said it takes about half a day to complete a job.

Barry has also cleaned the 1887 Confederate monument in the Rose Garden, which was erected by Louisiana veterans of the Siege of 1863. It was the first in the city dedicated to the Southern cause and is in memory of those who lost their lives in the fighting. It was so caked with grime that it was almost impossible to read, but now it glistens.

He takes on “whatever catches my eye,” he says, and next on his list is the monument to Dr. Hugh Bodley at the intersection of Farmer and First East streets. The monument was erected by the citizens of Vicksburg after Bodley was killed by gamblers in 1836. The monument once stood at Bethel AME church, which was the site of the original Presbyterian church. It was later moved to its present location.

Barry also expects to clean some monuments in other towns.

There’s a personal satisfaction in pursuing the project, he said. “The people who put those monuments up are now gone. They put them up for a reason, for their service, that they be remembered. That is the reason, and for no other reason.”

He feels it would be a shame to forget those men. He quoted Abraham Lincoln who said at Gettysburg that his words would be forgotten but the sacrifices of the soldiers never would be. He feels that the men on both sides of the Civil War gave their all, “and no matter who won they fought for what they believed in and deserve to be remembered.”

Though there is a preponderance of Confederate monuments in the state, Barry is interested in all that are reminders of our history. He describes them as “a liink to our past.” It was when some were removed in other places that he decided it was “time to get involved,” so he joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

He doesn’t see an end to his project “because we’re not likely to run out of monuments in Mississippi.”

 

 

 

People

Josh Morgan wins the VDN Head Coach of the Year award

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VDN Head Coach of the Year Josh Morgan (photo by Ced Tillman)

Warren Central High School football coach Josh Morgan is the Vicksburg Daily News Head Coach of the Year.

Morgan played football at Warren Central in the late 1990s under his father Robert Morgan. He eventually committed to play football at Mississippi State University where he was a star safety and named to the All SEC team in 2001.

Morgan began coaching at the University of Memphis in 2004 as a graduate assistant before returning to Warren Central in 2006 to be the Vikings’ defensive coordinator.

In 2010, Morgan was named as the Vikings’ head coach after the retirement of Curtis Brewer.

Morgan struggled in his first two years as head coach. The team went 2-9 in 2010 and 1-10 in 2011. He broke through in 2012, when the Vikings their first playoff appearance under his leadership.

Morgan and the Vikings have made it to the playoffs each year since 2012, and this year marked his ninth consecutive season making it to the postseason.

The Vikings had a 9-3 record this season, and made it to the second round of the playoffs. They finished with the best record out of the four high schools in Vicksburg.

Morgan is the second coach to win the VDN Coach of the Year award after Vicksburg Junior High Coach Larry Carter Jr. won it last year.

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Business

Shandell Lewis opens an online home accessory store

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Shandell Lewis (photo courtesy S. Lewis)

Vicksburg native Shandell Lewis has started an online company where she sells various home and kitchen accessories, including luxury candles, room sprays and wax melts.

Lewis started organizing A Touch of Magnolia six months ago ad is excited about selling products that have helped her along the way. In college, she was diagnosed with severe anxiety but the aroma of certain scented candles helped bring her peace during difficult times. Now, Lewis sees A Touch of Magnolia becoming a great success as she spreads her love of aromatherapy to others.

“I want to go as far as God wants me to, and I want to put Mississippi on the map,” Lewis said.

A Touch of Magnolias is in the beginning stages of the business, and the store will have a soft opening online Nov 30.

Lewis is a 2011 graduate of Warren Central High School and graduated from Tougaloo College in 2016 with a degree in psychology. She received her master’s in school counseling from the University of Mississippi in 2018 and currently works as a high school counselor.

Lewis is grateful to her family for her success over the years.

“I come from a family of carpenters, business and home owners,” she said, “and we are all used to using our hands.”

To find out more about A Touch of Magnolia, visit the store on Facebook, Instragram or on its website.

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People

Claiborne County sheriff appointed the first female chief deputy in the county

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Standing is Sheriff Edward “Moose” Goods, who is pictured with his Chief Deputy, Christy Sykes (photo courtesy Port Gibson Sheriff's Department)

Story by Emma Crisler, editor, The Port Gibson Reveille

As 2020 arrived and both county and city boards met for the first time Jan. 6, not only were there new people sitting in every supervisors’ seat in the Matt Ross Building in Claiborne County, but changes had come to people working for the county as well.

In the sheriff’s department, not only was Sheriff Edward Goods the new sheriff but the chief deputy also had changed. The sheriff had selected Christy Sykes, the first woman chief deputy in Claiborne County.

Goods and Sykes had several connections including that they attended the Law Enforcement Academy together. They also worked together for 13 years at Alcorn State University.

As the Sheriff stated, he had observed her intelligence and noted the training courses she had passed, many of which would be useful if she were hired in his department.

“Chief Deputy Christy Sykes is the backbone of my department,” Goods said. “I’m the politician.” But most of all “I can trust her — a very important matter.

Chief Deputy Sykes

Sykes will receive her fourth degree from Alcorn State University later this month in athletic administration and compliance. Earlier, she earned degrees in criminal justice, workforce education, and an athletic management degree covering health, votec and technology.

She is the wife of Robert Sykes and the mother of three children, a daughter and two sons ranging in age from 6 to 16. Her parents are Harry and Shirley Williams (deceased).

Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department

The chief deputy said she interviewed for a job locally and put together a portfolio. She intended to keep her job at Alcorn and take on a job at the sheriff’s department, not knowing that Sheriff Goods was going to pick her as his chief deputy. As it turned out, she had also worked under former Sheriff Frank Davis when he worked as chief of police at Alcorn, and she knew some of the Claiborne County deputies from Alcorn.

Since she began her job, Sykes said they had dealt with some cases that were left over from the previous administration. There were also a few murders, petty crimes, cyberbullying and more domestic abuse that might be caused by the pandemic.

“But crime is down right now,” she said.

Sykes sees a few differences between her earlier law enforcement jobs and the one she has now.

At Alcorn, there were long hours to handle big events such as football game days, she said, but now, “I’m on call all the time.”

She added that people in law enforcement need to have their job in their hearts — some might call it complete dedication.

Fifteen deputies work full time or part time in the sheriff’s office with a “great auxillary,” she said.

During this first year, Sykes said they are trying to do things differently, especially on the technical side. They want to use computers to record everything instead of hand writing every action they take on a case.

She also mentioned bringing the 911 system up to date as an essential project.

Communication skills are also important.

“People will listen if you talk to them, and they will do what you ask of them,” she said. Keeping your ears open is also vital.

“Mrs. Sykes likes to be in the background,” Sheriff Goods said, but according to Sykes, “I can come out when needed.”

“I like to empower people, and I want to show this community that a female can do this job,” Goods said.

We wish Chief Deputy Christy Sykes much success in her important job working for Sheriff Goods and hope both will maintain their jobs keeping Claiborne County safe for a long time to come.


A version of this story appeared in The Port Gibson Reveille newspaper, and is reprinted here with permission.

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