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From patrol to the pulpit, Marvin Curtis has spent a lifetime ministering to others

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Marvin Curtis when he was with the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

Marvin E. Curtis Jr. was. beyond a shadow of a doubt in my mind, the finest law enforcement officer I have ever had the pleasure to know.

He possessed the uncanny ability to talk a person into a jail cell and have them apologizing and thanking him. His physical stature and imposing presence certainly didn’t hurt matters. Standing around 6-foot-5-inches and about 250 pounds, the lean, raw-boned country man would intimidate most with any lick of sense.

Curtis attended Bob Jones University, a private non-denominational university in Greenville, S.C. It was there he met his wife, Faith. After graduation and marriage, the couple came back to Mississippi, and Curtis started his law enforcement career in his hometown of Utica.

Soon, he migrated to the Vicksburg Police Department, and then the Warren County Sheriff’s Office where he attained the rank of investigator.

Curtis then joined the Mississippi Highway Patrol and his career took off. Through the course of a 26-year career, he served in various capacities including the governor’s protection detail when to Kirk Fordice was governor. He oversaw driver services for a time before being promoted to lieutenant colonel. Gov. Haley Barbour tapped Curtis to lead the agency, and he was in that position when Katrina struck in August 2005.

Curtis waxed a bit philosophical recalling an interview with the late Fred Messina shortly after taking over as colonel of the highway patrol.

“I am like the turtle on top of the fence post” he said. “I didn’t get up here by myself. I will never forget where I came from.”

Through the years. he developed relationships with many in the media including the late Bert Case who was a strong antagonist of Fordice.

“Ole Bert was hardcore, but he taught me a lot of things,” Curtis said with a laugh.

He went on to say that WLBT’s Howard Balou was someone who always treated him fairly and how much he valued their relationship. “Howard is a true professional,” Curtis said. “He was very gracious to me.”

Curtis’ family had begun to attend the Warrenton Independent Baptist Church in 1991. Brother Johnny Wilborn, known as the “Singing Policeman” was pastor of the church at that time.

In the spring of 2005, Curtis was ordained as a Baptist minister. He became associate pastor of his home church soon after. Pastor Wilborn’s health declined, and he passed away in September 2006, and Curtis assumed his role in October of that year.

I asked Pastor Curtis how he felt about other pastors defying the orders of the government and holding services, such as the recent situation in Greenville.

“I know a pastor does what he thinks is right,” he replied. “I am doing services on Facebook. I am doing what I feel is right, and I am sure these pastors feel they are right because they have an older congregation who possibly doesn’t have access to the internet. But the government should be careful, because the church represents the Lord, and the Lord has the ability to heal or destroy a land. I don’t like the idea of a government doing what they did.”

Curtis said he has been encouraging his congregation to pray for our leaders.

“Everyone wants to be an armchair quarterback and say what they would do if they were in that position. But the Bible tells us to lift our leaders up in Prayer for wisdom,” he said. He added to visit the old testament and read in Daniel and Ezekiel. “I don’t think the Lord is happy with many things going on in the world today,” he said.

Curtis and his wife still call Utica home. “The Lord places us where he wants us to be,” he said.

He recalled telling Ballou when he announced his retirement from MHP in March 2006: “The good Lord works in mysterious ways to get you where he wants you.”

People

Pastor Reginald Harris Celebrates 17 years at Bright Morning Star Church

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Photo by Thomas Parker

Vicksburg Daily News was on hand to celebrate a special day with Pastor Reginald Harris and his family.

Sunday, the congregation at Bright Morning Star Church honored Pastor Harris for 17 years of leading the church.

Churchgoers decorated their vehicles and took the opportunity to join in the drive-by celebration and show their appreciation to the Pastor and his family.

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People

Those who keep us safe: Sam Winchester

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Photo by David Day

For 30 years and counting, Samuel K. Winchester has been a public servant.

In 1990, prior to a career in law enforcement, Winchester enlisted in the United States Military.

“I’ve always been involved in that line of work,” he said. “I am a veteran. I was in the United States Army, so that work really centered around a career in law enforcement after that.”

After the army, he got his first start in law enforcement by working at Alcorn State University. After a brief stint with the college, he started at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department in 2000.

Winchester grew up in a tiny town in Jefferson County, northeast of Natchez, called Rodney, Miss.

His upbringing resulted in him seeing first hand what it means to be a public servant.

“The person I looked up to was my father,” Winchester said. “Ironically, we both mirrored each other’s occupations. He was in the military and also he worked at the Jefferson County Sheriff’s department.”

Winchester saw that the Warren County Sheriff’s Department was hiring and he was hired in 2004.

With almost two decades with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, Winchester wears many hats.

Winchester has worked his way up the ranks and in 2006 was named detective for the Criminal Investigation Division. He also is a hostage crisis negotiator for the department. Winchester is also called on to investigate county fires as a county fire investigator. Lastly, one of the most notable positions Winchester serves is as the primary driving instructor at the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officer Training Academy for the State of Mississippi located in Pearl.

With all these responsibilities, Winchester is a mild mannered man who enjoys being there for his community.

“My favorite part of serving on the sheriff’s department is that I get to help people,” Winchester said. “In today’s society, our job is centered around the public, so we always want the public to know we are available to them and it’s very crucial that we help everybody. If you can just help one person and touch one person’s life you can consider that a successful day.”

The people of Warren County are not the only people who recognize Winchester’s hard work. In 2017, he was recognized by Hon. Bennie G. Thompson in the House of Representatives by a Congressional Record for his service.

In the record, Thompson wrote, “I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing, Det. Sam Winchester for his hard work, dedication and a strong desire to serve his country and community.”

After all of this success in his career, Winchester was asked to define a community hero.

“When you serve the public you dont put alot of thought into it being an individual community hero because it has so many moving parts to it,” he said. “Its a team effort. It’s not an individual effort. I look at everyone who serves the public and in law enforcement as a hero. Everyone who wakes up and puts on the uniform and risk their life to save someone else’s life or touch someone else’s life, that’s a hero.”

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Education

Mississippi native elected as Harvard student body president

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(photo courtesy Noah Harris)

A Mississippi high school graduate has been elected as Harvard University’s student body president.

Noah Harris, a 2018 graduate of Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, is the first African American to serve in the role at prestigious Harvard University in Massachusetts.

“I’m really grateful that the student body is entrusting me with such a historic and unprecedented moment,” Harris told WDAM. “To make the right moves and to really bring their voices to the forefront. I just never expected that I would be in a position to run for this.”

Harris is a junior and a political science major at Harvard. He served as treasurer on the finance committee in his first two years. His vice president and running mate is neuroscience major Jenny Gan. Both plan on making a difference at the university.

Harris and Gan will be sworn in Dec. 6.

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