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Logan Sanderford: ‘You just have to be kind to people’

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Logan Sanderford

The service journey of River City Early College senior Logan Sanderford began with a friend in need.

“I had this best friend in ninth grade, and no child learns the same, so he had a really hard time learning,” she said. “Every day, we had an hour at the end of the day when kids that played sports would leave, and me and him would sit together and work on his grades and his schoolwork. He got a B in one of his classes and came to me just crying, just absolutely ecstatic, and that really just made it all worth it for me.”

Afterward, a brief conversation with her school counselor opened up the world of service to Sanderford, showing her that good can come out of any situation.

“I came from a school where I always felt like an outcast, and it wasn’t anybody’s fault, but I was just that kid,” she said. “My counselor, Mary Richardson, just taught me to be kind to people no matter who they are or if they look different from you, speak different from you—it doesn’t matter. You just have to be kind to people because you never really know what’s going on with them. So I kind of took what she taught me and ran with it.”

Since then, Sanderford has striven to go above and beyond to help others when given the opportunity.

“Since ninth grade, I’ve been the president of our Service Club here at River City Early College, and I try to put together different events,” she said. “Like, we’ll normally have a carnival for different seasons, and it’s super fun. I’ve also done tons of coat drives, food drives, and my most successful drive was in 2015 when animals were included. I took dog and cat food, and we ended up with a whole U-Haul full of food.”

Sanderford plans to attend the University of Southern Mississippi and major in business to continue her education but for now, she is content with volunteering at her favorite place in town, Jacob’s Ladder.

“I’ll always be involved in something no matter what,” she said. “I can’t just sit still, and I always want to be involved with Jacobs Ladder. They really are special to my heart, and my very best friend Pat goes there. He can’t speak. We can’t understand each other, but the love that he radiates, I feel.  And I never want to not be a part of that.”

Hometown Hero

Chris Gilmer, Hometown Hero

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Chris Gilmer shows Kofi Louis how to work his new lock. (photo by David Day)

The story of the 13-year-old young man, Kofi Louis, who had his bicycle stolen at gunpoint angered the community. The robber not only took Louis’ bike but his keychain containing his house key. Louis and his sister hardly slept for fear of the robber breaking into their house in the dead of night.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace along with Vicksburg Police Chief Milton Moore, Warren County Fire Coordinator Jerry Briggs and Reed Birdsong with Warren County Emergency Management, among others, came out to show their support for the Louis family and to let Kofi Louis and his sister, Alicia Louis, know they are not alone. Everyone was prepared to give money out of their pockets to ensure he got a new bike.

When Chris Gilmer of Vicksburg Locksmith heard about the families vulnerability because of the stolen key, he dropped everything to help. While the assembled law enforcement and community safety experts transported Louis and his sister to Walmart for a new bicycle, Gilmer stayed at the family home and installed a new lock on the door — a top-quality, high-dollar lock and dead bolt.

Gilmer would accept no money from anyone there for the lock, valued at several hundred dollars, or the service.

When the Louises and their new security team returned to the home, Kofi Louis was infatuated with his new bicycle. Briggs, Pace and Birdsong all started working to put on the new lights, and install batteries and water bottle holders. Gilmer took Louis aside and showed him the new front door lock.

Louis tested it a few times, closed and opened the door several times, and then had his sister stand inside and lock him out so he could test it some more. Over the next 15 minutes, while the gentlemen of the county were working on his bike, Kofi must have locked, unlocked and entered that door at least 10 times, each time looking in amazement at the craftsmanship and feeling a new sense of security with his new door locks.

To this observer, it seems Kofi may have been more pleased with his locks and door than with anything else. A sense of security can mean a lot, especially after what Louis had been through.

“They aren’t getting through this,” Louis told Gilmer with confidence.

For his selfless actions, his understanding of how the family felt, and his above-and-beyond efforts to make that family feel safe, the Vicksburg Daily News is honored to name Chris Gilmer the Vicksburg Daily News Hometown Hero for October 2020.

If you need locksmith service, please give Chris a call at Vicksburg Locksmith 601-529-0898.

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Hometown Hero

Woodrow Price: providing good male role models to Vicksburg’s boys

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Warren Central Intermediate teacher Woodrow Price.

Most people associate the word “teacher” with ABCs and 1,2,3s, but for one Vicksburg educator, being a good teacher has always meant something much more than that.

For Woodrow Price, lead teacher at Warren Central Junior High School, the job goes beyond reading and math.

“Most schools in our area are Title 1 schools. That just means we have large concentrations of students from low-income families,” Price said. “Most of the time when you have a lot of low-income families, you’ll find a lot of single parent households. Typically, there is no consistent father figure in these homes, and kids need a good male role model in their lives.”

That fact prompted Price to step in and step up, so he began several programs aimed at introducing successful, male role models in children’s lives.

One of Price’s programs is Real Men Read. Once a month, Price recruits successful men in the community to his school to read with students.

“The men we invite are businessmen, police officers, firemen, local politicians, you name it. I want the kids — especially the boys — to see what they can achieve,” he said.

Similar programs Price introduced are Boys to Men and Dress for Success. Those, too, are aimed at providing students with positive male role models.

“I grew up in a single parent household, but I’m grateful I had a grandfather, an uncle and a pastor,” Price said. “Too many kids in Vicksburg aren’t as blessed as I was.”

With the growing number of young people committing crimes in our community, Price said he felt something had to be done.

“It’ll really get you down,” he said, “and I found myself thinking how different things could’ve been for that kid with the right guidance.”

Price also thinks about how easily his life could have taken a wrong turn.

“I was lucky. I had good men in my life,” he said. “If not for them, who knows where I would have ended up?”

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Hometown Hero

Tracye Prewitt: ‘follow your dreams’

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Tracye Prewitt

Tracye Prewitt, an instructor at Dana Road Elementary School, met the challenges of being an instructor, and for 14 years, she has served as a mentor and positive figure to students at her school.

Her educational journey started at Mississippi State University as a history major, and later, the Lexington, Miss., native became a stay-at-home mother before moving to Vicksburg. She then decided to get back into the workforce, and Dana Road Elementary caught her attention.

As a member of the Dana Road Community Outreach program and faculty, Prewitt has brought several community leaders to the school to speak to her students.

“Being a part of the Community Outreach is a big deal,” she said. “One of our biggest events is the Leader In Me event, and that’s a team effort. My biggest event that I do is Read Across America.

“I strive to get people in the community and people that have an impact on our community to come out and read to the school. I want these kids to know that these important people such as the mayor, the governor, the lieutenant governor, the first lady of the state, representatives and former military generals think they’re important enough to take time out of their day to come and read a book to them.”

Even outside of work, Prewitt’s students are still her priority. She started an initiative to encourage her students to read more and to get the community more involved in education.

“I asked my friends on Facebook to sponsor my class for a month, and for $1 a child or $30 for a month, they bought the entire class a book,” she said. “Most have come out to the school, and read their book that they sponsored and presented the kids with the books. Sponsors have been (Mississippi Rep.) Oscar Denton, Shelley Tingle, Angel Meade, Tina Arrington, Robert Crear, just to name a few. The kids have loved getting books to take home that they can read forever. This bolsters literacy as well as community involvement.”

Pruitt hopes to continue being a positive impact on her students and let them know the sky is the limit when it comes to reaching their goals.

“I want my students to know that they can be anything they want to be and don’t settle for any reason,” she said. “Always strive to be what you want to be and follow your dreams.”

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