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Mary Boleware: Making firefighting a family affair

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Mary Boleward proudly displays her firefighter's certification. Instructor Danny Collins shakes her hand. (Photo by David Day)

First responders normally choose their career, but for Mary Boleware, the first responding career chose her—and many members of her family.

Firefighting is a family affair for the Bolewares.

“It’s me, my daughter, my husband, my nephew, my son is a junior firefighter, and we got a 4 and 5-year-old who are about to become junior firefighters,” she said.

The family works with the Desoto Volunteer Fire Department in Shubuta, Miss., a department in Clarke County about 50 miles south of Meridian.

“I did in-home care for years,” Boleware said, “but when my daughter wanted to be a part of the fire department, I took her to the fire department in our local community, and I ended up getting sucked in.”

At first, Boleware was not interested in dressing out and rushing into burning buildings. Boleware’s heart was called to aid people on the medical side of things. 

“They told me I would be good at [Emergency Medical Response], and when EMR classes come up, I’ll take them,” she said.

Boleware volunteered around the station every chance she got for nearly a year leading up to a fire fighting certification that took place toward the end of February. It was here that Boleware received her official firefighting certification training.

She credits her daughter for pulling her into the field of helping people, but truth be told, Boleware has been helping people long before firefighting. 

“I’m a homemaker. I home-school. I’m a pastor’s wife on top of being a volunteer firefighter,” she said. “I just love helping people.”

The firefighting certification is just the first step for Boleware. Her long term goal is to be actively involved in emergency medical response.

“EMR is needed more in a community than anything else,” she said.

Boleware said that in many accidents, EMR workers are the only ones who can aid individuals until paramedics arrive.

In her short one-year career as a volunteer firefighter, the 49-year-old Clarke County resident recalls some difficult times.

“If you feel stressed after seeing something or going through a scene, you must contact the department head,” she said. 

She acknowledges the proper protocol, but Boleware has found a new-age way to deal with incidents she encounters in the field. 

“I am a part of a firefighter’s Facebook page where hundreds of firefighters across the country are on there, and we just talk,” she said.

She explained that notifications will alert her from the page when group members want to discuss issues they have faced during a shift. 

Although the sights and scenes can be hard to handle sometimes, Boleware thanks the department, in some ways, for saving her daughter’s life.

“My daughter used to be on drugs,” Boleware said. “She was suicidal. She was facing depression. She was physically and emotionally in pretty rough shape, but because of the fire department she is a stronger young lady today … and that’s my reason for being a part of it.”

Boleware said it’s never too early to get your child started a career of firefighting.

“If you’re looking for something for children to do, get them involved in the local fire department,” she said. “They don’t have to go out on gruesome scenes. They can help pull and roll hoses or run Gatorade to firefighters. Then, when they get of age, they can drive the trucks and become a certified firefighter.”

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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