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Those who keep us safe: Donnie Heggins

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photo courtesy of VPD

It was fixed in Donnie Heggins’ DNA to be in law enforcement.

The Vicksburg native has been around law enforcement officers for as long as he can remember.

“My dad was an investigator then chief deputy for the Warren County Sheriff’s Department,” Heggins said. When I was in Junior High, about the mid ’90’s, my brother started with the department, so I got to see what the job was like.”

Heggins knew from a very early age he would follow in his father’s and brother’s footsteps. His brother, Billy Joe Heggins, is the chief deputy for the Warren County Sheriff’s Department. Donnie’s first cousin, John Heggins, is also involved in law enforcement and a Warren County Constable.

Donnie, like his father and brother, started his law enforcement career at the Warren County Sheriff’s Department in the Juvenile Detention Center.

Heggins father always had a working K-9 in the household. Seeing his father work with the K-9’s sparked an interest in going into K-9 handling, which later landed him a job with the Vicksburg Police Department Narcotics Division.

“My love for dogs, especially working dogs, really led me to narcotics,” he said.

Heggins has been with the Vicksburg Police Department for approximately nine years. He is a narcotics investigator and K-9 handler to his 4 year old Dutch Shepherd, Kilo.

“She is with me 24/7 and our bond is very strong,” Heggins said. “She really gets along with my family; she’s my best friend.”

Kilo knows when it is time for work and time to play.

“When we are home she is a big playful dog with my kids,” he said.

His love for training dogs does not stop at the narcotics division. Heggins is a certified official with the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association. With this association, Heggins can certify any dog as long as they work for a law enforcement agency or private security firm.

“I have certified dogs in Louisiana, of course Mississippi, Alabama, and I recently did one in Arkansas,” Heggins said.

Heggins has been married for 19 years and has three sons ranging from 18 years old to 7 years old. He mentioned the hours of this job are not for the faint of heart and he owes all his success to his wife.

“The hours we work are crazy and having three kids, my wife is our rock,” Heggins said. “If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be able to do this job that I love so much.”

Even with the crazy hours, Heggins could not see himself working any other job and shared his advice for anyone wanting to go into law enforcement.

“Don’t pay attention to all the negativity you see on social media about law enforcement,” he said. “The people out there that truly respect law enforcement far outweigh the negativity you see going around right now.”

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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