The Annual meeting is to report to you on EDF activities of the past year, as well as our vision and plans for the future of Tate County, as well as the municipalities of Senatobia and Coldwater. We also recognize individuals and organizations whose efforts play an important role in enhancing the business climate and quality of life for all of us.
Tate County Schools “Educator of the Year” is Danna Smart.
Danna, who has an impressive 34 years teaching experience, attended Coldwater High School and graduated with Special Distinction in 1983 from Northwest Community College with an Associate Degree in Education. She received her B.ED in elementary education from the University of Mississippi in 1985. Danna currently teaches third grade at Coldwater Elementary School where she was recently named Teacher of the Year. She previously taught third grade at Senatobia Middle School; first through third grades at Magnolia Heights and first grade at East Tate Elementary School.
Northwest Mississippi Community College’s Educator of the Year is Jennifer Hale.
Jennifer has been an instructor at NWCC for 14 years. She teaches all math courses from Beginning Algebra to Calculus IV, including 4 online math courses. She additionally teaches dual enrollment College Algebra at Senatobia High School and Magnolia Heights School.
Jennifer is from Sardis and received a Bachelor’s of Science in mathematics from the University of Mississippi, studied statistics at the University of South Carolina before receiving her Master’s of Science in mathematics at the University of Mississippi.
The Senatobia Municipal School District “Educator of the Year” is Vicki Chrestman.
The Hernando native is a graduate of the University of Mississippi with Master of Music, Bachelor of Music Education and Associate of Arts degrees.
Ms. Chrestman has 14 years of experience. She has taught pre-K – 7th grades and 9th – 12th grades but currently teaches Elementary Music and Beginning Band at Senatobia Elementary School. She also assists at the Senatobia Middle School and Senatobia High School with 7th Grade Brass, High School Marching Band and High School Concert Band.
Band Director Jeff West said of Vicki Chrestman: “She is simply a Master Teacher. She is motivated by giving the students an opportunity to have a better life today, than they did yesterday.”
Magnolia Heights’ “Educator of the Year” is Allison Tomlinson.
Allison grew up in Senatobia and is the daughter of Jimmy and Lucille Brewer. She graduated with Honors from Magnolia Heights School. Allison received a Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Mississippi in 1996 and graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Mississippi with a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction in 1999.
Allison has 23 years teaching experience. She is in her 11th year at Magnolia Heights where she teaches 5-year-old kindergarten.
This year’s winner of the Best Renovation award is Whippersnaps Trampoline Park.
Whippersnaps Trampoline Park is located on Porter Street in the old Gyms Plus building. The 15,000 square foot building features trampolines and 9 different obstacles, along with one of the few interactive climbing walls in the state. They also offer large party rooms. To accommodate the specialized features Whippersnaps offers, the old building was expanded, gutted and completely remodeled.
Since opening in December of 2018, Whippersnaps has delivered fun in a big way to Senatobia. It offers, in addition to the main trampoline court, Dodge ball, Ninja Warrior, Wipeout, a climbing wall, foam pit, monkey ladder, battle beam and rolling log.
The business is owned by Lola Westerfield and her son Daniel Westerfield. The two have owned and operated other business jointly for over 15 years in Panola and surrounding counties.
The next Main Street Star award is for Best New Venture.
This year’s winner for Best New Venture is Delta Steakhouse, located on Front Street Street.
Delta Steakhouse opened on Front Street in Senatobia in December, 2018. The restaurant’s opening answered the demands of many from the area for a high quality steakhouse. The opening came after many months of remodeling.
Delta Steakhouse is owned and operated by Michael and Melinda Wilson from Rena Lara, MS. They have been cooking quality steaks since 2005 at the Great River County Store. They saw a real need in Senatobia for a high-end eatery featuring great steaks at night and a filling lunchtime buffet. Delta Steakhouse was born with a family vision. The Wilsons are grateful for the warm welcome they have received and look forward to serving the Senatobia community for many years to come.
The 2 Unsung Heros
The first unsung hero is Mary Ann Duncan. She moved to Senatobia when she was four years old. She left Senatobia around 1951, attended college, and went to work for an accounting firm in Jackson, Mississippi. She returned here in 2013, happy to be back in Senatobia and determined to do good things.
Mary Ann conceived the idea of a Christmas Village with the thought of it being a project which would allow her to give glory to God. She designed a grand Christmas Village, presenting the concept to Senatobia Main Street, suggesting that the group partner with her to make it a reality. And what partnership it was. Mary Ann ran and developed the project devoting five months of her time to seeing it completed. It debuted in 2018 as Santa’s Workshop and Christmas Village as part of the Senatobia Christmas Open House.
The next Star award for Unsung Hero is Bob Meacham.
Bob Meacham was raised in Batesville but came to Senatobia 53 years ago to attend NWCC. He went on to graduate from Mississippi State University. Bob spent 32 years in the retail lumber and hardware business. He also served for 32 years with the Senatobia Fire Department, 27 of those years as Fire Inspector.
The winner of the Main Street Community Leadership award is Frank Beck.
Frank has served on the Senatobia Main Street Board, providing leadership as chairman for two years and working in 2014 and 2015 on planning committee for Five Star Festival.
He has been pastor of Senatobia Presbyterian Church for over 12 years. Frank has served on two commissions of the regional Presbytery of St. Andrew,–the Commission of Ministry and on the Commission on Preparation for Ministry, having chaired both several times.
Frank is a volunteer at Hope Ministries, where he currently serves as chairman of Hope Board of Directors and works at the monthly mobile food pantry.
The EDF awards Agribusiness of the Year.
The 2019 winner of the Agribusiness of the Year Award is Timberland Harvesters, LLC. Located in Eufaula, AL, Timberland is a management and planning resource for forest and land management, having bought, managed and sold hunting, timber and investment property throughout the southeast.
Timberland provides Forest Management Services to Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Alabama which include buying and selling of private sector timber, thinning pine pulpwood and establishing relationships between landowners, logging contractors and the mills.
The late Keith Vancil, Sr. spent over 25 years employed by Timberland and was instrumental in expanding the business in Mississippi. At the time of his death in 2018, Timberland was the largest supplier of roundwood for Resolute Forest Products in Grenada, MS. His sons Keith Vancil, Jr. and Hewston Vancil continue to represent and promote Timberland Harvesters in Mississippi and surrounding areas.
The Business of the Year for 2019 is Zaxby’s.
The local Zaxby’s franchise located on Main Street in Senatobia is owned and operated by Mark and Miriam Rowan, Larry Cahill and Eleanor Cahill. Zaxby’s opened on June 22, 2015 to large crowds and has enjoyed tremendous success in the years since. The popular franchise has 48 employees, many of them students at NWCC and local high schools. According owner, Mark Rowan, in 2018 alone, Zaxby’s has sold an astonishing 45,000 salads, 181,000 meals and has served 174,000 happy customers.
In an effort to “give back” to the community responsible for its success, the Zaxby’s management team supports numerous local events including the NWCC rodeo, ½ kicks at local football games and ½ court shots at basketball games for NWCC, Senatobia City schools and Magnolia Heights. It also supports fundraisers for area churches, schools and civic groups.
The Tate County EDF is privileged to honor Mrs. Gale Cushman as the 2019 Citizen of the Year.
A fourth-generation Tate Countian, Gale lives in the historic 1881 home she grew up in. The Cushman home, located on Highway 51 at Main Street, is a landmark in historic downtown Senatobia. Gale graduated from Senatobia High School as an honor graduate, attended Northwest Community College and graduated from Ole Miss with a liberal arts degree in Social Studies.
Gale taught at Senatobia High School for 18 years where she was head of the Social Studies Department, senior class sponsor, and Interact coordinator. She received Master Teacher of Economics through Mississippi State University from the Mississippi Economic Council. She has been enjoying retirement for the past six years.
Known throughout the area for her tireless work in service to Senatobia, Gale’s numerous community and civic commitments include:
- Founding member of the Senatobia Historic Preservation Commission, serving as chair.
- Member of Northwest Community College Foundation Board, serving on Scholarship Committee and as past chair.
- Member of Senatobia Main Street Board.
- Member of the Cosmopolitan Club and Magnolia Garden Club, serving both clubs in various offices and as president.
- Member of Tate County Master Gardeners, working on multiple projects to enhance downtown Senatobia.
- Member of the board of directors of Tate County Heritage Museum, serving as treasurer.
- Served as Cubmaster for Pack 250, Eagle Scout coordinator for Troop #77 and received the District Award of Merit and Silver Beaver Award.
- Gale is a lifetime member of First United Methodist Church in Senatobia where she has served on various committees and chaired Education, Finance, and Trustees.
We had an awesome turnout for the 21st Annual Meeting of the Tate County Economic Development Foundation