Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat
Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat

Sunday Focus: Community more than clock ticks

Published 12:05am Sunday, February 23, 2014

What’s the sum of a day?In the abstract, a day is measured in the rotation of the Earth on its axis, a process that takes 24 hours, or 1,440 minutes.

Those minutes break down into 86,400 seconds, small markers of time that can drag or race depending on the perception of those counting them.

But the sum of a day is more than just the minutes that pass between moonrise and sunset.

Find out about the stories happening "Around the Clock in the MIss-Lou" in Profile 2014 found in Sunday's print edition of The Natchez Democrat.
Find out about some of the stories happening “Around the Clock in the MIss-Lou” in Profile 2014 found in Sunday’s print edition of The Natchez Democrat.

The day is measured in the moment, not the minute.

It is stretched, fitted and formed by living and dying, birth and death, by extraordinary happenings and by business as usual, and the moments a community shares can be a powerful binding agent.

A day is born at midnight, and all births have one thing in common — a baby.

Birth

On an average day, at least two babies are born in Adams County, according to the Mississippi Department of Health.

The actual average — based on the most recent data from 2012 — is 2.55 live births per day. Because the area acts as a regional health care hub, approximately a third — 36.8 percent — of the babies born in Adams County are to mothers who live there, while the remaining 63.2 percent belong to mothers who live in surrounding counties and parishes.

Slightly fewer than one baby per day is born to an Adams County parent — 0.93 per day.

Whitney Dollar has been a labor and delivery nurse at Natchez Regional Medical Center and Natchez Community Hospital for the last two-and-a-half years.

Some days no babies are actually born, but other days five or six will arrive all at once, Dollar said, but, “it is still a miracle every day.”

Seeing the vast majority of the babies born in the Miss-Lou enter the world is a joyous experience, and in many ways bonds you to the community, Dollar said.

“You get to know these people, and sometimes you even cry with them whenever the baby is born,” she said. “It is exciting, and you get anxious to see people’s babies, what they are going to look like, and months later you may go to Walmart one day and run into somebody and they say, ‘Look at my baby.’ It’s exciting to be able to be there for that on that day.”

Commerce

Most days, business is business as usual.

And in the City of Natchez — where the majority of Adams County’s money is spent — business as usual generates $14,986.30 in sales tax each day, according to the Natchez City Clerk’s office.

Those tax dollars come from a myriad of sources, fuel sales and food service, professional consultation and retail.

For Mary Sproulls, who has spent the last two years as one of the faces of Some of This & Some of That, a day’s business means not only moving merchandise but also meeting a diverse cross section of the area’s population.

“Some come in and buy, others apply for credit and some are out shopping just because they have a day out,” she said. “They are not necessarily trying to buy something, but they like looking at pretty things, and we meet a lot of nice people when they come in, whether they buy or not.”

And meeting those customers, day in and day out, provides a good connection to the community, Sproulls said.

Law enforcement

Sometimes, business as usual breaks down.

In law enforcement, the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and the Natchez Police Department receive a combined 35,689 calls annually.

The annual total breaks down to 97.77 calls a day to which law enforcement officers in Adams County respond. That’s slightly more than four calls an hour, or a call approximately every 15 minutes.

Some of those calls are mundane — like loose livestock on county roads or a bank escort — while others are explosive, like a shooting or a domestic incident that has spilled out of a residence and into the streets.

But it’s never predictable.

“One morning, I was responding to a simple call to assist a motorist whose car had stopped working when — en route to the call — we got a call to stand by for an ambulance for a woman who was unconscious in a bath tub,” NPD Lt. Justin Robinson said. “I immediately responded to that call, instead, and performed CPR on the woman until the ambulance showed up.”

After 16 years with the police department, Robinson said he’s learned that the speed of police work can, “go from nothing to crazy off-the-wall to nothing again.”

Responding to law enforcement calls can bond you to the community in a special way, Robinson said.

“You can’t control everything  else, all you can control is you and what you need to do for the day,” he said. “I got into criminal justice because I wanted to get involved and to give back to the community, and even if nothing is going on, it is a great way for you to get out and interact.”