Franklin County celebrates community

Published 12:15 am Tuesday, December 22, 2009

MEADVILLE — Much has changed in the 200 years since Franklin County’s inception. Cotton bales are no longer floated down the Homochitto River, and horses no longer stand tied up outside the county courthouse.

Despite all of the changes since 1809, everyone that crowded the second floor of the courthouse to celebrate the county’s bicentennial Monday agreed that one thing remained the same.

“The one thing that makes Franklin County special is its spirit of community,” Meadville Mayor W.P. Dickey Jr. said to start off Monday’s festivities.

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“People don’t say they are from Meadville, Bude or Roxie,” Dickey told the crowd. “No. We say we are from Franklin County.”

The theme of family and community was evident in all of the presentations given Monday morning, from the playing of the national anthem by the Franklin County Community Band Trumpet Quartet to the singing of “How Great Thou Art” by Bude Mayor Earl Case.

“It’s like Mayberry,” Chancery Judge Debra K. Halford said after the ceremony. “It really is. Everybody takes care of everybody.”

Melinda Bradford agreed. “We have a cohesion that is real special here,” Bradford said. “We’ve stuck together as a family.”

One reason for that sense of family might be the public school system, Halford pointed our.

“All of our children go to the same school system,” Halford said. “There are no artificial boundaries here.

“I think we may be the only county in Mississippi that has only one school system — public and private.”

Like Halford, Bradford is a Franklin County transplant. Friends had told her how about the family atmosphere and the quality of life that the area offered.

“They said if you make it two years, then you are accepted,” Bradford said. “They were right and it’s been a good place to live since.”

Dot Oglesby said the best thing about Franklin County is that it gives you everything you might want in a city. Not only does it give you the quality of life unique to small towns, but it also gives you easy access to the benefits of bigger cities.

“When I lived in Baton Rouge, I could spend 30 minutes getting to Walmart,” Oglesby said.

Everyone agreed the area has something unique.

“When I die they will put me 6-feet under in Franklin County,” lifelong-resident Frankie Jordan said. “What’s here, I like.”

Sen. Bob Dearing, who read a proclamation from Gov. Haley Barbour during the ceremony, may have summed it up best Monday morning.

“I started campaigning here in 1992. What I had been hearing is that Franklin County is the best kept secret of South West Mississippi,” Dearing said. “It’s true.”