William Lewis

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Legislators meet with PRCC students, faculty

Folks at Pearl River Community College heard a little good news Monday – they’ll probably get through the school year without losing any more funding.

Eighteen consecutive months of falling tax revenue meant most state agencies, including community college, were asked to cut their budgets more than once in fiscal 2010.

“The good news is five out of the last six months, we’ve met tax projections,” said Rep. Toby Barker, R-Hattiesburg. “I don’t think there will be mid-year budget cuts, but the growth is microscopic.”

Members of the Forrest County Center PRCC Faculty Association and students met with four area legislators, Sen. Tom King, R-Petal; Rep. Larry Byrd, R-Petal; Rep. Harvey Fillingane, R-Sumrall; and Barker.

“I enjoyed it,” said radiography student Logan Holden of Poplarville. “I thought it kind of gave us a bird’s eye view of the state and what’s going on.”

While the state’s economy grows at a snail’s pace, enrollment at the state’s 15 community colleges is booming, said PRCC President Dr. William Lewis.

Sen. Tom King, R_Petal, left, and Rep. Toby Barker, R_Hattiesburg, talk with Pearl River Community College radiology student Logan Holden of Poplarville Monday while Rep. Harvey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, greets another student during an open house at the Forrest County Center. PRCC Public Relations photo

Statewide, 88,000 students are enrolled in a community college this semester, 11,000 more than are attending a four-year institution, he said. Of the state’s freshmen, 70 percent are attending community college and 97 percent of community college students live in Mississippi, he said.

“We have a lot of needs,” Lewis said. “We continue to grow. We continue to need help. These are the folks we can count on.”

The economy downturn appears to have bottomed out but recovery won’t be quick, Fillingane said.

“As far as real solid growth goes, we’ll  have to have new jobs,” he said.

King agreed recovery will be slow.

“They’re telling us 2014 or 2015 to get to where we were five years ago,” King said.

Byrd predicted South Mississippi will benefit from reapportionment this year as well as economic factors such as expansion of the Port of Gulfport and the opening of the Stion solar panel plant in Hattiesburg.

“Because of the shift in population, we’ll see more lobbying efforts for South Mississippi,” he said.

PRCC receives $350,000 from Asbury Foundation

POPLARVILLE – The Asbury Foundation of Hattiesburg recently gave $350,000 to Pearl River Community College for scholarships and dental hygiene equipment.

The grant will be used to further the education of students living in the eight counties served by the foundation, said executive director Bill Ray.

“They are usually students who stay at home and contribute to the Mississippi economy,” Ray said. “The money is well spent.”

A portion of the money – $150,000 – will be used to purchase digital imaging equipment, computers and software for the dental hygiene program at the Forrest County Center.

“This is a huge upgrade,” said Dr. Stan Hill, program director.

Students in the two-year program will learn how to manage charting and other aspects of a dental practice by computer as well as imaging, he said.

“Not everybody has gone digital in private practice, but it’s coming,” Hill said.

The equipment will be installed this spring, giving the instructors time to become familiar with it before putting it in use during the fall semester.

The remaining $200,000 of the Asbury grant will be used for scholarships through the PRCC Foundation.

Three full-tuition scholarships were awarded this semester, said PRCC Foundation executive director Ernie Lovell.

Although the Asbury Foundation did not restrict the scholarship funds, the preference is to assist students enrolled in an allied health or nursing program. The Asbury Foundation’s charter requires recipients of its grants to live in Covington, Forrest, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Marion, Pearl River or Perry counties.

“ Pearl River Community College is extremely grateful for the continuing support that the Asbury Foundation has shown with these latest gifts to the college,” said Dr. William Lewis, PRCC president. “Their partnership with our institution is vital to the success of our efforts to provide quality higher educational experiences for the citizens of South Mississippi.”

The Asbury Foundation was created in September 1997 with $35 million in assets from the sale of Wesley Health Systems. The foundation awards grant to strengthen education and health care in South Mississippi.

Honor society chapter formed at PRCC’s Forrest County Center

HATTIESBURG – The Beta Tau Gamma chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society was chartered Monday, Nov. 8, at the Forrest County Center of Pearl River Community College.

Thirty-six Forrest County Center students are charter members of PRCC’s second chapter. Before the Beta Tau Gamma chapter was chartered, Forrest County Center students were members of the Iota Mu chapter on the Poplarville campus.

“I’m excited that Phi Theta Kappa has been invited to be a part of your story here at Pearl River Community College,” said Garon Tate, regional manager of PTK chapter relations. “What makes us the most prestigious honor society in higher education are the members who have been inducted. These students have chosen to branch out from the four walls of the classroom and become engaged in their community college.”

Beta Tau Gamma chapter of Phi Theta Kappa international honor society was chartered Monday, Nov. 8, at the Forrest County Center of Pearl River Community College. New members and dignitaries who participated in the chartering and induction ceremony are, front row from left, PRCC President Dr. William Lewis, Christopher Wilson of Brooklyn, Candice Weathers of Pascagoula, Nancy Warden and Tran Hung, both of Hattiesburg, Evelyn Stuart of Purvis, PTK advisor Toni Cowart and Dr. Cecil Burt, Forrest County Center dean; second row, Kenneth Stalnaker and Danielle Stalnaker, both of Petal, Misehlle Snyder of Hattiesburg, Channa Nowell of Purvis, David McLeod of Columbia, Zach Magee of Seminary, PTK advisor Dr. Ryan Ruckel and Garon Tate, PTK regional chapter relations manager; third row, Linda Le of Biloxi, Lee Kinabrew of Hattiesburg, Eddie Hodges of Purvis, Jordan Hill of Soso, Hollie Fasone of Hattiesburg and Monica Eason of Carson; fourth row, Jessica Eason of Carson, Mattie Bush of Sumrall, Noelle Burkman and Chelsea Boutwell, both of Hattiesburg, Laura Askin of Biloxi and Sasha Arbabha of Hattiesburg. PRCC Public Relations photo

PTK was formed in 1918 in Missouri to recognize academic achievement of students at two-year colleges and to provide opportunity for growth through honors, leadership and service.

“This is a real momentous occasion, a special occasion in the history of our college,” PRCC President Dr. William Lewis said. “It is not your normal college club that you are joining. The very unique thing for Mississippi students is the fact that PTK International headquarters is located in Jackson.”

Membership in PTK means recognition by peers, faculty and staff of a student as a scholar and leader, he said. It also provides opportunities for scholarships to four-year institutions and signifies qualities important to future employers, he said.

“Keep in mind that you’re a member of a very elite group,” Lewis said.

Charter members of Beta Tau Gamma chapter are Sasha Arbabha, Chelsea Boutwell, Noelle Burkman, Hollie Fasone, Lee Kindabree, Rebekah King, Sarah Smith, Mishelle Snyder, Tran Hung, Catherine Turner, Anna Wall and Nancy Warden, all of Hattiesburg; Cynthia R. Betancourt, Danielle Stalnaker, Kenneth Stalnaker and Tamara Walker, all of Petal; Kelly Goolsby, Eddie Hodges, Channa Nowell, Evelyn Stuart and Angela Whiddon, all of Purvis; Jessica Eason and Monica Eason, both of Carson; Laura A. Askin and Linda Le, both of Biloxi; Galen Bond of Picayune, Mattie Bush of Sumrall, John Clayton of Prentiss, Kayla Harvey of Liberty, Corrie Hatcher of Lucedale, Jordan Hill of Soso, Carrie Jarrett of Greenwood, Zach Magee of Seminary, David McLeod of Columbia, Candice Weathers of Pascagoula and Christopher Wilson of Brooklyn.

Interim officers are Jaimi Thomas, president; Christopher Pfalzgraf, vice president; Courtney Carter, treasurer; and Chelsea Boutwell, public relations officer.

Chapter advisors are Toni Cowart and Dr. Ryan Ruckel.

McLain to Reign Over Homecoming at PRCC

POPLARVILLE – A sophomore from Taylorsville has been elected homecoming queen at Pearl River Community College.

The 2010 homecoming court at Pearl River Community College is, seated from left, sophomore maid Kristina Williams of Carriere, queen Heather McLain of Taylorsville, student body maid Kristen Barber of Sandy Hook, sophomore maid Chelsie Dobbins of Petal; standing, Forrest County Center freshman maid Mya McGown of Petal, Forrest County Center sophomore maid Lauren Garner of Hattiesburg, freshman maids Larencia Woods of Picayune and Ashlee Arnau of Oak Grove and Hancock Center maid Austa Chasez of Waveland.

Heather Nicole McLain will be crowned at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23, by PRCC President William Lewis before the Wildcats host the Hinds Community College Rangers.

The 3 p.m. football game will be the culmination of a week of student activities and a homecoming day slate that includes induction of five athletes into the PRCC Sports Hall of Fame, the annual Alumni Luncheon and several reunions.

McLain is the daughter of Julie Dunn and Sammie McLain, both of Collins. She is vice president of the Student Government Association and a resident assistant in the Women’s Suites residence hall. She is completing academic courses with plans to enroll in the dental hygiene program.

Her escort will be her grandfather, Ronnie Keys of Taylorsville.

The 2010 court includes:

Student body maid Kristen Nicole Barber of Sandy Hook. The daughter of Keith and Janet Barber of Sandy Hook, she is a sophomore majoring in teaching and business administration with a minor in Spanish. Barber is executive secretary of the Student Government Association and has played tennis for two years. Her father will be her escort.

  • Sophomore maids Chelsie Lynn Dobbins of Petal and Kristina Nicole Williams of Carriere.

Dobbins is the daughter of Mike Dobbins of Petal and Cindy Palhang of Hattiesburg. She is a speech pathology major, treasurer of Phi Theta Kappa international honorary fraternity, a member of the PRCC cheerleading squad for two years and was selected for the PRCC Leadership Forum. She shows cattle in local, state and national 4-H shows. Her escort will be her father.

Williams, the daughter of J.W. and Susan Williams of Carriere, is a nursing major. She is co-captain of the String of Pearls dance squad and sophomore class president. She is a member of the River Navigators recruitment team, Phi Theta Kappa and the Alpha Omega Science Club. Her father will be her escort.

  • Freshman maids Amanda Ashlee Arnau of Oak Grove and Larencia Shenise Woods of Picayune.

Arnau is the daughter of Ronald and Trish Arnau of Oak Grove. A pre-med biology major, she plays forward on the PRCC Lady Wildcats soccer team. She also is a cheerleader and freshman class president. She will be escorted by her father.

Woods is the daughter of Beverly Woods of Picayune and the late Lawrence E. Woods. She is a cheerleader and a human resources major. She will be escorted by her brother, Lorenzo Woods.

  • Forrest County Center maids Lauren Rachea Garner of Hattiesburg and Mya Donqunik McGown of Petal.

Garner, a sophomore, is the daughter of Joe and Briget Garner of Hattiesburg. She is a dental hygiene major and a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Her father will be her escort.

McGown is the daughter of Koretta Moody of Petal. She is a freshman dental hygiene major and the recipient of an academic scholarship. She will be escorted by her cousin, Jordan Bolton.

Hancock Center maid Austa Ann Chasez of Waveland. A freshman, she is the daughter of Frederick Chasez and Kelly Powell, both of Waveland. She received the Kiwanis and Wayland scholarships. Her father will be her escort.


PRCC’s Women’s Health Symposium Receives Major Grant

POPLARVILLE – The Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation recently awarded a $15,000 grant to Pearl River Community College as grand sponsor of the 2011 Women’s Health Symposium.

The symposium will be held on Saturday, Jan. 29, on the Poplarville campus.

As in past years, the symposium will include free health screenings, break-out sessions dealing with specific health topics and a luncheon. Motivational speaker Sally Baskey of Arlington, Texas, will be the keynote presenter.

“Pearl River Community College’s Women’s Health Symposium provides important health information to women throughout South Mississippi,” said PRCC President William Lewis. “We are appreciative of the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation’s continued support of this event, which has grown annually since the first symposium five years ago.”

Approximately 300 women attended the 2010 symposium.

“For the past several years, the foundation has been a major sponsor in this event, which is always attended by several hundred people in our service area,” said Dr. Ted Alexander, chief executive officer of the Lower Pearl River Valley Foundation. “The foundation looks forward to being a part of this health-related activity again.”

Registration materials for the 2011 symposium will be available in December.

Student Dies on PRCC Campus Thursday

A Hattiesburg woman died Thursday after collapsing at the Forrest County Center of Pearl River Community College.

Jessica V. House, 28, collapsed while walking to the Allied Health Center.

PRCC personnel trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation attempted to revive her until medics from AAA Amublance Service arrived. She was transported to Forrest General Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict said her death was the result of natural causes.

House was a general academic student at PRCC.

“The thoughts and prayers of the Pearl River Community College family are with Jessica’s friends and family in this difficult time,” said PRCC President William Lewis.