NEIGHBORS: Meridian teen earns Trail Life USA Freedom Award

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Will McCarty, left, receives the Trail Life Freedom Award from Britt McCarty, his father and troopmaster of Troop MS-0009 in Meridian.

Will McCarty of Meridian recently earned the Freedom Award in Trail Life USA, the highest award in the organization.

McCarty is a member of Meridian Troop MS-009, which is sponsored by Highland Baptist Church and the first chartered Trail Life Troop in Mississippi.

Few young men reach the pinnacle of the the Trail Life program and Will is only the fourth person in the state to earn the award.

To earn the Freedom Award a young man must earn 15 required badges and a minimum of 10 elective badges in addition to completing 15 to 20 service hours a year. Will then completed a major Freedom experience in the area of fitness, and two minor freedom experiences in the area of civics and Christian education. A faith building activity was also completed. The final part to earn the Freedom Award is a servant leadership project.

Will worked at the Northeast tennis complex as his project.

“I chose to do work there because I have spent hundreds of hours playing tennis there, and I noticed some areas that needed improvement," he said. "So, I wanted to help and give back to a place that means a lot to me.”

He and troop members painted more than 500 linear feet of railing, trashcans, and water fountains. Also, two tennis courts lacked benches for spectator viewing and two benches made from recycled plastic were purchased by donations and installed.

Charlie Turner, the assistant director for Meridian Parks and Recreation, supervised the project.

“I would like to personally thank Will McCarty, for the volunteer services provided at the Northeast Tennis Center," Meridian Parks and Recreation Director Trent Posey said in a statement. "We, The City of Meridian, are extremely grateful for people like Will. He had used the facility to put in countless hours of training over the years. The tennis center became a valuable resource in his effort to perfect his craft. Will recognized this and wanted to show his appreciation for the many years of use. Will did something many never consider and that’s why he’s such a special individual. Will took it upon himself to give back to a facility and to a community that served him in his youth. Will painted various areas around the courts and installed new benches. The generosity is very much appreciated.”

“With all the planning , supervising, preparation and unexpected delays things were overwhelming at times, McCarty said, but now that everything has been completed it is worth it.

"Having been a part of Trail Life really helped me with the project. Trail Life taught me how to lead younger boys in an effective way. It taught me to keep going when things are hard and uncomfortable. I am also thankful to Trail LIfe for helping me to become a much better leader.”

Will is the son of Britt and Amy McCarty of Meridian and he plans to enroll at Mississippi College in the fall to major in Administration of Justice and be on the tennis team.

Founded in 2013, Trail Life USA ( offers a Christian-based, K-12 program centered on outdoor experiences that build young men's skills and help them grow on a personal level and as role models and leaders for their peers. Through troops chartered by local churches, the organization has more than 800 troops, with members in 50 states, with a total membership of almost 30,000. For more information, call Highland Baptist Church at 601-482-0191.

NEIGHBORS: Meridian teen earns Trail Life USA Freedom Award

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After two long months of strict social isolation, residents of East Mississippi State Hospital's Reginald P. White Nursing Facility were able to get a glimpse of their families as they drove by them in the Family “Honk & Wave Parade.”

Reconnecting with families

May 22 was a very special day for the residents of East Mississippi State Hospital's Reginald P. White Nursing Facility. After two months of strict social isolation, they were able to get a glimpse of their families as they drove by them in the Family “Honk & Wave Parade.”

EMSH Campus Security led the parade as they drove by with their sirens on and waving to the residents. They were followed by the EMSH Maintenance Department, Summit Rehab and other staff from the EMSH Main Campus. Then the residents’ families made their way through, honking and waving, blowing kisses and holding up signs they made to let them know how much they were missed.

Residents were all smiles as they watched their family and friends drive by and can’t wait to see them again soon.

MCC student honored

Meridian Community College graduate Haley Rawson is the recipient of the Mississippi Radiological Society Scholarship.

NEIGHBORS: Meridian teen earns Trail Life USA Freedom Award

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Haley Rawson

Rawson, a resident of Daleville, was selected for the scholarship honor as the 2020 Outstanding Radiologic Technology Program Student at MCC as the student who best represents the radiologic technology profession through the consecutive 24 months of academic and clinical experiences.

Students in the program learn how to properly create, harness and administer ionizing radiation to assist physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Rawson maintained a 3.74-grade point average graduating with high honors. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa international academic honor society and the National Technical Honor Society. Active in her church, Rawson participated in many MCC activities, including My College Cares, District Health Occupation Students of America competition and Shoeboxes for Soldiers project. During graduation ceremonies, she was named a member of the College’s Circle of Excellence.

After graduation, Rawson passed her ARRT National Certifying exam first write scoring in the 100th percentile. She is employed by Anderson Regional Medical Center.

Cheryl Owens writes the Neighbors column for The Meridian Star. Submit items to

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