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Sheena Barnett

If I'm not off winging my way Molokai to assist Father Damien in his work with the lepers, you can find me hang gliding high above the Florida Keys. I'm a scratch golfer who, under President Jimmy Carter, served as the United States Senate Majority Whip. And I like to read. OK, none of that is true. I'm Sheena Barnett, entertainment writer here at the Daily Journal. I also cover cops and breaking news. I earned my journalism degree at the University of Mississippi, where I served as editor-in-chief of the university's student-run daily newspaper, The Daily Mississippian. I'm the the board president for S.A.F.E., Inc., a member of the Country Cloggers and I founded Album Club ("Like a book club, but with music.") And I like to read. Seriously. (My fake bio is a reference to one of my favorite TV shows; 5 trillion points to those who can guess it)

Stories Written by Sheena Barnett

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Emergency personnel begin to clear the scene of an 18-wheeler roll-over on Birmingham Ridge Road on Monday. The tractor trailer was carrying a full load of gasoline at the time of the accident.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Emergency personnel begin to clear the scene of an 18-wheeler roll-over on Birmingham Ridge Road on Monday. The tractor trailer was carrying a full load of gasoline at the time of the accident.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com This gas truck spilled some of its contents, but a Hazmat team came to the scene to lead cleanup efforts.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
This gas truck spilled some of its contents, but a Hazmat team came to the scene to lead cleanup efforts.

By Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

SALTILLO – An 18-wheeler transporting gasoline overturned on Birmingham Ridge Road on Monday, causing the road to be closed into the late evening.

The 18-wheeler was traveling west on Birmingham Ridge Road when the driver lost control and the truck flipped off the road and into a ditch at about 3:15 p.m., said Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson.

The accident occurred about a half mile from the Highway 145 intersection.

There was a gasoline leak, but it was contained quickly. A Hazmat team was on site. The road was shut down from Highway 145 to Beech Springs Road and homes within a half mile radius were evacuated as a precaution.

The driver, who was driving for Tommy Brooks Oil Company, was not injured and no other vehicles were involved, Johnson said.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality will test the area for remaining gasoline and will clean it up, Johnson said.

sheena.barnett@journalinc.com

other_green_newsBy Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Spring has sprung, and the Girl Scouts are celebrating with their fourth annual North Mississippi Green Festival.

The Girl Scouts Heart of the South Council, which covers North Mississippi and a few counties in Tennessee and Arkansas, will have environmentally friendly and educational activities at Ballard Park from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday.

“We have eco-educational booths so people can learn how to take care of the environment,” said Jenny Jones, director of marketing and communications for Girl Scouts Heart of the South.

The Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi Wildlife Federation and Bureau of Land Management will all have booths, and Toyota will provide seed packets.

Oren Dunn City Museum will be open for everyone, and Girl Scouts can earn badges by checking out exhibits at the museum.

Jo-Ann Fabrics will have free crafts for kids, and a group of Tupelo High School seniors will work with the Tupelo Fire Department to teach fire safety to children with special needs.

There will be arts and crafts vendors, especially those who sell repurposed goods or items made from scratch. Many of the vendors this year are woodworkers, including Papa Bill’s Wooden Toys.

The Green Festival also features live music, face-painting, train rides, a rock wall, petting zoo and food vendors, including favorites like the Crepe Maker and the Queen of Ice Cream.

Tupelo Parks and Recreation will host a citywide Sidewalk Sale on the east side of the park from 8 a.m. until noon.

The festival is free, while some events – such as the petting zoo and inflatables – will have a small fee, Jones said.

For more information, visit girlscoutshs.org.

sheena.barnett@journalinc.com

Adam Robison | Buy at photos.djournal.com Splash, Tupelo Middle School's show choir, has three performances of its time-traveling show this weekend.

Adam Robison | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Splash, Tupelo Middle School’s show choir, has three performances of its time-traveling show this weekend.

By Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo Middle School’s show choir, Splash, will “Rock Around the Clock” with its new show.

The show choir has three performances of its time-traveling show this weekend.

Adam Robison | Buy at photos.djournal.com Tupelo Middle School's show choir, Splash, will perform a song from each decade starting with the 1920s.

Adam Robison | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Tupelo Middle School’s show choir, Splash, will perform a song from each decade starting with the 1920s.

“We’re going to rock through the decades,” said the choir’s director, Katie Foxworthy. “We’ll have a song for each decade, starting with the ’20s. It should be fun.”

Song selections include everything from jazz standards like “Blue Skies” and “Puttin’ on the Ritz” to Danny & the Juniors’ hit “At the Hop” to the disco tune “Y.M.C.A.” to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.’”

“There are a couple of surprises in there,” Foxworthy said. “The second half of the song is full of songs they know.”

The set includes giant, glittery vinyl records and for a few numbers Splash members wear colorful poodle skirts.

Eighth-grader Ebony Betts is in her first year of Splash and said she’s enjoyed the variety of music.

“We do a medley of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and ‘It’s My Life,’ and I didn’t think I’d like it but I do,” she said.

Seventh-grader Weston Phipps is one of three boys in the 44-member group, and he said the boys tried out together for the show choir. It’s been fun, he said, and he hopes “Rock Around the Clock” encourages sixth-graders to join Splash. “I think it’s going to be a really good show,” he said.

sheena.barnett@journalinc.com

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ON STAGE

What: Tupelo Middle School’s Splash show,“Rock Around the Clock”

What: 5 p.m. today, 2 and 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Tupelo Middle School Auditorium/Civic Auditorium

Cost: $6/advance, $7/door

For more: (662) 840-8797

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com Tupelo Film Festival Society President Roy Turner and Tupelo Film Festival Director Carolyn Parson said they're excited about the festival's move to the Malco in Tupelo.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Tupelo Film Festival Society President Roy Turner and Tupelo Film Festival Director Carolyn Parson said they’re excited about the festival’s move to the Malco in Tupelo.

By Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Film Festival is all grown up.

For its first 10 years, the festival was a production of the Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau, under the direction of film commissioner Pat Rasberry. But now the festival can stand on its own, so the Tupelo Film Festival Society is rolling out the red carpet for the 11th annual festival.

The new direction also means many changes for the festival. It’s the first year, for example, that the festival will take place at the Malco instead of downtown at The Lyric. It’s also a few weeks earlier than usual so it won’t conflict with finals and graduations.

“We’re exposing the film festival to our target audience: film-goers,” said Carolyn Parson, who’s directing this year’s festival.

Another change is that the Mississippi High School Film Competition is added to this year’s Tupelo Film Festival.

Student films from across the world, as well as from Mississippi, will be screened throughout the festival.

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in Nashville will give scholarships to winners of this year’s high school film competition.

“We feel very honored that they chose our film festival,” said Roy Turner, president of the Tupelo Film Festival Society. “One of our missions is to foster young filmmakers.”

The festival will also include free workshops for young filmmakers.

The Japan-America Society of Mississippi has partnered with the festival to screen three children’s films on April 18.

“We’re trying to expand our cultural knowledge,” Turner said. “(Independent films) are entertainment, but they’re also educational and informative.”

That same day, the festival will remember Academy Award-winning actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman with a screening of his film “Capote.” His friend and fellow actor Frank Vitolo will remember Hoffman at the screening.

Dim the lights

Despite the changes, one thing remains true about the festival: there will be plenty of films to see.

The Tupelo Film Festival offers a variety of narrative features, documentaries, short films and music videos. Many of the filmmakers will be on hand to discuss their films.

Some films that will screen at the festival include:

• “Life Liberty & Resilience,” a documentary about a Columbus man who traces his ancestors back to slavery and discusses his service in World War II.

• the Gary Busy narrative feature, “Confessions of a Womanizer.”

• “The Silent Epidemic: The Untold Story of Vaccines,” a documentary that will surely create debate.

• “Kane,” a superhero short by West Point director Michael Williams.

The festival wraps on April 19 with the awards ceremony, dinner and live music.

“If you love stories, indie film is another way to tell a story,” Parson said. “It’s like opening a book. Somebody takes you to another world and you experience a different part of the world.”

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ON THE BIG SCREEN

What: 11th annual Tupelo Film Festival

When: April 17-19

Where: Malco Theater, Tupelo

Cost: $15/adult day pass, $7.50/student or senior day pass, $35/weekend pass, $10/awards dinner. Student film screenings and workshops are all free.

Info: tupelofilmfestival.net

Adam Robison | Buy at photos.djournal.com Titania (Victoria Wise, left) must deal with Oberon's (Tyler Swinney) tantrums in "Midsummer/Jersey."

Adam Robison | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Titania (Victoria Wise, left) must deal with Oberon’s (Tyler Swinney) tantrums in “Midsummer/Jersey.”

By Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Shakespeare’s works have been remixed and retold plenty of times, but this time it comes with sequins, leopard prints and Hawaiian shirts.

Tupelo High School Theatre Company is producing “Midsummer/Jersey,” a retelling of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” set on the Jersey shore.

“It’s funny and hip,” said director Allana Austin, “or as we say in the play, it’s ‘juice.’”

There are chunks of the original dialogue mixed up with Jersey accents. The costumes aren’t historically accurate, but allow the characters to show off their style.

“I told them, we’re on the beach, but you’re a fairy. What would you do?” Austin said.

Tyler Swinney, a senior who’s playing Oberon, King of the Fairies, blends both Jersey and Shakespeare with his costume: long robes and a sunny Hawaiian shirt.

“I find it fun,” Swinney said. “It’s a different take, and a different plot line, in a way.”

Sophomore Marcie Koehn is having fun playing party girl Nikki.

“She’s very confident. She’s like, ‘You don’t like me? Everybody likes me,’” she said.

Audiences will find something to like in the comedy, she said.

“It’s hilarious and cute,” she said. “It’s not so stuffy, and it’ll make you happy.”

At the production, there will be a silent auction benefiting the Thespian Troupe 1949. Items up for grabs include gift cards from area businesses, a gift basket from Poe Poz Comics and a leather chair.

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ON STAGE

What: Tupelo High School Theater Company presents “Midsummer/Jersey”

When: 7:30 p.m. today-Saturday

Where: THS Fine Arts Auditorium

Cost: $6

Info: (662) 840-1841

Extra: There will be silent auctions at the productions to benefit Thespian Troupe 1949. Items to be auctioned off include a leather chair, a gift basket from Poe Poz Comics and gift certificates from area businesses.

lifestyle_entertainmentBy Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Coach Bill Courtney is quick to tell you that the Academy Award-winning documentary “Undefeated” isn’t about football.

“Undefeated” follows the beleaguered Manassas High School football team, a Memphis-based team that hasn’t won a game in years. When Courtney volunteers to coach the team, things turn around as he encourages the players to do their best both on and off the field.

“Football is a backdrop. It’s a human interest story,” he said in a phone interview with the Daily Journal. “When you get out of your comfort zone and you set aside preconceived societal notions, and you set aside self interest, and you work together for a common goal, amazing things can happen in everyone’s life.”

“Undefeated” screens tonight at the Lyric in Tupelo, thanks to Tupelo Community Theatre and Rotary Club of Tupelo.

“You think football builds character. It does not. Football reveals character,” Courtney says in the documentary.

The film won the Best Documentary Oscar in 2012. Since then, Courtney has allowed to share his success stories – both with the football team and with his lumber business in Memphis – with audiences.

Courtney will answer questions following the Tupelo screening, and he’s written a book, “Against the Grain,” that will be released in May.

“(The book) is an exploration of 14 tenents that I think are very important to our family, our society, our businesses, our politics, and if you had to sum it up, it’s that we can be a progressive, inclusive society without abandoning the core principals that got us here in the first place,” he said.

He’s happy audiences have enjoyed and found inspiration in the movie, which was directed by T.J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay.

“They caught lightening in a bottle that year,” he said. “They did an amazing job telling the story. People have flocked to it and it’s amazing that it’s still getting all that it gets. But it’s just my life.”

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LIGHTS, CAMERA…

What: “Undefeated” screening, and Q&A with Coach Bill Courtney

When: 7 p.m. April 10

Where: The Lyric, Tupelo

Cost: $8/adults, $5/students

Info: (662) 844-1935

Extra: The film is rated PG-13.

COOPER

COOPER

By Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Gabrielle Gunter Cooper has just about done it all for the GumTree Museum of Art, and on Saturday night, she was honored for her work.

Cooper was honored with the Shining Star Award, an award the museum gives to an outstanding volunteer. The award is given at the museum’s annual gala.

“It was an absolute, total shock,” said Cooper, who served on the museum’s board for nine years and continues to volunteer.

Cooper was chairwoman or co-chairwoman of the GumTree Festival’s Gum Ball for several years.

“I’ve asked for donations, I’ve gathered silent auction items, I’ve cleaned up after events, I’ve answered the phones,” she said. “I’ve done whatever they’ve needed to keep the museum functioning and to keep the lights on.”

Cooper works at Renasant Bank and joined the museum board because the museum is housed in an old Peoples Bank and Trust Company building.

“I never knew much about art – I’m a banker by trade. But it piqued my interest,” she said. “I help out whenever I can, and I’ve met so many outstanding people.”

She also thanked her husband, Rick, who helped her help the museum.

“He’s been such a good sport,” she said.

Cooper said she looks forward to more volunteer opportunities.

“I love the museum, and the people,” she said. “It’s nice to have something that cultured and available to small children and adults alike.”

sheena.barnett@journalinc.com

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Tupelo Public Works employees clear the excess gravel from the railroad crossing at Crosstown on Monday so new asphalt could be put down and the intersection reopened, which is expected around 11 a.m. today.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Tupelo Public Works employees clear the excess gravel from the railroad crossing at Crosstown on Monday so new asphalt could be put down and the intersection reopened, which is expected around 11 a.m. today.

By Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

TUPELO – If all goes according to plan, Crosstown could open as early as 11 a.m. today.

Tupelo’s busiest intersection has been closed since early Saturday to fix loose railway tracks, and BNSF Railway completed its work at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Tupelo’s Public Works Department has to complete the job by pouring asphalt, but Sunday night’s showers delayed that.

“We’re hoping to pour asphalt at 5 or 6 a.m. (today),” said Chuck Williams, director of the public works department. “So I’m hoping we’ll open at 11 a.m. or a little later.”

Crosstown was originally scheduled to open on Monday.

There have been no accidents reported in relation to the shutdown.

It was a busy weekend in downtown Tupelo, with The Color Vibe run, the first NOleput festival and the circus at BancorpSouth Arena.

But drivers found ways around the closure.

BNSF Railway is upgrading 220 feet of railroad at the Crosstown site, which is the intersection of the city’s principal north-south and east-west arteries, Gloster and Main streets.

The city of Tupelo had received numerous complaints from motorists about the condition of the tracks at the intersection, including a few whose vehicles had been damaged.

sheena.barnett@journalinc.com

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com Husband-and-wife team Ash Williams and Sabrina Hawkins make up The Amber, and they play a mix rock 'n' roll, punk, pop and blues. You can preorder their new EP, "Heartland Rock," for $3 theamber.bandcamp.com.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Husband-and-wife team Ash Williams and Sabrina Hawkins make up The Amber, and they play a mix rock ‘n’ roll, punk, pop and blues. You can preorder their new EP, “Heartland Rock,” for $3 theamber.bandcamp.com.

By Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Amber is a rock band, but sometimes it’s more like improv rock.

The Tupelo duo writes catchy rock ’n’ roll songs, but otherwise, the band goes with the flow – whether it’s changing genres from album to album or making the best out of broken equipment.

“We are a bit of an underdog,” said Ash Williams, the band’s vocalist and guitar player. “Our amps have died. Her hi-hat stands broke. Every time we fix one thing, two things break.”

That doesn’t slow them down at all. When something breaks, the band plays on.

The Amber is Williams, 25, and his wife, Sabrina Hawkins, 28.

The pair have been together for four years, been a band for two years, and husband-and-wife for just over a year.

They also work at the same company, Bauhaus, together.

They’re a good pair, so they work together well whether they’re working on songs or fixing up their new house.

“I practice when I feel like it,” Hawkins said, laughing.

“Sometimes I’ll say, ‘We’re practicing tonight,’ but then I’ll wanna go play video games,” Williams said.

“And I’m like, yeah, go play video games,” Hawkins said.

In 2013, The Amber released its debut album, “The Night is Good Phoenix Brother” – named after Williams misheard Hawkins’ claim that Joaquin Phoenix is the “not as good Phoenix brother.”

The group blended punk, garage and bluesy rock into a solid sound for that album.

Next week, the band will release a new EP, “Heartland Rock,” and Williams was heavily influenced by Bruce Springsteen for this EP.

“There’s definitely still that edge to it; it’s still us,” he said.

Williams has recorded his own solo music and has written scores for locally made films, and those are more elaborate productions.

But The Amber keeps things simple by recording most songs in about 30 minutes with little overdubbing to keep the sound raw.

Williams and Hawkins don’t plan out their albums by genre. They just record the kind of music they’re into at the time.

It never fails, though, that the band is a little ahead of the curve, moving on from a genre just as it starts to get popular.

“I zig when I should’ve zagged,” Williams said. “Maybe when we stop doing garage rock it’ll be popular again.”

After “Heartland Rock” is released, The Amber will work on finding new equipment to replace anything broken, find gigs and, of course, continue to work on their new home. But no matter what comes their way, they’ll face it head on. It’s worked so far.

“I haven’t thought about tomorrow much,” Williams said. “I’ve got my head wrapped around today.”

sheena.barnett@journalinc.com

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com BNSF Railway workers begin repairing the rail crossing at Crosstown on Saturday.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
BNSF Railway workers begin repairing the rail crossing at Crosstown on Saturday.

By Sheena Barnett

Daily Journal

TUPELO – It could take an extra day for Crosstown to reopen.

The intersection at Main and Gloster streets has been shut down since about 6 a.m. Saturday so BNSF Railway could repair loose railroad tracks.

BNSF completed its work at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday, said Chuck Williams, interim Tupelo Public Works director, but the Public Works Department needs to lay asphalt to complete the job.

“It’s our turn (today) to put the asphalt back in, but I don’t think the rain is going to let us do that,” he said.

The asphalt can’t be laid down if it’s raining or has been raining for a while.

If it rains all of tonight, as it’s forecasted to do, that could push Crosstown’s reopening back to Tuesday. Crosstown was originally scheduled to open up sometime today.

“We’re expecting better weather on Tuesday,” Williams said. “We’re just at the mercy of the weather. All we can do is leave it closed down. It’s still not safe to cross.”

Drivers made it around the closed intersection on a busy weekend.

The circus at the BancorpSouth Arena, the inaugural NOleput festival and the Color Vibe 5k run were all in downtown Tupelo, but no accidents related to the shutdown were reported.

“Everything’s been going great,” said Sgt. Tim Bell with the Tupelo Police Department. “We’ve had no problems whatsoever. It hasn’t impeded pedestrian or emergency traffic.”

Intersections around Crosstown were busier than usual with rerouted traffic, but Bell said traffic at those intersections ran a steady, if a bit slower, pace.

Williams has kept the city’s Public Works Department Facebook page updated throughout the weekend with news and pictures of the work.

sheena.barnett@journalinc.com