GOING FROM "BAD" TO COLLINS
Because of the building of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad (GSIR) and the building of the Williamsburg Station depot, life was set on the fast track. Three sawmills surrounded the small railroad station, and from there, expansion was set at full speed ahead. From 1899 until 1906, the construction of the town of Williamsburg Station grew rapidly. During that time, Williamsburg Station grew from a cornfield to a city with a population of between 6,000 and 7,000. All brought about by the building of the reailroad and the booming lumber business.
Most of the residents celebrated the quick growth except for the postal workers and the postmaster. During that period, each piece of mail for the nearly 7,000 residents was cancelled by handwriting the name, Williamsburg Station, across the stamp. Shaking and rubbing writer's cramp from their hands, the postmaster requested a name change on March 6, 1905. After a bit of deliberation, the postal service came up with a name that was short and easily written . . . Bad. That name was rejected quickly! After more pondering, the town decided to name itself Collins in honor of Fred W. Collins of Meridian who was a leader in the state's Republican Party and the U. S. Marshal for the Southern District. On October 24, 1906, a petition was filed with the governor's office asking that the name be changed. Exactly one month later, on November 24, 1906, the town's name was officially changed.
COLLINS: IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME
With the massive expansion of Collins, residents and businesses moved out of Williamsburg to be close to the convenience of the GSIR and Collins. In 1906, a portion of Covington County was removed to create the new Jefferson Davis County and Williamsburg was no longer at the center of the county. The county electors decided that the county seat needed to be moved again.
Communities scrambled to get the nod. Leading the pack, Seminary, Ora and Collins clamored to be named the county seat. In 1906, Collins won the race, and work immediately began on the new county courthouse. The first court was held there in 1908 in the city of nearly 7,000.
Shortly after, Collins' first lousy hand was dealt. Long before crop rotation and soil conservation became accepted practices, the lumber industry gutted the forests and moved on. Nearly overnight, Collins' population dwindled to 700. The nation was also held in the grips of the Great Depression.. The few remaining townspeople decided it was time to work overtime to keep Collins afloat.
In 1936, the town began to rally. As one of the first paved highways projects in Mississippi, the road from the Gulf Coast to Jackson gave Collins a roadside window to the growth of the automobiles and the highway system. Shortly after U. S. 49 was completed, U. S. 84 crossed the state from Laurel to Natchez, putting Collins at the intersection of new projects and growth.
After the Depression, Collins was handed another gift. The Plantation Pipeline was run from Baton Rouge to the east coast through Collins. Kola became the oil company's distribution center for Middle Mississippi, and huge storage tank farms began to be built between Kola and Collins.. Seeing the tax possibilities, Kola was annexed into Collins at about the same time that Ora was. The planners of the expanding Collins, had another trick up their sleeves. Former Mayor Jimmy Arrington and a team of lawyers developed a plan to put the entire town under the Homestead Exemption laws . . . and it worked!
In the last several years, Collins has marched on with its plans to be it's best self. News of new businesses seems to be in the news almost every other year. The Veteran's Administration's Nursing Home followed by the Grand Paradise Water Park have been the latest multi-million dollar projects to locate in Collins. Today the town's strategic growth is led by Mayor V. O. Smith, Alderman At-Large and Mayor ProTem: Bobby A. Mooney and Aldermen Lester L. Magee, Gerald G. Buffington, and Halbert R. Walker, and Alderwoman Hope Magee Jones.
Another big rallying point for Collins' citizens is the school system. Collins is the home of the offoces of the Covimgton County Schools. It's the home of Collins Elementary, Collins Middle School, Collins High School, and the Covington County Vocational school. Today, Collins has grown from 700 to 2,751 residents and is now categorized as a city again. Collins High School's Tigers won back to back championships in Group 3A in 2001 and 2002.
COLLINS' NATIVES THAT HAVE MADE IT BIG!
Many dynamic people have called Collins home. The best known of them all is the actor Gerald McRaney. McRaney's fame had his beginnings in a repertory company in New Orleans. When he moved to Los Angeles all he could seem to find were bit parts. McRaney's star launching moment came when he was cast on the very last Rawhide episode. With bigger and bigger roles coming his way, he was cast as one of the private detective Simon brothers on the TV show Simon and Simon wich ran for eight (8) seasons. In the last year of Simon and Simon, McRaney created the TV show entitled Major Dad. He starred in the series from 1989 to 1993. In 1996 he starred in Promised Land which was a spinoff from the hit TV series, Touched By An Angel.
He's been married a number of years to actress, Delta Burke. He also had a reoccuring role as her boyfriend, Dash Goff, on Designing Women.. McRaney has continued working since the series' end. but 2010 has seemed to be another bonus year for him. Filming the movie Get Low with Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek in 2010, it was one of the films presented at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
On May 1, 1999, McRaney was honored by his hometown. A plaque was placed on the home where he was raised, and the street was renamed in his honor.
NFL STAR CORRELL BUCKHAULTER
Born October 6, 1978, in Collins, Correll Buckhaulter attended school in the Collins school system. While in high school he lettered in football for rushing 3,024 yards in the last 2 years at CHS. He made the high school Mississippi All-Star team. graduating in 1997.
He attended Nebraska, playing 46 games and when he finished was ranked eighth (8) in the school's history with 2,522 yards rushing. He had 11 100+ games while at Nebraska , despite the fact that he only started nine (9) times. His college major was Sociology.
Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, Burkhalter spent the 2002, 2004 and 2005 seasons on the sidelines with injuries. His best season with the Eagles was his first season where he rushed for 586 yards with 4.5 yards per carry. He also scored two (2) touchdowns.
On February 27, 2009, Burkhaulter signed a four (4) year contract with the Denver Broncos.
NBA STAR RANDOLPH KEYS
NBA star Randolph Keys last played with the Milwaukee Bucks. His first year was 1994-95. Born April 19, 1966 in Collins and attended school in the Collins schools, he was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of 1988. He played five (5) seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Charlotte Hornets, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks. During his best year, he split the season with the Cavaliers and the Hornets, playing 80 games and averaging 8.8 points per game.
He attended college at and played basketball for the University of Southern Mississippi.
SOURCES AND LINKS
Covington Crossroads: A History of Covington County, Mississippi, by Gwen Keys Hitt, Uniersity of Southern Mississippi Printing Center, November 1985
Collins, Mississippi , Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, http://en.wikipeda.org/wiki/Collins_Mississippi December 17, 2010
City of Collins, http://www.cityofcollins.com/, copyright 2007, City of Collins, MS
Gerald McRaney: AOL Television, http://television.aol.com/celebs/gerald-mcraney/1025462/biography, January 15, 2011
Gerald McRaney: Versatile And In Demand, The Los Angeles Times : Articles Collection, Copyright 2011, Los Angeles Times
Correll Buckhalter: Correll Buckhalter, Wikipedis: The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correll_Buckhalter, January 15, 2011
Randolph Keys, NBA Hoopedia:The Basketball Wiki, http://hoopedia.nba.com/index.php?title=Randolph_Keys January 15, 2011
Collins, Mississippi, FACEBOOK, http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1528503533&suggestfriends&ref=email_friend_confirmed#!/pages/Collins-MS/110472175640221, January 15, 2011
Collins Tigers, FACEBOOK, http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1528503533&suggestfriends&ref=email_friend_confirmed#!/CollinsTigers, January 16, 2011