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Posted on April 9, 2020 at 1:56 PM by Melitta Duncan
As I evaluate and communicate new information for many hours daily, some of which is not good, I know how important a positive attitude is for all of us during this challenging time. I choose to keep my head right and know that God is in control of this situation. Please join me with a positive attitude and as I “tell you something good”, please also forward some positivity to another person today.
Let me introduce to you our talented team with the City of Southaven who helps me and serves our citizens in a tremendous way daily.
Today’s introduction is Thomas Mastin, our Municipal Court Clerk. Thomas’ service to the City began on May 21, 1997 when he was hired as an Emergency Dispatcher/Telecommunicator. He served in this capacity until October 1, 2002 when he made a career change to our Municipal Court as a Deputy Court Clerk where he served until December, 2004 when he was promoted to Deputy City Clerk. He served in this role until being promoted to his current position in June, 2011. Prior to his service with the City, he worked as an Emergency Dispatcher with the Desoto County Sheriff’s Department from January, 1994 until January, 1997.
Thomas received his Associate of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice from Northwest Mississippi Community College in May, 1999. He continued his professional education with the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, graduating and achieving Certified Municipal Clerk status in 2009 and Master Municipal Clerk in 2018.
Professionally, Thomas received two life-saving commendations during his career as a telecommunicator. He was honored to serve as President of the APCO Mississippi Chapter President in 2001-2002 and continues to serve on the Mississippi Municipal Court Clerks Association Executive Committee as he has since 2018.
When asked, “Why do you do what you do?” Thomas responded, “I have always been a public servant during my entire career and my service in law enforcement and emergency communications, as well as my education in the criminal justice field, helped prepare me for my current role as court clerk. I am very detail- oriented person, which certainly comes in handy as a court clerk, where detailed and factual records are vital to our operation.”
Thomas has one older brother who lives in North Carolina and, when not working, spends his personal time as a movie buff, avid reader, and rare bourbon collector.
As our Municipal Court Clerk, Thomas has supervision of all court records and processes outside of the Municipal Judge’s responsibilities. This is obviously an essential function for our city with the enforcement of all of our laws. As he stated, it takes an experienced, detail-oriented person supervising this operation considering the large amount of transactions and records involved. Thomas is perfect for his job and is another talented member of my staff that just takes care of business. When I receive requests regarding any judicial issue, I just hand the ball to him and he does his thing in an outstanding way. He is a great public servant who is always ready to go above and beyond expectations to help anyone. I’m proud to have him on our team representing us and delivering our highest level of service standards every day. #tellmesomethinggood
Posted on April 7, 2020 at 1:28 PM by Melitta Duncan
Today’s introduction is Whitney Choat-Cook, our Planning and Development Director. Whitney began her service with the City on March 10, 2003 when she was hired as City Planner. In 2008, she was promoted to her current position as the Director of Planning and Development. In 2013, the City expanded her responsibilities to include supervision of the Building and Code Enforcement Divisions. Prior to joining the City, she worked with the Pickering Firm, Inc. as Land Development Expediter from 2001-2003 and the City of Bartlett, TN as Geographical Information System Analyst from 1999-2001.
Whitney received her Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning and Urban Affairs from the University of Memphis in 2007. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Urban Geography with Minors in both Land Design and Spatial Analysis in 1999, also from the University of Memphis.
When asked to consider some of her biggest professional achievements, Whitney first noted her certification with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) which only allows testing by invitation of the National Planning Organization for a very limited number of applicants based on high standards of experience and education. This test is widely recognized as the most difficult test in this professional field. She also values the honor of being selected to serve on the Executive Board of Directors for the A.W. Bouchillon Institute for Community Planning in its inaugural year. Lastly, she will always consider it an honor to have been asked by her alma mater to come back and teach the undergraduate design labs due to her knowledge in the field of city planning.
When asked the self-inquiry, “Why do you do what you do”? Whitney replied, “I grew up in a family that designed and built subdivisions and commercial developments in Memphis, so at a very young age, approximately 9-10 years old, I was looking at blueprints on my parents’ dining room table and “helping” review their design. When I got to college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but my knowledge of development guided me toward the planning field. I enjoy taking a blank property and creating a new development that is an asset to the community and seeing residents utilize it. I view it like an artist does a blank canvas and taking that canvas and turning it into a piece of art.”
Whitney has been married to husband, Benjamin Cook for 10 years and they have one son, Garrett. Both of her parents and her brother live locally. When she is not working, she enjoys exercising and working in both her yard and garden.
Planning and zoning in a city are paramount objectives. Poor decisions in these areas have consequences that last for decades. Making the right decisions with developments and their corresponding locations has a significant impact on the overall economic success of any city, specifically in maintaining or improving general economic demand and the resulting effects it has on long-term property values. Whitney has played a vital role in helping the City make good decisions with quality developments that have enhanced our city in every aspect. She is a talented planning professional with exceptional vision and creativity. The City is fortunate to have her on our team as we continue to move forward with development and growth opportunities. #tellmesomethinggood
Posted on April 7, 2020 at 11:55 AM by Darren Musselwhite
Today’s introduction is Chris Shelton, our ITEC Director. Chris started his service to the City in October, 1992 when he was hired as a Police & Fire Dispatcher. In February, 2000, he was promoted to Supervisor of Emergency Communications and in March, 2010, he added the role of Information Technology Director to his responsibilities. In October, 2014, the City restructured several departments, one of which combined and created a new department for ITEC, and for which Chris became the Director.
In conjunction with his role with the City, Chris also holds the following positions: Desoto County 911 District Commissioner, Southaven Police & Fire Chaplain, and SPD Law Enforcement Alliance for Peer Support Coordinator. Outside of City responsibilities, he also serves as Senior Pastor of New Day Fellowship Church.
Chris graduated from Andersonville Theological Seminary in 2013; Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003; and Southaven High School in 1989. His professional development training is extensive including completion of the following: New Horizons Computer Learning Center, International Conference of Police Chaplains, Mississippi State Fire Academy, Tactical Officer Survival School, LAPD Special Weapons and Tactics, U.S. Office for Domestic Preparedness, University of Nevada Counter Terrorism Operations, National Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatch, and Homeland Security Programs with the F.B.I. and U.S. Secret Service.
When asked about professional achievements that mean the most to him, Chris noted all the work, as Commissioner of the PSAP Committee, behind implementing the Desoto County Motorola P-25 Public Safety Radio System Network. This system drastically changed emergency communication for the better throughout our county and state, which greatly improved responder safety and effectiveness in protecting our citizens and visitors. He also treasures the expansion and upgrade of our City’s Emergency Communications Center in 2018 as it increased space for the appropriate number of personnel, and now allows us to meet the day-to-day needs of our team with the most modern, state-of-the-art equipment available. He went on to say that his position as Director of ITEC holds special meaning in that he is in a position to represent our Mayor and Board among working along with amazing people serving as Dispatchers and IT Technicians who provide the vital link between the public and public safety agencies.
When asked “why do you do what you do?” Chris responded, “I do what I do because I know that I am serving in the exact location I am supposed to be in. That’s the greatest place to be. I also do what I do because of the great people. When I say great people, I mean from my co-workers, to City leadership, to the great community we serve. The City of Southaven has the best employees around. I have to say that not only are the people awesome in my department, but the overall team the City has in place cannot be outdone. It’s amazing how everyone makes a team effort to get done whatever needs to get done. It’s also been said that at Southaven we do more with less. That statement couldn’t be truer. The other part of the great people I get to work with is our citizens. Southaven is filled with great people. I have lived here most of my life. I bleed SHS Charger Orange and Blue. While for short periods in my adult life I have moved to other places, Southaven was always my home and is my hometown today. With the “team” we have in place here, I know there is nothing we can’t achieve. That’s why I do what I do.”
Chris has been married to wife, Tonya for 26 years and they have one daughter, Kaylee who was recently married to their new son-in-law, Colin. Kaylee, like her Dad, also bleeds SHS Charger Orange and Blue as she was named “Miss SHS” her senior year and returned to Southaven after graduating from Delta State University to teach fourth-grade math at Southaven Intermediate School. When not working, Chris enjoys Crappie fishing, deer hunting, and ATV riding.
Chris is clearly the “Walter Mitty” of our city, but the difference between him and the fictional character is that he does it all in reality every day, and does it all very well. He truly cares about people and is always the first to “step-up” when there is a need, regardless of how much of the burden he is already carrying. He is an invaluable asset and reliable advisor to me and our city is so blessed to have him on our team. #tellmesomethinggood