Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Robert St. John's Top Ten 2014

Robert & Dinny St. John
Re-post of article by Robert St. John on Dec 23, 2014  

Over the course of the 15 years that I have written this weekly column, I have always ended the year with a list of the top-10 dining experiences I enjoyed over the previous year.

Some years I am on the road a lot, others are spent close to home. The work schedule usually dictates the travel agenda. This year was spent close to home for the most part. I was the co-leader of a tour through Europe that offered several wonderful dining memories, but I didn’t make my annual trip to Chicago or San Francisco, and I haven’t been to New York in a couple of years.

An entry doesn’t have to be an over-the-top fine dining experience. The only qualification to be included on the list is that the meal be a memorable one. What are the meals that would make your list in 2014?

10.) Country Diner, Highway 35, Sandy Hook, MS— Co-collaborator, and watercolorist extraordinaire, Wyatt Waters and I are working on a new coffee table cookbook and a companion television project. I wanted to film an episode at Candia Love’s joint just south of Foxworth. While Waters painted a scene in the dining room, Love and I went into the kitchen to fry rabbit. The fried rabbit was good, but the rabbit with onions and gravy was better.

Love describes rabbit as, “A cross between turkey and pork.” I’ll go with that description. But what made this day special was working with my best friend and filming a lady who is an embodiment of the American dream and whose laugh should be one of the most treasured recordings in the National Archives.

To view the full blog visit

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hattiesburg Area Housing Statistics: November 2013 vs. November 2014

For those wanting to join us in following the progression of the real estate market in our area, here is some specific data from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for November. These statistics are based on residential homes only and does not include land, multi-family or commercial properties.

Homes Sold
Days on Market
Med. Sold Price
Avg. Sold Price

Forrest/Lamar Co. MLS
Homes Sold
Days on Market
Med. Sold Price
Avg. Sold Price

Homes Actively for Sale
Forrest/Lamar Co. MLS
Homes Actively for Sale

Like most industries, the realty market tends to fluctuate a bit with some months being higher and others lower.  November 2014 sales are slightly behind the same period in 2013.  Inventory of homes for sale in the overall MLS area is trending down but for the specific Forrest/Lamar county MLS area, slightly higher than October of last year.
For more information, contact Sigma Realty at 601-602-0046 or visit us at
Sigma Realty’s December 2014 Featured Listing!
10 Persimmon Circle (Bellegrass Subdivision)
Hattiesburg, MS 39402
Beautiful home with 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths office/media room (downstairs) and bonus space on second floor. Open living/dining/kitchen area with hardwood floors. Granite, stainless appliances and refrigerator remains. Master has double vanity, jetted tub & separate shower. Walking distance to Oak Grove Elementary. Award winning S/D with swimming pool, tennis courts, common areas and so much more!!



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Meet Sigma Realty's Eric Coulter!

Eric Coulter
“Nobody works harder than Eric to make a deal happen and get a house sold.” – David Saulters, Co-owner Sigma Realty

Licensed as a Realtor since 2007, Eric Coulter’s real estate experience started among the historic hills of Vicksburg, journeyed along the fast paced city streets of our state capital, and now delves deep among his Pinebelt roots where he was born and raised. 

A graduate of Bassfield High School, Eric attended Jones County Junior College and The University of Southern Mississippi. His wife, Laura, is a graduate of Prentiss Christian School,   Pearl River Community College and The University of Southern Mississippi.  Formerly a teacher and coach at Vicksburg High School, she is currently entering her fourth year at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hattiesburg as the head girls basketball coach, head fast pitch softball coach and Assistant Athletic Director.  Their three children also attend Sacred Heart. With a family life surrounding the kids sports of basketball and baseball, the couple’s hobby of fantasy football leagues and involvement as members of St. Thomas Catholic Church, they also take time out to enjoy grilling and hanging out with the children.

As a licensed Realtor with Sigma Realty, I recently asked Eric to share more about his work experience and life growing up in our rural community.

Tell me about growing up on the farm with both chicken houses and cattle.

My family actually had two farms we worked at the same time.  One was close to Sumrall and the other in Bassfield.  We had chicken houses and cows at both, typically between 80 – 100 head of cattle and up to 6 chicken houses.   At JCJC I also studied animal and plant science. 

In addition to farming land, what other kind of land are you familiar

I grew up hunting and know the ins and outs of land for hunting clubs.  As a realtor I have worked with people to teach them about qualification and appraisals of them.

Your realty experience spans a large gamut including property from $30,000 to $750,000?

Yes. I started in realty while living in Vicksburg when I joined the Coldwell Banker All-Stars.  It was during that time I sold the historic Governor McNutt House.  I also worked with a lot of employees with the Corp of Engineers, Entergy’s Nuclear Power Plant and first time homebuyers.  From rural areas to middle of town, I have no problems changing hats. 

Tell me about your philosophy working with first time homebuyers.

My dad and my wife are teachers, and that’s a big influence.  I want to teach people how to buy a house so they will feel comfortable and understand why they are doing certain things, so when they are ready to buy their second home, they will have confidence and a better idea of the process.

You and Laura chose to return to the Pinebelt to live and raise your family.  What can a client expect when choosing you to help them buy or sell here?

I know the area, I grew up here.  As a Sigma Realtor, I have sold houses for clients from the Avenues in Hattiesburg to some of the most rural areas of Forrest, Lamar, Covington, Jefferson Davis, and surrounding areas. If you call, I answer my phone 24/7.  If you need a document picked up at your job, I go by to get it so you won’t have to take off work.  I believe in communication on a weekly basis so you know what is going on with your property.  I am here to meet your needs.

For more information you can contact Eric Coulter at 601-529-9448 or  To view current listings go to

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Robert & Dinny St. John Release New Children's Book

Currently out on book tour, Robert and Dinny St. John are traveling the state having fun promoting their new children's book "Fred The Red Frog".  Here is what the mother and son duo share about this collaborative endeavor.

Robert, where did the idea for Fred The Red Frog come from? 

When my children were young it was my wife who was in charge of putting the kids to bed on most nights. She always read them stories from various children’s books. When I put them to bed I told stories. Most of the stories were centered on a frog I named Fred that lived by the back steps of my boyhood home.

In these stories I told my kids that Fred and a boy named Bobby went on wonderfully fun misadventures. The kids loved them and requested the Fred stories over the books we already had on the shelves.

One day I sat down and put one to rhyme. That is the story which made it into this book. 

Most people know you as a chef and restaurateur. What was your goal in writing a children's book?

It was mainly due to the response of my children. They are teenagers now, but they loved the stories of Fred’s adventures.

Why did you decide that your mother should illustrate this book?

I love collaborating with people, whether it’s in business or creative pursuits. The greatest joys of my professional career have been the three books I co-authored with Wyatt Waters.

Marshall Ramsey and I also collaborated on a book several years ago and we had fun doing that.

My mom taught art for 50 years. She just retired this year at the ripe, young age of 81. I had a blast collaborating with her and look forward to continuing the book tour as we travel around the state to different schools, kindergartens and daycare centers.

Ms. Dinny, what medium did you use to illustrate this book? Also, tell us a little about your involvement in the book.

I used Prismacolor Coloring Pencil to create each illustration.

Robert brought me what he had written. He asked me if I would do the illustrations. It took a while to do it. I remember him letting Holleman showing them at the school library for show and tell. Robert read the book and Holleman showed the pictures.

Ms. Dinny, you are a retired art teacher. How long did you teach, and what do you hope this book accomplishes?

I have taught art since 1968 at a number of places including Hattiesburg Public Schools, Presbyterian Christian School in Hattiesburg, MS, William Carey University, and The University of Southern Mississippi.

I hope that children really enjoy the book. The story is different and interesting. I think they will enjoy the story of “Fred the Red Frog”.

Do you want to meet the author and illustrator? For a list of book signings and tours, CLICK HERE.

Friday, November 21, 2014

History of Lamar County, MS featuring Oak Grove United Methodist Church– Part 1

The combined Oak Grove United Methodist Church and Calvary Baptist Church Thanksgiving Service will be held Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 6 pm at OGUMC.  Pastor Jeff Floyd of Calvary Baptist will preach and OGUMC will host the reception afterwards. Brother Chris Young currently serves as OGUMC’s pastor. 
Here is the humble story of how these two sister churches combined spiritual forces to serve the needs of a small, rural community.  The bond still remains today.
It was 1902 when four Methodist families (Crews, Mucklewraths, Pools and Howells) banded together in the Oak Grove community, then Marion County, to hold Methodist church services. They built a frame building on the location of the Joe Cameron home at the corner of today’s Old Hwy. 11 and Hwy. 24.  By 1908 the name of the area was changed to Lamar County and the rural church building remained in use until 1927. During that year, the Methodist pastor, Mr. C.W. Wesley, was sent to Purvis and the small flock followed.  Since the Oak Grove church building was in poor condition by that time, it was torn down and the lumber was sold.
With the main mode of local transportation being horse, mule or walking, the congregation was not happy traveling the distance to Purvis.  When the Shelton family came to Oak Grove in 1931, they contacted the Methodist of the local community and made arrangements to meet in different homes of the members.  Things progressed and eventually Rev. Tom Pruitt of the Broad Street Methodist Church came and assisted in the Sunday services. By September 1936, several Broad Street Methodist Church members came with Rev. Pruitt, and an assistant pastor, J. Melvin Jones, and officially organized the Oak Grove Methodist Episcopal Church, South, which met in a donate frame structure at the church’s current location.
On Heritage Sunday 2005, the last remaining charter member, the late beloved Mrs. Ena King Cuevas shared her early memories of the church with the congregation.  “In 1936, when my father, Homer King, moved to Oak Grove, there was no Methodist Church; however, it was not long until Broad Street Methodist Church (now Heritage United Methodist Church) started a mission church in Oak Grove. We met on Sunday afternoons in different homes. After the services were over, we children had fun playing together. We were in the country (and I mean country then), and everyone knew everyone in the community, and helped each other when the need arose. For example, if someone was walking along the road, we would immediately stop and give them a ride.”
Ms. Ena stated “On September 6, 1936, Oak Grove Methodist Church organized with 48 charter members. The Rev. Thomas O Prewitt, pastor of Broad Street Methodist Church, presided. The organizational meeting was held in a new church on land donated by the M.H. Crews Family. Newman Lumber Company donated our first church and moved it to the church property.”  There were rooms on both sides which were large enough to hold pews, and also serve as Sunday school classrooms. The pulpit, pulpit chairs, table and decorative glass above the entrance doors were given by Broad Street Methodist Church.
The week following the official founding of the church, Ms. Ena stated they had the most spiritual revival she ever experienced. “There were very few cars so most people had to walk 3 or more miles. The majority of the people living in Oak Grove came – both Methodists and Baptists. Many people accepted Christ as their Savior during this great revival. One person left that night feeling so strong about Christ that, after he had walked all the way home, he walked all the way back to the church and accepted Christ as his Savior. He later became a well-respected Baptist preacher in our community.”
“We only had church every other Sunday, and our pastors were students at USM – known as Mississippi Southern College then – so we think we trained a lot of good ministers.”  It was not unusual during this period for preachers to serve more than one church, thus being circuit riders and alternating Sundays where they preached.  This is where the bond between Calvary Baptist Church and Oak Grove United Methodist Church grew as members from each church worshipped together each Sunday but alternated between the church houses since their circuit riding preachers were on opposite schedules. “On Sundays that we had church, the Baptists became Methodists, and on the other Sundays, we became Baptists. This relationship has continued through the years with our two churches sharing Thanksgiving Service and Easter Sunrise Service.” 
During the early years, there was no electricity, no water, and no bathrooms – just outhouses. “The men’s outhouse was on the left and women’s on the right. We had never heard of toilet tissue, so catalogs came in handy – not nearly as soft as Charmin. Windows were opened in the summer, and paper fans from Hulett Funeral Home were great to move the air. We could hear singing from the Baptist Church next door, and of course, we tried to sing louder and better. Sometimes you could also hear their preacher when he got excited and started shouting.”
Coal oil lamps were on the walls, wooden heaters were used, and homemade pews were installed. Electricity was added in the 1940s. The church doors were always open to anyone who wanted to come.  Many old-fashioned revivals were held with dinner on the grounds and the Spirit of the Lord overflowed the church and many joined. Pastoral service was on an every-other Sunday basis for years but as membership increased, a regular pastor was assigned for each Sunday service.
Do you have memories, stories or photos you would like to share with us about the history of our community?   Feel free to contact us at

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hattiesburg Area Housing Statistics: October 2013 vs. October 2014

As we shared in the last Sigma Realty e-newsletter, the realty market in the Pinebelt area improved in September based on last year’s statistics concerning the number of houses sold, median and average sold prices.

For those wanting to join us in following the progression of the real estate market in our area, here is some specific data from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for October.  These statistics are based on residential homes only and does not include land, multi-family or commercial properties.


10/01/13-10/31/13 10/01/14-10/31/14 01/01/13-10/31/13 01/01/14-10/31/14
Homes Sold 120 107 1307 1300
Days on Market 88 90 97 100
Med. Sold Price $122,750 $122,000 $134,000 $139,000
Avg. Sold Price $135,785 $133,543 $145,345 $155,862


Forrest/Lamar Co. MLS 10/01/13-10/31/13 10/01/14-10/31/14 01/01/13-10/31/13 01/01/14-10/31/14
Homes Sold 91 87 1018 1006
Days on Market 89 91 97 97
Med. Sold Price $130,000 $129,900 $142,412 $148,250
Avg. Sold Price $148,943 $143,302 $158,581 $168,525


ALL MLS 10/31/13 10/31/14
Homes Actively for Sale 1091 1072
Forrest/Lamar Co. MLS 10/31/13 10/31/14
Homes Actively for Sale 769 774

Like most industries, the realty market tends to fluctuate a bit with some months being higher and others lower.  Over the past few months, we have seen a slow steady climb in selling prices but October 2014 dropped compared to October 2013.  The year to date for 2013 compared to 2014, however, continues to show an increase for median sold price and average sold price both locally in Lamar and Forrest Counties as well as across the entire MLS area.
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To find out more about our company and see our listings click HERE.  To view ALL MLS LISTINGS, visit our MLS Home Search tab on our website by clicking HERE.

Looking for privacy in a quiet, secluded home? Look no further! This wonderful 3 bedroom, 2 bath house is located the Petal School district. Home features a very nice eat in kitchen, living room, deck and a large yard to relax and entertain. This home qualifies for USDA 100% NO DOWN PAYMENT!!  View 131 Forest Barnes Road in Petal by clicking HERE.