Closing of Dutch’s Oven could negatively affect the Clinton community / Shauna Gandenberger

In early 2019, Dave and Ruth Holland fulfilled their dreams of opening a diner in Clinton, Miss. They previously opened and operated Dutch’s Oven Street Food, a food truck which served pancakes, burgers, tacos, and more. They were immediately loved by the community and therefore decided to open a restaurant on Northside Drive. 

On January 25, the Dutch’s Oven Facebook account made an announcement that the restaurant would be closing. The post stated they were very sad about the situation and that, “If there was a way to keep in business I promise we would have for it was with a genuine love that we have strived to provide the best food, service, and atmosphere.” 

Clinton local Barry Burnside has enjoyed dining at Dutch’s oven with his family on various occasions over the years. 

“When my family would eat at the Dutch’s Oven for dinner, we were sure to run into friends from school and church,” he said. “I was always welcomed with a smile, and they made me feel at home.” 

Although Clinton is the 17th largest city in Mississippi, it possesses a “small town” feel. This can be largely credited to the various small businesses and restaurants that locals enjoy often. These family owned businesses are typically much more personable and people oriented than major chain restaurants.  

Ruth and Dave both enjoyed the opportunity to own a small business in Clinton. 

“I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the customers we served. The greatest satisfaction came from providing a fantastic meal, going out to check on the guests and receiving positive feedback,” Dave said. “Going to miss that!”

Clinton is a growing city with an abundance of potential. It is important that locals remember the negative effects that a town can suffer when small business and restaurants are not made a priority. 

The loss of small businesses could lead to economic struggles due to loss of jobs and decreased tax revenue. 

Without Dutch’s Oven, there is one less tourist attraction to bring people to Clinton. Without Dutch’s Oven there is one less place for families to gather together, one less teenager getting to experience his or her first job, and one less couple living out their dreams of serving food to their neighbors. 

“I truly appreciate the support we received from our loyal customers over the past several years,” Dave said. “My hope is that they will value local businesses and do all they can to support them going forward.”

Lions Club: The Reinvention of Fun / Evan Espinoza

Photo: Kaleb Jefcoat (left) and Spencer Hayes (right) enjoy a round of cornhole at Lions Club Park. These jolly fellows are thrilled that there is finally a free cornhole set to use so close to campus. 

Lions Club Park, located in Olde Towne Clinton, is an inclusive park which adheres to ADA guidelines and accommodates the visually impaired. While the park was built with this kid-friendly, all-inclusive mindset, the adults were left out of the fun. However, Lions Club has recently added a new section to its existing facilities for the “big kids” to come out and have a good time. A small gravel pit with concrete cornhole boards and free-to-use bags now exists at Lions Club for anyone to get a game in, or for parents to relax and have a bit of fun while their kids get some daily exercise. 

This addition to the park was long overdue. Adam Wade, Director of Parks and Recreation in Clinton, was excited to finally get this fun project finished and open to the public. “This was actually always a part of the plan for Lions Club … We recently gained the private funding to be able to move forward with the new developments,” said Wade. Even though the new section is a fun addition to the park grounds, the Parks and Recreation department is being careful to not overcrowd the area but is always eager to improve upon what has already been done.

The new cornhole sets at Lions Club are also a big draw for the students of Mississippi College. This was in mind as Adam Wade and his department proceeded with its addition to the park. “With cornhole being such a popular game and the park’s location being so close to MC and the brick streets, it was something we just really wanted to add,” Wade said concerning the strategy of updating the park. 

Now that the cornhole sets exist at the park, students have extra incentive to pay it a visit. “Cornhole is fun,” said Dalton Wheeler, a junior at MC. “I don’t find myself at Lions Club too often but if someone wanted to go and play some cornhole, I would definitely be down.”

Jackson and Student Safety / Evan Espinoza

Caption: Officer Travis (left) checks in with MC student Nathanael Smith (right). Officer Travis works with the Office of Public Safety on campus and regularly communicates with students like Nathanael to create a comfortable level of trust.

Many students at Mississippi College do not confine themselves to the boundaries of Clinton. Many students frequently visit the Jackson area for many reasons ranging from church on Sunday morning to a night out to eat with friends. However, safety can often be a concern when visiting Jackson. By the end of 2021, there were over 150 recorded homicides in Jackson. With the homicide rate so high in a city so close and popular to campus, whether or not students feel safe in that area is in question. 

When MC junior Brennan Heard reflected on the homicide rate, his heart went out to the many families in Jackson. “There’s families with newborns that probably have to consider living in areas that aren’t safe … It also definitely makes you rethink staying around Jackson after you leave Mississippi College or at least stay in the safer areas.” 

Heard’s words reflect what many families in Jackson are thinking as many of the recorded homicide victims and suspects are young men and women, as well as children. As students graduate, many do not stray far from campus, seeking job opportunities or even a life of marriage in or near Jackson. The Jackson Police Department and the Hinds County Sheriff’s Office provide up-to-date data and maps detailing the year’s homicides for the benefit and safety of the public. 

Although our campus is not in the middle of the city, Clinton is only a short drive away from the outer limits of Jackson and some of the more dangerous areas. Officer Travis of the Mississippi College Office of Public Safety provided further insight into how campus safety protocol keeps students on campus secure. 

“We always have at least two to five security officers present, as well as Clinton police,” Travis said. “We also try to build a rapport with students, so they are comfortable reporting anything to us that makes them uncomfortable on campus or the surrounding area.” 

There are also a number of security cameras in place around campus as well as the “blue poles.” These poles exist for all students to use if they are somewhere on campus where they feel unsafe and need to get ahold of the security office. The Office of Public Safety can also be reached at (601)-925-3204. 

Officer Travis also made note that many of the homicides in the Jackson area can be attributed to gang violence, but some other crimes that can flow into the areas around Jackson are drugs and theft. 

Junior on campus Nathanael Smith has lived in Jackson for most of his life. He discussed some of the dangers he experienced growing up and how best to approach safety in the area. “One thing is just understanding the layout of Jackson. You can be in the niceness of Fondren then the next thing you know you’re in the middle of sketchy industrial areas.” 

Smith stressed that while the “safer” areas of Jackson are largely sectioned off, it is important to know your surroundings and to travel with a buddy if possible. He also noted that come nightfall, it’s best to just avoid some of the higher risk areas. “We had a lot of car break-ins even though we lived in a nicer neighborhood so you should always make sure nothing valuable is visible if you leave your car.” While homicide is scary and especially prevalent this year, vehicle theft is another leading crime students should be aware of when in Jackson.

Administration at Mississippi College works closely with Public Safety Director Mike Warren to stay informed on crime spreading from the Jackson area and keep up-to-date protocols to deal with said crime. Warren is a former police officer and keeps in touch regularly with local law enforcement in order to have a clear idea of what exactly goes on in Clinton to keep campus safe. 

“CPD can and will share any information with us [Mississippi College] on things that may or do affect the campus as long as it’s not detrimental to an ongoing case they’re working on,” said Warren. An MOU, or memorandum of understanding, exists between MC and the city of Clinton that information will be shared that is not harmful to either party. 

Warren stressed the amount of care put into safety on campus by both administration at MC as well as Clinton law enforcement, but continuously urges any students traveling into Jackson to exercise a level of caution. “As much as we try to prevent [criminal activity on campus], it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. We’re blessed to have the security we have, but extra personal safety is the biggest help you can give to law enforcement.”