Bernard Jenkins is his first full term as an alderman for Ward 2 in Kilmichael.
Jenkins works for the Montgomery County Unit System and is a referee for the Mississippi High School Athletic Association. He said he wanted to get involved because he wanted to learn about his community and how he could help.
Jenkins has lived in Kilmichael all his life. He went to Montgomery County Vocational High School until integration. After the schools were integrated, he graduated from Kilmichael High School.
Jenkins said he’s worked for the Unit System since 2010. Before then, he worked for Heatcraft for 22 years and Kem Co for five years.
Jenkins was elected in a special election after his predecessor, Sendy Ann Hall, stepped down to become the Montgomery County Assistant Coroner.
“I wanted to make a difference,” he said. “It’s been a learning experience. But, I’m on the board with some good people.”
Jenkins said being a referee and an alderman have some similar qualities. He said when dealing with people, you just have to be honest.
He said as a referee, if something happens that people didn’t like, it’s different that if you were refereeing or representing people that you know and have known your entire life. But, he doesn’t call games for Winona-Montgomery schools, and he didn’t call them when it was just Montgomery County.
“When it was just Montgomery County, my son went to school there, and now that it’s now Winona-Montgomery County, my son goes to school there, and he plays sports so I don’t ref those games,” he said. “People will think I’m biased.”
“If something happens they say ‘You’re cheating,’ and they don’t know anything about me. But, if I referee here, it’ll be more ‘Bernard, you’re cheating.’ You can’t take what people say to heart,” he said.
He said similar to refereeing, if people have a problem about something, they can come talk to you about it.
Jenkins said Kilmichael has a more unique situation than other towns. With the closure of the Montgomery County School District, the town took a hit. However, when most towns lose their school, they also lose key anchors also. They lose grocery stores, clinics, banks, and businesses until towns become desolate almost.
Not Kilmichael, people in Kilmichael are finding ways to stay afloat. They have a grocery store that does well, their own bank is is expanding and growing, and they have businesses that are flourishing. The town’s slogan “The town that cares” is fitting. Because it’s obvious to see, people in Kilmichael really do care about each other.
“We take care of ourselves,” Jenkins said. “Kilmichael takes care of Kilmichael.”
But, feelings are still raw about the consolidation.
“We didn’t get anything,” he said. “We didn’t get any say so. Everything was kept the same.”
Jenkins said he understands the feelings people have now because he went through integration and the dissolution of the Montgomery County Vocational High School into Kilmichael High School. He said with Brandye Brannon and Jill White, there’s representation and a voice, but he’s not sure how much good it’ll do because Winona has a bigger voice.
When asked if he was considering running in the 2021 election, Jenkins said yes, as long as he remains healthy and he likes being an alderman. “I’m comfortable where I am,” he said when asked if he wanted to move up to a higher position.
“I just want to see the town prosper, and the people in it do well and if there’s any way that I can help the town, I’m going to do that,” he said.