MACON — Jaron Andrews isn’t used to ice.
So when winter storms hit the Golden Triangle the week of Feb. 15, the 4-Country Electric worker and his fellow linemen had to deal with hazards they don’t typically see: glazed tree limbs on power lines and other problems that caused outages for area customers. Andrews said 4-County was able to restore power to area customers in a timely manner, but it wasn’t easy.
“It was messy,” said Andrews, a New Hope resident who was one of 15 to 20 4-County linemen working in the Noxubee County area during the storm. “Ice creates a whole ‘nother condition that we’re not accustomed to here in the South.”
On Friday at the Noxubee Civic Center, a local legend gave back to Andrews and his fellow workers for their assistance during the storms. Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons, who starred for Noxubee County and went on to Mississippi State, provided meals for 4-County members, Macon Electric workers and local law enforcement who had helped the area recover from the storm.
“It’s good to see him give back to the community — not forget where he comes from,” Andrews said of Simmons.
Selected by the Titans in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft after a standout career with the Bulldogs, Simmons said he was glad to come back to his hometown and help out. Mayberry Eatery in Macon volunteered to provide food — barbecue ribs and leg quarters — and Simmons met each worker and handed them a signed T-shirt.
“I’m just grateful to be in a position to be able to show my appreciation to these guys,” Simmons said.
While he has two aunts who still live in the Macon area, Simmons said their power remained on during the storms. But, he stressed, that’s not what matters.
“It’s not just about me and my family; it’s about my community and how I can help my community the best way I can,” he said.
Andrews, who brought his 17-year-old daughter Anna Beth to Friday’s event, said his daughter fell in love with the Bulldogs when Dak Prescott was at quarterback. They watched games together and became fans of Simmons during his three years at Mississippi State.
Andrews was happy to see Simmons return to his small hometown for a good cause.
“It’s good to see somebody come in here and re-invest their time in the community,” he said. “I like to see that as a parent of children who are growing up in the community.”
Simmons, who is currently training in Dallas during the offseason, said he was surprised to see the effects of the winter storms across the South: millions losing power in Texas, rare snow in Nashville and similar conditions in Noxubee County and most of Mississippi. He credited 4-County linemen for “working their tail off” to restore power, including the 13- and 14-hour days they put in to fight the storm.
“Their job’s as important as anybody else’s job,” Simmons said. “I just wanted these guys to see that and feel that I really appreciate them and care about them and the job they’re doing.”
Simmons said it was an honor just to be in Macon on Friday and return the favor for those who helped out his hometown in a time of need.
“I take pride in doing this; I take pride in just being able to show people that I don’t have a ‘hot head’ as people say,” Simmons said. “I just want to show people that no matter how far in life I go, I’m always going to remember Noxubee County. I’m always going to give back.”
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.
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