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McComb - Brookhaven Rivalry

Mac Gordon

Donuts on Cake

It used to be, back in the halcyon days of yesteryear when McComb and “Ole Brook,” Brookhaven, played a football game on Thanksgiving afternoon, the towns’ biggest yearly argument was over high school athletics.

Those local high schools fielded teams with kids who grew up to become some of the fastest and fiercest football players in Mississippi prep, collegiate and professional sports history.

I’d attempt a list of those athletes at the top of the line, but my list would be incomplete and lean more towards McComb. Brookhaven inarguably had the single best athlete of them all, NFL Hall-of-Famer Lance Alworth.

Even the sports editors of daily newspapers in that age were known to call each other out as contests neared between McComb and Brookhaven. That’s how deep-seated rivalries roll between neighboring towns of matching size.

Nowadays, most discussions about competition and rivalries between McComb and Brookhaven center on business, economic development and lifestyle issues in these towns 20 miles apart along I-55.

You know: Which town has a picture show, the best restaurants, a locally-owned family clothing store, a certain fast-food outlet, the finest homes, the best recreational and cultural arts opportunities and more vehicle dealerships. McComb has the state’s best old theater redo, the flourishing Palace on Main. Ole Brook has the arts school, a symphony and a Walmart distribution center.

Both places were hotbeds for the Klan. We all knew who was in it, who wore the hoods.

And then there’s the life-and-death matter that occasionally surfaces over which municipality has the superior medical care environment.

I got into — perhaps I even initiated the brouhaha— an imbroglio in recent times concerning this preeminent matter.

The healthcare donnybrook carried over, quite grievously, into another war of words about the nation’s political scene and certain personalities of that planet. We settled nothing on that detestable subject.

In McComb, I hear much talk about how citizens of that city flock to Brookhaven for physician appointments or to enter the King’s Daughters Medical Center.

My question is always this: When did Brookhaven suddenly become the healthcare mecca for Southwest Mississippi? I obviously wasn’t around when this came to be. I don’t doubt its reputation as an esteemed medical community.

The nonprofit Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center in McComb has had its share of problems in recent times, as have most other hospitals. I suspect King’s Daughters Hospital, operated by the Willing Hearts Circle of Brookhaven and housed in a Lincoln County-owned structure, hasn’t been exempt from these woes.

Name me a Mississippi hospital successful enough to have escaped the ravages of today’s topsy-turvy healthcare industry.

Both facilities are defined as acute care hospitals. Southwest Mississippi RMC is licensed for 160 beds and King’s Daughters for 99. Each offers wide-ranging medical services, including emergency and trauma care. Both are heavily immersed in the economic and social fabric of the communities they serve. Each willingly sponsors many community events.

McComb and Brookhaven have rosters of medical specialists in their physician ranks that compare favorably with staff in similarly-situated towns. The types of specialists vary somewhat. McComb also has an excellent veterans’ clinic.

Brookhaven’s 2023 population was 11,990, while McComb’s was 11,949. McComb is majority Black and Brookhaven majority white. Size-wise, according to Wikipedia, Brookhaven is the largest with 21.73 square miles of land area. McComb covers only 11.78 square miles. Could that be correct?

I have a distaste for the high volume of discord often heard concerning these Southwest Mississippi healthcare facilities that treat thousands annually.

A more reasoned approach to those arguments would be a welcomed antidote to all the jabber.

Donuts on Cake
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