Headlines – 1/3/2003

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 3, 2003

The Panolian Headlines : January 3, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 1/3/03  issue of The Panolian

Political Season Opens with Filings
Candidates May File Now Through Feb. 28
Raye Hawkins (r) put the finishing touches on his qualifying paperwork for Constable District Two with the help of Janice Dodd. Hawkins was the first to qualify for the upcoming county elections.

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Panola Countians wishing to seek county or state offices can file a statement of intent Monday-Friday through Feb. 28 in the Circuit Clerk’s office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Panola County Circuit Clerk Joe Reid.

The first primary election will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 5.

County offices to be contested are supervisor, sheriff, chancery clerk, circuit clerk, tax assessor/collector, county attorney and coroner.

As of press time Thursday, the following people have qualified to seek election:

Gracie Grant Gulledge – Coroner
Raye Hawkins – Constable District 2
David Bryan – Sheriff
Joe Reid – Circuit Clerk
David Garner – Tax Assessor/Collector
Mack Benson – District 3 Supervisor
Willie Joiner – Justice Court Judge
Charlie Gaines Baker – County Attorney; and
Robert Hudson – District 4 Supervisor.

Bonds Trial Set Jan. 13

A former South Panola football coach, who faces charges of misconduct with underage students, is scheduled this month to face a jury of his peers.

Eldridge D. "Bubba" Bonds, 29, of 21 CR 209, Oxford, will go to trial on Monday, Jan. 13 on charges of sexual battery and forcible rape, according to a spokesman in the Panola County Circuit Clerk’s office. The trial on the two charges will take place before Circuit Judge Ann H. Lamar at the Panola County Courthouse.

Panola County Circuit Clerk Joe Reid said 275 potential jurors have been subpoenaed to report to the courtroom at 8:15 a.m. that morning.

If convicted, Bonds sentence on the sexual battery charge is at the judge’s discretion, and, according to state statute, could carry a maximum sentence of 30 years.

The jury could give life in prison for the forcible rape charge. If the jury can not agree on a sentence, state law says it will also be decided by the judge. The judge cannot hand down a life sentence.

The indictments issued involve a female student under the age of 18.

Bonds’ attorney, Kent Smith of Holly Springs, has a motion pending that would sever the charges so they can be tried individually, Another defense motion asks that the trial be moved out of Panola County, indicating the pre-trial publicity has already prejudiced any potential jurors.

Circuit Clerk Reid said he does not know when the judge will rule on the two motions.

Attorney Smith said, "During the investigations I have conducted, I have not found anyone who does not have a preconceived opinion about the charges against my client. Other than that I have no further comment on the matter."

Making It Official
Panola County Circuit Clerk Joe Reid (l) swears Circuit Judges Andrew C. Baker and Ann H. Lamar into office for a four-year term in the district that includes five counties.

Public Has Chance to Meet Lawmakers Next Week in Jackson
The Panola Partnership is preparing for its annual Panola County Legislative Open House in Jackson.

The public event is held to honor Panola County’s elected officials at the state level.

"This is done to honor the elected officials of Panola County and the Governor," Colleen Clark said.

This year’s event will take place Jan. 8, at The Trademark Building and is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.

Food will be provided by Panola Countians. The Batesville Lions Club will handle the fish frying duties while all other catering will be done by Boonie Mae’s. Entertainment for the event has yet to be determined. A larger than average turnout is expected with this being an election year for county and state officials.

"This year’s event will also include a Political Forum," Clark said.

Homestead Sign-Up Set Through April 1
For those who have had changes or haven’t previously signed up for the homestead tax exemption, now’s the time to do it.

According to the Panola County Assessor’s office, April 1 is the last day to sign up for the exemption.

Changes during 2002 that require filling out a new form include:

You or spouse became 65. Bring proof.
You or spouse became disabled. Bring proof.
Built a new home, bought a different home or bought a mobile home. Mobile home must be on your own land.
Bought or sold land that may possibly be added or deducted from homestead.
You married, divorced or either spouse died.

Homestead exemptions are only for full-time residents of Panola County and you must:

Have a Mississippi driver’s license and license plates.
Pay Mississippi income taxes.
Be a Panola County registered voter. Proof may be required for the above.

Penalties that can be imposed for a fraudulent homestead exemption include the additional assessment of double the amount of taxes lost due to a fraudulent claim, a misdemeanor charge, a charge of perjury, a felony charge, a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment of up to two years or a combination thereof.

For questions call 563-6270 in Batesville or the Sardis office at 487-2092.