Headlines – 1/7/2003

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 7, 2003

The Panolian Headlines : January 7, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 1/7/03  issue of The Panolian

Closing of Dana "Will Kill Crenshaw"

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"It’s devastating."

That’s the sentiment expressed by Crenshaw Mayor Oscar Barlow and Panola’s Board of Supervisor President Robert Avant with regard to the announced closing of Dana Corporation in Crenshaw.

The small town of 1,500 people is about to lose the only industry it has and one that employs about 190 people. (See related story).

But Barlow and Avant hope against hope that won’t happen and are working to see if anything can stop the facility from closing its doors after 25 years.

The Dana building is owned by the county which currently is using mostly grants to widen the road from the plant to the nearby community of Askew, Avant said. And, not long ago, the county put a roof on the building.

"The railroad is installing safety gates at two crossings to make it safer for trucks going in and out of the plant," Avant said.

"In some instances three or four people in one family work at Dana," Avant told The Panolian. " … And you figure then how many more the loss of each job will affect."

It’s a plant where some of the employees "are in their 50s and have never worked anywhere else," the board president said. "Lots of them walk to work."

Losing Dana, Avant says, "will kill Crenshaw."

It’s the supervisor’s understanding the plant plans to start laying off employees in March and be closed by August.

Jobless Count to Grow Higher
Local Leaders Looking to Lawmakers for Help

While the latest jobless numbers in Panola County show a two-percentage-point improvement, the numbers likely paint a rosier picture than is reflected by today’s reality.

That’s because two groups of workers – the employees at Crenshaw’s Dana Corporation and those at flexcel Batesville – are facing unemployment. (See related story).

Both plants announced last month they will close putting about 100 out of work at flexcel Batesville by March 31 and another 190 at Dana during the course of the year.

"Consolidation is necessary to better align {Dana’s} production capacity with consumer demand," is the reason for the closure as stated by Philippe Jean, vice president and general manager of Dan Corporation’s Extruded Products.

At flexcel Batesville, its spokesman, general manager Dusty Hancock, told city officials a combination of the nation’s overall economic downturn and foreign competition are to blame for the closing.

The impact of those closures has yet to be calculated into the figures released by the Mississippi Employment Security Division.

Judge Baker retires …
Retiring Chancellor Dennis Baker (right) was honored by the Panola County Bar Association during a reception in his honor. Helping celebrate the occasion were (l to r) daughters Kathleen Baker Cruzen, Jonell Baker Williams, son Dennis M. Baker II and wife Janelle Baker.

Thanks to a portrait, one of Panola County’s veteran judges will remain in a courtroom despite his recent retirement.

Chancellor Dennis Baker was honored by members of the Panola County Bar Association during a retirement reception at the Panola County Courthouse in Batesville.

Baker served as Chancery Judge for the Third District for 25 years. The counties he served were Panola, Grenada, Tate, Montgomery, DeSoto and Yalobusha.

"It has been very pleasant working with Judge Baker over the years," Panola County Chancery Clerk Sally Fisher said.

"I don’t think there will be any big changes due to his retirement," she said. "Court goes on, but the man will certainly be missed."

Fisher said one of the things that made Judge Baker stand out was his knowledge of the law.

"He had a tremendous knowledge of the law," she said. "He was always on top of anything that came before him."

Wish Comes True for Batesville Boy

Can you imagine what it would be like to be 4 years old and have your biggest wish come true? That is exactly what happened for one Batesville youngster.

Thanks to help from the Kids Wish Network, Garrett Allen and his parents, Jeffrey and Kaye, were given the trip of a lifetime.

Garrett, who was diagnosed at birth with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, had his wish submitted to the organization through a professional fund-raiser.

"Garrett is an outgoing, happy child and, except for acknowledging the need for his medical care and equipment, we don’t think of him as handicapped at all," Allen said.

Garrett’s biggest dream was to meet Mickey Mouse.

Time for Annual Road Check
It is time to ride the roads again.

That is what the Panola County Board of supervisors discovered during their meeting on Monday.

Attorney for the Board William McKenzie reminded the supervisors they have to ride the roads in their district this month.

"Road inspections have to be completed by the end of the month," he said.

Once the road reports are turned in, the supervisors will turn their attention to the county’s road maintenance plan which must be finished by the end of February.