| The Panolian’s project – with help from readers and school children – to send personal hygiene items, phone cards and other goods to troops serving in the Middle East took another step forward Friday.
National Guard SFC Dan Stewart, with help of Panolian assistant pressman Ben Shelton and classifieds director Beverly Boyett, jam-packed a van with boxes. Circulation employees separated the goods into like items and repacked them.
Stewart said the goods will be shipped to Crete, Iraq, to Company C 223rd Engineering Battalion which includes the units from Charleston and Clarksdale. He said First Sgt. Mike Flowers of Courtland will be in charge of distributing the items over there.
| ‘Amazing Turnaround’ at Hospital
Fiscal Condition Much Improved
| BY KATE B DICKSON
"It’s an amazing turnaround."
That’s how the financial condition at Tri-Lakes Medical Center is being characterized now compared to a year ago.
Larry Pratt, vice chairman of the hospital board, told The Panolian that " … where I didn’t see any hope last year" he now can see financial good health in the facility’s future.
That’s if Tri-Lakes continues to improve, brings in internists and institutes new medical services as is planned, he said.
A previous study outlined the above as necessary to put the hospital on solid financial footing.
The 11-months unaudited financial report shows a $689,114 loss as compared to a loss of $2,917,735, the previous year, Pratt said.
Pratt says it’s possible that the projection of Quorum Health Resources L.L.C., Brentwood, Tenn., that the hospital could be "paying all its bills" and the bond payment while generating $1.8 million in addition "for improvements" could occur.
Meanwhile, the owners of the hospital, the city and the county, are going ahead with a study of the hospital’s financial condition and all operations.
| Sewer Line Breakdown Creates Mess
| A collapsed sewer line on Martin Luther King Drive has created a mess as motorists are running over the on-ground "bypass line" causing a raw sewage spill.
Aldermen Rufus Manley said barrels should be placed along the street to keep cars from running over the line that’s parallel to the pavement.
Mayor Bobby Baker said Insituform Technologies, Inc. has been contacted to see if the situation can be resolved "without digging up the street."
Although Insituform manufactures pipeline tubing in Batesville, the "nearest service people" are in Hammond, La., the mayor said. They have been contacted.
| Brad Tedford, Jeremy Ware and Jon Maury brought a rattlesnake they killed by The Panolian office last week. The four-foot-eight-inch snake had 13 rattlers and one button. The snake was first spotted crossing the road at Enid Lake near Chickasaw Landing.
| The Med’s Money Woes of Concern in Our Area
| BY KATE B DICKSON
When it comes to the Regional Medical Center at Memphis (The Med), Panola County’s Emergency Manager Son Hudson refers to the facility as "local."
And because of that, Hudson is one of a number of northwest Mississippians involved with emergency medicine and health care who is worried about The Med’s financial status.
"They are talking about possibly closing The Med or at least cutting back on services including the trauma center," Hudson told The Panolian.
During 2001 and 2002, Hudson said Tri-Lakes Medical Center figures show the facility was involved with 170 patients in Panola County who were admitted to The Med either through scene helicopter flights, emergency room flights or ambulance transfers.
These numbers do not include those of Emergystat, Inc. Emergency Ambulance Service, the firm that serves the northern part of the county, Hudson said. Those figures, though requested several weeks ago, had not been provided to Hudson by press time.
According to statistics provided Hudson by The Med, from 1998-02, completed helicopter flights to The Med from Mississippi accounted for 2,313 or 43 percent of the total.
Flights from Arkansas were 992 or 18.4 percent, from Tennessee the number was 1,983 or 36.8 percent and from other states there were 95 flights or 1.8 percent.
Over the past couple of months, Hudson has been involved in area meetings where the subject has been discussed.
"The Med is vital to our area," Hudson said. "We’re talking about human life … and if we have to go all the way to Jackson to a trauma center you are talking about added time."
What it all boils down to is money — or the lack thereof.
According to an article recently in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, administrators at The Med are beginning to plan for what could be a dramatic reduction in services at the Mid-South’s safety net hospital.
| Board Awards Bids, Handles Long Agenda
Public Hearings On Tap June 3
| Premier Computers in Batesville has been awarded the contract to supply 22 computers and install them at the library.
Although at $23,826, Premier was not the lowest bidder, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen last Tuesday determined it to be the "best" bid.
Assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell said state law allows "the lowest and best" bid to be chosen.
The low bid was $22,550 from Rothe Computers in Columbus.
The aldermen agreed that having a local firm do the work will be valuable down the road if problems crop up.
"There are other factors you can consider besides price," Mitchell told aldermen. "When your computer’s down you want someone to come fix it."
Other business conducted included setting the following public hearings for June 3 at 3 p.m. at City Hall:
– Conditional use – Gary Bibbs – detail shop at 123 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive