Headlines – 5/16/2003

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 16, 2003

The Panolian Headlines: May 16, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 5/16/03  issue of The Panolian

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 Carnival Arrives for Springfest
It’s not a Springfest without the Springfest favorite rides and they were being set up Thursday much to delight of the old and young alike. Moby Dick is one of the old time favorites and brings many back for rides throughout the weekend.
Springfest kicks off tonight at 5:30 p.m. Though the musical renditions keeps the event moving, other events throughout the day makes Springfest an event for everyone.

A carnival with rides and other type carnival fare will be available for the strong-hearted individuals. Included with the rides the ever popular Moby Dick, the Fun Slide for the young and young-at-heart alike, the Gavitron and more.

The streets closed Thursday night and will re-open Sunday, May 18.

During SpringFest, a stage will be in front of the gazebo for the musical portion of the event.
Other festival activities will be a rock climbing wall, a carnival, merchant sales and concessions by local civic organizations.

SpringFest is free to the public and will take place Friday and Saturday, May 16 and 17.

SpringFest Headliner Takes Pride
in Music’s Delta Roots
Video is Nominated
for Country Award

Mercury Nashville recording artist Steve Azar will perform in Batesville on Saturday at SpringFest ’03, touring behind his debut album "Waitin’ On Joe."

A Mississippi native, Azar is best known for his chart-topping hits, "I Don’t Have To Be Me ‘Til Monday", and his most recent, "Waitin’ On Joe".

In an exclusive interview with The Panolian, Azar said, "I do it for the people. I wasn’t into the Delta blues music when I was growing up and playing music here. I was into the people, although obviously I was influenced by the Delta."

One of those influences was Bo Ridgeway, whom Azar swears is the best guitar player ever from the Delta.

"This guy is not in any band right now, but several artists want him to play on their records and in their bands. I would really like to make a record with him someday. He is the best slide guitarist I have ever known."

Azar is married and has three children, ages 2, 5 and 7. Although he will spend about 225 days on the road this year, he still makes quality time with his family.

"It’s impossible for my family to travel with me right now," said Azar. "I will do about 160 shows this year. I really appreciate the quality of the school systems here in Nashville. They are doing a great job in helping to nurture the kids these days," he added.

Azar’s travels are done in the usual, mundane tour bus. Nothing fancy he says.

"Our bus is pretty spacey, but we have 11 guys traveling with us," he said. "Our band is really an international band, made up of great musicians from all over the country, including our drummer who is from Italy."

Azar is really proud of his roots.

"It’s really something. In just about every article that I’ve seen, the Delta has been recognized. That’s really great. My whole being comes from where I am. As much as I thought I wanted to get away, I moved but I realized who I was and where I was from."

"Delta Dreams", "Azar is Born", and "Mississippi Blues Brother" are just a few of the snappy captions used in the headlines from the national magazines and newspapers – all relating to the Delta.

"My whole being in the music business is because of where I grew up. Whether you write songs or not, it’s the soul, the [Mississippi River].

"The river was as much an influence on my life and career as any person has been."
It’s also a lot of hard work.

"People in Nashville hold Mississippi musicians to a higher standard," said Azar. "Being from this [Delta] area, I’ve heard it said that I have a ‘unique sound’, a ‘Delta-bred’ sound, if you will."


Radiologist’s ‘Official’ Retirement
Marked With Tri-Lakes Reception
Dr. Robert L. Gray (center) reads his retirement plaque. With him is wife Charlotte and Richard Manning, hospital administrator.

BATESVILLE – Robert L. Gray was born in Batesville in the Odom house on Bates Street in 1937. He graduated from medical school in 1968.

At the opening of South Panola Community Hospital in 1977, Gray became the radiologist. History would show he is the only radiologist the hospital would ever have on staff.

In 2001 Gray went into semi-retirement when the Oxford Radiology Associates began handling the radiology department in Tri-Lakes Medical Center.

Last week, the radiology department at Tri-Lakes honored Gray with a reception as he fully retired from the hospital staff.

An informal gathering of hospital personnel watched as administrator Richard Manning presented Gray with a plaque honoring him for his 24 years of service. Gray’s wife, Charlotte, was on hand for the reception.


Teen’s Death
Due to Heart Ailment

A heart defect – undiagnosed since birth – is the cause of death of a Como student who collapsed after playing basketball in a physical education class.

Panola County Coroner Donna Stevens told The Panolian that Quinton Jones, 15, who died April 30, suffered from an enlarged heart and a narrowed left ventricle outlet.

"He had not had any previous symptoms" that were ever diagnosed, Stevens said.

School personnel, including a registered nurse, came to Quinton’s aid "immediately" giving the boy CPR, North Panola School Superintendent Bonnie Smith said shortly after the incident.

He never revived after collapsing, Smith said, shortly after sitting down when he complained of "being tired."

Jones was a seventh-grader at Como Middle school and was the son of Rita Daniel.

Daniel, who said her son liked athletics, said previously he had not been complaining of any illness.

Body Found Off Roadside
Boys on 4-Wheelers Make Find


An investigation continues today into the manner of death of a Hispanic man whose body was found by boys riding four-wheelers off Highway 6.

Panola County Coroner Donna Stevens said the man has been tentatively identified but the next of kin in Mexico had not been notified by press time.

The man, who works for a sod farm in the county, was found about 1:30 p.m. Saturday down an embankment in the Locke Station area near the Quitman County line, she said.

"We are not sure what happened," Stevens said. "We aren’t sure if there was foul play or not and nothing has been ruled in or out at this time."

She said Mississippi Bureau of Investigation Agent Chuck Poe is working on the case along with a MHP accident reconstruction specialist.
Stevens said the body had been there for about a week.

Airport Gets Grant
The Panola County Airport will get $187,721 to build a taxiway and enhance the medium intensity runway lighting system, according to U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker’s office.

A Precision Approach Path Indicators system will also be installed to aid pilots attempting to land in darkness and in times of low visibility, according to a press release.

The grant is one of two for north Mississippi just announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Ripley-Tippah County Airport will get $504,143 to extend and widen the existing runway from 4,000 feet by 60 feet to 4,400 feet by 75 feet.

The additional space will enable to the facility to meet FAA standards and better accommodate aircraft.