Headlines – 7/4/2003

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 4, 2003

Panolian Headlines: July 4, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 7/4/03  issue of The Panolian

Cotton, Bean Acreage Count Due Next Month
Experts Predict Wet Weather to Take Toll
The grandchildren of A.C. and Sandra Atkinson show off the first cotton blooms of the season they found Monday, June 30. The children include (front, l to r) Allyssa, Braiden, Madison; (back, l to r) Cassidy and Tanner. The blooms were found on land owned and operated by the Atkinsons.

It will be the first of August before farmers report their acreage to the Farm Service Agency but there’s little doubt the numbers will be lower than originally planned.

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And it’s all because of heavy spring rains – rains that continue to plague the Mid-South.

All one has to do to see what the rain has done to spring planting, "is to ride around and see the idle acres that are all grown up, said Kimbal Billingsley, FSA county executive director.

"I’d hate to speculate on the exact amount …," he said this week.

But Billingsley didn’t hesitate to say with confidence that it will be less than the 40,000-to-45,000 acres of cotton that farmers had hoped to plant this year.

The same will be true, he said, for soybeans.

"We’ll have a lot less than the 40,000-to-50,000 acres that would have been planted, Billingsley said.

Big Holiday Crowd
Anticipated at Lakes

Campers, boaters and other outdoorsmen taking trips to area lakes for the July 4 holiday weekend will have to contend with heightened security.

"We will have all rangers on duty every day for the holiday weekend," Andy Strickland of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Sardis Lake said.

Strickland said the Corps expects more than 100,000 visitors from in and out of county to make their way to some part of Sardis Lake.

"There is no question this is one of the biggest weekends we have in a year," he said. "We have had more than 100,000 people for the fourth the last two years, so we expect similar figures this year."

To help lower the chances of accidents on the lake, Strickland said the Corps of Engineers encourages people to act responsibly both on the water and at their campsites.

For swimmers, Strickland said it is important to remember the following safety tips:

– Swim in supervised areas only.
– Obey all rules and posted signs.
– Don’t mix alcohol and swimming.


Batesville’s Fred’s Draws Union Pickets
The local Fred’s store on Highway 6 East became the focal point of the picketers against the store recently. Terhan Tinker (l) and Mike Duran, members of UNITE, march with signs to "Stop Injustice at Fred’s" and passes out literature which headlines "Fred’s Supports Slave Labor."

The local Fred’s store on Highway 6 East in Batesville became the focal point of the ongoing struggle between the warehouse workers and upper management.

Fred’s warehouse workers voted to unionize under the Union of Needle Trade, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE).

According to UNITE organizer and representative Rodney Thomas, Fred’s has refused to recognize this union for the warehouse workers.

Thomas said in Memphis, Fred’s illegally fires African-American workers for being involved in the union.

"If it wasn’t for the warehouse workers, there would be no products in the stores," Thomas said. "That’s why we are going southcentral wide against Fred’s."

Thomas also said the warehouse in Memphis was hit with close to $19,000 in fines by OSHA, $16,000 were major violations.

So Far, So Good …
Local Birds Test Negative

There is some good news for Panola Countians worried about the West Nile Virus. Of the four birds from the county that have been tested by the Mississippi Department of Health, none have tested positive for the disease.

As of June 25, only three of the 414 birds tested have been infected with West Nile.

Birds that appear to be most severely affected are crows and blue-jays, but cardinals, sparrows and birds of prey such as owls and hawks are also important indicators. Since the original 1999 outbreak in New York City, the finding of dead birds that test positive for West Nile has always been a precursor to human cases of West Nile Virus and is the best early detection method for the presence of the virus.

The Mississippi State Department of Health encourages the public to report all species of dead birds. Not only blue jays and crows may be submitted for testing, but sparrows, cardinals (red birds), owls, hawks and any other bird of prey.