Headlines – 7/15/2003

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Panolian Headlines: July 15, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 7/15/03  issue of The Panolian

Tall Order …
Professional photographer Daryl Hemmings of Batesville captured this shot Monday as workers busied themselves painting the city’s water tower off Highway 51 North. Flying Old Glory as they work high above the ground are Bobby Barfield and Brian Busbee with RuARK Construction of Washburn, Mo.

Panola’s Jobless Rate Hits 12.1%

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Panola County’s jobless rate – 12.1 percent – is among the highest in Mississippi.

That’s according to the latest statistics (May) released by the Mississippi Employment Security Commission.

Compared to the same time period last year, the rate has climbed to its present level from 9.5 percent.

But because Panola County is a small county, it doesn’t take much of an increase in individual jobs lost to translate into significant percentage hikes, said Jan D. Garrick, director of communications for the Commission.

Paul Alexander, CEO of Panola Partnership, attributes the increase in jobless numbers to several factors.

The closing of Batesville American put over 100 people out of work and Dana Corp. in Crenshaw is continuing terminations as it gets closer to a final shutdown, Alexander said.

Some unemployment in Panola is also due, he believes, to some plant closures in Oxford.

An overall "bad economy" in the U.S. is felt here, too, as Alexander said some smaller businesses are making layoffs and "not calling people back to work".

But on the up side of the local economy, Alexander points to over 500,000 square feet of retail and industrial space under construction in the county.

"We’re really a lot better off than the numbers indicate," he said.

Alexander also points to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as a job killer because so many American jobs are going to foreign countries where employment costs are lower.

"Fair trade," in Alexander’s opinion, is "not the same thing as free trade."

Supervisors Pledge Union Road Repair
An exposed water line and road deterioration have residents of Union Road in Sardis concerned.

Bill Wyatt, a resident and member of the Union Water Association, told county supervisors last week that a wash in the road is creating several problems for the people in the area.

"The washout is at the white line on the side of the road," Wyatt said. "It is becoming a real safety hazard."

Wyatt said the community also has times when several homes will lose water service.

"We want to make certain the road is repaired before the winter months get here and there is a chance the water line could freeze," he said. "We don’t want anyone to be out of water for any period of time."



Little Patriots!
Students at Small Steps Preschool recently celebrated America’s birthday in style. They painted "High Five, America!" t-shirts with their handprints and made patriotic wreaths. They sang patriotic songs and ate cupcakes and star cut-out cookies.

Shown here with their wreaths and shirts are, (l to r), Aubrey Austin, Gracie Jones, Mary Grace Shepard, John Collins Bailey. Second row, (l to r), John Forrest Franklin, Shands Shepard and Lea-Todd Ware.

Burglary Suspects Locked Up
More Arrests Are Expected

A burglary ring has been broken with the arrests of six people now in custody in conjunction with the recent rash of burglaries in Panola County, Investigator Craig Sheley said. More arrests are anticipated.

Sheley said Monday the 12 burglaries occurred since June 30 and all took place during the daytime in north and south Panola County.

"We have been able to arrest six individuals," he said. "Some for the actual burglaries and some for receiving stolen goods."

In addition to the arrests, Sheley said the sheriff’s department has recovered approximately 48 guns believed to have been taken over the course of the burglaries.


Library Needs Additional Funding, Supervisors Told

A spokesman for First Regional Library told supervisors an increase in its budget is overdue having only received a $5,000 increase for 2002.

Jim Anderson, speaking on behalf of First Regional which operates library branches in Batesville, Como, Crenshaw and Sardis, told the board that the rise in number of patrons and usage of the libraries makes the increase necessary.

"We are requesting an increase in budget to fund programs for the upcoming fiscal year," Anderson said Monday.

Anderson told the supervisors that First Regional is seeking a total of $285,000 from the county.

"That is an increase of $32,000 from what you donated for the present year," he said.

"In Fiscal Year 2002, the First Regional Library branches again continued to be the most used public library system in the state," he said. "Current statistics indicate that this year promises an even higher level of use."