Headlines – 8/1/2003

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 1, 2003

Panolian Headlines: August 1, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 8/1/03  issue of The Panolian

Man, 34, Drowns in Sardis Lake    
The Panola County Sheriff’s Department, Sardis Lake Fire Department and rangers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers worked quickly to recover a drowning victim off Paradise Point at Sardis Lake Thursday afternoon. Rangers manned a small boat in the swimming area off the beach to drag the deeper part of the water. A body was recovered within an hour.

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A family outing turned to tragedy Thursday afternoon when a Memphis man died of drowning at Paradise Point on Sardis Lake.

According to Panola County Coroner Donna Stevens, the body of Illya Benson, 34, was recovered at 3:50 p.m. following a one-hour search by the Sardis Lake Volunteer Fire Department, the sheriff’s department and ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"From what we were able to learn from witnesses, the victim apparently went underwater sometime between 2:50 and 3 p.m.," Investigator Mark Whitten of the Panola County Sheriff’s Department said.

Stevens said the victim drowned in 10 feet of water while other family members were also in the water.

"From what I was told, he had been swimming earlier, but avoided the deep water," she said. "I am not sure if he wasn’t a good swimmer or if that was just because of the children.

"I know there were at least 10 family members present at the time of the drowning," she said.

Stevens said Benson had just returned to the water after a short break when he drowned.


Rental Housing Plan
Draws Out Opponents
A fear that property values in the north Keating Road area will drop if a development of 80 rental homes is built there drew about 15 property owners to this week’s city planning commission meeting.

Homeowners included some from Reeves-Williams’ new Keating Grove subdivision as well as others who live near the site just south of Fairfield Assisted Living.

"That’s too many houses and people for the space," said Keating Grove resident Jeremiah Brown, who recently bought his home. "Having rent-to-own houses nearby will bring down the property values of the other houses in the area.
"I’m also concerned about the elderly people who live in Fairfield," Brown said.

Calvin Keeton, whose property adjoins that where the project is proposed, said, "We’re not interested in having rental houses there. It will bring all the property values in the area down.

Keeton said those now living in the area are "financially responsible" homeowners.


City’s Junk Ordinance Enforcement
Under Way

If you’re tired of neighborhood junk – from raggedy cars without tags to trash and other debris – now’s your chance to get something done about it.

The city’s new anti-junk ordinance is in effect and enforcement has begun, said John McCollum, assistant code enforcement officer.

Right now, enforcement is being limited to follow-ups on complaint calls, he said. Callers should dial 563-6621 to make a complaint.

And if you are afraid your neighbor might find out just who spilled the beans on their junk, don’t be, McCollum said.

"We don’t reveal who calls and makes complaints," he said. "People don’t have to be afraid to call"

The first two complaints handled both involved automobiles.

At the first location, McCollum said the owner has removed the vehicles and, at the second, a warning ticket was issued Monday for a recreational vehicle on Brinkley Lane.

The complainant on the RV said the vehicle has been sitting there for about 10 years, McCollum said.

Under the procedure, a person has seven days to take action to remove the "junk," he said. If that’s not done, a ticket follows and the property owner must appear in Batesville Municipal Court.

Violation of the junk ordinance shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days, and the cost of prosecution, or by both such fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the municipal judge. Each day that any violation of this ordinance shall continue shall constitute a separate offense.

Supervisors Ponder SPSD Budget Plea
The South Panola School District took another step in securing its local funds for the upcoming school year.

District Superintendent Dr. C.L. Stevenson and board attorney Colmon Mitchell submitted their budget request to the Panola County Board of Supervisors for approval this week.

The total in tax funds needed from the county is $4,772,318.

"That is based on the last tax records we received, so the amount will probably go down," Stevenson said.

Stevenson said it is important to stress that the school district is debt-free.