Headlines – 8/5/2003

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Panolian Headlines: August 5, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 8/5/03  issue of The Panolian

Citizens Seek to Stop Asphalt Plant
Group ‘Begging’ for County Help
Bill Joiner spoke on behalf of the residents of Highway 35. Joiner and others of the area informed the supervisors of their dislike of a proposed asphalt plan.

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A proposed asphalt plant has residents on Highway 35 spitting gravel.

During a meeting Monday with the Panola County Board of Supervisors, Bill Joiner, spokesman, presented the supervisors with a sign-in sheet from a community meeting, and said they want the board to help block the asphalt plant. Supervisors could make a final decision as early as next week.

"We are here begging for your help with this problem," Joiner said.

According to Joiner, the asphalt plant would be constructed on property owned by Kenneth Brassell.

The property in question is located on Highway 35 South directly across from Joiner’s home and the Assembly of God Church.

"Although Mr. Brassell owns the property, Memphis Stone and Gravel has a five-year lease to use the property," he said.

According to Mark Haley, another resident of the area, the City of Batesville was going to take in the property during its recent annexation but Brassell did not want the property annexed.

"At the time," Haley said. "We were all happy that the property was not annexed by the city."
Joiner said the original plans called for the property to be used as a gravel mining operation and there was never a mention of the asphalt plant.

Progress Report Due in Road Dispute Suit
Both sides in the lawsuit involving a road placement dispute are to issue a progress report to a federal magistrate by Aug. 20, after not coming to an agreement last week during a court-ordered mediation session in Oxford.

At issue is a suit filed against the city by James S. Whitaker who contends the city breached its contract with him by not placing a road on property near the Civic Center that he gifted for that purpose.

There is a road under construction there now but the first road in that area was built to service Tri-Lakes Medical Center, Colmon Mitchell, assistant city attorney, said previously.

Whitaker contends by not building the road on land he gave the city adjacent to his west property line cost him the opportunity to sell his land for the Wal-Mart Supercenter as well as for other development.

The issue has been in state court where Mitchell said the court ruled "the city acted appropriately."

Mitchell did not attend Friday’s mediation session but talked afterward with the city’s insurance carrier’s attorney, Ben Griffith, of Cleveland.

"Both sides said what they needed to say to the judge," Mitchell said. "Everyone left with something to think about. The session was well worth the effort."


Don’t Forget to Vote!
Panola County road department personnel were responsible for readying the polling places for today’s primary election. Road Manager Lygunnah Bean delivered voting booths to the Sardis Courthouse on Monday. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Chief Wants to Hire More Police Officers

Keeping the Batesville Police Department adequately staffed "is the No. 1 challenge" facing the department, Police Chief Roger Vanlandingham said in an interview after presenting his proposed FY 2003-04 budget requests.

That, coupled with the city’s growth, including Civic Center and "large retail business" law enforcement needs, will put increasing responsibilities on the department, he said.

"Prosperity brings crime," Vanlandingham said. "Thugs see that and know there’s money in a community."

To beef up his department, Vanlandingham asked the Mayor and Board of Aldermen to approve hiring four new officers in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1.

Meanwhile, Vanlandingham expects he’ll come under budget "about 25 percent" this fiscal year due to personnel losses and fewer capital expenditures.

Aldermen are currently reviewing department head requests but have made few concrete decisions yet. (See related story this page).

City Board Hopes to Hold
Line on FY 03-04 Tax Rate

"No new taxes" is the objective of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen for the 2003-04 fiscal year starting Oct. 1, but the possibility of an increase is not being ruled out.

That was the word last week during a budget session in which board members reviewed the "wish lists" of department heads.

A few cuts – including support for two, not four new fire fighters – were made as aldermen reviewed the requests Friday afternoon.

However, most such decisions are on hold pending review of how the requests balance against anticipated revenue.

The majority of the meeting’s discussion centered on the city’s fire and police departments.

With a change over recent years from more of a volunteer fire department to an increase in full-time fire fighters, Mayor Bobby Baker made a prediction.

"The fire department may well become the most expense department in the city," he said.