Headlines – 9/19/2003

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 19, 2003

Panolian Headlines: September 19, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 9/19/03  issue of The Panolian

Serious crash …
A wreck on Wednesday afternoon on Hwy. 35 at Pope-Crowder Road between a Ford truck hauling a piece of farm equipment and a dump truck resulted in the pickup driver being transported by WINGS unit to The Med in Memphis. Names of those involved were unavailable at press time because a MHP spokesman said the trooper who worked the wreck was off duty and did not leave a report.

Family Suffers Two
   Highway Traffic Deaths

A Pope teenager lost his mother and best friend (his cousin) in the span of a week from wreck-related injuries.

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According to Sissy Copeland, Donovan Goad has had a traumatic week due to the loss of his mother Donna Pritchard and then his closest friend, his cousin.

Pritchard died at The Med in Memphis from injuries sustained in an auto accident on Labor Day.

"From what I understand, the accident occurred on Labor Day at about 5 p.m. after her car, headed south, hydroplaned, jumped the median and hit two cars," she said.

Copeland said Pritchard was transported from Interstate 55 in Panola County by ambulance to Tri-Lakes Medical Center. Then, within an hour, she was flown by WINGS unit to The Med.

"She had sustained a really bad head trauma," Copeland said. "I felt like, at the time, that if she got to Memphis soon, she would have a better chance.

"The doctors gave us all a lot of hope considering the circumstances," she said.

Pritchard, who worked at Quality Foods in Batesville, died in The Med on Tuesday. (See the obituary section of The Panolian for her obituary.)

Copeland said Joseph (Matt) Goad was killed in a wreck that happened in Tallahatchie County on Saturday of last week.

"It has been a truly horrible time for Donovan and for the family as a whole," she said. "Given the circumstances, I really think everyone is handling it nicely."

Copeland said she could neither confirm or deny reports that Goad’s grandmother had a heart attack during the tragic time span.

Calls to the Mississippi Highway Patrol for further details were not returned by press time.

SPHS Booster Pitches Plan
   for Indoor Baseball Facility

If things go according to plan, there will be no rainy days off for South Panola baseball players.

During a recent meeting of the South Panola School District Board of Trustees, SP Diamond Club Member John Rogers and head baseball coach Patrick Robey revealed plans for an indoor practice facility to be constructed on school property south of the football practice field.

Estimates presented to the school board show a total cost of approximately $40,000.

Rogers said team members and the Diamond Club have raised $14,000 and would secure a loan for the remaining funds.

"What we are proposing is a building that would allow players to continue practicing in spite of inclement weather," Robey said.

Robey said the plans for the proposed building include two full-length hitting tunnels as well as a pair of pitching mounds.

"We are also hoping to add lockers and a coach’s office sometime in the future," Robey said.

Rogers pointed out that, in accordance with Title IX legislation, the South Panola softball teams would also have full access to the facility.

"The members of the Diamond Club truly believe this kind of facility will be a tremendous asset to the school as well as the athletic teams," Rogers said.


Search On for Missing Woman;
Cousin Found Dead of Gunshot

As members of one Panola County family prepare to bury their murdered daughter, another local family waits and hopes their loved one will be found alive.

The two cousins, both graduates of the SPHS Class of ’98, may have been last seen Saturday night when a security guard dropped them off at a Riverfront Garage at Monroe and Front Street in Memphis, according to police and family members.

On Sunday morning, a woman walking down Person Avenue, just off Elvis Presley, discovered the body of Sherlena "Penny" Rena Burgess, 23, face down in a ditch in Temple Israel cemetery, Memphis police said.

The Southaven woman, daughter of Lorane and Shirley Burgess, had been shot in the head, according to Lt. W.R. Norris of the MPD homicide squad.

Her funeral will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at Second Concord 4-Way Church at Nash and Waldrup Roads with burial in the church cemetery. Cooley’s Mortuary in Batesville is in charge.

Still missing is La Shonia Yvette Austin, 24, of Raleigh. She’s the daughter of Deloris Austin of Panola County and Larry Strong of Marks.

Family Waiting, Praying for Safe Return of Austin
"Just waiting and praying."

That’s all Deloris Austin can do as police and friends search at press time for her missing daughter, La Shonia Yvette Austin, 24.

Family members last saw her Saturday evening in Southaven in the company of her cousin, Sherlena "Penny" Rena Burgess, 23.

Some 12 hours later, a passerby found Burgess dead in a ditch in Temple Israel cemetery in Memphis. (See related story this page.)

It was on Saturday that Deloris Austin said she last talked with her daughter.

"I told her I wasn’t coming [to Southaven’s Chuck E. Cheese] that night," Deloris Austin said. "I told her my sister would bring her baby."

She said her daughter told her that she was "going shopping" on Saturday afternoon.

La Shonia Austin is the mother of 8-year-old Shundria, a second grader at Batesville Elementary School, Deloris Austin, who keeps the little girl, said.

Deloris Austin, who returned to her Panola County home Wednesday after going to Memphis, said family members told Shundria Tuesday night that her mother is missing.


Corkern: "Local" Tri-Lakes
   Management Best Alternative

When city and county officials began looking at a possible sale or lease of Tri-Lakes Medical Center there was no other viable financial alternative available.

But now there is.

That’s the opinion of the hospital’s interim administrator, Dr. Bob Corkern, who says the facility is on the right track now both medically and financially.

Currently, the city and county are seeking proposals from entities who want to buy or lease Tri-Lakes. They are expected to be in hand next month.

"The hospital’s in a completely different financial picture now than it has been for several years," Corkern told The Panolian in an interview Wednesday.

And Corkern’s vision is the hospital can become a "regional medical center" offering the specialties and services that will allow Panola Countians to be cared for at home.

"We hear that from patients all the time," he said. "They tell us they want to be here."

But if Tri-Lakes is sold to a large outside medical entity, such as Baptist or Methodist Hospitals, Corkern said that won’t happen.