Headlines – 10/14/2003

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Panolian Headlines: October 14, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 10/14/03  issue of The Panolian

Backpacks:  A literal pain …

Chyana Rudd, a Batesville Junior High student, goes through her backpack between classes.


Parents of one student thinks South Panola School District is putting the weight of the world on their son’s back.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

According to Patti Chadwick, her son Jonathan carries a backpack tipping the scales daily at more than 20 pounds.

"Because he is carrying so much weight in the backpack, he has started having back problems," she said.

According to Chadwick, her son has been taken to two different doctors and it was determined the weight had caused a pulled muscle in his back.

"The doctor has told him he can’t lift anything for a couple of weeks, so Jonathan will have to use a rolling bag to transport his books to and from class," she said.

Killing Motive Still a Mystery

The investigation into the Memphis murders of two cousins who grew up in Panola County remains "very, very active" but homicide squad detectives still have no suspects.

That’s according to MPD Lt. W.R. Norris who remains tight-lipped about any findings the squad might have about just who shot and killed Sherlena "Penny" Rena Burgess, 23, and La Shonia Yvette Austin, 24.

Both young women graduated from South Panola High School in 1998. Both worked in Memphis.

"We are doing something on this case as we speak," Norris told The Panolian late last week. He would not elaborate.

Norris did say, however, that detectives have not developed a motive for why the young women were murdered.

The two were last seen late Saturday, Sept. 13, or early Sunday after having spent part of Saturday evening with Panola County family members at Chucky Cheese in Southaven.

The pair then headed back to Memphis where they went to Beale Street. The car they were driving was later found in a downtown parking garage at Monroe and Front Street. That’s where police say the cousins were last seen.

Norris would not comment on reports the two were later at an International House of Pancakes restaurant on Perkins.

It was from that restaurant that the boyfriend of Burgess quoted her as saying she was when he talked with her by phone in the early morning hours that Sunday.

The boyfriend, who police have declined to identify, reported Burgess missing on Sunday afternoon.

That report was linked with the finding Sunday morning of an unidentified body in a ditch at Temple Israel Cemetery in South Memphis.

Austin’s body was found about a week later in an abandoned house near the cemetery, police said.

Asked if the boyfriend of Burgess has been "ruled out" as a suspect, Norris said, "We don’t rule anyone out until a case is solved."

Meanwhile, the families of the pair wait for answers.

"We haven’t heard anything from the police," said Amy Austin, La Shonia’s aunt. "It’s such a mystery."


United Plastics Seeking
   MDA Expansion Loan


United Plastics wants to expand its Sardis operation and needs a $1.5 million loan from the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) to do it.

It’s a loan county taxpayers will be responsible for if there is a default on the payment.

In order to get the loan, application has to be made by Panola County through the Board of Supervisors.

During Monday’s supervisor’s meeting, the matter was taken under advisement and a decision is expected during a meeting scheduled for Oct. 24.

According to Paul Alexander, CEO of the Panola Partnership, Panola County competed with other states for the expansion of United Plastics.

"We were able to get them through Phase I of the project, and we are ready to proceed into Phase II," Alexander said.

Phase II would involve construction of an addition to the facility and it would create upwards of 100 new jobs.

Alexander said the only option that seems to be available is a CAP loan from MDA.

Donations Sought
   for Coats for Kids

With fall in the air and winter not far behind it’s time to help those who need a coat. The Junior Auxiliary of Batesville is conducting a Coats for Kids drive and needs your donations for its success.

New and gently-worn coats may be placed through Oct. 31 at drop boxes at Wal-Mart, the Panola County Health Department or Riteway Cleaners on Van Voris.

Pollworker Class Oct. 21, Oct. 22
The Panola County Election Commissioners will hold two training sessions in October. On Oct. 21 at the Batesville courthouse at 7 p.m. and Oct. 22 at the Sardis courthouse at 7 p.m. Everyone planning to work at the polls for the Nov. 4 general election will need to take this training. This training is open to the public.

City Aims for Cemetery
   Not to Be Sardis Eyesore

With the hiring of a new maintenance man for the cemetery, Sardis leaders hope Rose Hill will not become the thorn in the city’s side it once was.

A three-year contract for the maintenance of the cemetery was awarded to J&S Landscaping of Batesville during a meeting last week of the Sardis Board of Aldermen.

John Shipp, owner of the company, was present to ease the minds of city leaders.

"When I went over to look at Rose Hill, I was amazed that a cemetery could look that good," he said.

Alderman Mike Wilson said the biggest concern the city has is whether or not Shipp can properly service the cemetery at the same price for three years.