Headlines – 10/21/2003

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Panolian Headlines: October 21, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 10/21/03  issue of The Panolian

Opinions Differ Over Who Should Vote
    on Oct. 28

A difference of opinion exists today over whether Republicans can vote in the Oct. 28 Special Democratic Election for Chancery Clerk of Panola County.

But the Panola County Democratic Party co-chair, David Walker, says it’s still his opinion that only Democrats may vote in the election.

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The contest is between David Chandler and Jim Pitcock and, Walker said, "it is a continuation of the Democratic primary process."

The Democratic Executive Committee ordered a second runoff be held after a two-day hearing that resulted when Chandler filed a contest.

In the primary, Pitcock defeated Chandler by 10 votes and, after the committee disallowed some votes, Pitcock was ahead by three votes when the committee opted for the new election.

Pitcock did not challenge that decision.
Both men are seeking the position being vacated by retiring Chancery Court Clerk Sally Fisher.

Absent another election challenge, the winner will become the clerk. There is no Republican or Independent opposition on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

Monday morning, Pitcock’s attorney, Richard T. "Flip" Phillips, brought a letter to the editor (see Page 5) to The Panolian in which he takes issue with Walker’s position.

Phillips is of the opinion that anyone may vote in the Oct. 28 election as long as he or she was not one of the approximately 400 people who cast ballots in the Aug. 5 Republican primary.

"I agree with Mr. Phillips half way," Walker said, with regard to Republicans who voted in the Republican primary.

But Walker doesn’t agree with Phillips that a Republican – even if he or she did not vote in the Aug. 5 primary – can vote in the Oct. 28 election.

"If a person maintains he or she is a Republican and didn’t vote [in the Aug. 5 primary] they still shouldn’t vote Oct. 28," Walker said. "This is for Democrats."

Walker acknowledged that Mississippi has no party registration and that many people are "ticket splitters" when it comes to general elections.

"This is not a general election," Walker said. "It’s a special Democratic election.

"Why would you want to be a Republican and cross over to vote in a Democratic election?" Walker asked.

The party co-chair said election officials will "take at face value" the word of people voting that they are a Democrat.

Walker said previously if the outcome of the Oct. 28 race is challenged Republican voter sign-in books and voters may be subpoenaed.

Walker doubts a judge would compel a witness to testify under oath as to how he or she voted but he did not rule out the possibility.


Timing of Elections Prompts
     Order for More Ballot Boxes

New ballot boxes are being ordered for the November General Election.

Panola County Circuit Clerk Joe Reid told the Board of Supervisors there is a need for new boxes, partially due to the upcoming run-off for Chancery Clerk.

"We need to order 20 new ballot boxes and 25 supply boxes," Reid said.

Reid said the new boxes were needed because the present boxes have not been emptied because of the Chancery Clerk’s race being contested.

"With a new election ordered, the old ballot boxes will not be emptied out in time for the General Election," he said.

"I think right now we have 19 boxes, so 20 new ones should give us enough for the election," he said.

Under state law, ballot boxes must remained sealed in a secured location for a period of 12 days. With the run-off for Chancery Clerk scheduled for Oct. 28, that will not allow the required time.

Reid also said, in light of complaints brought up during a hearing with the Democratic Executive Committee, a secured location has been selected for storing the new boxes.



Farmers Have Good Crops, Prices

Panola County farmers have something to smile about this harvest season as both yields and prices generally are up across the board.

"These guys are certainly due a good year," Kimbal Billingsley, Farm Service Agency executive director, said of Mid-South farmers.

An overly-wet spring kept farmers from getting as much cotton planted as they wanted but what’s being harvested now is yielding two bales to the acre on some of the better delta and creek bottom land, Billingsley said. Hill land does not produce as well.

And last week, the per-pound price of cotton hit 74 cents, he said.

Cotton that was planted late due to some rainy weeks in May "probably won’t yield up to its potential" because it did not receive as many days of sun but still should do fairly well, he said.

Although the Secretary of Agriculture hasn’t given the go-ahead for the release of exact acreage numbers, Billingsley estimates about 32,000 acres of cotton was planted, down from about 43,000 last year.


Two Men Receive Time
     in Parchman
Assault, burglary cases


During Circuit Court last Friday, two Panola County men were sentenced to time in Parchman.

Following a trial last Friday, a Courtland resident was ordered to serve 15 years.

Johnny Lee Hampton, 32, of 825 Barker Rd., Courtland was found guilty of aggravated assault in Circuit Court.

According to Investigator Mark Whitten of the Panola County Sheriff’s Department, the charges stemmed from an incident in July in which Hampton brutally attacked a female companion.

"She was severely injured," Whitten said.

Whitten said the victim was not raped during the attack.

Hampton received a sentence of 20 years with five years suspended.

The second, Jason Towns, 21, of 694 Bethlehem Rd., Batesville, was sentenced to serve five years.