Headlines – 11/14/2003

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2003

Panolian Headlines: November 14, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 11/14/03  issue of The Panolian

South Panola’s Most Beautiful…

The top five finalists for the 2003 South Panola Beauty Review include (l to r) Cassie Corley, third runner-up; Te’Shawn Harmon, first runner up; Kara Tapp, Most Beautiful; Hali Ragon, second runner-up; and Whitney Prather, fourth runner-up.

City’s Failure to Get Lot Graded
   Ups Civic Center Cost $383,403
The pace of construction work at Batesville Civic Center is expected to increase now that there’s a roof over the facility.
By Kate B. Dickson

The city’s failure to get parking lot rough grading completed at the Civic Center on time has resulted in a $383,403 change order.

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That number will be added to the $7.9 million project cost for the facility that is due by contract to be completed by March 1 or penalties apply.

"We were working on it but we just got behind," Mayor Bobby Baker said during a recent meeting of the Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

"It’s our fault the lot’s not ready," Alderman Hudson Still said in reply to a question from The Panolian. "That’s the fact."

Alderman James Yelton agreed, saying, "We let the time slip up on us, that’s exactly what happened."

"Why do we wait until the last minute to do things?" Alderman Rufus Manley asked at a recent meeting at City Hall.

To that, project manager Corey Thames spoke.
"In our defense," Thames said, "we did write a letter [of concern for the grading delay] eight months ago."

PSC Corporation of Ridgeland is the contractor.
And without a parking area completed, PSC president Dick Ambrosino, also present at the meeting, said, "There is no way to finish the job."

That, he told aldermen, is because construction crews require "a hard surface" from which to work in order to keep from getting mud inside in the new building and onto interior construction materials and walls.


Clock’s Winding Down
     Toward Final Hospital Pick
Baptist or Triad?

Before month’s end it’s expected the recommendation of who should lease or buy Tri-Lakes Medical Center will be before city and county officials.

That’s the plan of consultant J.C. Burns, formerly of Batesville, and head of Burns Development Group of Ridgeland.

"I hope so," Burns said Thursday, when asked by The Panolian if he’ll have his recommendation ready by month’s end.

Last week, Burns gave the City Board and Board of Supervisors his recommendation that proposals from Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation of Memphis and Triad Hospitals, Inc., of Plano, Texas, be considered.

Knocked out by a vote of the boards was a third proposal – from the Tri-Lakes Medical Center board and the management of Dr. Bob Corkern, interim administrator.

Faulty Wiring Puts
     Customers in Dark

Faulty wiring in a temperature control box in a transformer at TVA’s Batesville substation is the root cause of Monday’s 45-minute power outage.

Over 11,000 customers in Panola County and the surrounding area were affected.

That’s according to Roy Drake, system engineer for TVEPA. He gave the explanation in an email to co-workers. The Panolian was provided with a copy.

TVEPA is a wholesale power customer of TVA.

The wiring that failed in the TVA control box, according to Drake, had been in place for more than 40 years.

Because a TVA dispatcher in Chattanooga did not react promptly to the high temperature alarm on the transformer, the station turned itself off before the problem could be corrected, Drake said.

Follow-up wiring inspections are to be made in other transformers in hopes of warding off a similar situation in the future.


Charges dropped against Allen

The Panola County jury did not indict Kedric Jabrell Allen, 27, of Batesville on the charges of murder and aggravated assault of Norris Ray Leland. Leland was killed Feb. 17, 2003, behind Maggie T’s restaurant.

The charges against Allen were dropped in May with prejudice by the jury and cannot be refiled.

Veterans on parade …
VFW Post 4968 Commander Richard McCarty (l) and some of the 90 members of the post get ready for Tuesday’s Veterans Day parade. In no particular order those assembled include Doyle Ridgeway, Calvin Land, Cecil Still, Barney Pickett, Fred Meurrier, Wes Arnold, Verba Deaton, James Roy Waller, James Covington, Homer Marquis, Carl Cecil, James Webb Sr., Tiger Crawley, Harold McCurdy, Tommie Joiner, Bobby Hudson, Doyle Sibley, Gillespie Shaw, Robert Madison, Sam Dodd, Aubrey Howe and Howard Rice.

Accused Rapist, Murderer in Court
Mental Competency Hearing
By Kate B. Dickson

A hearing, expected to center on the mental competency of accused capital murderer and rapist Edward Dickson Jr., is set for 10:30 a.m. today in the Tate County Courthouse in Senatobia.

The hearing will be there because Circuit Court Judge Andrew C. Baker previously had scheduled a sentencing in a Tate County case, the judge’s court administrator said.

Meanwhile, Panola County trial dates for Dickson have been set for Dec. 1 in Sardis, before Baker, in the rape case and on Jan. 12, before Judge Ann Lamar, in Batesville in the capital murder case.

Dickson, 20, of Sardis, is accused of the May 3, shooting death of Alvin Herring, 84, and the critical wounding of Verlena Herring, 75.

In addition to capital murder in the home invasion crime, Dickson is also charged with robbery and aggravated assault, according to court records.

Dickson is also charged with the April 14 beating and robbery of an elderly Sardis woman who was attacked in her home.

Dickson is represented by Panola County Public Defender David Walker who said the defense in both cases is insanity.

The rape victim, now a nursing home patient, according to court records, was beaten with a fireplace poker and a brick and she was raped. Keys and a .38-caliber revolver were stolen from her home.

Court filings show Dickson has admitted his guilt in both the murder and the rape cases, something Walker confirms.

Dickson, who has been held without bond in the Lafayette County Detention since Panola County Sheriff David Bryan arrested him on May 6.

In the Herring case, court records say Dickson knocked on the couple’s home behind Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church and asked to use the telephone. Mrs. Herring let him in, documents say.

After pretending to use the telephone, Mrs. Herring told investigators that Dickson pulled a handgun from his pocket and shot Herring.

Court records carrying the signature of Sheriff’s Investigator Mark Whitten indicate Herring was shot above the left eye while seating in a rocking chair. Mrs. Herring was also seated in a chair when she was shot in the arm by a bullet that lodged in her chest.

The murder weapon, which has been identified by the rape victim as looking like the gun stolen from her, was recovered soon after the slaying.
Court records say when the five-shot .38-caliber snub nose Charter Arms revolver was recovered it contained two live rounds and had three empty cylinders.

A letter in the court file from her physician, Dr. Lee Linder, says Mrs. Herring will not be able to testify at the trial "…due to recent changes in her mental and physical condition which are from the tragic events that occurred …"

Walker told The Panolian he hoped "both judges" – Baker and Lamar – could be present for the hearing because mental competency, he said, is an issue in all the charges against Dickson.