Headlines – 11/28/2003

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2003

Panolian Headlines: November 28, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 11/28/03  issue of The Panolian

Opera Guild Shirts
Anne Davis shows off the "official" T-shirt of the Como Opera Guild. The shirts were on sale at Tuesday night’s Panola Partnership mixer at Boonie Mae’s. They may also be purchased at the next Guild production. That will be Dec. 11 at 5 p.m. at Panola Playhouse on Main Street in Sardis with a repeat performance Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. at Como United Methodist Church on Main Street. The production is "Amahl and the Night Visitors. The story is about a shepherd who meets the Three Wise Men on Christmas Eve.

Dickson Sentenced
Judges Hand Down Life Plus 100
By Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

Edward Dickson Jr. will spend a total of life plus 100 years in prison thanks to sentences imposed by Circuit Court Judges Andrew C. Baker and Ann Lamar.

Dickson accepted plea agreements in both cases on Thursday at the Panola County Courthouse in Batesville.

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The first hearing of the day, before Baker, was expected to run smoothly but had one big bump in the road.

Set to enter pleas of guilty to the charges of aggravated assault, forcible rape and armed robbery, Dickson told Baker he had decided against accepting the plea bargain arranged by District Attorney John Champion and his attorney David Walker.

"I was told that if I changed my mind after signing the plea bargain, I could do so before the judge," Dickson said during the hearing.

Stunned, Baker proceeded to question Dickson.

"By signing this document, you told me you read and understood it and that the terms therein were agreeable," he said. "Now you stand here telling me that you have changed your mind?"

Baker asked Dickson to give his reasoning to which he replied, "I can’t. It’s a secret."
Baker then turned his attention to Walker for explanation on the matter.

"I am just as surprised as you are judge," he said. "This has caught me completely off guard.

"I took Mr. Dickson at his word when he signed the plea agreement, and now he is doing the opposite of what he told me," Walker said.

The judge allowed Walker to consult with Dickson before making the decision to continue.
Following the brief discussion in the jury room of the courthouse, Walker and Dickson emerged with both saying they wished to continue with the plea of guilt for the April 14 kidnapping and rape of a 70-year-old Sardis woman who was attacked when she returned home.

That victim was beaten with a fire poker and a brick and has since recovered after undergoing rehabilitation.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Kelly said, in the event the case were to proceed to trial, the state was prepared to prove that Dickson had, on April 14, 2003, without a reasonable doubt, committed the offenses with which he is charged.

"The state has blood in evidence gained from the scene of the offense," he said. "We also have the fire poker and brick he used on the victim.

"I would say the events of that day took approximately 90 minutes if not more," he said.


Playhouse …
In the upcoming Panola Playhouse play "Southern Exposure" Deby Klyce (Penelope) seated accepts a cup of team from Angela Bean (Australia). In the back, Barbara Moore (Emiline Randall) searches the house for her daughter.

The show will go on stage Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 4 through 6 at 7:30 nightly. There will also be a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. following pictures with Santa Clause from 10 to 2 p.m.

Paperwork Caused Problem
     at NDPDD
By Kate B. Dickson

Lack of communication and paperwork snafus – not misappropriation of funds – are at the heart of the problem of vendors and subcontractors not getting timely payments from North Delta Planning and Development District.

That’s according to Norman McLeod of the state auditor’s office following a "limited review" of NDPDD books as requested by State Reps. John Mayo and Chuck Espy.

The review was sought after some subcontractors and vendors complained about late payments that in some cases were seriously hampering programs including Meals on Wheels.

In one instance, the S.L.A. Jones Activity Center for senior citizens in Clarksdale almost closed due to a funding shortage. The center depends upon about $13,000 a month from the NDPDD to fund its programs.

NDPDD has its primary offices in Batesville and distributes about $5-to-$6 million annually in public monies from local, state and federal sources to a variety of community-based programs throughout the north Delta.