Headlines – 12/23/2003

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Panolian Headlines: December 23, 2003

For complete stories, pick up the 12/23/03  issue of The Panolian

Tri-Lakes Deal Taking Longer Than Predicted; Now It’s 2004
By Kate B. Dickson

One of the biggest stories of 2003 – the proposed sale or lease of Tri-Lakes Medical Center – appears destined to be one of next year’s biggest stories.

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That’s because a decision, predicted to have come this month, won’t be made by Dec. 31.

"The consultant is still negotiating with Triad and Baptist," Mayor Bobby Baker said Monday morning.

"We had hoped to get something done by last Friday when the Board of Supervisors met," he said. "Now, it will be after the first of the year."

The city and county’s consultant, J.C. Burns of Burns Development Group in Ridgeland, told The Panolian Monday he does not know exactly when he’ll make his recommendation.

"We’re working on it and hope to have a recommendation soon," he said. "But I can’t put an exact date on it."

Burns, formerly of Batesville, confirmed he is "still negotiating" with Baptist Memorial Health Care of Memphis – which wants to buy the hospital – and with Triad Hospitals, Inc., of Plano, Texas, – which has a lease proposal on the table.

Although the Board of Supervisors by consensus recently agreed to reconsider a third proposal – by the Tri-Lakes board and Dr. Bob Corkern – Burns said he is not negotiating with them.

Previously, the supervisors and aldermen voted to consider Triad and Baptist, Burns’ top two of the three proposals.

Burns said it’s his understanding that in order for the board/Dr. Corkern proposal to get further consideration, both the supervisors and aldermen must vote to put it back in the mix.

Burns said he has not been in contact with the board/Dr. Corkern regarding that proposal saying that he left a message for Ray Shoemaker, the chief operating officer at Tri-Lakes, and the call was never returned.

In a recent interview, Dr. Corkern told The Panolian neither he nor the hospital board has been contacted by Burns.

In an interview with The Panolian, Supervisor Jerry Perkins said, "the majority seem to want [to reconsider the board/Dr. Corkern proposal] not that they don’t understand what we did the first time.

"Mr. Pratt brought so much more information before us," Perkins said, making reference to Larry Pratt, vice chairman of the Tri-Lakes board.

"We want to do what’s right," Perkins said. "Mr. Pratt thinks Dr. Corkern has a good proposal."


Man, Chainsaw Turn Tree Trunks Into Objects of Art
Wood carver Michael Blane has been in Batesville carving since the Lowe’s grand opening. Blane spent time at Napa Auto parts putting the finishing touches on a carving of a wild turkey.
By Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

Some people view divorce as an ending, for wood carver Michael Blane it was the beginning of his now-prosperous career.

Blane, a New Hampshire native, is in Batesville after putting on a exhibition of his chainsaw carving at the Lowe’s grand opening, and he could be here until after the first of 2004.

"My agent booked me to come down and do a show for the Lowe’s opening," he said. "I have had so many people placing orders, I will be here at least until the middle of January.

"I had a lot of orders for Christmas, and I am trying to be a good little elf and get them to people on time," he said.

Blane said he has been carving in some form or fashion since he was young and started using chainsaws to do the work after finishing college.

"I really decided I was wasting my time chipping away a little at a time when I could do large chunks with a chainsaw in a lot less time," he said. "After that, there was just no sense in going back to the slower method."

Deer Hunt Ends With Man Shot
     Bullet Causes Hip Wound
By Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

An afternoon hunt left one 35-year-old sportsman with a hip injury following an accident in the woods.

According to Investigator Mark Whitten of the Panola County Sheriff’s Department, Steve Irby of Batesville was hunting on property on Curtis Road when he was accidentally shot in the hip.

Whitten would not release the name of the hunter who fired the gun.

"From what we can tell, it was Sunday afternoon at about 5 p.m.," Whitten said.
Whitten said there was a group of men hunting in the same area and a miss by one resulted in Irby’s injury.

"One of the hunting partners missed the deer he was shooting at," Whitten said. "Irby was sitting on the tree line and the other hunter was unaware.

"After that miss, the bullet became lodged in Irby’s hip," Whitten said.

"All of the men who were hunting in the area were acquainted," he said. "So we do not expect that this was a result of foul play."

Whitten said Irby was taken to Tri-Lakes Medical Center where he was transferred to The Med for treatment.

Armed Robber Hits
     Crossroad’s Grocery
One Panola County business had an unexpected customer early Monday morning.

Crossroads Grocery on Hwy. 6 in Batesville was robbed at gunpoint at approximately 5 a.m., Investigator Mark Whitten of the Panola County Sheriff’s Department said.

"At this point all we know is there was one male suspect who entered the business as the employees were getting ready to open and robbed them," he said.

Whitten said the amount of money taken during the robbery is unknown at this time.

"We do not presently have a suspect in the matter, but we do have the tape from the store’s security camera," he said. "Hopefully that will provide us with some idea of who is responsible."

Anyone with further information about this robbery is encouraged to contact Whitten and the Panola County Sheriff’s Department at 563-6230.