Headlines – 1/2/2004

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 2, 2004

Panolian Headlines: January 2, 2004

For complete stories, pick up the 1/2/04  issue of The Panolian

Making it official …

Jim Pitcock (r) was sworn in as Chancery Clerk of Panola County on Wednesday by Judge Melvin McClure Jr. Pitcock replaces long-time clerk Sally Fisher who retired.

Supervisors to Pick Leader
   at Next Meeting
By Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

Contrary to persistent rumors, District Four Supervisor Jerry Perkins said he is not lobbying other supervisors for election as board president, a position held for the last eight years by Robert Avant.

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"I have heard the rumors myself," Perkins said. "Several people in the general public have told me they heard I was going to be board president, but that is a decision that lies in the hands of the board."

Perkins said if he is elected by the majority vote of the board, he would accept the position, but added he doesn’t see where there is any difference among supervisors, president or not.
Supervisors have their first meeting of 2004 Monday at 9 a.m. at the courthouse in Sardis.

"There really is nothing extra that goes along with the post," Perkins said. "The only real difference is that the board president has charge of the meetings.

"Aside from that, there is no difference. Each man still has one vote."

County Administrator David Chandler said he, too, has heard the rumors, but has no idea who the supervisors are thinking about for the post.

"This is one thing all of the supervisors are keeping close to their hip," he said. "I think everyone is aware of the rumors that are out there, but the decision will not be known until the first meeting of the new board on Monday, Jan. 5 at 9 a.m. in the Panola County Courthouse in Sardis."

Full-time Pediatrician Now on Duty
Obstetrician Complains Part-Time Not Sufficient for Tri-Lakes Coverage
By Kate B. Dickson

There has been continuous pediatric coverage for newborns at Tri-Lakes Medical Center but the interim administrator acknowledges that for about five weeks recently it was only on a part-time basis.

That’s according to Dr. Bob Corkern who said a full-time pediatrician, Dr. Jamie Warnick, is now on board at the hospital’s pediatric clinic.

Another pediatrician, hired on a part-time basis, is available to take calls with Dr. Warnick, Corkern told The Panolian Tuesday.

Dr. Corkern made the statements when asked for comments in regard to a letter that Dr. George Quesnel, a Batesville obstetrician-gynecologist, wrote to the Panola County Board of Supervisors.

Quesnel wrote that he’s worked at Tri-Lakes for six years and, on averages, delivers 250 babies here annually.

The letter stated in the first paragraph there had been no pediatric coverage for newborns for more than a month but went on to say there was only part-time coverage with no pediatrician here most of the time.

The Panolian obtained a copy of the Dec. 23 letter in which it notes copies were sent to Batesville Mayor Bobby Baker, the board of aldermen and members of the Tri-Lakes board as well as to Corkern and Ray Shoemaker, chief operating officer at Tri-Lakes.

"We never were without a pediatrician," Corkern said. "We did go about five weeks with a part-time pediatrician and I understand Dr. Quesnel’s concern about that."

Corkern said it is possible that Quesnel, at a hospital board meeting, did not understand how the staffing was being carried out.

"I feel language was a factor in his understanding," Corkern said. "Dr. Quesnel speaks French" as his first language.



Pair’s Extradition Hearing Set
Larry Hentz Still Denies Identity
By Kate B. Dickson

Larry and Elizabeth Lacy Hentz are a step closer to being returned to Mississippi to face charges after their odyssey that included his bold prison escape and their cross-country trip.

Extradition hearing dates – Jan. 15 for her and Jan. 28 for him – were set Tuesday during court appearances in San Diego where the fugitives were captured Dec. 11.

But another identity hearing for Larry Hentz must be held because he’s still denying he’s Hentz, said Bill Greenleaf, Mississippi Department of Corrections spokesman.

Greenleaf does not know the date of the next identity hearing for Larry Hentz.

The MDOC employee thinks Hentz may be trying to put off a return to Parchman knowing the maximum security treatment that awaits him.

Hentz, who could face up to 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, escaped on Nov. 16, from a medium security unit, officials said.

On the other hand, Lacy Hentz, admitted her identity Monday after refusing to do so in her first court appearance, Greenleaf said.

Lacy Hentz’ daughter, Donna Yawn, who is estranged from her mother, wasn’t surprised her mother quit fighting.

Crash Fatal to W. Valley Publisher
By Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

A two-vehicle crash has left Ed Shearer III, owner and publisher of Water Valley’s newspaper The North Mississippi Herald, dead.

According to Water Valley Police Chief Mike King, Shearer, 68, was killed Monday afternoon in Water Valley when his mini-van collided with a tractor-trailer rig.

"The 18-wheeler was south from Oxford at the time of the collision with Mr. Shearer’s van," he said.

The chief said he did not know if the trucker was injured.

Shearer was traveling across the intersection of Highway 315 and Highway 7 toward a gas station across the road, he said.

Betty Davis, an employee of The North Mississippi Herald said there was an explosion upon impact causing the body to be burned beyond recognition.

"The body has been sent off for an autopsy, but the results are not back yet," she said.

He is survived by his wife Betty and son Jim.

Crop Disaster Sign-Up Deadline
Kimbal Billingsley, County Executive Director for Panola County Farm Service Agency, alerts producers that sign-up ends Jan. 30, for the Crop Disaster Program (CDP), which provides payments for 2001 or 2002 crop-year losses due to a natural disaster.

"USDA has issued $2.2 billion in benefits to about 325,000 farmers across the country," said Billingsley. "We encourage qualified farmers to take advantage of this assistance."

CDP, which is authorized by the Agricultural Assistance Act of 2003, has no overall funding limitation, but each "person" is limited to $80,000.

Producers are reimbursed for qualifying crop production and quality losses (other than sugar cane, sugar beets or tobacco) for either the 2001 or 2002 crop years. Payments are issued for losses exceeding 35 percent of expected production at:

50 percent of the established price for crops that were covered by crop insurance;
50 percent of the established price for crops for which crop insurance was unavailable; and
45 percent of the established price to producers for crops that could have been insured but were not.

Producers are also reimbursed for quality losses of at least 20 percent for certain crops.