Headlines – 2/10/2004

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Panolian Headlines: February 10, 2004

For complete stories, pick up the 2/10/04  issue of The Panolian

Pride Tapped in Top 50
William Pride of Batesville has recently been named one of the top 50 most influential African-Americans in Mississippi.
By Myra Bean
Sports Editor

BATESVILLE – It was recently announced that William Pride of Batesville was selected as one of BlackMississippi.com’s 50 Most Influential African-Americans in Mississippi.
In a letter to

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Pride, CEO of James Covington said, "Now more than ever, African-Americans in Mississippi are playing major roles in business development, improving education and establishing and implementing policy that is helping to shape government and change the political and social climate of our great state."

In order to celebrate those leaders, Influence Mississippi was launched.

According to Covington, Influence Mississippi is a BlackMississippi.com observance designed to identify, recognize and honor 50 of the most influential African-Americans in Mississippi.

"Each of you has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities, displayed outstanding citizenship and a track record that exhibits your ability to encourage motivate and inspire people in great numbers," Covington said.

Pride joins such notable names as former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson and Ronnie Agnew, executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger.

He is the owner of Pride-Ford Lincoln Mercury Dealership in Clarksdale and Pride Auto Sales and Service, Inc. in Batesville.

For the third consecutive year, the dealership has been selected as one of the top 100 Black dealerships in the nation and is the number one dealership in North Mississippi.

Photos and a full listing of the top 50 influential African-Americans can be viewed at www. BlackMississippi.com.

Lounge Seeks Longer,
     Sunday Serving Hours
By Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

Longer hours might be brewing for one Sardis business following a meeting with Mayor Richard Darby and the Board of Aldermen.

Mike Fudge, owner of Knights Inn and Happy Days Lounge, approached the city leaders about extending his hours for serving alcohol.

"I am trying to compete with businesses up and down the interstate that stay open longer than I can," he said.

Fudge said he not only wanted to serve alcohol until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, but he wanted permission to serve from 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Fudge told the board last week that other cities near Sardis allow the serving of alcohol until much later hours than his midnight cutoff.

"The bars in Grenada are open until 2 a.m.," he said. "Even the bars in Oxford are open until 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday."

City attorney Tommy Shuler said as far as he knew the serving times were set by the Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC).

"The ABC tells us when business can serve and when we can’t," he said. "I don’t think that is a decision the board can make."

Fudge said he had been told by ABC representatives that while they [ABC] did set guidelines for time, it was the city’s decision to make if they chose to allow longer hours.

Cookies are here!
Mike Fleming unloads some of the first Girl Scout cookies off the truck Friday morning. The 620 cases are being delivered to customers who preordered.


Public Hearing March 11
Sale of Tri Lakes Hospital
Larry Pratt (r), vice chairman of the Tri Lakes Medical Center board of trustees, makes a point Monday during a joint meeting of the city aldermen and board of supervisors. George Randolph (l) is hospital board chairman.
By Kate B. Dickson

The pros and cons of selling Tri Lakes Medical Center will be voiced at a public hearing at 6 p.m. on March 11 at the courthouse in Batesville.

That was the outcome of unanimous votes Monday morning at the courthouse in Batesville of both the Panola County Board of Supervisors and the Batesville Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

The two groups had come together to hear a recommendation from its consultant, J.C. Burns of Burns Development Group of Ridgeland.

On March 11, or at a later date, the two boards will vote whether to advertise for bids or not.

Originally, the boards sought lease proposals but only one entity, Triad Hospitals, Inc., of Plano, Texas, followed the request and submitted a lease plan.

That plan, according to Burns, fell through when an agreement could not be worked out for Triad to pay off all of the approximately $22 million in outstanding bond debt.

Baptist Memorial Health Care Inc., of Memphis, did not follow the request and instead submitted a plan seeking to buy the hospital.

A third proposal, which was omitted during the narrowing-down process, was submitted by interim administrator Dr. Bob Corkern and the current hospital board. Corkern wants the hospital to remain as is for two years at which time he would buy it.

Burns, a former Batesville resident, said the law requires the bidding process and said if the matter is delayed for two years, "then we’ll have to go through the whole process again."

By that, Burns was talking, in part, about a study of the financial status of the hospital – something that was done by the Atlanta office of the national accounting firm Ernst & Young.

It’s a study, that Larry Pratt, vice chairman of the hospital board, said should be done again. He said Ernst & Young used data from the hospital’s "worst" financial period.

Pratt was among a number of people who spoke at the meeting Monday.

Pratt questioned the selection of Ernst & Young which he said was hired for about $100,000 when another firm, Horne, of Jackson, was "equally qualified" and would have done it for $17,000.

Additionally, the meter is still running on Burns’ charges which so far are in the $200,000 range.

Burns said he has no personal preference in the outcome of the issue.

"This is my community," Burns said. "Tearing this community apart is not what I’m about."

Hospital Board Chairman George Randolph said the hospital is currently on the right track financially and medically.

"We are looking forward to expanding the facilities and providing additional medical services, he said before turning the podium over to Corkern.

Corkern told the boards that when the process began, "the hospital was in dire trouble … something that would lead one to believe there was only one solution" – to get rid of the hospital.

"There has been a complete turnaround in this hospital. The facts of that are irrefutable. There is no question," he said.

Some Panola VFDs Report
     Radio Problems
By Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

Communication problems between some of Panola County’s volunteer fire departments and dispatch at the Sheriff’s Department came to light again on Monday.

During a meeting of the Panola County Board of Supervisors, Panola County Civil Defense Director William "Son" Hudson, told the board of radio difficulties in certain areas of the county.

"There are times when we have volunteer fire departments out in the county and they can not communicate back to the {sheriff’s office]," he said. "This type of problem could present us with a very dangerous situation."

Hudson said the main problems were happening with equipment used by Union Volunteer Fire Department, but he said Crenshaw had experienced some problems in the past.

"We were able to install a piece of equipment called a mini-repeater that we think has resolved Crenshaw’s communication problem," he said.

Hudson said he had gotten two quotes on mini-repeaters with Integrated being the lowest quote.

"I told you in the past this would be an expensive problem to resolve," he said. "And the bids are rather high."