Headlines – 2/24/2004

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Panolian Headlines: February 24, 2004

For complete stories, pick up the 2/24/04  issue of The Panolian

Peers Pick Johnson
     as Teacher of the Year
Raven Hallmon (l) and Jordan Potts get help from teacher Jackie Johnson. In a district-wide competition, Johnson not only won for her school, Batesville Elementary, but was named Teacher of the Year for the entire South Panola School District.
By Myra Bean
Sports Editor

Jackie Shannon Johnson has been named South Panola School District’s Teacher of the Year.

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"I am very elated over it all," Johnson said. "It’s a treat. I know the quality of the teachers in this district. To be chosen by my peers is an honor."

Johnson is a first grade teacher with Batesville Elementary School under principal Carolyn Graham.

In her 11 years of teaching, Johnson has taught numerous children through the South Panola School District.

She received her master of elementary education from the University of Mississippi, with an emphasis in Math and Science.

Johnson’s first degree is a bachelor accountancy which she received in 1986 and in 1992 she returned to school for her bachelor of elementary education.

As a 1982 graduate of South Panola High School, Johnson elected to return to teach in the school of her own education.

"I love children. If I had not worked with children, I would have been a nurse," Johnson said.

Being the best teacher she can be, Johnson earned her national board certification in the fall of 2000.

She is also a member of the Mississippi Association of Educators.

Being busy and always on the go keep Johnson’s life full.

"I can’t function if my brain is not stressed. When there’s calm in my life, I feel like something’s very wrong," she said.

Johnson enjoys working in the South Panola School District, a district which she says challenges the teachers and students to achieve high goals.

"It makes it easier to work in a place which is organized, supported and a place which expects high achievement. The students know we expect them to do good.

"The most rewarding thing here is when a child is counted out at first and then he works hard and you see that child succeed," Johnson continued. "You see them believing in themselves, have high esteem and see them on the honor roll in high school. That is so rewarding. If I can help a child, them my career has not been wasted."

Her dedication to her community is also noted. She serves on the board of the Batesville Boys and Girls Club and is a tutor at the club.

Johnson’s future goals include pursuing a doctoral degree in education with an emphasis in leadership.

"I attribute everything that I am to God, my parents and family, former teachers, and the people I am so fortunate to work with each day," Johnson said.

She is married to Bruce Johnson and they have one child, Nicolas. She is the daughter of Mrs. Essie Mae Shannon and the late Bossie D. Shannon, has three brothers and two sisters.

Johnson is very active in her church, Mt. Pleasant M.B. Church, where she serves as assistant Sunday School teacher and choir director.

Her hobbies include playing the piano, reading, sewing, cooking, singing and spending time with her family.


Proposal Would Cut Jail Funds
By Kate B. Dickson

A bill in the state legislature designed to cut the rate Mississippi pays counties to house state prisoners doesn’t make sense to Panola County Sheriff David Bryan.

"It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul," the lawman said.

"I’ve yet to have anyone tell me how it will save money … it would ultimately shift costs to the counties," Bryan told The Panolian.

The bill, which would reduce the individual per-day rate from $20 to $15 is proposed as a way to help the state’s ailing fiscal condition.

"I’m opposed to it," the sheriff said. "We’d lose a lot of money. For years and years we got $10 and finally it moved to $20."

State corrections officials, according to Bryan, say it costs Mississippi $36 a day to house an inmate.

According to State Rep. Warner McBride, the proposal passed the penitentiary committee by a 7-4 vote and then was to have moved to the appropriations committee.

McBride, an appropriations committee member, said the bill, introduced by Rep. Bennett Malone, "has not moved forward" and he isn’t sure that it will.

"I’ve talked to a few sheriffs about it," McBride said, noting opposition to the bill."

"My personal feeling is we won’t have to do it," McBride said. "I’m not for putting this [extra cost] on the backs of the counties."

Bryan said in the past year, the county received about $238,000 for housing state inmates at the Panola County Detention Center.

Some of the prisoners, he said, "serve their whole sentence here," – something that is permitted under state law.

There are some classifications of state inmate "that we don’t keep … and those ordered for drug or alcohol rehabilitation are transferred" for that treatment to suitable facilities, he said.

Role Beating Played in Death
     Still Investigated
By Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

Did a beating cause Steven Rudd to die shortly after being found on a Panola County roadside?

That’s a question sheriff’s investigators can’t answer until they get autopsy and toxicology results.

Meanwhile, a Senatobia man has been charged with aggravated assault in connection with Rudd’s beating, Chief Deputy Craig Sheley said.

Previously, due to a misunderstanding, The Panolian incorrectly reported that sheriff’s investigators were not considering the possibility of foul play.

Sheley said Timothy Evans, 25, is the man charged, but said there is still no way of knowing if the assault caused Rudd’s death.

Sheley said the only known relationship between the Evans and Rudd is they were friends.

"The cause of death is still unknown," he said.
Rudd, 26, formerly of Sardis, died shortly after he was found beaten at 7:42 a.m. Monday near Como on the side of Old Panola Road near the county line.

Investigators would not elaborate on the events of the evening of the assault. Neither would they say what instrument was used to beat Rudd.

Sheley said Rudd was transported to the Senatobia Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

"We are still waiting on the toxicology report," he said. "It is in the state medical examiner’s hands now."

Shelters to Provide
     Safe Weather Haven
By Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

Three area churches are working together to provide much-needed storm shelters in Panola County.

Batesville Presbyterian Church, Blackjack Presbyterian Church and Independence Presbyterian Church, collectively known as the Panola Presbyterian Partnership, have plans to install a total of five storm shelters throughout Panola County.

"The Partnership was organized because we wanted to get involved and make a difference in the community," Partnership representative Willard Williams said. "This was the best way we could think of to make a difference."

The Partnership worked with Civil Defense Coordinator Son Hudson to apply for a matching grant that would fund the five shelters.

"The way it has worked is like this," Williams said. "We build one at close to $7,000 total, then wait on the grant money and build another."

The first shelter installed in August 2003, was put in the Pope area and plans are for the second to go in somewhere in Pleasant Grove.