Headlines – 3/19/2004

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 19, 2004

Panolian Headlines: March 19, 2004

For complete stories, pick up the 3/19/04  issue of The Panolian

Signs of Spring…    

Bill Morrow sharpens a hoe while helping Elizabeth and Kay Goode get their flower boxes ready for the spring season.

Aldermen Vote to Seek Bids
     for Tri-Lakes Sale
County Must Do Same to Proceed
By Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

If the supervisors agree with Batesville aldermen, solicitation for proposals to purchase Tri-Lakes Medical Center will begin.

The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously this week to adopt a resolution that will allow them to proceed with the sale.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

"I think the public hearing last Thursday went very smoothly," assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell said. "It was very informative for everyone."

Mitchell told the aldermen if they wanted to move forward, they had to follow a mandated process.

"The first thing you have to do is adopt a resolution," he said. "As joint owners, the county would also have to adopt a resolution.

"Once the resolution is adopted, we can send out requests for proposal (RFPs)," he said.

Mitchell explained that the city will be acting on its own behalf and the county will have to make its own decisions.

Firefighters May Lend Hand
     on Medical Calls
Ambulance Service Strained
By Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

In an effort to improve emergency medical coverage, the Batesville Fire Department could start answering all medical calls in the city limits.

While the Board of Aldermen did not take action on the matter during a recent meeting, the majority seemed, to an extent, in favor of it.

Gracie Grant-Gulledge of Tri-Lakes Medical Center told the board the Batesville Fire Department is the only department that does not respond to medical calls.

"To put this in perspective, there are two ambulances at Tri-Lakes and two in Sardis," she said. "To make matters worse, the run volume for the ambulance services has increased by nearly 1,000 percent in two years.
"What I am saying is, if you want to have better coverage, the fire department needs to start responding to medical calls and not just trauma calls," Grant-Gulledge said.

Grant-Gulledge told city leaders that Batesville has the equipment to handle the calls, but, because previous boards would not allow it, they have not been responding to calls.

"Your fire department already has the equipment on the trucks," she said. "It’s not something that will be an additional cost."

Fire Chief Tim Taylor told the aldermen he believes allowing the fire department to respond to medical calls would be a good thing.
"Periodically there are people without emergency medical care," he said. "There is an EMT on every shift at the department.

"I really think this will be a good move for the city," Taylor said. "The pluses will outweigh the minuses."

Alderwoman Bobby Jean Pounders spoke in favor of the move, but expressed concern firefighters may try to do more than their training allows.

"I just don’t want to open the city up to any additional liability from people acting above their level," she said.

Taylor assured the aldermen that no firefighter will act beyond his training.

The matter will be addressed at a later meeting.

Playhouse Sets Auditions Sunday
Auditions for Panola Playhouse will be held Sunday at the Panola Playhouse in Sardis beginning at 2 p.m.

The play "The Odd Couple" by Neil Simon will be directed by Rick Albert of Oxford. Parts are large and small for men and women.

For more information call Polly Gordon at 487-1047.


Trees Cut Down by Old Hospital    

Scalped earth is what remains this week after all of the mature trees on either side of the entrance to the west campus of Tri-Lakes Medical Center were cut down. Ray Shoemaker, the hospital’s chief operating officer, said in hopes of attracting more business the tree removal allows passersby to better see the building and addresses security issues after "a car was broken into."
By Kate B. Dickson

A decision to cut all of the trees in front of the hospital’s west campus on Keating Road has some elected officials fuming.

"The county didn’t do it," said Board of Supervisors’ President Jerry Perkins. "I’m so mad right now my face is red."

Mayor Bobby Baker had a similar reaction about the action on county-owned property inside the city.

"It’s terrible," Baker said of the felling of the large number of trees. "It was dumb. For someone just to issue an order to do that was terrible. It showed a lot of immaturity. {The issue] should have gone before the supervisors."

Baker said city workers do not cut any trees down on city property without approval from the aldermen.

The decision to have the trees cut was made by Ray Shoemaker, the chief operating officer of Tri-Lakes Medical Center.

Shoemaker confirmed Wednesday to The Panolian that he made the decision without consulting anyone.

A day later, Shoemaker phoned The Panolian to say that he’d checked with hospital attorneys who he said told him he acted within his authority.

"Mississippi code grants community hospitals the authority to control property, Shoemaker said. "Our bylaws do, too."

"I authorized the trees to be cut down," Shoemaker said. "I did it for a couple of reasons but the for the most part it’s because we’ve added several new programs there … that are generating revenue.

"I wanted to make that campus as visible as possible," Shoemaker said. "There were also some safety issues … we’d had a car broken into. I made a judgment call … my intent was to beautify the campus. I felt that decision improved the campus."

Asked how cutting down all the trees is beautification, Shoemaker said, " …So people can see all the activity [at the building] … it opens the facility back up [to view from the road] … I think [cutting the trees down] will serve us well."

Perkins said a fellow supervisor told him that board should "consult an attorney" about the tree cutting.

Bus Driver, Student
     Both Facing Charges
by Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

A 13-year-old boy and a South Panola School District bus driver both face charges in connection with an incident last Friday aboard a school bus, according to a Batesville Police Department spokesman.

Det. Michael Downs said, "the police department didn’t bring the charges … the school brought the charges against the student and the student’s mother signed the affidavit against the bus driver."

Bus driver Walter Corner was charged with simple assault Thursday morning and is free on bond, Downs said. His court date is March 24.

The youth is charged with disorderly conduct and malicious mischief, the detective said.

"The child alleges that the bus driver back-handed him and the driver says the child hit him and that he restrained the child," Downs said. The malicious mischief charge stems from the school’s allegation that the boy kicked the window out of a school bus.

Barbour Will Speak
Governor Haley Barbour will be the guest speaker at the The 2004 Panola Partnership Banquet that’s scheduled for April 27 at 6:30 p.m. The location will be announced later.

During the banquet, the new Panola Executive Board members will be announced as will Miss Hospitality. Awards to be presented include the Citizenship Award, Past President Award, James Hal Moore Excellence in Education Award as well as several others.

Main Street award presentations will include the Outstanding Volunteer Award, Past President Award and Outstanding Design Award.