Headlines – 3/30/2004

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Panolian Headlines: March 30, 2004

For complete stories, pick up the 3/30/04  issue of The Panolian

Happy Return!
Batesville’s Willa Ales is all smiles as she and her husband CSM Keith Ales prepare to remove a yellow ribbon marking his recent return home from Iraq. He was gone about 14 months and served his entire tour in the Sunni triangle area where he was based in Tikrit, Iraq.

Intruder Beats Mayor
     of Crenshaw

by Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

Crenshaw Mayor Oscar Barlow is back at work following an attack by an unknown assailant Friday night.

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According to Barlow, who was scheduled to work that evening at an IWF wrestling show in Crenshaw, he had gone home to change for the event when the attack took place.

"The promoter has this thing about the ring announcer being dressed up, so I went home to put on a suit," he said Monday. "I had tossed a shirt in the dryer when I heard a knock at the door."

Barlow said he opened his wooden door and the attacker charged through and starting hitting him.

"I heard the knock on the door, and I didn’t think anything of it," he said. "That happens at all hours of the night.

"But when he came at me through the door, he started hitting me in the head with a big roll of gray tape," he said.

Barlow said he slipped because of his shoes and ended up on the floor where the attacker continued the assault.

"When he got me down, he just kept yelling, ‘This is what your boys did six years ago and now you’re getting yours,’ " he said.

He believes the man may have been making reference to city police officers but isn’t sure.

The voice making that statement was familiar to Barlow as he had received threatening phone calls from the unidentified man for more than two months.

"He was always calling me threatening that he was going to get to me or my wife," Barlow said. "But I never expected him to be bold enough to attack me in my own home."

Barlow said attempts to trace the phone calls had been unsuccessful because they were coming from a cell phone.

Barlow said the assailant was a stocky black male who spoke with what he called a "northern accent" and was wearing a tan jacket, wide dark glasses and had a goatee.

"I don’t really know what happened, but I must have blacked out for a minute," he said. "Because when I came to, he had my hands taped up so tight they were turning black.

"He had my feet taped together too and he ripped my pants off me," he said.
Barlow said even as he was restrained, the assailant continued kicking at him.

"When he hit me the last time, he told me we were even and walked out," he said. "I can barely remember him leaving."

Barlow said he was found by James Crump, an officer of the Crenshaw Police Department, at approximately 8 p.m. and taken to the Emergency Room in Senatobia where he was treated for contusions.

"It was embarrassing for me to have one of my officers to find me like that," he said.

"I am planning to get with Crump when he comes to work this afternoon and swear out an affidavit against John Doe," he said.

Barlow said the statement about him ‘getting his’ leads him to wonder if there was use of excessive force by a member or former member of the Police Department six years ago.

"We are in the process of going through the files and arrest cards of everyone that was charged with resisting arrest," he said. "We plan to question some of the former officers about those charges to see if we can get the name of a possible suspect."

Barlow said the investigation is presently being handled by the Police Department, but would not rule out other agencies getting involved in the future.


Sign Thieves Play Costly, Life-
     Endangering "Game"
      Never-ending problem …

Ernie Munoz, (l) work release supervisor for the Panola County Sheriff’s Department, and Civil Defense Coordinator Son Hudson display new signs for county roads. The signs are made at the civil defense office by inmates who also install them. Munoz said vandals frequently steal and destroy signs.
by Jason C. Mattox
Senior Staff Writer

Sign theft and destruction are up in the county in recent months, according to Panola County Civil Defense Coordinator William "Son" Hudson and Ernie Munoz of the sheriff’s department.

Munoz said one of the worst areas is north of the Panola County Detention Center on Highway 35.

"People are stealing signs all over the county, but there are some areas that we call hot spots," he said. "For instance, work crews have replaced the signs on Central Academy Road and John Branch Road at least five times."

Hudson said he believes a lot of the people who are damaging and/or stealing the signs are not aware of the consequences a missing sign could cause.

"A missing sign could cost someone a life," he said. "If someone calls out an ambulance and they can’t find the house because someone has stolen the sign, someone could die.

"That is something I don’t think anyone wants to see happen, but the EMTs should not have to worry about whether or not a sign will be there when they get there."

Hudson said people who are caught stealing or damaging road signs are subject to a $500 fine and up to six months in jail.

Constituents Express Interest
In Courts, Justice Carlson Says
By Kate B. Dickson

Just what are the duties of Mississippi’s Supreme Court is the question Justice George C. Carlson Jr., says he hears most often on the campaign trial.

Carlson, of Batesville, is running for a full eight-year term on the high court after he was appointed in 2001 by then Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

He is opposed in the non-partisan election by Bill Bambach of Columbus.

Carlson is one of three justices from the northern district who sit on the nine-member court which has like numbers representing the central and southern parts of the state.

"One reason people want to know what the court does is because it’s the one branch of government that most people have the least dealings with," he said during a visit to The Panolian office Monday.