Headlines – 7/30/2004

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 30, 2004

Panolian Headlines: July 30, 2004

For complete stories, pick up the 7/30/04  issue of The Panolian
Smooth Transition Seen for Bank Merger
By Jim Beaver


It’s official!

A merger between Union Planters and Regions at the first of July has formed one of the largest and strongest banking institutions in the country – Regions Financial Corporations.

Jimmy Brown, regional president of the group for north Mississippi, spoke to the Batesville Rotary Club on Tuesday to explain the merger.

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"First of all, this was not a hostile takeover," Brown said. "This was a merger of equals."

According to Brown, the merger will give the company approximately $82 billion in assets in 15 states.

"Right now we serve north Mississippi customers from Washington County to Lowndes County and from Benton County to Attala County.

We have 50 branches, 420 employees, $1 billion in loans and $1 billion in deposits-and that’s just in the north Mississippi region," said Brown.

Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the newly combined company, which is in the top 15 bank holding companies in the nation, will offer its nearly five million customers a wider variety of services.

According to Brown, there should be no layoffs of personnel with this merger.

"There are really no overlaps with this merger, so there shouldn’t be any branch closings. It’s business as usual," said Brown.

"This will be a seamless change for our customers. The name of the game is the number of households served, now we will serve nearly 5 million customers," he added.

Regions Financial Corporation will now have some 1,400 banking centers and 1,700 ATMs in the 15-state area, and will offer more than 140 brokerage offices in the south, midwest and Texas.

"From a stock point of view, nothing has changed," said Brown.

Union Planters is no longer listed as a separate company on the New York Stock Exchange (formerly NYSE: UPC). The combined organization will now be listed as NYSE: RF. The company has some 30,000 shareholders.

"Another big piece of the merger is joining with Morgan-Keegan, in which Regions acquired a few years ago," said Brown. "Morgan-Keegan is one

of the Top 20 mortgage companies in the nation, are headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, he added.

According to Brown, new signage will be ready in January 2005 and although the transaction has been approved by shareholders and regulators and legally finalized, the integration process of should be complete in 2006.

New Courier Company Offers ‘Head ’em Up, Move ’em Out’ Service
By Fredrick Cosby
Contributing Writer

BATESVILLE – Head ?em up and move ?em out!

John and Kathy Todd, owners of Southern Courier and Consulting, L.L.C., located in the industrial park in Batesville, have adopted this as their motto.

Southern Courier is a fully insured, licensed courier and consulting service, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They specialize in moving emergency and time-sensitive shipments up to 4,000 pounds.

"I’m the guy a company calls when something breaks down, or someone has forgotten to order something, make something, or ship something. You can count on us to deliver within 24 hours of dispatch," John L. Todd said.

Todd said Southern is usually more economical and faster than air freight. They deliver to 40 states overnight.

"Most of our shipments are out of Memphis, Eastern Arkansas, and northern Mississippi," added Todd. "This equates to a 1,200 mile radius of Memphis," he added.

Southern Courier provides door-to-door delivery of inbound and outbound shipments. Each delivery vehicle is equipped with a mobile phone. This allows for speedy pick-up and delivery. "We also can make changes en route if needed," said Todd.

"We can deliver, in most cases, faster than Fed Ex [air freight].

Air freight flies on schedule and is usually overnight. Delivery may be by 10 a.m. the next day to second day delivery depending on size and weight of shipment. We deliver at an overall average speed of 62 miles per hour. We dispatch within an hour from call to pick up, and we move shipments from as small as a five-pound box to 4,000 pounds, not exceeding six pallets to a 12,000 mile radius. For example right now we ship film for the filming industry to 85 theaters in five different states every week," Todd stated.

John and Kathy Todd have over thirty years of distribution, transportation, and logistics experience. They also provide consulting services in the areas of third-party freight and logistics contract negotiations, and packaging consulting.

For more information on Southern Courier and Consulting, L.L.C. call 662-560-7169.

Pope Resident Wants
     Red Bud Street Paved
Charles Darby stands on the road he has lived on since 1979. It looks more like a gravel driveway than a public road.
By Fredrick Cosby
Contributing Writer

POPE – In times of crisis or illness a person needs to know that friends, family, and neighbors will lend their support in the time of need.

Charles and Connie Darby have lived at the same residence on Red Bud Street since 1979.

Charles and his son, Wayne, opened an auto repair shop in 1981. They made a pretty good living at it until Charles was hit with the tragic bad luck of a heart attack, which led him to have a brain stem stroke in 1989.

Since then the business has gone down, partially due to Darby’s health, but also due to the fact that their street isn’t as accessible as it should be.

"I’ve been trying to get my road paved for over a decade now. It seems we can’t get anywhere talking to the officials in the city or the county," Darby said.

"When it rains the water washes the street out in various places and this also makes the water run down to our home. I’ve talked to the mayor and he says it’s the county’s responsibility and I’ve talked to Mack Benson, Supervisor, and he says it’s the city’s responsibility.

"It seems like they are just passing the buck to keep from paving my street," Darby continued. "For as long as I’ve lived here and ran my shop I’ve been an upstanding citizen and have paid my taxes like a religion. I should be able to get my road paved with no problem."

Darby’s situation is not just a situation of someone complaining for the sake of complaining. Since his stroke, he has been sent out to the University of Stanford’s Medical Center on two separate occasions for brain surgery and medical observation. The operations left him with two different tubes attached to his brain.

He now sits at home and has to take over ten different medications.

"God forbid if it rains real bad and I get sick. The emergency vehicles won’t be able to get in here to get me to the hospital," added Darby.

"They’ve even tried to tell me that my street isn’t a street but I’ve found an old concrete sign at the end of my street that had been covered with brush and weeds. I bet you that street sign has been there since the early sixties. Also, if they say my street isn’t a street and it can’t be paved, why did they pave Sycamore street down by the post office. That street is shorter than mine and it only has one house on it," said Darby.

"I’m hurt and disgusted about this situation," said Alderman Pratt of Pope.

"You would think that it shouldn’t matter who’s responsibility it was. They (city) and the county should have gotten together by now to come up with a plan to help Mr. Darby. I’ve made the motion to get his road paved but the city is saying there is certain stipulations holding back the progress of paving the street," added Pratt.

"I just need the city to send me a letter of authorization and the road will be paved. I really don’t see what the problem is, but without the letter I can’t do anything," stated Lygunnah Bean, County Road Manager.

Darby and Pratt both stated that he has even tried to use his lawn mower to attempt to grade his street. This incident landed him in the hospital.

"A man of his age and health doesn’t need to be out there doing things like that," added Pratt.
"I’ve even went to board meetings and have met with the mayor and all I’ve got was the same answer.

"All they say is they will get back to us," stated Connie Darby.

"I’m tired of getting blown off. This has been going on for the last thirteen years," she added.

"Elections are coming up soon and I tell you what, if they can’t help us then we shouldn’t vote for them. I’m tired of false promises," said Darby.

Mack Benson and Mayor Pitcock were not available for comment.

Annie Jr.
Taking the stage opening night Thursday for this weekend’s production of Annie Jr. at the Panola Playhouse include (l to r) Katherine Dixon as Annie; Harper McDowell as Sandy the dog; Benjamin Lambert as billionaire Oliver Warbucks and Kelsey Bell as Grace, Warbucks’ personal assistant.

The play continues through this weekend. See page 7A for more.