Headlines – 8/10/2004

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Panolian Headlines: August 9, 2004

For complete stories, pick up the 8/9/04  issue of The Panolian
Community Goodbye
Over 1,000 Panola County residents were in attendance for a send-off for National Gurardsmen on Friday night at Tiger Stadium. In addition to the displaying of the colors, troops heard from several speakers and musical groups. Troops will be deployed for approximately 18 months.
    
Curtis Road Rubbish Pit
     Dug Up Again
By Jason C. Mattox
News Editor

editor@panolian.com

While a decision has not been made, a proposed landfill in the Curtis community was discussed with the Panola County Board of Supervisors.

Panola Waste has held a parcel of land for the construction of a rubbish landfill in that area since 1998 when Jim Thomas and others determined there was a need in the county, Tyler Smith, attorney for Thomas and Panola Waste, explained.

"At that time, Mr. Thomas came to the Board of Supervisors and told them of his desire to put a rubbish pit on Curtis Road," he said.

Smith said after the matter went to the supervisors, it was taken to DEQ for approval.

"We sent in all of the paperwork that was needed and even got a letter from the supervisors in support of the pit," he said.

Smith said the matter was advertised as required by law and no opposition was present during a public hearing.

During the early stages of the project, the Panola County Land Development Commission was created.

"We took the information to the members of the planning commission for informational purposes," he said. "The matter had already been approved by the supervisors."

"So far, the group has spent $31,000 getting the site prepared," he said. "Right now all we need you to do is approve what was approved in 1998.

"The DEQ permit hinges on the county’s approval," Smith added.

Attorney Jimmy McClure, who represents the people of the Curtis community who do not want the landfill, told the supervisors that Panola Waste was seeking a special exception that would allow the property to be reclassified to house a rubbish landfill.

According to McClure, a special exception should only be granted when it will be a benefit to the community and not present any sort of hazard.

"The main objection that the people of Curtis Road have against the landfill is that it is located in the middle of the community," he said.

In addition, McClure said the proposed pit would be situated in the middle of a flood plain.

"It would be located just 100 yards from a drainage canal," he said.

Residents are also concerned about the problems a rubbish pit could cause with their drinking water.

"The residents do not want to see the ground water in the area become contaminated," McClure said. "That may be an unfounded concern, but it is still a concern."

McClure said the people of Curtis would have no problem with a landfill in the area if it were located just three miles down the road where there are no homes that would be effected.

"There is already one rubbish landfill in Panola County," McClure said. "The City of Sardis has one and it is not located anywhere near a home."

Supervisor Robert Avant said he wanted to know what DEQ said about the contamination of the ground water in the area before he could act on the issue.

"I think the water supply is something that really needs to be taken into consideration," he said. "I personally need to know what DEQ said about that before I can make a decision one way or the other."

Smith said DEQ had already conducted studies on the matter and was waiting on the supervisors before issuing a permit.

"The permit is in Jackson," he said. "All we are waiting on is approval from the county on something you already approved."

Board president Jerry Perkins asked to see DEQ’s findings on the rubbish landfill before the county voted.

Smith handed over the results and the board took the matter under advisement to research the issue further.
    

 
Ring the Bell!
The staff of Batesville Elementary and all other schools eagerly learn new information and await the arrival of all students for another year of success stories in education. The students will report for school Wednesday, Aug. 11. Batesville Elementary will hold open house today, Aug. 10, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
    
Several Issues
     Face Voting Precints
By Jason C. Mattox
News Editor

editor@panolian.com

Voting precincts were the subject of a hot debate with the supervisors on Monday.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, every county must have a handicapped accessible voting machine at each of its precincts by Jan. 1, 2006.

Circuit Clerk Joe Reid told the supervisors that the county had 27 precincts and the estimated cost for each machine is $5,000. That would be a total cost of $135,000.

Reid said he felt like the supervisors should go look at the machines in action during the upcoming November election.

"DeSoto, Lafayette and Grenada County already have the machines," he said. "You really should go look at them."

Reid said in addition to the new machines, the county would need to make every voting place handicapped accessible by adding wheelchair ramps and, if needed, special door handles.

"There might be some that need a lever action door that they can open," he said. "No matter what we have to be in compliance no later than Jan. 1, 2006."

The state has approximately $22 million available in funds to help with the purchase of the new voting machines, Reid said.

"But every county will be trying to get the money for voting machines," he said. "It is a first come, first serve basis."

Supervisor Jerry Perkins asked if consolidating some of the precincts would be a possibility.

"Grenada has about 1,000 more people voting than we do and they only have 13 precincts," Reid said.

Board attorney William McKenzie told the board if they planned to consolidate polling places they needed to have it planned out.

"You can’t just decide to do this a month before the election," he said. "It still has to go to the Justice Department for approval and they may turn you down."

Perkins suggested all of the supervisors look at the precincts in their districts and see if any consolidation can take place.

One more issue facing the board in its attempt to come into compliance is having polling places on private property.

"At one time all of the polling places were public buildings like schools," he said. "If it is a school or somewhere like a city hall, there won’t be a problem.

"But I don’t think it would be wise if we were to make these upgrades on private property without some kind of assurance we will get to use it for a while," McKenzie said.

"You don’t want to do the work and then have someone tell you three years later saying they’re tired of us."

The board agreed to look at the issue and address it at a later date.
    

Ballentine Road Future Uncertain
By Jason C. Mattox
News Editor

editor@panolian.com

The completion of Ballentine Road is on hold until an unhappy contractor receives payment for work.

Nolan West, owner of W & W Contractors of Sardis, appeared before the Panola County Board of Supervisors asking for payment on the project.

"By what I have figured, there is approximately $131,000 worth of work that I have not been paid for," he said.

West said the road needed more gravel than what was originally bid on.

"The job has taken twice as much gravel as needed," he said.

County engineer Pete Sullivan said he had crews cross-sectioning the road to evaluate its condition.

"I have no doubt that there is twice as much gravel there, I just don’t know why it is there," he said.

Sullivan said the original specs indicated 12 inches of gravel would be needed for the road and there are 25 inches of gravel on the road now.

"The plans for the road are right, but the gravel is there," he said.

West said one reason for the additional gravel was a change in supplier during the project.
"I had to change the gravel during the project because of the sand gravel coming out of one pit," he said. "It wasn’t setting up the way it needed to."

"People were calling because they were getting stuck in the road because it was too sandy," Supervisor Robert Avant said. "So the gravel had to be changed to keep people from getting stuck in the road."

Avant said he wants to see the road finished as soon as possible.

"I think if we know the gravel is there, he should be paid," Avant said.

Sullivan explained that the road is being paid for by State Aid funds and the use of additional gravel and the widening of the road would have to be justified.

"I am going to have to tell them why the road is so deep and wide," he said.

Avant asked West when the road would get graded again.

"That road is rough and there are people complaining," he said. "When will it be graded?"
West said the road would be graded again as soon as he receives payment for the work he has completed.

"I’ve got over $130,000 tied up on the project now," he said. "That came out of my own pocket and I won’t do anything else until I get payment.

"I pulled off this job and started on another," he said. "I have people and vendors that have to be paid, so I had to take a job I would get paid on."
Avant said he still couldn’t understand why the road could not be graded.

"You get me paid and I will get your road graded," West replied.