Headlines – 10/22/2004

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 22, 2004

Panolian Headlines: October 22, 2004

For complete stories, pick up the 10/22/04  issue of The Panolian

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Take a Chance
Anyone wanting to win a trip in a helicopter can purchase a raffle ticket at Perry’s in Batesville. The money raised from the raffle will go to help with the hospital bills of Haley Carlini who was injured in an ATV accident earlier this month. The winner will get one hour to go wherever they want. The ride is being provided free of charge by Roy Holmes. The winner will be notified on October 30.
   
Hospital Brass Conducts Three Finance Meetings
Administration Sees Meetings as Positive for City and County
By Jason C. Mattox
News Editor

editor@panolian.com

The present administration and prospective buyers of Tri-Lakes Medical Center conducted three separate meetings about its ability to successfully finance the purchase of the facility.

Tri-Lakes Medical Center COO Ray Shoemaker said the purpose of three different meeting times was to allow as many people as possible to hear the financial reports from the group’s major financial institution.

"The president of Zeigler Corporation was present for all of the meetings," Shoemaker said. "Zeigler is the largest financial institution that supports hospital purchases in this region."

Shoemaker said while the hospital board was the entity calling for the special election now set for the November 2 ballot, the current administration believes it is in the best interest of the community for the hospital to be sold and the debt retired without any cost to the taxpayers of Panola County.

"We definitely feel like the best thing for Panola County is for the facility to be sold," he said. "But at the same time we feel like the hospital should be sold to Dr. Corkern as he has proven he can provide the best quality healthcare and long-term plan for the facility."

Shoemaker said he felt like all of the meetings went well. The people present included several elected officials from the city and county, as well as consultant J.C. Burns.

"We believe they all got the information they have been wanting, and we think this proved that we are serious about continuing to provide top medical care to the people of Batesville and Panola County."

Supervisor Robert Avant said he was not as convinced as he would like to have been when he came out of the meeting.

"They certainly showed that they had the finances to purchase the hospital, but that is all they showed," he said. "In my opinion there was nothing that came out of the meeting that we all hadn’t heard before."

Avant said despite the money issue which he says some community leaders might see as the biggest factor to the sale, he is more concerned about the healthcare the facility provides to the people of Panola County.

"The money made off the sale is all well and good, but at the end of the day, if they can’t get the doctors’ and the community’s support then it will be nothing but a big nice building sitting up on top of the hill," Avant said.

"We don’t need to find ourselves concerned just about which buyer can give the city and county more money for the building," he said. "We need to know who is going to provide us with the best healthcare options for the people.
"The people of Panola County still deserve the best possible healthcare, no matter who the provider is," he said.

Avant said even though the community understands Dr. Corkern’s administration wants the facility sold, it does not mean that is going to happen.

"The fact of the matter is that this issue still has to go before the people," he said. "Dr. Corkern and others are now asking the people to vote for the sale, but there is no way of knowing that is what the people of the community will do."

Avant said once the vote comes back, even if the decision is to sell, it will not be a done deal overnight.

"This is not something that we can turn around and have finished over night," he said. "We are going to have to get the financial people and the lawyers involved.

"This is going to be a very long and drawn out process before a final decision is made," he said.

"The people of Panola County will let us know what they want when they come out and vote on the issue," he said. "After that the members of the Board of Supervisors and the [Batesville Board of Aldermen] will know whether or not we can begin serious negotiations with the prospective buyers.

"This process is not even close to being over once the vote is final," Avant added. "Most likely the hard part is just beginning."
    

Search for Hotel Developer Begins
By Jason C. Mattox
News Editor

editor@panolian.com


The next phase of the Sardis Lake Marina Project is moving along nicely for city leaders, Mayor Richard Darby said.

While no deadline has been set for proposals as of yet, Darby said the city has received inquiries from hotel developers about placing a hotel and conference center near the newly opened Skipper Marina on Sardis Lake.

Darby said the city hopes to have a developer that would be involved in the hotel/conference center and an 18-hole golf course.

"I understand that the hotel developer may not be the one to construct the golf course, but they often will bring in another developer to handle that portion of the project," Darby said.

"It’s not uncommon to have separate developers working together on a phase of a project like this one," he said.

Darby said while no group has asked to do its due diligence work yet, they have had interest from groups and have conducted one site visit.

Darby said he could not reveal who the developer was because of agreements made with all four potential developers.

"When they were out for the site visit, they told me it might be anywhere from two weeks to one month before they got back with us," he said.

Darby said the city will not set a deadline for developers to submit a proposal.

"What we intend to do is something like we did with Skipper when they contacted us and told us they wanted to do their due diligence work for the marina portion of the project," he said.

Darby said once the city is contacted by a developer that wants to conduct their studies and due diligence, the city will cease negotiations with other developers.

"We want to extend them the same courtesy we extended to Skipper," he said. "When we have a developer ready to conduct their own studies, we will stop negotiating with others for a 120- day period."

Darby said it is during that 120- day period the developer will determine what different components the hotel/conference center business would support.

"This would be the time they would determine if they would want to include a health club into their plans," he said.

"Although we don’t know how things stand right now, it is a good sign for the city that we have developers asking us for our research and wanting more," he said. "I think this will be a good thing for the city and the Marina Project."
    

 
     
Sale of Special Bricks Erasing Debt of Park
Glenda Bailey (l to r), Colleen Clark and Bobbie Jean Pounders show off some of the new bricks for the park.
    
By Jason C. Mattox
News Editor

editor@panolian.com

Two hundred and fifty down, two hundred more to go. That’s what Batesville Main Street organizers are saying about the memorial brick sale.

"This is our last big drive to get the remainder of the bricks sold," Main Street Manager Colleen Clark said. "We want to make sure that everyone wanting to purchase a brick has the chance to do so."

Main Street Volunteer and Alderwoman Bobby Jean Pounders said there have been more than 250 sold generating over $20,000 in funds to go towards the park’s completion.

"We would like to sell 150 more," she said. "That would give us enough money to fully pay for the project without the city having to put forth any money."

Pounders added that people can still purchase bricks at the $100 price until the end of October. After that time there will be an increase in cost to $150.

"The reason for the increase is the additional work that will be required to get the bricks ready to be put in the ground on time," she said.

Main Street Volunteer Glenda Bailey said she feels like there has been a misconception that the bricks have to be placed in memory of someone.

"People should understand there are a lot of people that have bought bricks to commemorate stores that used to be downtown, to remember past family members or to celebrate the lives of family members that are still with us," she said. "There are several bricks with the names of people’s newborn babies."

Bailey said it should be understood that the bricks are something for people in the future to be able to look at and see the history of Batesville and Panola County.

"We want people to get bricks to show when a certain person was in office or to add a way of remembering one of the businesses that meant a lot to the community," she said. "We have a lot of families that were pioneers of Panola County and we want the future generations to be able to see who they were."

Pounders said the main purpose of the bricks is to celebrate the past, present and even the future of the city and county.

"We want as many people of Panola County as possible to be remembered for the contributions they helped make to this community," she said.

Clark said this will be a memorial park and the bricks will be placed around the fountain.

"We feel like the people of Panola County will have somewhere to go so they can reflect on all of the changes that have happened in Panola County," she said. "That is why it is so important for all of the history to be preserved."
Clark added that the people who have made commitments to purchase bricks but have yet to do so should get their information in as soon as possible.

"We have to have time for the bricks to be sent to Clarksdale where they will be engraved," Clark said.

People purchasing bricks will get three lines with up to 15 characters per line.

"Time is running out and it is time for the people of Panola County to show their support for preserving a part of this county’s past," Bailey added.

Clark said in addition to the large number of bricks sold, they have collected several other contributions.

"Wal-Mart donated $500 to us and the VFW donated $900," she said.

In addition, Alderman Bill Dugger and his wife, Brad Clark and his family and Jerry and Mary Troxler all purchased park benches.

"Jane Williams purchased the Pavilion that will sit in the park when it is completed," Clark said.
Items still remaining for sponsorship include the flagpole at $3,500 and one park bench at $1,200.

"We hope that everyone who wants to come out and help make the park a beautiful site for the past, present and future will come out and do so," Pounder said.

Clark said anyone wishing to purchase a brick can contact City Clerk Judy Savage.

"This is a city project," she said. "Main Street has just been the driving force behind it."