Headlines – 12/10/2004

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 10, 2004

Panolian Headlines: December 10, 2004

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For complete stories, pick up the 12/10/04  issue of The Panolian
Santa hits town
Santa Claus flew into town for a visit during the Batesville Christmas Parade Tuesday night before heading back to the North Pole. Don’t worry kids…he promises to be back on Christmas Eve.
Civic Center plans first event in Jan.
By Jason C. Mattox
News Editor


Despite a work session being planned for late this week, Batesville Aldermen voted to allow Civic Center Director Roy Hyde to use a temporary contract and price structure for a show in January.

Hyde said the pricing structure he intends to use is based on several other similar-sized arenas and should be viewed as fair by all who might be looking at the facility.

"These prices will not scare anyone off," he said. "But it does allow us get enough money to cover the operating costs for the civic center."

Hyde said it was important for the aldermen to understand that the pricing structure was simply a base figure for the facility.

"There is room included to allow us some room to negotiate," he said. "That is something that is very important."

As for the contract, Hyde said it is based on the contract used by his former employer, The Shelby Showplace Arena.

"This is a good contract that covers all of the bases," he said. "It is very much based on the one that I used for the past six years at the showplace."

Assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell said he felt like the contract was quite strong and would be perfect with a little additional language.

"I think the changes are very minor," Mitchell said. "I think they are things that Roy and I could get together on and get worked out rather easily."

Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders said she felt like the board needed to get together with Hyde to ask questions about both the pricing and contract.

"I think we had all agreed that we would get together for a work session with Roy so we could ask questions about these two things," she said.

"I still feel like it is something we need to do, but if the other members don’t want to, I will get with Roy on my own and ask what I see as important questions."

The other aldermen agreed a work session would be a good idea to work through issues with the contract, pricing and concessions.

"I think we need to get with Roy at some point soon and ask some questions," Alderman Hudson Still said.

"But I understand there is a show coming up in January and he needs to have a contract and prices to go to the parties with.

"I think we should allow him to use the ones he has presented for the first show and then maybe we could have something worked out for the next event at the center," Still added.

Hyde said he had no problem meeting with the board to discuss these issues.

"These are working documents that will almost certainly change over time," he said. "This is just somewhere for us to start."
Robberies keep Sardis PD busy
By Jason C. Mattox
News Editor


Three armed robberies have the Sardis Police Department scratching their heads.

The first robbery was the Super Valu on East Lee Street and happened close to when the store was being closed for the night.

A delivery truck at the Flash Store was the next robbery victim and Nonnie and Pop’s barbeque was the last hit.

"Both Super Valu and Nonnie and Pop’s were hit as they were getting ready to close for the night," Police Chief Sonny Stepp said.

Stepp said there were four people present at Nonnie and Pop’s when the robbery took place and six were in the store when Super Valu was held up.

"On all instances there has been a handgun involved," he said. "We are unsure what caliber yet."

The chief said he is not prepared to say if one person is responsible for all three robberies, but added that it is something the department is looking into.

Amounts taken during the robberies were not released at press time.
Fifty attend first public meeting of FPE
By Rita Howell
Contributing Writer

Fifty people braved a rainy night to attend the first open meeting of the Foundation for Public Education, a group being organized to build a partnership between the South Panola public schools and the community.

The Foundation will provide grant money to fund innovative academic projects and programs in schools in the South Panola School District. The group is not affiliated with the school district, but has its support, according to John Ard, who serves as president.

"We have around $20,000 we’ve raised already," Ard told the group of parents, teachers, and other concerned citizens who gathered in the auditorium at Batesville Junior High School for the meeting. He said he is hopeful the fund will grow substantially.

The FPE will accept grant applications in March and award grants to teachers later in the spring. The organization’s guidelines limit funding to innovative projects linked directly to student learning. Funds can’t go to athletics or building improvement.

Applications will be reviewed by the FPE board of directors, South Panola School District Superintendent C.L. Stevenson, and the South Panola School District Board of Trustees. None of the grant reviewers will know the identity of the teachers submitting the applications, or even the grade level.

Some 4,800 communities across the country have similar, non-profit foundations to support their public schools, Ard said. The local organization has been in the planning for about a year. Members of the board and local teachers have visited Tupelo, where the Association of Excellence in Education has been providing educational grants for 20 years.

Among projects in Tupelo, an AEE grant funded the development of a high school graphic arts class. In another project, students met guest conductors and then listened to a live symphony orchestra.

To meet the local group’s funding criteria, there must be no other funding available through the school district for the proposed project. The Foundation aims to get the most out of every dollar spent, Ard said, so they’ll consider how many students would be impacted by the project.

Calvin Flint, vice president of the Foundation, is a graduate of South Panola Schools, and is the parent of two graduates and two current students.

"I know how good it was, is and can be," Flint told the group. "This is one of the brightest ideas that’s come along to help us achieve that."

Memberships to the Foundation start at $25 and are tax-deductible. Donations may be sent to the Foundation for Public Education, P.O. Box 156, Batesville, MS 38606.

For more information, call John Ard at 563-2572 or Calvin Flint at 563-5439.

Sardis fighting the "blues"
By Jason C. Mattox
News Editor


Several businesses in the city of Sardis are selling games of chance to their customers in the form of Royal Blue scratch off tickets.

Police Chief Sonny Stepp told Mayor Richard Darby and the Board of Aldermen that the problem was only recently brought to his attention.

"I went up to one of the stores and purchased one of these myself," Stepp said presenting the ticket to the city leaders.

Stepp said once a complaint was made to the department he proceeded to call the other agencies asking questions about the problem.

"From what I was told, this is a problem facing everybody from the coast to every state line," he said. "It isn’t just happening in Sardis."

Darby said he recalled the city having a similar problem in years past and being limited on what they could do to resolve the matter.

"The truth is this is something the legislature really needs to take a long hard look at," City Attorney Tommy Shuler said. "Right now nobody can really tell us how we need to handle the situation because they don’t know."

Stepp said the way the store owners are getting around the issue of selling the tickets as games of chance is because each $1 ticket gives the customer two minutes of pre-paid phone service.

"They can basically say they are selling a person those two minutes of phone time," he said. "But some of these tickets are claiming people can win over $7,000."

Shuler said the only way to handle the issue would be to create an ordinance that would govern the sale of Royal Blue and other ticket-type games.

"Until then, the only way you could arrest anyone is if you actually see them pay money to a person with a winning ticket," he said.

The board instructed Shuler to look into the matter further to see what the city’s legal options would be.