Headlines – 12/21/2004

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Panolian Headlines: December 21, 2004

  Excerpts from the 12/21/04 issue of The Panolian :             


Merry Christmas
Showing off their new apparel are the students at Batesville Intermediate School, who last week received new hats, gloves and t-shirts imprinted with the school name. A donation from James and Linda Harris of Pleasantville, N.Y. provided the gifts for all 600 children at the school, which houses grades two and three. The Harrises, friends of the school’s music teacher, Kay McDuffie, said they wanted to do something nice for Ms. McDuffie’s school.


B & G celebrates five years in town
By Jason C. Mattox
News Editor


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The month of December is a special one for the Boys & Girls Club of Panola County, it marks the organization’s fifth year in the community and surrounding areas.

According to Boys & Girls Club director Dennis Hoskins, the club was originally the brainchild of Dr. Loverta Brown with the Mississippi Department of Health.

Hoskins, who was working in another capacity with the community, began asking what people around here would like to see .

"I wanted to know what they thought would be a big help to the community," he said.

Following a series of initial town hall type meetings in 1996, the first board of directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Panola County was formed.

"With the leadership of our first president Dr. C. L. Stevenson and the other members of that board, we were able to get things moving," Hoskins said. "We were able to start doing some fundraisers and getting everything in place for when we would open the doors of the club."

That day came in July of 1999, and the club served about 75 children.

"When the club first opened its doors, it was for a summer program," Boys & Girls Club representative Belinda Morris said. "And we need to emphasize that none of this would have been possible without the AME Zion Church allowing us to use the building we are still housed in today."

After the meager start of 75 children, the Boys & Girls Club now serves 250 children with its after-school program.

Due to the success of the Batesville Club, the Boys & Girls Club of Panola County has spawned two satellite clubs with a third coming on line in 2005.

The two satellites already in operation are located in Lambert and Sardis. When the new club opens in 2005 it will be located in Crenshaw.

"I think the best thing this club has done for the community is bring a sense of togetherness, and show that the club provided a positive place for the children to help advance their educational skills," Morris said.

Hoskins said he believes the clubs would not be successful if not for the involvement of the people in the community.

"Community involvement is very important to us," he said. "If we didn’t have their support, we would not be able to offer the valuable services and programs we provide for the children in the area."

One way the Boys & Girls Club of Panola County could use the help of the community is through its fundraising efforts.

According to Hoskins, the federal grants that have largely funded the organization in the past have been cut in half.

"The cuts are not just affecting us here in Panola County," he said. "They are hurting clubs around the country."

Morris said if the club had additional funds available they would be able to service more children and all three locations.

Another issue hindering the growth of the Batesville Club is a lack of space.

"We are at our maximum level right now," Morris said. "If we are able to move into a larger building, we would be able to offer more programs that would appeal to more children."

Hoskins said in the future the club might consider starting up outreach programs for the children in the Pope and Enid areas.

"If we had the funding, we would be able to offer programs that those children might be interested in," he said.

With five years down and a lot of plans, where would the Boys & Girls Club of Panola County like to be in five more years?

Hoskins said he would like to see a more integrated program that has a first class facility to appeal to the youth of the area.

"We are an enhancement to the schools and offer programs the schools can’t because of their own budget constraints," he said. "We want to be able to serve as many children as we can."

Hospital buyer could be selected
     by January 31
By Billy Davis
Contributing Writer


The county is getting "full access" to financial records at the Tri-Lakes Medical Center and "cooperation – 100 percent" from its staff, Panola County Administrator David Chandler told supervisors late last week.

A bidder could be chosen by the end of January, Chandler also said.

The supervisors also disclosed that the South Panola Hospital Board inquired about Chandler’s legality as an appointed hospital board member.

The supervisors appointed Chandler to the hospital board Dec. 6 taking advantage of a vacant seat to do so.

The special meeting was held Dec. 16 at the Panola County Courthouse in Batesville.

Three supervisors were present: Jerry Perkins, Robert Avant and Bubba Waldrup. Absent were Mack Benson and James Birge.

Chandler is researching the hospital’s financial records to give bidders – and the county – a clearer picture of the facility’s financial shape.

Five bidders are seeking to buy the public hospital.

Voters in south Panola County have voted overwhelmingly – 82 percent – to sell the hospital.

At the special meeting, Chandler told the supervisors it was too soon to disclose financial figures, explaining that meeting so soon was "a little premature" since he had been visiting the hospital only a day and a half.

However, Chandler did deliver a prediction: while the research will take through the end of December, negotiations with the top bidders could start in early January.

"We could get this deal done by January 31st," Chandler said.

"You think January 31st is a realistic date?" Avant asked Chandler.

"I really do," Chandler replied.

Regarding the actions of the hospital board, Perkins disclosed that the board’s attorney had "pursued" Chandler’s eligibility to serve on the board.

"That’s been cleared up," Chandler said.

Reached at home after the supervisors’ meeting, hospital board chairman George Randolph said the board attorney merely wanted to make sure the hospital board was following the law by allowing Chandler to serve.

"We don’t have any objection to (Chandler) being appointed," Randolph said.


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