| BPD arrests scam artists
| Det. Capt. Paul Shivers, Det. Michael Downs and Det. Sgt. George Williford display some of the materials used during a recently attempted pigeon drop scam.
| By Jason C. Mattox
Four Memphis scam artists find themselves in jail thanks to a tip from a suspicious would be victim.
According to Major Tony Jones of the Batesville Police Department, the four alleged scammers John "Johnny Boy" Bowens, 48, Kenneth Staples, 49, William Coleman, 32, and James Wilson, 50, were all arrested and charged for their role in an attempted pigeon drop.
"The attempt took place in the Wal-Mart parking lot," he said.
"From what we gather from the victim, who asked not to be identified, the four men approached him attempting to run the scam," Det. Capt. Paul Shivers said. "When the victim became a little leery about the situation, the four men tried to leave."
Shivers and Det. Sgt. George Williford said they are unaware of who called in the tip to the department, but the suspects were taken into custody by officer Ronald Raegan shortly after the call came in.
Williford said two of the men are wanted in the Cleveland area for similar offenses.
"Those two men could face up to five years in prison for the crimes," Jones pointed out. "The other two men have been charged with misdemeanor offenses."
Jones said the way a pigeon drop works is people will approach a victim with a promise to take the victim’s money and turn it into more.
"With this kind of scam, the perpetrators have a roll of money, and try to get someone else to put more money into it," he said.
Jones said the scam usually involves some kind of a swap and the victim walks out with fake money.
"In this case, the victim had heard about this kind of thing taking place and figured out that something was up," Williford said.
Williford added that the suspects admitted to this crime and others throughout the area.
"This wasn’t their first time to pull something like this," he said.
Shivers added that in order for the victim to fall prey to the scam they usually are greedy people.
"This always happens to people that want to make some quick money," he said. "In our case we got a victim that wasn’t greedy, and it helped us capture the suspects."
Jones and other members of the Batesville Police Department would like to thank Williford, Shivers, Det. Michael Downs and Ofc. Raegan for their hard work on this case.
| Nov. tax collections up
| By Rupert Howell
Sales tax collections were up over three percent during the month of November for the City of Batesville according to figures released by Mississippi State Tax Commission.
Those figures reflect a consistent pattern as the total year-to-date figures are also up 3.5 percent.
Sales tax collections reflect the amount of retail sales for the reporting municipality and can mirror trends in a municipality’s retail community.
The amount of sales tax returned to the City was $263,330.19 compared to $254,022.24 collected November 2003.
Year-to-date figures show $1,378,199.32 returned to the City of Batesville this fiscal year as compared to $1,340,171.54 returned last fiscal year. The fiscal year begins July 1.
Batesville Tourism and Economic Development Taxes reported in December and collected in November were down slightly to $60,172 from $60,493, approximately one-half of one percent.
That income is derived from a three percent tax on hotel/motel rooms and restaurants in Batesville.
Other Panola County municipalities showing increases for collections during November are: Como, up 13% to $11,239.20 and Sardis, up 10% to $20,929.59.
Other Panola County municipalities received sales tax payments for November as follows: Courtland, $1,207.80 down three percent; Crenshaw, $3,335.43, down 12 percent; Crowder, $1,092.67, down 31 percent and Pope, $1,558.48, down one percent.
Other municipalities in the Batesville trade area, and their sales tax returns for November were: Charleston, $26,564.22, up seven percent; Lambert, $2,945.32, up two percent; Marks, $22,414.98, up one percent; Oakland, $2,769.42, up eight percent and Water Valley, $32,174.35, down eight percent.
Nearby trade centers close to Batesville reported the following returns: Clarksdale, $224,797.18, down one percent; Grenada, $319,948.33, up seven percent; Oxford, $436,300.62, up nine percent and Senatobia, $168,759.02, up six percent.
The state collection total for the month of November is up approximately 3.5% and the state year-to-date total is up approximately one percent.
| Still qualifies for upcoming election
By Jason C. Mattox
One alderman’s seat of the Batesville Municipal Board will change thanks to an incumbent’s decision to seek higher office.
L. Hudson Still, who has served the city in the capacity of Alderman-at-Large since July 1985, recently turned in his qualifying paperwork for the upcoming municipal election.
Still said the decision to run for mayor was made this month, but admitted it was something he has been considering for quite some time.
"When [Mayor] Bobby [Baker] announced he
wasn’t going to run for re-election a few months ago, I began to really consider running for the mayor’s office," he said adding if Baker hadn’t retired he would not be in the race.
Still said there were a lot of things to consider when making the decision, but felt like the upcoming election was the proper time for him to run.
"I have been running at large anyway," he said. "The only difference is the position I am in the running for."
Still said he has not regretted the decision to run, thus removing himself from his present seat.
"I have the experience in city government that I believe we are going to need in a mayor," he said. "I am one that firmly believes the city will be in better shape if a person wins that knows what is going on.
"If I am elected, I will work closely with the existing businesses in town to make sure they have the chances they need to succeed and experience growth," he said.
"Every person on the current board wants to see new businesses come into town, and that sometimes makes some of the existing companies feel left out," Still continued. "We need to make sure that everyone feels like they are being treated fairly in the community."
Still said it helped make his decision easier when he began receiving support from members of the community.
"Not long after [Mayor Baker] announced he wasn’t going to run, people started telling me they thought I should run for the office," he said.
Still said he would like to see a clean campaign run by all of the candidates for the office.
"It would be great for the people of Batesville to see a clean race run," he said. "We are a small town and people will make promises- some they won’t be able to keep, but that doesn’t mean the race can’t be good for everyone involved."
Still said one way he hopes to avoid potential mud-slinging is by not making any empty promises.
"I don’t make promises," he said. "I learned a long time ago that is something you don’t need to do.
"I think a person is better off if they run based on some of the things they want to get done rather than things they know can’t happen," Still added.
Still said he understands that in order for things to get done, whoever wins the race will have to work well with the new board of aldermen.
"I think the current board has worked well together," he said. "We have had times when some of us have disagreed, but we have put it behind us and worked for what we believed was in the best interest of the city."
Still said ultimately he decided to run for mayor because of his experience as an alderman and his dedication to the City of Batesville.
"I have given many years of my life to the city," he said. "I care about this community and would like to be a part of its future."
Due to City Hall’s closure on Monday in observance of the Christmas holidays, the names of other qualifiers were not available. The Panolian will have more on the mayor’s race in future issues.
| GIS course to be offered at Crown
| By Rupert Howell
Northwest Mississippi Community College will offer the Advanced Geographic Information Systems course in Batesville during the spring 2005 semester.
Advanced GIS (GIT 2263) will meet Wednesday evenings from 5:30 to 8:15 p.m. beginning Jan. 12 in the computer lab located at Crown Cork & Seal Inc., 195 Crown Drive.
The three-hour course encompasses geographic data inputs, processing and analyses directed toward objects of scientific investigation.
Registration for the course is for individuals who have applied and have been accepted to the college. Information about the application process for new students is available at the Northwest Web site: (under the Admissions button).
Students interested in taking Advanced GIS or any other Northwest evening course may register Jan. 4-5 on main campus in Senatobia. Registration will be held from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in Yalobusha Hall.
Regular registration for the spring 2005 semester is Jan. 6 beginning at 8:30 a.m., and late registration continues through Jan. 14.
An additional three-hour credit spatial technology course, Remote Sensing (GIT 2273), will be offered in fall 2005. This course will detail methods for collecting data from a distance. It will heighten skills for interpreting data from photographs and from other images