| City board debates possible occupants
for old armory
By Jason C. Mattox
While the future of the old National Guard Armory remains up in the air, the City of Batesville is doing its part to make sure all interested parties have a chance to occupy the facility.
The city and county are joint owners of the facility located on Highway 51 South and Eureka Road. It has been vacant since the new readiness center on Keating Road was ready to be occupied in June 2004.
Since the National Guard turned over the building, the owners have received interest from several local organizations including the Boys & Girls Club, the Boy Scouts, the Food Pantry and the Batesville Animal Shelter.
Assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell said he believes that the city can handle it as a donation.
"We have done similar donations in the past," he said. "The only question that remains now is what the county can do."
Mitchell said the county issued a resolution in support of a local and private bill that will be introduced in the state legislature that would allow the owners to find an occupant.
"You would need to adopt a resolution with the county to make sure the legislation passes," he said.
Alderman James Yelton suggested making the legislation broad enough that the owners would not be limited to one organization.
"We have had a lot of interest in the building, and I think we should make this so that several groups would be qualified rather than just one," he said.
Following a unanimous vote to support the resolution, the question of providing utilities was raised.
Mayor Bobby Baker said he felt like providing the building would be enough at this point in time.
"If we can provide them a building rent-free, I would think they should be able to pay the utilities," he said.
While others voiced similar sentiments, no action was taken for utilities.
| At-risk citizens urged to take flu shot
By Billy Davis
Flu cases are reportedly on the rise in Mississippi, and the Miss. Dept. of Health is encouraging high-risk people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Recent flu cases have been reported in Hinds, Harrison and Forrest counties, the state agency said.
"The flu season is here, and February is the peak season for the flu," said Denise Castle, a registered nurse for Panola County Health Department.
The national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) considers high-risk persons to be:
-adults 50 and older
– health care providers
– high-risk pediatric groups
– children and adults with long-term health
problems such as diabetes and heart disease
– women who are pregnant during the flu season
– children 6 mos. to 23 mos.
– anyone who cares for or lives with a high-risk
person, such as a child or
Adults who are 50-plus years old were added to the high-risk list January 3, Castle said.
The Panola County Health Dept. is located at 381 Hwy. 51 South in Batesville.
The clinic is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mon. thru Fri. and is staffed during the noon lunch hour.
The adult flu vaccine is $15. The child vaccine is $10. A pneumonia vaccine is available for $25.
Patients can call ahead to make an appointment. The health department number is (662) 563-4616.
| Autrey seeks mayor’s post after near miss in ’01
By Jason C. Mattox
Of the four candidates who have qualified to run for mayor, only one has sought the office before.
Democratic candidate Jerry Autrey, who lost his previous bid for mayor by a meager 13 votes, believes that run has helped make him a stronger candidate.
"Running for mayor is something I have always wanted to do," he said. "The next mayor will have to balance the wants and needs in the community while finding a way to pick things up a notch."
Autrey said he learned a lot during the last campaign including just what people want from the mayor and city hall.
"When you actually go out and make a run for mayor, you learn a lot about the people you will be serving," he said. "You also learn how big a responsibility the office is going to be.
"I also realized that you need to get out and see as many of the voters as you can," Autrey added. "I saw a lot of people last time, and I plan to get out and see even more people this time."
Autrey said he believes he is the most qualified candidate for the job for various reasons.
"I know the needs and the wants of the people of Batesville," he said. "I know there are a lot of little things people want but don’t have.
"We have got to make it a point to take care of our people first," Autrey continued. "We need to look after the people of the city no matter where they live."
Autrey said he has four major things he would like to see accomplished if he is elected mayor.
"I want Batesville to have the best police and fire departments of any city this size," he said.
Another major point for Autrey’s campaign will be working with the Panola Partnership to bring more industrial prospects to the city.
"We need more jobs for our people," he said. "Whoever wins this race needs to work closely with the Partnership to secure some kind of new industry."
Autrey said he is also concerned about the conditions of the city streets and wants to see something done to improve them.
"I realize it will be a long-range plan, but there are several streets in the city that are just horrible," he said. "Over time I would like to see all of our streets repaired."
"I would really like to see City Hall become more user friendly," Autrey said.
The candidate said he feels like the people will support him like they did during the last election.
"I am the people’s mayor," he said. "I have the skills needed to handle the office.
"My motto is help me help you and this is exactly what I want to do," he said.
| King’s visit to city, work honored with growing itinerary
Panola Countians will honor the memory of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend, with events leading up to an annual march on Monday from Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church down Panola Ave.
King visited Panola County and Mt. Zion in 1968, only days before his assassination in Memphis, where he went to support striking city garbage workers.
Local weekend activities planned in conjunction with Monday’s national Dr. Martin Luther King Day holiday include:
||Basketball games at Batesville Intermediate School Friday, January 14, beginning at 6 p.m.
||A reception Saturday at 6 p.m. recognizing minority businesses at the Patton Lane Community Center. Batesville Alderman Rufus Manley will host the reception.
||A musical program on Sunday, January 16 at 6:30 p.m. The program will be at the Sardis District Association Building.
The Mt. Zion march on Monday will end at Batesville Intermediate School, where a program is planned. The featured speaker will be Rev. Zannie Leland, pastor of Macedonia M.B. Church.
The march is scheduled for 10 a.m. Everyone is invited to participate.
The Sardis District Ministerial Alliance and the South Panola Hi-Y and Tri-Hi-Y clubs are planning the weekend of events with a special emphasis on youth.
The Panolian plans to detail King’s trip to Panola County and Mt. Zion in the Friday, Jan. 14 issue of the newspaper.
| Jeweler celebrates 25 years
| Angie and Dale Copeland mark their 25th year of business this month, having started in 1980 in a small building on College Street called "The Clock Shop." See story on A3.
| By John Howell Sr.
To hear Angie Copeland tell it, the 25th anniversary sale at Dale Copeland, Jeweler is a celebration of survival.
Angie was telling it as she opened mail one day last week and found several checks returned from customers who have overspent during Christmas. "We’d better hurry up and have this anniversary sale," she laughed
And it is a landmark anniversary, their 25th. In 1980, the then-newlyweds began their business together as The Clock Shop in a small, tin-roof building just off the downtown Batesville square on College Street. The course of their enterprise over the quarter century that followed took them to their present location in the corner on the square, then to Key West, Florida, for an extended vacation before returning to Batesville. They reopened for a few months on Panola Avenue before returning to their corner location between Flint’s Hardware and Davis Family Pharmacy.
Bankers have always been pessimistic about the prospects of the business’ survival, Angie said. She laughs again at having defied the odds.
And customers have occasionally marveled at the survival of a marriage/business arrangement wherein the partners are together 24 hours a day, Angie continues. "These walls hold a lot of stories," she laughs.
Angie laughs a lot. And her conversation with her husband and customers is so habitually laced with "sweetheart" and "sugar" and such that she reveals the reason their enterprise and marriage remains intact.
"We both love people; I always try to treat people like we want to be treated," Angie said. "I know I’ve been able to lay down my head and not think that I’ve mistreated anybody. … I try to treat every one who comes in here the same."
Angie’s prolific terms of endearment are grounded by Dale’s wry wit, usually expressed in a strategically-timed wisecrack. As in while Angie described the customer’s marveling at their marital harmony "almost got a divorce in ’79, probably should have."
Or while Angie describes his abilities as a jeweler "We can fix anything from a broken heart to the crack of dawn."
Dale picked it up early. "I was shining shoes at the barber shop for Mack Seales. Mark Haley was working at Flint’s Hardware and came and told me that Harvey Carpenter was looking for somebody. I came and talked to him and I was hired," he said, describing his matriculation through two of Batesville venerable institutions to become a jeweler.
Copeland can only guess that he must have been 13 or 14 at the time because he was yet to reach the milestone of adolescence: "I wasn’t driving yet," he recalled.
Under Carpenter, Copeland began an apprentice-ship that included his certification in 1976 by the Gemological Institute of America in diamond grading and evaluation. That also was in the Petit Building, the corner location which is home to Dale Copeland, Jeweler today.
The Copelands bought the building ten years ago to become downtown fixtures along with their near neighbors. Their inventory presents fine jewelry, rings in 10 and 14 karat gold and in sterling silver. Dale does everything from "changing watch batteries to designing a whole ring from scratch," Angie said.
The couple’s root now include the historic Chapman place in the Eureka community where they have lived for ten years, and they have enjoyed fellow-ship at Goodhope Baptist Church for about 14 years, Angie said.
The Copelands have also grown as a family. Their two sons, Jim Tom and Sam, are age 12 and nine, respectively. For folks who have known the Copelands for many years, the name of the younger son will remind them of an earlier Sam in their lives. The yellow lab’s photo frequently appeared along with the Copelands in their advertising during earlier years. So when son Sam came along nine years ago, at least one friend quoted southern humorist Jeff Foxworthy to him: "You might be a redneck if you name a child after a good dog.’
| Morris, McBride sound off on Medicaid
By Billy Davis
State legislators refused last week to raise cigarettes $1 a pack to fund a gap in Medicaid funds, and Panola County’s House representatives split their vote over the issue.
The tobacco tax bill failed 59-54 in a House vote Friday, January 7 after first breezing through the House Medicaid Committee.
Rep. Leonard Morris of Batesville is chairman of the Medicaid Committee, where he co-authored the tobacco tax hike bill.
If the House bill had passed, the $1 tax hike would have been tacked onto the 18-cent tax already on a pack of cigarettes. Taxes on cigars and snuff would have increased 10 percent.
The current 18-cent tax, which has been in place since 1985, is among the lowest in the country, The Clarion-Ledger newspaper has reported.
Two attempts to raise the tax last year failed, the paper said.
"My prediction is that this time next week Gov. Barbour will be making drastic cuts to Medicaid," Morris told The Panolian.
While Morris voted "yes" for the bill, Rep. Warner McBride of Courtland voted "no."
Regarding the "no" vote, McBride said the current Medicaid program should be overhauled before any additional funds are put into it.
"I want to see some corrections made and the program streamlined some, and then I would look at a tax increase at that point," McBride said. "It’s a program that we can’t continue to fund at its current level. I was afraid that, if we just passed the tax increase and kept the program at the current level, then we would never make the changes to the program."
Like Morris, McBride said he expects to see cuts to the Medicaid program.
"Unless we come up with some way of funding, there will be some changes made to it," McBride said.
Morris said he supported the tobacco tax raise in order to raise revenue for the Medicaid deficit, which he said is now at $268 million.
About one quarter of the state’s population – about 760,000 citizens – depend on Medicaid, Morris said.
The $1 tax hike had little chance of passing, Morris conceded, but he hoped the House would compromise on a 50-cent tax hike. That proposal also failed.
McBride said he voted "no" on the 50-cent tax hike proposal.
The House Medicaid Committee was formed last year, Morris said. He was named committee chair by House Speaker Billy McCoy.