| Batesville Civic Center becomes reality
First official event is county livestock show
| Batesville Civic Center Director Roy Hyde (front) looks over the expanse of dirt on the floor at the new facility that will have its first official function this weekend when the Panola County Livestock Show begins. With Roy are Dick and Debbie DeMuth and in the background are his wife, Sharon and daughter Natalie. DeMuth assisted the architect in the design.
|By Rupert Howell
Approximately 60 curious visitors and city officials braved the cold weather and wind Sunday to enjoy the warm atmosphere inside the new Batesville Civic Center Sunday afternoon.
What they saw was over 3,000 seats ovalling around the oval expanse of dirt on a floor that appears larger than a football field.
Actually it is 12 inches of dirt on top of six inches of concrete. When not needed, the dirt can be moved into a covered side building that adjoins the main building using rubber tired loaders.
The first event scheduled is the Panola County Livestock Show this weekend, followed by next week’s Northwest Mississippi District Livestock Show.
There are 33 handicap seats on top of the concourse with an elevator on the south end for easy access.
Heating and cooling is delivered through four massive green "socks" suspended from the ceiling, with openings strategically placed to allow circulation in various directions in the building. Batesville Mayor Bobby Baker told those attending that he couldn’t remember all the figures but he knew that a million dollars had been spent on heating and air and on parking for the facility.
Concession stands are located in two corners; one will have a full kitchen. Restroom facilities are in the other two corners. Storage is available for chairs and other items to be used when the floor is needed.
Four large fans or air handling units on the north end of the building will complete an air exchange in a matter of minutes according to Batesville Civic Center Manager Roy Hyde.
Hyde explained the air exchange is necessary to safely host events such as monster trucks and go-cart racing where exhaust fumes are created.
Two conference rooms (including one that can be partitioned into two) are available and located on the east side. Offices are also located on the east side.
A massive parking area will hold 1,687 cars according to architect Girault Jones, who has worked on the project since it came into the City of Batesville’s lap several years ago.
The original plan was begun by Panola County with an initial grant of $500,000 from the Department of Agriculture.
Jones, of Jones-Zander, Ltd. has been involved with building design in north Mississippi for several decades. His has worked on bank, school and church projects and is currently working with South Panola School District on the renovation of the two-story red brick school building on College Street. He said that his firm had designed a somewhat similar facility at Ole Miss at the Gillon Sports Center Building.
Northwest Community College instructor Dick DeMuth has served as an advisor to the architect on the project. He said that there is no nicer facility anywhere for livestock-related events. He has been involved in livestock judging events throughout the region and was involved in planning from the beginning of the city’s involvement.
According to Hyde other events tentatively planned other than the livestock shows include a knife and gun show, rodeo and arena cross, which involves dirt bikes, speed and air.
| Trial date set, bond denied
|By Billy Davis
Bond was denied last week for a Batesville woman who’s accused of killing her husband four years ago after setting him on fire.
Circuit Judge Andrew C. Baker refused bond for defendant Arbie Jo Buckley, saying her history of mental illness factored into the decision.
Buckley should be held without bond to ensure that she takes her medication, Baker ruled, saying he wanted to make sure she can communicate with her attorney and be ready to stand trial.
Pending a February 28 trial date, Buckley is being held at the Panola County Detention Center.
The upcoming trial – the second one for Buckley – will be held at the Panola County courthouse in Sardis.
The new trial comes after the state Supreme Court overturned Buckley’s 2002 capital murder conviction for killing husband George House.
The district attorney charged that Buckley burned down her trailer home – a charge of arson – and also killed her husband. Yet the state court ruled that, since Buckley allegedly set her husband on fire and that fire caused the trailer fire, then she should face only a charge of murder.
Court records show that George House initially survived the blaze, escaping from the burning home to tell neighbors – and argue with his wife – that she had set him on fire with kerosene while he slept.
Arbie Jo Buckley argued that she came home to find her husband asleep and the home ablaze.
The husband endured second and third degree burns and later died at The Med in Memphis.
Buckley is represented by Leon Johnson, a Grenada attorney, who said he filed an appeal to the state court immediately after Buckley’s conviction.
"I was not the attorney (for Buckley) during the trial, but the family approached me after the conviction and I filed the appeal," Johnson told The Panolian.
Johnson refused further comment pending the upcoming trial.
The new trial comes after a Panola County grand jury re-indicted her in July, 2004.
Buckley’s court records show a history of mental illness, including treatment at the State Hospital at Whitfield.
| Local marchers make King’s day a ‘day on’
| About 200 braved frigid temperatures to participate in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. march Monday morning in Batesville. Participants marched from Mt. Zion Baptist Church to Batesville Intermediate School where weekend holiday festivities continued.
| By Billy Davis
Sardis resident Chris Connor took advantage of a day off from work Monday morning to do something for the first time. He marched.
Connor and his family joined hundreds of others in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. march, which began at Mt. Zion Baptist Church on Panola Ave. and concluded at Batesville Intermediate School.
The commemoration march honors the work of the civil rights leader, who visited Mt. Zion days before he was assassinated in Memphis.
The second Tuesday in January is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday.
King’s birthday is January 15. Born in 1929, he would be 76 today.
Despite the cold 20-degree temperatures Monday morning, Connor said he had three reasons to come to the march: sons Brandon, Justin and Christopher.
Connor, 31, said he hoped to teach his boys a lesson learned best with one foot in front of the other.
"I hope the boys learn that things are a lot better than they used to be, and that’s because of what Dr. King did for them," Connor said.
Connor and his wife, Temeka, brought their three sons from Sardis for their march. They marched with other members of their church, Mt. Gillion M.B. Church.
The Monday commemoration march was part of a weekend of activities that included a "recognition reception" for minority businesses, a musical, basketball games, and a commemoration service at BIS that followed the march.
The activities were organized by the Sardis District Ministerial Alliance.
Assembled inside the school auditorium, marchers listened to Rev. Zannie Leland, Rev. Rubert Morgan and other clergy.
Batesville alderman Rufus Manley read a proclamation from the city.
The marchers also sang, "Lift Every Voice and Sing," which includes the words:
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days
when hope unborn has died,
Yet with a steady beat
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place
for which our father sighed?
The 2005 commemoration theme is "A day on, not a day off."
New Bethlehem church member Lee Ann Cannon took that theme to heart, taking advantage of a company holiday at Springs Industries in Sardis to march in honor of King.
Regarding other Springs employees who might have chosen to skip the march, Cannon said "a day on" means everyone should reflect on King’s mission and the eventual sacrifice of his life.
"We should be working to keep the dream alive, not to sit down but to continue to work," Cannon said.
At a pre-march service at Mt. Zion, church pastor J.N. Mobley admonished a younger generation to study and learn about King’s work for civil rights.
"This is not a parade. This is not about some myth," Mobley said. "This is about a man who gave his adult life for freedom."
Dr. Joe Gardner admonished fathers to be leaders in the home and to put their faith and families first.
"Men, return to your families and your families will return to God," Gardner said.
The weekend of commemoration activities concluded with the service at the intermediate school.
| Pope School holds reading fair
| Pope School held its annual Reading Fair on Tuesday, awarding first and second places in each of nine divisions.
The children chose books to read and created projects to tell the stories.
Individual first grade winners were Maddie Sullivan, first, and Jamie Payne, second.
Individual second grade winners were Sloan Garner, placing first, and Emily Standard, second.
Individual third grade winners were Dana Rico, first, and Tyler Phillips, second. Individual fourth and fifth grade winners were Hunter Franklin, first, and Larry Shearon placing second.
Individual sixth, seventh, and eighth grade winners were Sarah Cole, first, and Kelsey Close, second.
In the group division, kindergarten through third, Mrs. Garner’s students, Wesley Perry, Izac Ambrose, D’Andre Johnson and Taylor Utz, read Three Little Pigs, placing first. Mrs. Garner’s students, Brandon Elmer, Darbi Smith, Haila Gordon, Ju’aundria McMurry, Keila Bright, Kaylen Hill and Jamian Johnson, read Elmer, placing second.
In the group category for fourth through eighth grades, Jordan Volan, D.G. Arnold, Hayden Scoggins and John Cody Dalrymple read Crispen, placing first, and Lauren Calvert, Ashley Respess and Shaquille Simmons read Shiloh , placing second.
In the family category for grades kindergarten through third, Nikki Boyette placed first and Braliegh Sanders placed second.
In the family division for fourth through eighth grades, Amber Swindle placed first and Zachary Traywick placed second.