Headlines – 2/1/2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Panolian Headlines: February 1, 2005

  From the 2/1/05 issue of The Panolian :             

2005 Pope School Beauty Review
"Just Another Day in Paradise"
Presented by Pope Jr. Beta Club, January 22, 2005
Most Beautiful – Karlee Darby
Most Handsome – Shane Gibson
(l to r) Amber Patton, Kayla Champion,
Hannah Jacobs, Karlee Darby (Most Beautiful), Hillari Plummer, Alli Estridge and Carolyn O’Conner.
Fishing buddies
Two fisherman, one using bait and one "grabblin’" with its large-capacity beak, fished the waters of Sardis Reservoir’s Lower Lake recently.

The latter is a white pelican, the former is Charles Chow of Memphis. Chow said the bird had the better catch. Local fishermen said that white pelicans first started appearing in the lake about five years ago, fishing alongside wintering gulls.
SpringFest headliner is Wright choice for country fans
By Jason C. Mattox

On the second weekend in May, the Downtown Square will be filled with the sounds of music, but at this point only one act is known.

Batesville Main Street Manager Colleen Clark informed The Panolian that a headliner for this year’s Springfest has been signed.

"We just got all of the information back, and are pleased to announce that country artist Chely Wright will be the headliner on May 14," she said.

Clark said she believes Wright will draw a good crowd to the festival.

"Chely Wright has had a couple of big hits and has a new song on the radio that is doing quite well," she said.

Wright, who is 34, moved to Nashville following her senior year of high school and was signed by producer Harold Shedd, according to an Internet biography.

Wright signed her first record deal with Mercury Nashville and the album was released on the company’s Polydor label.

Hot on the success of her debut album, Wright garnered the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Artist award.

Despite the award, which helped launch the careers of artists like Suzie Boguss, Wright’s second album failed to make a dent on album charts and Wright asked for, and received, her release from Mercury.

In 1996, Wright was signed by MCA Nashville and released her third album which boasted the hits "Shut up and Drive" and the title track to her fourth album, "Single White Female," gave Wright her first number one country hit.

Wright, now with her third label, Painted Red Music Group, is experiencing another round of success with the recently released "Bumper of My SUV."

Clark said a performance time has not been set.
Local Reps. confident about Medicaid funds
By Billy Davis

Panola County’s two House representatives say they feel confident about funding for the Medicaid program, citing a possible cigarette tax hike and major changes to the program as positive signs.

A U.S. District judge set yesterday, January 31, as the deadline for the legislature to nail down benefits for Medicaid’s recipients, including those who qualify as PLAD (Poverty Level, Aged and Disabled) recipients.

Those PLAD recipients are understandably worried, acknowledged Rep. Leonard Morris, but the legislature is "working hard on a solution."

Morris is chairman of the House Medicaid Committee. From that position, he said, he’s watching the state wrangle with Medicaid’s $268 million deficit.

Morris said a tobacco tax bill that he co-authored – which later failed in the House – may pass this time with a 50-cent tax hike, monies that could partially fund Medicaid.

The earlier bill called for a $1-a-pack tax hike but failed 59-54.

Morris’ cohort in the House, Rep. Warner McBride, said he will support the 50-cent tobacco tax bill this time after voting against the $1 hike January 7.

McBride told The Panolian after the January 7 vote that he wanted to see some "corrections made and the program streamlined some," and then he might support a tax increase.

Those changes are currently being made, McBride said, including a re-evaluation of Medicaid recipients that could see as many as 100,000 unqualified people dropped from the program.

"Every single person – their application will be re-evaluated," McBride said.

"There are some folks on (Medicaid) that don’t need to be on it," Morris said.

The House and Senate are working on differing versions of Medicaid cuts, Morris and McBride said.

The state representatives said the House version, for example, allows Medicaid recipients to purchase up to five prescriptions drugs. The Senate version will allow up to four drugs.

Medicaid recipients’ co-pays for prescription drugs will also be increased by a few dollars, Morris and McBride said.

Still another change, Morris said, is the closing of loophole that allows some upper-income Mississippians to gain Medicaid coverage after utilizing hospice care.

"We’re not cutting hospice care out (of Medicaid.) I want to make that clear," Morris said. "But what was happening was that a person would be on hospice so long that, in a backdoor way, they would eventually qualify for Medicaid."

Morris and McBride said the Medicaid cuts are difficult to work through, but the state’s budget woes and the program’s swelling price tag demand that action be taken.

"You don’t know how tough this is trying to make a decision on these cuts, but there’s got to be some cuts," Morris said.

"This is something that’s running $200 million to $300 million over budget over year," McBride said. "We just can’t continue to support that."
Panola guardsmen nearby historic Iraqi elections
     Propped in the hatch of an M-113 armored personnel carrier, Sgt. Rodger Schwinn snaps a digital photo of himself somewhere in Kuwait. Schwinn e-mailed the photo January 25 to his wife, Christy, and their four children.
     More than 70 Panola County soldiers are now in Kuwait and Iraq as part of the 155th Guard unit.
By Billy Davis

As the people of Iraq went to the polls this weekend to vote on a new representative government, Miss. National Guard soldiers from Panola County were likely on the march in the volatile region.

Sgt. Nick Hughes, an M-1 tank gunner, is attached to a U.S. Marine unit that was 60 miles south of Baghdad last week, said his father, Norman Hughes.

According to the father, Nick spoke briefly with him by phone from Kuwait about two weeks ago and sent an e-mail on January 25.

"He called me at work and gave me his address," Hughes recalled. "He said to send soccer balls and toys for the kids because, if the parents see what they’re doing for the kids, then they’ll trust them."

An up-armored Panola Countian

Nick Hughes, 22, is the son of Norman and Nancy Hughes of the Central Academy community and a South Panola High graduate. He married the former Jennifer Swindle last year.

Sgt. Hughes is one of 3,500 soldiers now bound for Iraq – or already there – who are attached to the 155th Separate Armored Brigade, the largest Guard unit in the state.

"The total mobilization for the state since 9-11 has been about 7,400 soldiers, so the 1-5-5 is a little less than half that number," said Colonel Tim Powell, a Guard public affairs officer in Jackson.

The 155th is based in Tupelo but has 49 units scattered throughout the state, including posts in Sardis and Batesville.

Hughes is part of a Sardis tank company, Company C.

In Batesville, the troops of Detachment 1 include a platoon of scouts and a platoon of mortar soldiers.

About 70 soldiers from Panola County are part of the 155th, Hughes said.

According to Powell, the 155th received mobilization orders in June and began training at Camp Shelby in August. An advance party from the 155th left for Kuwait in early January, he said, and the remainder of the unit departed in mid-January.

At this very moment, Powell said, the advanced element is likely in Iraq while the remaining soldiers are organizing in Kuwait.

"The 155th is still receiving equipment because everything went by ship," Powell said. "It takes a lot of time to organize a unit that big, and it takes a lot of time to get it moving."

According to Norman Hughes, Nick said his unit traded in its tanks for "up-armored" Humvees, the military’s modern version of the Jeep.

"Nick said the Humvees have got top-of-the-line armor, and they’re glad to have it," the father said.

‘He…wanted to go’

Sgt. Rodger Schwinn of Courtland left for Iraq with the 155th even though he had just recently recovered from a broken leg, said his wife, Christy Schwinn.

"He broke his leg in a car wreck, and he’d just started walking when he got his orders," his wife recalled. "It’s not that he had to go – he more or less wanted to go."

Rodger, 29, left behind Christy, 30, a stay-at-home mom, and four children, ages 8,6, 4 and 3.

"I heard from him a few days ago. He’s rolling through the desert on his way to Iraq," his wife said.

Christy Schwinn said she stays in regular contact with other soldiers’ wives via phone calls, e-mail, and an on-line support group.

"Most of (the wives) are doing good. They try to stay busy and stay away from the news," Schwinn said.

Some of the Guard families meet monthly at the Batesville armory, Norman Hughes noted. He chairs a support group for the families called the Family Readiness Group.

"The women try to stay busy and not think about it, but there’s a hurt there that needs to come out," Hughes said.

"It’s hard. It’s really hard that our boy is over there," Hughes said. "But Nick’s in the Lord’s hands and the Lord is watching over him."

Four Mississippi Guardsmen have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. They are:

Specialist James S. Chance III
890th Engineer Battalion (Nov. 6, 2003)
Specialist Raphael S. Davis Jr.
223rd Engineers Battalion (Dec. 2, 2003)
Sgt. Joshua S. Ladd
367th Maintenance Company (May 1, 2004)
1st Lt. Matthew Stoval
367th Maintenance Company (August 22, 2004).

The 890th Engineers are headquartered in Gulfport. The 223rd Engineers are based in West Point.

The 367th Maintenance Company, which lost two soldiers, is based in Philadelphia.

155th training was ‘best available’

The troops of the 155th are going into Iraq with top-grade equipment and gear, Powell said, and with excellent training at Camp Shelby.

During training at Shelby, he said, the troops received real-time training designed to react to daily intelligence reports coming out of Iraq.

"There were reports coming out of Iraq daily about the situation there, and the 155th was training according to those reports," Powell explained. "Their training was excellent. It was the best available for troops headed into a combat zone."

Food Pantry serves many in 2004
By Emily Darby

The Panola Food Pantry fed over 3,189 people and 1,471 families during the 2004 year.

According to Carolyn Hillhouse, secretary treasurer for the Food Pantry, 99 percent of the people in need are the elderly.

"It helps the elderly buy medicine when they don’t have to go to the grocery store," said Hillhouse.

"The last week of this month I wouldn’t have eaten if it weren’t for the Food Pantry," said a 79-year-old Batesville woman who asked not to be identified.

Applicants have to meet a certain criteria. They are screened by Food Pantry volunteers at the Presbyterian Church in Batesville and given a food voucher on Tuesday mornings, according to Hillhouse.

Most funds come from schools, churches and individuals.

The Batesville Lions Club and two local churches in the community give money on a regular basis, according to Hillhouse.

"We want to thank all the individuals, organizations, businesses and churches which made donations," said Hillhouse.

"The monetary food donations help the pantry buy food," said Hillhouse.

"An anonymous person at the Presbyterian Church has given $10 every Sunday for eight years," said Hillhouse.

According to Hillhouse, food commodities from the USDA also help keep the Food Pantry supplied.

The food packages are assembled based on the number of people in the family and a week’s supply, said Hillhouse.

"A special thanks needs to go to all of the people who donate their time to this worthy cause," said Hillhouse.

The food pantry was formed in 1995 and is located directly across the street from the old Eureka Cinema. The pantry opens on Tuesday mornings at 9 a.m.

Donations can be made by contacting Marie Leland, Food Pantry president, at 563-7595 or Carolyn Hillhouse, secretary treasurer, at 563-2752.


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