Headlines – 2/4/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 4, 2005

Panolian Headlines: February 4, 2005

  From the 2/4/05 issue of The Panolian :             


Concessions operator chosen for Civic Center
By Jason C. Mattox

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The Batesville Civic Center’s concession contract has been awarded to Boston Culinary Group.

The Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen accepted Civic Center Director Roy Hyde’s recommendation at their Tuesday meeting.

"The experience that this group has is just immense," he said. "They operate in some of the largest venues throughout the country."

Hyde said the group’s first event with the Civic Center will be an arena cross show the weekend of February 18-19.

"They are very well known," he said. "You are probably familiar with them through their running concessions at Ole Miss."

Hyde told city leaders another of the group’s strengths is its third-party operator contacts.

"What this means is they have a good relationship with companies like Pizza Hut and Corky’s Barbeque to come in and offer their products," he said.

Hyde said one of the main reasons he believes Boston Culinary Group’s bid is its menu variety.

"With the wider selection that this company can offer, it is better for the patrons of the Civic Center and the city," he said.

Alderman James Yelton said he likes the variety the company will be offering, but wondered how payment to the city would work.

"How much does the city stand to make off this deal?" Yelton asked.

Hyde explained that the amount paid to the city is based on a sliding scale.

The city will receive a 20 percent cut on net profit up to $500,000. The city’s cut increases to 25 percent if the net profit ranges from $500,001 to $750,000. If the net profit reaches more than $750,000, the city will receive 30 percent.

"The other bidder was offering 25 percent across the board," Hyde said. "This was just a better overall deal for the city."

Is this your couch?
     A discarded couch gets dropped into a county dump truck on Vance Bottom Rd., one of Panola County’s illegal dump sites. As a county-wide cleanup gets closer, the number of illegal dumps is on the rise.
Clean-up volunteers, illegal dumps growing in number
By Billy Davis

A mile and a half of beer bottles, beer cans, soda cans and other assorted unsightly trash on Chapel Hill Road are the target of Jack Pickett and his granddaughter, Devan.

Tomorrow, the grandfather, 63, and the granddaughter, 13, will pick up trash near his home to fulfill her community service hours for school.

Pickett’s Chapel Hill neighbors, of course, are invited to the event.

Pickett and Devan are among a growing list of volunteers who are facing a monumental task: cleaning thousands of pounds of trash from hundreds of miles of roads.

Board of Supervisors President Jerry Perkins said the county board understands the scope of the county’s unsightly roads but is still undecided about plans to tackle the problem.

"Right now we just don’t know what we’re going to do," said Perkins.

Even as volunteers organize to clean up the roadside trash, the number of illegal dump sites is growing, Perkins said.

"We just can’t believe how much of an increase we’ve had in the past year," the board president said. "This is becoming an alarming problem."

Catching and prosecuting illegal dumpers may be the next step, he said.

Pickett is also one of several volunteers ? clean-up captains ? who are overseeing clean-up efforts in their communities.

The list of captains began with four, eventually grew to six, and now has expanded to 10, said Lygunnah Bean, the county road manager who is heading the clean-up effort.

"We keep breaking the county down into smaller and smaller sections, and each time we do it gets better and better," Bean said. " The captains will be more effective because they know the people in their areas."

The captains plan to meet the week of February 25 and at that meeting will divide up the responsibility for picking up trash alongside the county’s 900 miles of road.

After that meeting, the captains will then look to their neighbors, church members, friends and family to organize and begin cleaning up the roads.

Bean said he’s speaking about the county-wide cleanup to the Batesville Kiwanis Club on February 17, and he’s hopeful other civic clubs, churches and other groups are interested in the effort as well.

"If they want to know how they can help, we’ll be glad to talk to them," Bean said.

Weather permitting, Pickett said he and Devan plan to pick up as much trash as possible. What’s troubling him about the cleanup, however, is what the roadside will look like in the weeks to come.

"It will be real disheartening if, six months from now, it will be back like it was," Pickett said. "Something’s got to be done so that doesn’t happen."

Postmaster seeks to improve service
     Batesville Postmaster Lawrence Wills plans for the Batesville Post Office to be number one in the level 20 office range. Wills is in his 33rd year of a career that began in Queens, New York.

By John Howell Sr.

Batesville Postmaster Lawrence Wills, who assumed duties here in December, is in his 33rd year of a career that began in Queens, New York and has included almost every position in the postal service.

"It’s a nice, quiet growth town," Wills said of Batesville, citing this city’s new civic center, hospital, and the power plant. Wills moved to the Batesville Post Office from Clarksdale where he served as postmaster in a facility that he led to third place in its classification for efficiency and performance.

"My plan is for Batesville to be number one in the level 20 office range," the new postmaster said. The ratings consider customer satisfaction and efficiency, he added. "We are a service oriented organization."

The performance of post offices are determined partly by unannounced inspections by supervisory officials. "That’s a change for the positive that I recognize assures the consumers" that postal workers are at peak efficiency, Wills said.

When the Batesville postal facility was moved in 1998 from downtown to its present location near I-55, the old method of sorting mail by hand into cases was replaced by two automated CSB-CS sorting devices. "Automation has taken over," the Postmaster said.

Seven rural and city routes originate from the Batesville Post Office. When mail arrives by truck at the local facility, it has already been sorted by routes, Wills continued. Then it is further sorted in the local office. One pass through the CSB-CS device sorts the mail by street or road name. A second pass again sorts the mail into the sequential order that the carrier comes to as he or she drives the during the delivery.

As a carrier negotiates his or her route, all of the mail has been placed in its order of delivery. It is important for postal patrons to make sure that nothing is blocking their mailbox at road side or curbside, Wills said. Much of city delivery now goes into boxes placed at curbside. Like their rural carrier counterparts, city carriers now place much of the mail in patrons’ boxes without leaving their vehicles. That has increased efficiency in mail delivery and safety for the carrier, Wills said.

In addition to keeping the postal carrier’s access free to curbside mail boxes, there is an additional help postal patrons can provide to assure prompt and efficient delivery of mail: "Zip codes," Wills said, repeating the post office’s almost 50-year-old mantra emphasizing the importance of those five and, now sometimes, nine digits. "It’s so important to use zip codes." That automation thing again.

City leaders want broad resolution for armory use
B & G Club still leading candidate
By Jason C. Mattox

Representatives from the Batesville Boys and Girls Club came before the Batesville Board of Aldermen at its Tuesday meeting to clarify their appeal for use of the now-empty National Guard Armory building.

Belinda Morris, Dennis Hoskins and David LaVergne all representing Boys and Girls Club of Batesville, voiced the opinion that the Boys & Girls Club, now housed in the old Johnson College building on Martinez St., is outgrowing its facilities and needs the space in the building and some of the grounds of the old armory.

"Based on the way the club operates, there is only enough room for us in the building," Morris said. "Due to the size of the facility and the programs we offer, we need to use the entire building."

The Batesville Board of Aldermen has been pursuing through the current legislative session a "local and private" bill that would give them (the city and the county) the authority to convey the building to a non-profit organization. The armory building is jointly owned by the city and the county.

Ward One Alderman Bill Dugger said the wording of the legislation should give the city authority to continue to designate occupants of the armory in the future, in the event the Boys and Girls Club outgrows the building.

"We just want to be able to let other clubs use it if the Boys & Girls Club leaves at some time in the future," he said.

"We don’t want to be left with a building we can’t do anything with."

Ward Three Alderman James Yelton said use of the building was never in question.

"As far as I am concerned, the Boys & Girls Club will use the inside of the building and whatever grounds until it is developed for whoever might come to us needing space," he said.

Morris said the club had no problem with the Boy Scouts using two of the huts behind the main building.

"We want to work with the scouts," she said.

"We need to get a troop in the Boys & Girls Club."

LaVergne said the club needs the grounds for recreational activities.

"I think there is something like four acres back there," he said.

"We have talked about maybe building a baseball field in the back, but it would certainly not take all four acres."

No action was taken on the matter.




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