Headlines – 2/15/2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Panolian Headlines: February 15, 2005

  From the 2/15/05 issue of The Panolian :             


Habitat for Humanity
     New homeowner Antonio Sanford, with his nephew Tyrone and niece Tywania, looks through photos taken during the construction of his new home on Jones St. in Courtland. Sanford’s home was the site of an open house Sunday hosted by Panola Habitat.
     Tyrone Sanford (foreground) enjoys the afternoon playing with his sister Tywania and their friend Chris Davis at Sunday’s open house and dedication of the seventh Panola Habitat home. The new home, located in Courtland, was dedicated to the memory of longtime Habitat supporter Hunt Howell, who died in 2002.

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Supervisors hear progress on Tri-Lakes sale
Timeline for naming winning bidder not disclosed during ‘Second Monday’ meeting
By Billy Davis

Panola County supervisors learned Monday morning that bidders for the Tri-Lakes Medical Center are very close to getting detailed information regarding the hospital’s finances and day-to-day operations.

Packets containing data on 54 topics are being prepared for distribution to the bidders. When those items are in hand, the bidding process will progress to onsite visits from the bidders, Panola County Administrator David Chandler told supervisors.

A timeline for naming the winning bidder went unannounced, however.

Chandler said the items in question vary from financial statements and hospital birth records to staff salaries and emergency room admissions.

Five bidders are seeking to purchase the publicowned hospital, and the 54 items in question – vital to move the sale along – are at the center of a political tug-of-war that began when Chandler was appointed to the hospital board in December.

Chandler is chairman of the hospital’s board of trustees, a position he was appointed to by the supervisors to help gather the 50-plus items for the bidders.

Additional hospital trustees have been appointed by the county and the City of Batesville in the past few months as well, replacing trustees who reportedly were uncooperative with all but one bidder – hospital administrator Dr. Bob Corkern.

Batesville Mayor Bobby Baker and Board of Supervisors President Jerry Perkins have accused Corkern and the former trustees of being uncooperative.

Corkern, in turn, told The Panolian last month that he and the former hospital trustees cooperated fully with the other bidders’ requests.

"We never denied anybody any information – ever, ever, ever," Corkern told The Panolian in January.

At the February 14 "second Monday" meeting, Chandler said the bidders are happy with the current process.

"We have two bidders back at the table after they walked away," Chandler told the supervisors.

After predicting a January 31 date for selecting a bidder, Chandler did not speculate again on an expected date to announce the new owner.

"It’s taking more time than anticipated," he said.

Also in the supervisors’ meeting, Chandler assured the supervisors that talk of the Tri-Lakes employees "getting tired" of the bidding process is exaggerated.

Chandler said the employees "feel comfortable now" with the current situation and have a "rapport" with the new board of trustees.

Reached after the meeting, Perkins said Chandler addressed the issue because of "courthouse talk" that some Tri-Lakes employees were planning to confront the supervisors at a board meeting about their frustration with the process and their support for Corkern.

"It was just a rumor we heard two months ago, and it never materialized," Perkins said.

Tri-Lakes employees reached by The Panolian said they were indeed frustrated about the current situation and worried about their jobs.

"I can speak on behalf of the employees here when I say we’re stressed out because we don’t know who we’re going to work for," said staffing coordinator Melissa Phelps. "We’re just ready for this to be over."

I Think That I Shall Never See…
     Free trees were available last week from the Panola County Soil and Water Conservation District who gave away trees to more than 150 people before 9 a.m. The local conservation district was kicking off National Tree Planting Week and although the trees were free, you had to provide your own holes.
     Taking advantage of the give-away are: (from left) David Whitsell and Barry Brewer with District Conservationist Terry Myers and Technician Tim Henson.
Aldermen appoint Hardy to hospital board
By Jason C. Mattox

The City of Batesville has filled its final seat on the Tri-Lakes Medical Center Board of Trustees.

According to Mayor Bobby Baker, James Hardy was unanimously selected by the Board of Aldermen during its meeting on Feb. 1, to be the city’s second representative on the board along with City Clerk Judy Savage.

Hardy and Savage join the county’s appointees David Chandler, Patricia Trammel and Greg Franklin in making up the hospital’s board of trustees.

Alderman James Yelton said he recommended Hardy for the board because he is community minded.

"He has done a lot of things in the parks and other areas for the city free of charge," he said. "He is very concerned about things in the community, and I feel like he is going to be an open and honest trustee for the city."

Hardy said he was not expecting the appointment, but was happy to accept it.

"I had done some complaining about the hospital to a few board members," he said. "So I guess that’s why they appointed me.

"I can say this much, the city and county voted by 82 percent to sell the hospital, and I think that is something we need to do," he said.

"As far as my service on the board goes, I jumped at the chance, and I hope to do a good job for the people as long as the board is in existence," Hardy added.

Hardy has attended one meeting since being appointed and called the experience an eye opener.
"To tell you the truth, the first meeting was about financial information," he said. "That was something that had been asked for before I was named to the board."

Hardy said he was of the opinion that the hospital was not in good financial shape.

"I mostly listened to the information since I was new to it all, but I know if I ran a business the way the hospital is run, I would have been closed down," he said.

Hardy said he admits he can’t make a real assessment of the hospital without getting more information.

"This was my first meeting," he said. "I guess I really shouldn’t judge based on one meeting."

Morris identified by family
By Billy Davis and Jason Mattox

The body of a young male found last week was that of a missing 18-year-old, Panola County investigators confirmed Friday.

A family member identified the body of Emanuel Morris Friday afternoon through personal documents and photos of the body, said Chief Deputy Craig Sheley.

Morris, of Batesville, had been missing since January 16.

Stranded motorists found Morris’ body Wednesday, February 9 in a ditch beside Curtis Road, about a mile west of Old Panola Road, Sheley said.

An autopsy was performed on Morris February 10, and lab results and a toxicology report are forthcoming, said county medical examiner Gracie Grant Gulledge.

"We’re not able to confirm the cause of death at this time pending the results," Gulledge said.
Funeral services for Morris were held yesterday at Cooley’s Mortuary in Batesville.

Morris was a South Panola High School drop-out who most recently worked at Framed Picture Enterprise in Batesville.

Morris is also the son of Arbie Jo Buckley, who is awaiting a February 28 trial for the 2002 murder of her husband.

South Panola principal Dr. Del Phillips confirmed Morris was a student at the school about two years ago.

"He came to us from North Panola and was here only for a few months," Phillips said.

Framed Picture plant manager Randy Austin said the 18-year-old had worked at the plant for about three months, where he buffed wood to prep it for painting.

"He was a good worker, a hard worker," Austin said. "He was real quiet, and we had no problems with him."




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