Headlines – 3/1/2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Panolian Headlines: March 1, 2005

  From the 3/1/05 issue of The Panolian :             


Rodeo will feature fun for every age
By Jason C. Mattox

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Bronc riders, calf ropers, steer wrestlers and barrel racers will be kicking up dust in the new Batesville Civic Center arena this weekend when Lone Star Rodeo comes to town.

"This will be a full-scale rodeo and will have something for everyone who attends," center director Roy Hyde said.

Professional Cowboys Association-sanctioned contest events scheduled for the show will include bareback bronc riding, calf roping, cowgirl breakaway roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, team roping, cowgirls barrel racing and brahma bull riding.

In addition to the sanctioned contest events, there will be special added attractions, including: children’s pony rides, a "gold rush" for children ten and under, rodeo clown Raymond Griffin, and trick roping by T.J. Kremling.

Show time for both Friday and Saturday is 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be on sale the days of the shows beginning at 6 p.m.

General admission for adults is $12. Children 12 and under get in for $10.

For further information contact the Batesville Civic Center at 561-1760.

Lone Star Rodeo Company is based in Crofton, Ken.

Judge sentences Buckley to four years for manslaughter
By Billy Davis

A Batesville woman was sentenced to four years in prison Monday morning after pleading guilty last week to murdering her husband.

Arbie Jo Buckley was sentenced to four years incarceration and 10 years probation for the 2001 murder of husband George House.

Buckley, 42, pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter last week.

Circuit Judge Andrew C. Baker handed down the sentence after a two-hour hearing at the Panola County Courthouse in Sardis.

A Panola County jury convicted Buckley of capital murder in 2002, but that conviction was reversed by the state Supreme Court.

A grand jury indicted Buckley for murder last summer.

According to court documents, Buckley went to the Panola County Sheriff’s Department on October 27, 2001 and demanded that deputies remove George House from their home.

Deputies refused to help Buckley, saying they had no legal right to do so, and about two hours later – according to District Attorney John Champion – the trailer at 4817 Old Panola Road was engulfed in flames.

At the sentencing hearing, Baker listened to a parade of witnesses for Buckley, including friends, family members and neighbors who testified about her abuse at the hands of George House.

House was a crack addict and an alcoholic, the witnesses said, but he and Buckley seemed inseparable in a marriage that neither belonged in.

The defendant’s sister, Kay Buckley Houston, testified that both House and Buckley were mentally ill, and at one time the defendant’s mother, Lorine Johnson, had her daughter committed to the Miss. State Hospital at Whitfield to get her out of the "dangerous situation" with House.

House once raped his wife, and she bore a child from that violent assault, Houston and other witnesses testified.

Houston described her sister as a "battered woman" and asked Baker to sentence her to probation.

Buckley also testified in the hearing, telling the court she had a "lovely" marriage with House, her "soul mate," but that he drank and used crack cocaine, beat her and threatened 23 times to kill her.

Asked by her attorney, Leon Johnson, if she ever fought with House, Buckley said, "No fights. He beat on me."

Buckley asked Baker to drop the charges against her.

"I’m not as guilty as people say I am," she said.
District Attorney Champion presented one witness for the prosecution, Martha May Wall, George House’s sister.

According to Wall, the family took House off life support after doctors said he had "zero chance" of living.

The burns covered most of his body, the sister testified, and he lived for 35 days at The Med in Memphis.

Wall told Baker that Buckley should receive the maximum punishment, which was 20 years in prison.

"I was in a bad relationship, and I got out," Wall told the courtroom. "I didn’t take his life."

Champion had asked for the maximum 20-year sentence against Buckley. While she probably didn’t intend to kill her husband, he said, she set him on fire, which resulted in his death.

"She has a sickness but took another person’s life," Champion told Baker.

Convinced from court testimony that House had beaten and terrorized his wife over the years, the judge said Buckley "had a right to be afraid" of House.

That fear, however, was no excuse for taking his life, the judge said, and consequently he handed down the four-year prison sentence.

"I’m surprised this tragic end didn’t come sooner," Baker told the courtroom.

Supervisors cap donations to B & G Club
By Billy Davis

The Panola County Board of Supervisors agreed to cap contributions to the Batesville Boys and Girls Club at $20,000 annually as part of a bill working its way through the state legislature.

State representatives Leonard Morris and Warner McBride discussed the status of the bill with supervisors at an end-of-the-month meeting on Friday, February 25.

The Boys and Girls Club bill, known as "local and private" legislation, allows the supervisors to contribute funds and other assistance – including county-owned buildings – to the organization.

Along with the City of Batesville, the county co-owns the old National Guard armory in Batesville, where the Boys and Girls Club hopes to relocate from Martinez Street.

"Local and private" bills are commonly signed off on and passed along because they affect smaller parties in the state. This one, however, hit a roadblock with a committee chair, McBride explained.

The chairman, Sen. Ralph Doxey of Holly Springs, asked for a yearly cap on cash donations and also requested that the bill expire in 2007.

"He’s the chairman, so he can have his say if he wants to," Morris said.

Suddenly faced with choosing a dollar figure, the supervisors agreed unanimously to a $20,000 cap suggested by District Two Supervisor Robert Avant.

"That doesn’t mean we’ll give $20,000. That’s just the most we’ll give," noted Avant.

The legislators did not say when the Boys and Girls Club bill would likely be voted on by the legislature.

In other county business:

The supervisors are allowed to enroll election commissions in the county’s insurance plan, board attorney William McKenzie reported.
     McKenzie was following up on a matter from earlier in the month in which election commissioner Bonnie Land requested such insurance for herself and others.
     Board of Supervisors President Jerry Perkins wondered aloud whether the county could afford to pay for the insurance.
     At Perkins’ request, County Administrator David Chandler said he would check on the financial situation and report his findings.
     On a related matter, Chandler said the election commissioners could use space in a county-owned building at the Sardis industrial park.
     Land had requested the space for a computer and work station.
The supervisors agreed to donate a 1988 four-wheel-drive truck to the South Panola School District.
     The school district requested the vehicle, saying it could be used in icy weather to check road conditions.
No quick fix for county’s littering problems
     After picking up the litter just two weeks ago, Jack Pickett sorts through the roadside trash left behind by others. The trash will return, of course, but Pickett is determined to keep the roads clean.
By Billy Davis

At no surprise to anybody, the beer bottles, soft drink cans and fast food sacks have returned to the roadside around Jack and Dorothy Pickett’s home at 492 Chapel Hill Road.

Friends and neighbors joined the Pickett family two weeks ago in cleaning up the roadside, returning the filth-filled ditches into clean rolling hills and pasture land.

The change along Chapel Hill Road was temporary, of course. Like every road that’s ever been cleaned in Panola County, the garbage returned and the garbage tossers got away.

How to catch the litterers and illegal dumpers is a question burdening Pickett and many more Panola Countians.

The county’s five supervisors say they constantly field garbage complaints from their constituents.

In addition to the regular complaints, a countywide cleanup is being organized and the supervisors are feeling the pressure to address the problem once the roads are clean.

"We’re feeling the pressure. I know I do because I get a lot of calls about it," said Jerry Perkins, the president of the Board of Supervisors.

In the county’s Justice Court system, which hears misdemeanor cases, at least two years have passed since a litterer was prosecuted, said Judge James Appleton, who oversees cases in the north part of Panola County.

In the southern part of Panola County, Justice Court Judge Bill Joiner said he’s overseen two littering cases in recent memory, dismissing one and finding the other defendant guilty.

If someone is convicted of littering, Joiner said, they face a maximum $250 fine and could be ordered to pick up trash along a mile of county road.

Yet most charges fail to make it to court due to lack of evidence, Joiner said.

"I can count on my hands the number of people I’ve found guilty of littering or dumping trash," he said.

And there’s good reason for the lack of convictions: litterers and illegal dumpers must be caught in the act to be found guilty in county court.

Whether someone is charged with a DUI or is just throwing the empty beer can out of the truck, the "burden of proof" is the same, Joiner said.

"You can’t bring in a piece a paper from somebody’s garbage," agreed Appleton. "We don’t prosecute people like that."

Bringing evidence from garbage bags is exactly the way Sheriff’s Deputy Bobby Walton – the county’s so-called garbage cop – went after illegal dumpers in recent years.

Walton transports prisoners for the sheriff’s department and also works as an enforcement officer for the county’s solid waste department.

In justice court, Walton apparently hit the "burden of proof" roadblock.

"The judges went along with it for a while, then it just stopped," Walton said.

According to Perkins, installing hidden cameras near illegal dumps is one possible solution for catching illegal dumpers in the act.

The board of supervisors president said he’s priced cameras that cost $700 to $1,800. The pricier models hide the tell-tale flash, he said.

"We’re going to try to figure out a solution on how to stop some of the illegal dumping," Perkins said. "We can’t stop all of it, but we can curtail it some."

The ultimate answer to the litter problem is community pride, said District Two Supervisor Robert Avant.

"People have to take pride in where they live," Avant said. "Until they do that, we won’t fix this problem."

According to Jack Pickett, he’s determined to keep the road clean, with or without any action from the supervisors.

"You can’t expect the supervisors to take care of everything. This is a community problem," Pickett said.

Puppy Power
     A lab mix puppy finds a friend in McKenzie Smith of Crowder. Smith, 2, was intrigued by the plentiful pooches available for adoption by the Panola County Humane Society. The adoption day was held Saturday, February 26 at Wal-Mart in Batesville.
One addition to upcoming city elections
By Jason C. Mattox

With under a week remaining before the qualifying deadline for the upcoming municipal elections, Ray Moore has announced his intention to seek Ward Four’s Alderman seat in the City of Sardis. No new candidates have been added to the Batesville races.

Potential candidates have until 5 p.m. Friday to file their qualifying papers in City Hall in either city.

Those running in Batesville are:

Jerry Autrey (D)
Dr. Richard Corson (R)
Gary Kornegay (I)
Hudson Still (D)
Ward One Alderman
Bill Dugger (D) *
Ward Two Alderman
Rufus Manley (D) *
Ted Stewart (D)
Ward Three Alderman
Jerry Cooley (D)
Leonard McGhee (D)
James Yelton (D) *
Ward Four Alderman
Michael Harbour (R)
Bobbie Jean Pounders (D) *
Wayne Thompson
Ed Allen (R)
J. Boyd Ingram (D)
Teddy Morrow (D)

Candidates in Sardis include:

  Alvis L. "Rusty" Dye (D)
  Johnny Green (D)
   Lula Palmer (D)
Ward One Alderman
Joseph "JoJo" Still (D) *
Ward Two Alderman
Rufus Smith (D)
Ward Three Alderman
Mike Wilson (D) *
Ward Four Alderman
Douglas Rivers McArthur (D)
Ray Moore (D)
John Reed (D) *
Roy Scallorn (D)

* indicates incumbent




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