Headlines – 4/12/2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Panolian: HEADLINES – April 12, 2005

  From the 4/12/05 issue of The Panolian :             

Though ill, long-serving Bryan ‘still our sheriff’
Chief deputy responds to plea for help
     Former Mississippi governor Ronnie Musgrove praised the accomplishments of long-time Panola County Sheriff David M. Bryan at the dedication of the David M. Bryan Detention Center Sunday afternoon when a large crowd of enforcement officers, county sheriffs, judges, family and friends gathered to honor the long-time sheriff.
     Circuit Judge Andrew Baker was the keynote speaker and also praised Bryan’s service while he joked of many personal experiences that he and Bryan have shared over their years of service.
By Billy Davis

Panola County residents are getting adequate coverage from the county sheriff’s department despite the absence of Sheriff David Bryan.

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Bryan, 64, is resting at home due to illness. He is currently serving his eighth term as Panola County sheriff.

Deputy Chief Craig Sheley said the department is patrolling the county with 11 full-time deputies and two part-timers.

Additional manpower includes two investigators, two courtroom deputies, and a process server, he said.

"The sheriff’s department is functioning like it has before, and the sheriff is kept abreast of what’s going on," Sheley told The Panolian.

Sheley said he is personally overseeing the day-to-day operation of the department. Jail administrator Hugh "Shot" Bright, meanwhile, is overseeing the detention of prisoners.

Long-time sheriff’s department employee Robbie Haley, who serves as the sheriff’s administrative assistant, said she, Bright, and Sheley update the sheriff daily about goings-on within the Panola County Sheriff’s Department.

"We see him every day at least once a day, sometimes several times a day," Haley told The Panolian. "He’s still part of the department. He’s still our sheriff."

The question of police protection in the county surfaced at the Monday meeting of the Panola County supervisors, where north Panola residents asked for a beefed-up law enforcement presence in their community.

Lucius Taylor Road resident Kim Halley asked supervisors for more patrols from the sheriff’s department to help bolster a Neighborhood Watch program already at work in the area.

Halley said residents who live near the Tate County line deal with drag racing and beer drinking, and she’s also witnessed drug deals in the area.

"They’re not from here, and they have no respect for the neighborhood," Halley told the supervisors.

Rev. Clifton Ward, who lives on Old Panola Road, also spoke out on behalf of his neighbors.

Speeding is the worst offense in the area, Ward said, but crime is also a continuing problem. His wife was once robbed in the driveway of their home, he said.

"I’m asking that the sheriff’s department be more visible," Ward said. "The people are not used to seeing the police out there."

Responding to Halley and Ward, Sheley said the sheriff’s department has begun saturating the area with patrols and roadblocks.

"We’ve started hitting it hard up there," Sheley told the supervisors.

After hearing from Halley and Ward, supervisors Robert Avant and Jerry Perkins asked Sheley to beef up the patrols in the area.

Halley also mentioned the death of a teenage girl, who was struck and killed by a driver last year. The driver is still behind the wheel after striking the girl while she was riding her bike, Halley said.

Sheley said Assistant D.A. Robert Kelly is looking into the incident.

Representative McBride predicts June session
By Billy Davis

The state legislature will likely return to the Capitol in June for a special session, and if they do local legislators say they will fight to keep taxes from rising at the local level.

Rep. Warner McBride told county supervisors Monday morning that an underfunded state budget would put the squeeze on taxpayers in Panola County and its municipalities.

McBride said he can’t "in good conscience" go along with Gov. Haley Barbour’s budget proposal because of its impact on his hometown community.

Barbour will likely call for a special session in June, McBride said, in hopes of squeezing a budget compromise from the House as the new fiscal year approaches. The fiscal year begins July 1.

"We’re basically starting all over again," McBride said, referring to budget wrangling between the House and Senate that continued until the end of the regular session.

Regarding education funding, District 2 Supervisor Robert Avant noted that public school teachers must be notified by April 15 if the school district intends to keep them under contract for another year.

How can a school district plan for a new school year when the state education budget is unknown, Avant wondered aloud.

"They might cross the state line where they know they’ll have a job," McBride replied.

Avant also questioned the source of funding to make the county’s voting precincts handicap accessible by 2006.

"Is everything up in the air, Warner, including the road money?" Board President Jerry Perkins said.

"Yeah, everything’s back on the table," McBride said.

Barbour raided $18.4 million from State Aid funds, McBride said, citing the monies that trickle down from the Miss. Department of Transportation to counties for road and bridge work.

"That’s affected every project that we have in our minds to do," Perkins said, adding that road work still in the planning stages could be delayed by a year or more.

Reached at his real estate office in Batesville, Rep. Leonard Morris said the June special session would continue the "standoff" between the House and Senate as they attempt to set budget priorities.

If the state legislature fails to fund education, Morris said, taxpayers in Panola County will foot the bill at the local level.

In other county business:
Supervisors learned that a high-tech avionics firm plans to relocate to a four-acre site at the county airport.
     Hawaii-based EVAS plans to move its operation to Panola County, where it plans to set up shop in a 10,000-square-foot facility, Airport Board chairman Tommy Wells said.
     At Wells’ request, supervisors agreed to bid for survey work of the site.
     Wells said EVAS hopes to be in operation here by the fall. The company will employ 20 people for the manufacture of the EVAS system, which helps pilots see through a smoke-filled cockpit in order to land safely.
Supervisors tabled an objection to Martin Bros. Scrap Yard’s relocation to a 30-acre site on Holston Road.
     During a 50-minute hearing, the Board of Supervisors listened to attorneys for Martin Bros. and homeowners Dr. Mike and Lisa Cockrell.
     At issue is Martin’s plan to build a new scrap yard site on land it purchased that’s adjacent to a $750,000, 10,000-square-foot home built by Cockrell and his family.
     Over a three-month period that began in January the Panola County Land Development Commission approved the reclassification of the site from agricultural to industrial, then allowed Martin Bros. to operate a scrap yard at the new site.
     Cockrell’s attorney, John Lamar, told supervisors the approval given by the land development commission clashed with standards usually given for approving a reclassification.
     Martin Bros. was represented by Sardis attorney Tommy Shuler.
     Inundated with legal papers and land use materials supplied by Lamar, supervisors requested time to read through them and visit the site.
Supervisors voted 5-0 to advertise for bids for two new garbage trucks.
     The current trucks are beaten up and require a lot of money and upkeep, Solid Waste manager Dean Joiner explained. The county can trade in at least one of its older trucks and receive a newer model with a warranty.
     "We would be through with garbage truck business for three years," Joiner told supervisors.
Supervisors voted 5-0 to advertise for bids for a used self-propelled asphalt paver at the request of county road manager Lygunnah Bean.
     Bean told supervisors he had located a ?99 paver for $15,000 that included a $10,000 roller and $5,000 trailer. The paver would be a marked improvement over the county’s current machinery and would reduce road waste and save money, Bean said. The trailer could be used for other machinery, he said.
     "It will pay for itself just by the waste (it saves)," said Perkins. 
2005 Miss Hospitality
Meredith McCurdy (left) was crowned 2005 Miss Hospitality at the Panola Partnership Banquet last Thursday night. Crowning McCurdy was Whitney Prather, 2004 Miss Hospitality. McCurdy is a student at Hinds Community College. She is the daughter of Bill McCurdy and Vickie McCurdy.
April is Blue Ribbon Month
By Emily Darby

The Batesville Exchange Club and Exchange Club Child Abuse Prevention Centers across the country are conducting the Blue Ribbon campaign throughout the month of April to help prevent child abuse.

About 25 years ago, the National Exchange Club adopted child abuse awareness as their national project, according to Amber Brock, the assistant coordinator for the adolescent offender program located in Sardis and affiliated with the Exchange Club Family Crisis Center in Oxford. The center offers a variety of services for all ages for prevention of child abuse. It serves 16 counties in North Mississippi.

The Batesville Exchange Club helps provide funding for the center, but the center also gets grants from other sources, said Robert Rawson, secretary for the Batesville Exchange Club.

The local Exchange Club sponsors a pancake breakfast in the fall and a golf tournament at Mallard Point in May and proceeds from those two events help fund the Family Crisis Center, said Rawson. Last year’s golf tournament raised $4,000.

Informing the public about child abuse is a key to solving the problem, said Rawson.

"The more child abuse is talked about, the less it happens," he said.

Each year, more than 3.2 million American children are reported to Child Protective Services as being abused, according to a press release from the Family Crisis Center.

"Statistics show that a large percentage of juvenile delinquents were abused as children," Amber Brock said, "We try to teach children how to not be abusive parents."

The Family Crisis Center in Oxford offers:

1. AOP (adolescent offender program)
2. SCAN (stop child abuse and neglect), a puppet show program for pre-k through second grade to show the difference between good and bad touch, neglect, sexual abuse and bullying
3. TLC (to love a child), a parent aid program for first time pregnant teens to teach a variety of parenting skills
4. COPES (correcting our past and establishing skills), a program for prevention instead of intervention. The program is mostly taught at the Boys & Girls Clubs

The Oxford Center, with offices also in Marshall and Panola counties, is currently selling Blue Ribbon cutout cards for $1 each and also bracelets for $2 that say, "prevent child abuse." These can be purchased directly from the Sardis office at 1545 Industrial Park or from these sponsoring businesses:

The Boys & Girls Club of Sardis
Renasant Bank in Sardis
Back Yard Burger in Batesville
Union Planters in Batesville
Western Sizzlin in Batesville
the tax collectors office and Justice Court office in the Sardis Courthouse
Mallard Point Golf Course in the Sardis Lake area.

"This is not about raising money. It is more about people seeing these kind of things (blue ribbons) which makes them a little bit more accountable to making sure children and families are taken care of and won’t potentially abuse their own child," said Brock.

Statistics show that in Panola County alone, the Mississippi Department of Human Services conducted 323 child abuse investigations involving 352 children in 2003, which is the most recent calendar year for which information is available.

The Blue Ribbon Campaign was started in the spring of 1989, when a Virginia grandmother began making blue label ribbons as a tribute to her three-year-old grandson, who died at the hands of his mother’s abusive boyfriend. Since that time, concerned citizens across the country have worn the blue ribbon as a symbol of the need to prevent child abuse and neglect.

For more information on how you can help save the life of a child, whether through volunteering, sponsoring a presentation for a group, or donations, call 234-4255 or 487-1900.

Parents, relatives or educators should report their suspicions to the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-222-8000.





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