Headlines Cont. – 4/12/2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – April 12, 2005


Answered Prayers gets help from SP
By Billy Davis

The South Panola High School Band is among the newest participants to join the sixth annual Answered Prayers Benefit, which raises money for Panola County children with urgent medical needs.

The all-day fund-raiser is set for Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Batesville Civic Center.

Band members will perform at 1 p.m. for one of their own, high schooler Chris Gray. He is afflicted with cystic fibrosis and needs a double-lung transplant.

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Answered Prayers will also benefit sisters Kathy Gordon and Amanda Gordon. Amanda suffers from septo-optic dysplasia and blindness. Kathy has cerebral palsy and microcephaly.

Answered Prayers was started in 2000 by Sgt. First Class Charles West, a Batesville resident and Special Forces soldier. The 2004 event raised about $17,000 despite bad weather, said Prayers volunteer John Ard.

Fund-raising monies have helped 14 children so far.
This year, a committee selected Chris, Kathy and Amanda from a list of seven applicants, basing the decision on urgent medical expenses.

"It’s a tough decision when you have to leave out three or four of the applicants," said Ard. "As this benefit grows, maybe there’ll be a day when we won’t have to turn away anybody."

The South Panola band’s involvement was proudly announced last week by Prayers volunteer Judy Russell, a former "band mom. "

"I was so proud to hear that the band will be involved. We’re happy to have them participate," Russell said.

The introduction of flea market booths is the newest addition to Answered Prayers this year.

Vendors are bringing everything from handmade jewelry and hand painted gourds to home-baked breads and wine cork wreaths.

Vendors are paying $20 for a 10 x 10 booth or $30 for a 10 x 20 booth to show their handmade wares.
A total of 62 vendors have purchased booth space, Russell said, and about 100 have verbally committed.

Other offerings during the day include horse and pony rides, a noon auction by Mark Lipscomb, antique cars, live music, children’s rides, a Boston butt sale by the Courtland Volunteer Fire Department, and concessions such as barbecue, burgers, sweets and drinks.

The Saturday morning event will begin at 10 a.m. with a prayer by Batesville Church of Christ minister Robert Rawson.  

Church unhappy with night club location
By Jason C. Mattox

The location of the Sports Bar on Highway 51 in Sardis has a church up in arms.

During the meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen last Tuesday night, Rev. W. Otis McKinney of Pleasant Green Church asked the board why a bar was allowed to open so near to the church.

Mayor Richard Darby told McKinney when a search was done for the church, it was not listed on the tax roll as being a church.

"If this is a church, it would prohibit have alcohol sales within a certain number of feet," city attorney Tommy Shuler said.

McKinney showed city leaders a copy of the church’s bulletin and explained that services are held every Thursday and Sunday.

"If I remember correctly, we had this same problem when I was the police chief," Ward Three Alderman Mike Wilson said. "We did the measurements then, and it was legal."

Current Police Chief Sonny Stepp said he too has done measurements, but is unsure of the legal distance.

"It depends on whether you go from property line to property line or building to building as to whether it is legal," Stepp said.

"What we need is clarification of exactly what the state law says about the matter," Darby said.

"The fact is once we get the numbers from the state law, it is either going to comply or it won’t," Shuler added.

The mayor said at one time the city was having problems because the establishment was selling beer to go, but now it is serving liquor and beer on the premises.

"They do have an Alcoholic Beverage Commission license now," Darby said.

A spokesperson for the church members asked if the city had its own way of governing the matter or if it was bound by state law.

"The city has an ordinance that pertains to beer sales," Shuler explained. "As for the sale of liquor, we go by state law and always have."

"Is there an ordinance on the books that keeps clubs from opening in the city?" the lady asked.

"The city can govern businesses that only sell beer," Shuler answered. "If they have an ABC (Mississippi Alcohol Beverage Control) license, which the Sports Bar does, it falls under the state law.

"But to more directly answer your question, there is no ordinance on the books prohibiting clubs in the city," Shuler added.

The spokeswoman said she felt like the city needed to do something about it because club customers are causing damage to property.

"This area has a lot of elderly people," she said. "One lady has had people cause damage to her fence and yard."

Ward Four alderman Alvis L. "Rusty" Dye said he agrees that something needs to be done if residents are in danger.

"If this is putting the citizens of our community at risk, the issue needs to be resolved," he said.

Shuler was instructed by the board to determine the legal distance for alcohol sales near a church and report it to the police department.

"Once that information is given to the police, Chief Stepp will handle it accordingly," Wilson said.

Sardis aldermen get nine applicants for police chief
By Jason C. Mattox

Nine applicants have submitted resumes for the job of Sardis Chief of Police, and the city’s mayor and board of aldermen are planning to have the job filled by June 1.

Resumes were given to aldermen at their April 5 meeting.

Ward Four alderman Alvis L. "Rusty" Dye said he is happy with the number of applications the city received.

"I’m excited about the response we had," he said. "I don’t think any of us were expecting that many people to apply for the job."

Ward Two alderman Harry Dunnigan said he too is happy with the response and believes the city has a good pool of candidates to choose from.

"All I have had time to do is go over the resumes and applications," he said. "I won’t be able to say who the best candidate is until we get the chance to meet with them face to face, but I think we have some really good people interested in the position."

As for the interview process, Dye and Dunnigan both said they have not heard a definite date.

"I know with this many people to interview that we will have to handle the interviews in at least two sessions if not more," Dye said.

While Dunnigan said he is confident the board will select the best qualified candidate, he admits that he feels like the new administration should make the selection.

"There is always a chance that the new board could come in and not like who we selected," he said. "I personally think we should leave this for the new board, but we don’t want the department to be without leadership when Chief (Sonny) Stepp retires June 30."

Dye said he wanted the new chief selected by June 1, so they would be able to spend a month with Stepp.

"Chief Stepp has done a good job for us," he said. "I would like the winning candidate to have the chance to spend some time with him before he goes out of office."

As for qualities each would like from the winning candidate, Dye said he looked at education, experience and leadership ability.

"I want someone that will be able to come in and lead the department," he said. "They will have to deal with the department personnel. That is going to be a big part of the job.

"In addition to that, the winning candidate should be someone with good people skills," Dye added. "There are a lot of people that can’t deal with the public and we need someone that can."

Dunnigan said fairness is one of the biggest qualities he is looking for from the new chief.

"All I want is someone that will be fair to the people," he said. "I want someone that will work with the entire community."




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