Headlines – 4/26/2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Panolian: HEADLINES – April 26, 2005

  From the 4/26/05 issue of The Panolian :             

Community mourns loss of longtime sheriff
Panola County Sheriff David Marion Bryan, 65, ended his long battle with cancer Saturday, April 23, dying peacefully in his Pine Lane Drive home in Batesville surrounded by family and friends.  


   Guest Commentary
   By Mississippi Supreme Court Justice George C. Carlson

‘Prince’ of Panola Co. called home
     Former Chief Deputy James Rudd leads mourners from First Baptist Church following the 10 a.m. church service for Sheriff David Bryan. Bryan was remembered as a "prince" of his family, community and church.
By Billy Davis

Panola County Sheriff David Bryan was remembered Monday morning as a faithful friend and father, a caring boss and a protector of the innocent.

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"A prince has died," former First Baptist Church pastor Dr. Robert Self told an overflow crowd of family, friends and law enforcement officers who had gathered for the service at First Baptist.

Self told of his 32-year friendship with Bryan, bringing laughter to the somber crowd when he recalled trying to talk the eight-term sheriff out of running for office 30 years ago.

"I said, ‘I think you’re crazy,’ and David said, ‘I’m serious.’ I’m glad he didn’t take my advice," Self said.

Bryan passed away at his Batesville home Saturday morning, April 23, after battling colon cancer. He was 65.

The 10 a.m. funeral service was held in the sanctuary of the downtown church, where the sheriff and former high school coach once served as a deacon.

Burial was at Orwood Cemetery, where Bryan’s father, Joel Bryan, is buried.

Sheriff’s Department cruisers from Panola and DeSoto County led the funeral procession to the grave site, which is located in Lafayette County just east of the Panola County line.

The cemetery is a quarter-mile from where Sheriff Bryan was born, according to his mother, Jo Bryan.

A pair of DeSoto County helicopters buzzed over the Downtown Square, looking down at a blue light procession of police, sheriff’s department and highway patrol cruisers.

The funeral procession departed downtown Batesville beneath an enormous American flag, hoisted above the railroad tracks by vehicles of the Batesville Fire Department.

At the graveside service, Dr. Gary Berry led with an opening prayer. The words of "Amazing Grace" then blended with the wail of bag pipes.

Also at the grave site, a DeSoto honor guard fired a 21-gun salute, a DeSoto deputy played "Taps," and the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department helicopters performed a flyover.

DeSoto County Chief Deputy Charlie Brown said 30 DeSoto officers, including himself and Sheriff James Riley, attended the services for Bryan.

"We were honored to be down there today," Brown said. "Sheriff Bryan and Sheriff Riley were close friends, and Sheriff Bryan was always a big help and a big friend to us."

At the church service, First Baptist pastor Dr. Gregory Johnston read from St. Paul’s second letter to Timothy, comparing Bryan to the New Testament apostle and writer.

Reading from the fourth chapter of Timothy, where Paul is imprisoned in Rome, Johnston noted that Paul wrote of his departure after he had "fought the good fight" and "kept the faith."

"Paul was ready for his departure," Johnson said, "and David was ready for his departure."

Speaking before Johnston, Self recalled Sheriff Bryan’s broken spirit when he lost a deputy, Joe Cosby, in the line of duty.

Self said he and Bryan talked "way into the night" after Cosby’s passing, and the pastor listened as the long-time sheriff shared his heart.

"He loved you and cared for you. He was concerned about what happened in your life," Self told the deputies, who were seated among the front rows of the sanctuary.

Self described Bryan as a "prince" to his family, community and church, borrowing the words from King David’s description of military commander Abner.

The verse in 2 Samuel reads, "Do you not realize that a prince and a great man has fallen in Israel today?"

Musical selections at the church service for Bryan included "You Raise Me Up," "God of Our Fathers," "It is Well With My soul," and "Sweet, Sweet Spirit," which was sung a capella by Bryan’s niece, Angie Bryan Cantrell.

As organist Mary Nell Smith played "Onward Christian Soldiers," deputies and staff of the Panola County Sheriff’s Department filed out the front doors of the church.

Sheriff Bryan’s family followed, led by Panola deputies who were carrying the sheriff’s flag-draped coffin.

As more than 200 law enforcement officers watched, the flag-draped coffin was hoisted into a white hearse.


Season Finale
     The United Voices of Praise performed its last concert of the year this past weekend. Thursday, the group participated in the Festival of Choirs at Ole Miss. Friday, the choral members sang at Northwest Community College Fine Arts auditorium and Saturday at the Batesville Jr. High auditorium.
Answered Prayers benefit is Saturday
     South Panola senior Chris Gray needs a double lung transplant due to complications of cystic fibrosis. Funds from Answered Prayers Benefit Saturday, April 30, will also help pay for the transplant.
By Jason C. Mattox

Prayers will be answered this weekend when people from Panola County and the surrounding area turn out for the fifth annual Answered Prayers Benefit Saturday at the Batesville Civic Center.

This year’s goal is $20,000 and proceeds will be split among three children, including a pair of sisters and a South Panola band member.

Amanda Gordon suffers from septo-optic dysplasia (blindness). Her sister Katy has cerebral palsy and microcephaly. Band member Chris Gray is battling cystic fibrosis and needs a double lung transplant.

"We think we chose the three most deserving kids based on their needs," Answered Prayers representative SFC John Ard said. "We had several applicants, but our committee determined these three were most in need of our help."

For those attending there will be a $2 parking fee to cover rental cost of the building, but admission is free.

Ard said there will be several activities going on during the 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. event, including live music from the South Panola Band, and several gospel, country and rock bands.

"There will also be several things for the children," he said. "We are going to have pony rides, train rides, clowns, face painting and a lot of different games."

All of the games, rides and food can be paid for with tickets purchased at one of the ticket booths that will be set up at the BCC.

"By having people come in and purchase tickets, it will make it easier for us to keep up with the money we raise this year," Ard said. "People just need to keep an eye open around the civic center for signs that will tell them where games and booths are located."

In addition to the usual activities, this year’s Answered Prayers Benefit will feature an arts and crafts fair.

"The flea market will take place outside of the BCC," Ard said. "We have over 80 vendors coming for that, and we are all very excited about their support."

"We have approximately 100 items for the auction this year," he said. "As usual, there have been a lot of businesses in town that have stepped up to donate items for our auction, and we would like to thank them.

"We feel really comfortable that the community will come out and support us," he said. "I think we will reach our goal without any problem.

"We just want people to come out, have a good time and help us answer the prayers of these children and their parents," Ard added.

Park dedicated last Saturday
By Rupert Howell

Approximately 150 citizens braved the unseasonably cold temperatures on Saturday as the Memorial Park in the downtown area was officially dedicated.

The park was built with a grant and local donations and will enhance the monument bearing the names of war dead donated in 1977 by the Batesville Exchange Club.

Local National Guards-men presented the flag before David Honnoll sang the national anthem. Dr. Johnny Spencer gave the invocation and Alderman Bobbie Pounders emceed.

Alderman-at-large and vice-mayor Hudson Still praised the new structure and emphasized that the facility was built using no local tax money.

Colleen Clark with the Main Street downtown revitalization program explained that approximately $250,000 was received in two grants for the project which totaled approximately $292,000.

Longtime Batesville resident Norma Riser informed the crowd that several local denominations once met at the site for evening services on Sunday. She told of one occasion when Bro. Lee of First Baptist Church prayed for rain during a drought period and said that rain began falling before the end of the service.

Mary Lou Mitchell, representing the Panola County Historical and Genealogical Society, told of other historic events that once happened at the site on the square and noted that Saturday’s event was another historic occasion.

She presented Panola Partnership an original pen and ink of the new park by Beverly Ferrell of Batesville. Prints of the drawing will be sold as a fund raiser.

Batesville native and Mississippi Supreme Court Justice George C. Carlson recalled fond memories of the Batesville Square.

Following Carlson local municipal candidates spoke to the sparse crowd during the cold morning.

Ironically, materials to rebuild the local railroad crossing appeared on the site the previous day. That crossing has been somewhat of a political issue as drivers creep across the track crossing to avoid a severe bump or auto damage.

Candidates were congenial with almost all agreeing that Batesville police officers need more salary and stating that they would work with Panola Partnership to help develop additional economic activity.

Carlson was speaking on behalf of Jann Williams and the Williams family who for three generations have operated clothing businesses on the Batesville Square. Plaques on the pavilion portion of the new park are in memory of her late husband, Jon S. (Smitty) Williams and his deceased parents, J.D. and Lucille Williams, who ran the Williams and Stubbs Stores currently on the square. Her daughter and son-in-law, Allison and Teddy Morrow, currently operate those businesses.

The Williams family and other generous donors contributed the difference between the grant amount and total cost, according to Clark who heads the local Main Street program.

Clark cited the Batesville Rotary Club, TVEPA, Mary and Jerry Troxler, Bill and Donna Dugger, Armtech Insurance and Mr. and Mrs. Perrin Caldwell, Sr. as other contributors helping to make the local contributions and grant money equal the total cost. Clark and her husband Brad Clark also contributed along with many others who purchased engraved bricks to help raise funds for the Memorial Park.


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