Headlines – 5/6/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 6, 2005

The Panolian: HEADLINES – May 6, 2005

  From the 5/6/05 issue of The Panolian :             

Autrey wins Dem nomination
     Campaign volunteers Matthew Taylor (left) and Phillip Anderson wave at passers-by Tuesday morning at the Patton Lane Community Center in west Batesville. More than 400 voters cast ballots at the center.
By Billy Davis

Batesville mayoral candidate Jerry Autrey is headed to the June 7 general election after a lopsided victory over his primary opponent, Hudson Still.

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Autrey captured 77 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, winning over the five-term alderman-at-large and political veteran.

Still, 62, received 19 percent of the vote. He had given up his at-large seat to run for mayor.

Autrey, 57, now faces Republican Dr. Richard Corson and independent candidate Gary Kornegay in the June 7 general election.

With the primary over, Autrey’s general election opponents say they’re ready to discuss specifics about who is best qualified to lead the city.

Both Corson, 73, and Kornegay, 54, hope to turn the campaign discussion toward city spending, job growth and industrial development, topics in which they believe Autrey is weak.

Autrey, a car mat manufacturer and car salesman, is running under the campaign theme as "the people’s mayor."

Corson is a retired OB/GYN who moved to Batesville about 10 years ago. He’s urging better planning and economic development during his campaign for mayor.

Kornegay, a CPA, operates a firm in downtown Batesville. He is also a longtime member of the county’s industry recruiter, the Industrial Development Authority, where he currently serves as its president.

"I don’t think (Autrey’s) campaign addresses the needs of people of Batesville because there is no substance and no plans," Corson said. "He has promoted no solutions whatsoever."

According to Kornegay, improving the city’s financial situation is more important than a public relations makeover at city hall.

"The city has got to get the cost of operations under control," said Kornegay. "I hope the voters are looking at the issues and are able to see through a bunch of fluff."

In the primary, voters gave Autrey 1,400 votes compared to 350 votes for Still, according to returns posted Wednesday. That vote tally included affidavit ballots.

The total votes cast Tuesday numbered 1,806. The ballot for mayor included 19 write-in votes, one over vote and 36 under votes.

In the 2001 Democratic primary, voters cast 1,464 total ballots for mayor in the race between Autrey and Mayor Bobby Baker. In that race, Baker slipped past Autrey by 14 votes.

Autrey appeared briefly at Batesville City Hall Wednesday morning, where he picked up a copy of the unofficial primary results.

Speaking to The Panolian, Autrey said his win in the primary shows that voters agree with his call for a friendlier and fairer city hall.

"People want to be involved and have a say in city government. They feel left out," Autrey said. "That’s what I kept hearing as I go door to door."
Asked what will carry him past Kornegay and Corson in the general election, Autrey again cited voters’ confidence that he will be the "people’s mayor."

"I really truly intend to make the people of Batesville feel like a part of city government again," Autrey said.

City hears plea from library staff
By Jason C Mattox

The Batesville Public Library continues to play the waiting game as the Mayor and Board of Aldermen consider what steps to take to correct and air conditioning problem.

During a meeting on Tuesday with the board, librarian Barbara Evans told the board that she needed an answer soon.

"We have grant money that can be used to repair or replace the air conditioning units, but we have to have all of that money spent by September or we will lose it," she said.

Evans presented the board with a letter from architect Girault Jones whom they asked for an opinion on the units.

In the letter, Jones recommended using the grant money to fix the units.

"Tri-Star said the units could last another three to five years, but the library may not have the money in that time," the letter said.

Evans said 42 hours of repairs have been done by Tri-Star since April of last year.

"Of that 42 hours, 36 of them were used on the two units we would like to replace," she said. "The city can choose to spend additional money on repairs every year, or we can replace them now while the grant funds are available."

The matter was taken under advisement until the next board meeting. The next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, May 16.

In other matters before the board:
 Col. Gerald Legge of the Batesville Police Department opened bids for purchase of new pistols. Grenada Gold and Gun was the apparent low bidder with trade of the departments current weapons. The bid was $6,081. No action was taken. A recommendation from Legge is expected at the next meeting.
Bids were opened for a new pump truck for the Batesville Fire Department. Pro Fire was the only bidder at $344,930. The matter was taken under advisement.
The board authorized Mayor Bobby Baker to sign the Rural Fire Protection contract.
Aldermen approved the hiring of Shirley Smith as a dispatcher and Larry Moore as a patrolman for the Batesville Police Department.


? Peggy Walker’s "Living Well in Panola County"
? Jason Mattox’s "Entertainment":


Ingram, Morrow knotted at 883
Face-off scheduled May 17
By Billy Davis

Batesville’s alderman-at-large race is taking an unusual turn after the contest ended in a dead-even tie: they’re doing it all over again.

Democratic candidates J. Boyd Ingram, 65, and Teddy Morrow, 35, will now face off in the May 17 runoff.

The candidates split the vote 883-883 after the county’s Democratic Municipal Executive Committee sorted through affidavit ballots Wednesday morning.
Batesville attorney Colmon Mitchell, who helped the committee, announced the decision Wednesday afternoon after conferring with the state attorney general’s office and secretary of state’s office.

The runoff election is used normally when primary candidates fail to capture at least 50 percent of the vote.

"I’ve heard of it happening, but it’s extremely rare and shows that every vote really does count," said secretary of state spokesman David Blount.

Blount also confirmed that the runoff is necessary since neither candidate received a majority of the votes.

The six members of the executive committee met at 9 a.m. at Batesville City Hall, where they spent more than two hours comparing 129 affidavit ballots to the voter rolls.

A total of 63 valid affidavit ballots were stacked into a pile, bound with a rubber band, and later run through the voting machine at the county courthouse in Batesville.

Committee member Mike Amis slid the invalid ballots back into manila envelopes, putting aside ballots from some voters who apparently showed up at the wrong voting precinct and others whose names weren’t found on the voter rolls.

Prominent citizens and a possible convicted felon were among the affidavit ballots deemed invalid.

Ingram and Morrow were evenly matched in Ward 3 and Ward 4, with only seven votes separating the two candidates, but elsewhere Morrow led by 49 votes in Ward 1 while Ingram led by 50 votes in Ward 2.

Events added to SpringFest
By Jason C. Mattox

Batesville’s annual SpringFest is one week away, and preparations are being made to accommodate and entertain the thousands who traditionally attend the two-day downtown music festival sponsored by Panola Partnership. SpringFest is set for May 13 and 14.

Some additions have been made to the lineup of activities, according to Partnership spokesperson Colleen Clark.

"We wanted to offer demonstrations from the police and fire departments," she said. "It will also give us a chance to have a magician and some events for the children in the middle of the day on Saturday."

This year’s carnival games and rides will also be moved to the side of the square closer to the Panola County courthouse.

"With the new Memorial Park, we knew the carnival would need more room, so we moved it to the other side of the square," she said.

"These are the same people that have had the carnival in the past," Clark said. "They have always done a great job with the games, and we don’t expect this one to be any different."

Scheduled musical performers include Chely Wright, Little Big Town, Wiley and The Checkmates, Willy Waggs, Vince Vance and the Valiants and more.

"We have a great line-up again this year," Clark said. "There is a good variety, and I think there is something for everyone."

New principal sought for South Panola High School
By Rupert Howell

South Panola School District’s new superintendent’s first job may be to recommend a new high school principal as current principal Dr. Dell Phillips has accepted an assistant superintendent position in Springfield, MO.

Meeting Thursday morning to review resumes of 12 applicants for the soon to be vacated superintendency, school trustees heard current superintendent Dr. C.L Stevenson ask for permission to proceed with the advertising process announcing the high school position open for applicants.

Noting the time sensitive nature of hiring a new superintendent and a new high school principal due to scheduling, teacher hirings and other criteria, Stevenson said he wanted the new superintendent to make the recommendation as soon as possible.

Superintendent’s traditionally recommend principals to the board of trustees for hiring. Principals usually recommend staff members for the respective schools to their superintendent who, after his or her approval, recommends staff members to the trustees for hiring.

"It should be the new superintendent’s call," Stevenson told trustees about hiring a principal and added, "I would certainly yield if the new superintendent is in place."

The trustees were gathered for a recess meeting to review resumes of 12 applicants with E. E. Caston. He has been hired to conduct the search for superintendent candidates.

Trustees voted to go into executive session, which excluded the press, at Caston’s request to review the initial resumes of those 12 who have applied for the superintendent’s position.

The names of those who will be called for an interview will be made public following notice to the applicants. Caston would only reveal that of the 12 applicants, 10 were from in-state and two were from outside Mississippi.

The annual salary for the current South Panola superintendent is $120,000 according to the Mississippi Department of Education.

A preliminary timetable states that finalists will be designated by May 7, although Caston said those names may be released earlier.

Not only will school trustees get to question finalist, but a committee of citizens from the district will also be able to question those applicants during the employment process. The timetable calls for a superintendent to be named by Friday, May 27 with the new superintendent assuming duties July 1.

Fleet Additions
Also during Thursday’s recess meeting, trustees voted to allow representatives from the school’s transportation department to travel to Louisiana to inspect eight used buses to add to the bus fleet.

Stevenson said the buses had approximately 100,000 miles on them but would cost about half ($26,000) the price of a new bus. All eight buses are 1998 Internationals with diesel engines and automatic transmissions.

Stevenson emphasized that none would be purchased without board approval.

Stevenson said only two or three new buses have been purchased in his nine years as superintendent. He also stated that the district’s budget had approximately $250,000 in funds designated for buses.

Athletic Director
Head football coach Ricky Woods was named South Panola High School athletic director at the request of Superintendent Stevenson.

Stevenson brought the matter to the board at the special meeting stating that it was a high profile job involving "a lot of accuracy and time."

He explained that successful athletic programs are often targeted for scrutiny for possible abuse or eligibility violations.

Phillips had been serving as athletic director at South Panola High School.

Junior High Roof
Trustees also approved a 20-year roof for Batesville Junior High School in the amount of $694,000 after initial bids exceeded funds available. Stevenson made the request for the junior high roof.

Air conditioning and heating will also be installed in a separate part of that renovation project.



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