Headlines Cont. – 5/10/2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – May 10, 2005


Ten-year-old dies at Sardis
By Billy Davis

A 10-year-old Tennessee boy was killed in a boating accident at Sardis Lake over the weekend.

The incident happened on Saturday about 5:47 p.m. when the youngster’s stepfather allegedly ran into him with a jet ski, said Steve Adcock, a spokesman for the Miss. Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks in Jackson.

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"The stepfather was allegedly trying to splash water on the child and hit him," Adcock said.

The boy’s name is Hunter Hughes, said Panola County coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge. The 10-year-old is reportedly from Tennessee, she said.

Gulledge said the victim died at LeBonheur Children’s Medical Hospital in Memphis.

MDWF officer Marion Pearson investigated the incident, Adcock said, and no other details are known until that report is filed later this week.

Principal on leave; audit ordered
By Jason C. Mattox

The start of an investigative audit at Green Hill Elementary has resulted in a temporary change of leadership at the school.

According to North Panola School District Superintendent Robert Massey, the state auditor’s office has ordered the investigative audit.

Green Hill principal Vivian Berkley has been placed on administrative leave until the matter is resolved. North Panola High School assistant principal Kelvin Griffin is serving as interim principal.

Sardis police chief search postponed until after general election; new board to decide
By Jason C. Mattox

The City of Sardis has put its search for a new Police Chief on hold following the primary election on Tuesday.

Mayor Richard Darby said when the board originally set its timetable for hiring a new chief, there was no way of knowing there would be a majority change on the board.

Following the general election, there will a new alderman-at-large and new aldermen in Wards Two and Four, as well as a new mayor.

"With three new aldermen coming on the board, you don’t want to hire a chief and there be a chance the new members might want to do something different," Darby said.

Ward One alderman Joseph "JoJo" Still asked what the city will do when Chief Sonny Stepp retires June 30.

"With the new board taking office July 4, I don’t want to see the department without leadership," he said. "What can be done about that?"

"Chief Stepp told me that he might be willing to work a little longer on a contract basis," Darby said. "Maybe 30 to 45 days."

Still said he felt like it was important for the next chief to spend time with Stepp.

"There are things in there that Stepp does that the new person is going to need to learn," he said. "If the new chief is not familiar with the town, he will certainly need some help getting his feet on the ground.

"But if chief said he would stay on a little while longer, I would like to see the new board make the decision," Still added. "This is someone they will be working with, too."

Ward Four alderman and mayoral candidate Alvis L. "Rusty" Dye said putting the decision off was fine with him.

"I don’t see any problem with letting the new administration have input on who the next chief is going to be," he said.

Darby said the nine applicants for the position will be notified that the board has decided to put off the hiring process until July.

"I think you have a good pool of applicants," he said. "I think they will understand the situation the city finds itself in with new leadership coming on board."

Roy Scallorn, who will face Donald Russell for the alderman-at-large seat in the general election on June 7, said he felt like the process could start sooner than July.

"I would like the chance to sit in on the interviews if I win the seat," he said. "But I think those can take place shortly after the general election.

"That would give everyone that is coming on the board, whether it is me or someone else, a chance to offer their opinions on who should lead the department," Scallorn added.

Stepp said he does not want the city to be without a police chief.

"I don’t want to leave the town high and dry," he said. "I am willing to do whatever I can to make things easier on the city as they get ready for new leadership.

"The city has been good to me," Stepp added. "They have let me run the department, and I don’t want them to be up in the air about what to do until they can find a replacement.

"As for how they proceed with the selection process, that is entirely up to the board," he said. "I know they will do what they feel is in the best interest of the city."



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