Headlines – 5/13/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 13, 2005

The Panolian: HEADLINES – May 13, 2005

  From the 5/13/05 issue of The Panolian :             

Chely Wright headlines SpringFest
By Jason C. Mattox

When country music artist Chely Wright takes the SpringFest stage Saturday night, she hopes to feel at home with the Batesville crowd.

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Wright, who grew up in rural Kansas, said she likes the charm of small-town crowds across the country.

"The people in that crowd are just like my dad’s friends or the people I grew up with," Wright said. "There is something charming about a community like Batesville, and the people can rest assured they will get everything I’ve got while I am out there on stage."

Wright, the SpringFest headliner, is scheduled to take the stage at 9 p.m. She will follow Little Big Town, which is scheduled to play at 7:30.

Fans can expect to hear Wright perform songs from her Metropolitan Hotel album and also croon past hits such as "Single White Female."

Wright is scheduled for a 90-minute performance for the SpringFest crowd.

"My job is to be out there as their master of ceremonies for 90 minutes and make sure the fun they are having continues," Wright said. "I realize that people work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday. When they give up their free time to come hear me perform, I want to make sure they feel like it was worth their time."

Wright said she hopes people in the crowd realize just how much she appreciates their support, and how much she loves what she does.

"I have seen people who will go out there and perform, and they just look bored," she said. "I want people to know that I leave a little piece of my heart out there on the stage."

That leave-your-heart-behind motto comes from a friend of Wright, the late Minnie Pearl.

"Minnie Pearl was a great friend of mine," she said. "She once told me to make sure I left a piece of my heart with the audience.

"She always told me not to worry about it because the heart is one thing that can regenerate itself," Wright said. "I feel like that is some of the greatest advice I have ever gotten."

Asked about her style of music and influence, Wright said she models her music after a traditional country style.

"There is a lot of country music out there on the radio that sounds very much pop," she said. "I think my voice and music lends itself to the older, more traditional style of country music.

"I have taken three-and-a-half years to record this album," Wright said. "I left a record label to get this record redone the way I wanted it. This album means a lot to me.

"The songs that I recorded for this album are my stories," she said. "They are stories about real people that I knew growing up.

"That is one of the things that makes this special for me," she said. "I feel like these songs are part of me."

For more information on Wright go to or see our special SpringFest section in this edition.

After legislature okays bill, county begins mulling club’s move into Batesville armory
By Billy Davis

A pair of Panola County supervisors could join counterparts from the City of Batesville to work on the Batesville Boys and Girls Club’s move to the former national guard armory.

The Boys and Girls Club is presently located at 125 Martinez Street in west Batesville.

The county and the City of Batesville each own 50 percent of the armory property, located at the corner of Hwy. 51 and Eureka Road.

The Panola County Board of Supervisors selected Board President Jerry Perkins and District 5 Supervisor Bubba Waldrup at its "second Monday" meeting, which was held earlier this week in Batesville.

At that meeting, B&G Club programs director Belinda Morris made the announcement that the state legislature had okayed the local/private legislation which allowed the move.

Gov. Haley Barbour signed the bill into law near the end of the legislative session, Morris also said.

Morris later told The Panolian local state legislators Sen. Nolan Mettetal, Rep. Warner McBride and Rep. Leonard Morris helped guide the bill through the capitol. Rep. Morris is her husband.

Belinda Morris told supervisors she will appear next week before the Batesville Board of Aldermen to make the same announcement about the legislation.

After Morris spoke, Perkins suggested the county and city form a committee to work on the move.

"I say we sit down and talk it out," he told the board.

The other supervisors agreed, voting unanimously to name Perkins and Waldrup to a committee.

Reached after the meeting, Morris said the Batesville club hopes to be operating in the armory by August.

"That’s our whole goal, to be in the new building by the beginning of the fall session (of school)," Morris said.

Morris said plenty of work is needed to ready the armory for a Boys and Girls Club. That work includes converting the largest area of the building to a gymnasium/auditorium, replacing broken windows, renovating the bathrooms for children, landscaping the property, and painting bright, cheerful colors over the building’s dark military scheme.

The Batesville Boys and Girls Club opened in 1999, Morris said. About 425 children ages 6 to 18 are enrolled at the center, and 80 to 90 attend daily.
A Sardis Boys and Girls Club operates beneath the umbrella of the Batesville chapter. About 50 to 60 children are enrolled there.

If the Boys and Girls Club moves to the armory this summer, it will happen after at least three years of work, Morris said.

A Roaring Good Time
     The South Panola Tiger Special Games were held at the high school football field with many different events Wednesday. Some of the games included a 25 yard wheelchair race, 25-75 yard sprints, sack races, field events, a softball throw and a football throw.
     The games began at 9:30 with the Batesville Junior High Band entertaining the crowd. Pictured during one of the races are
(l. to r.) Ja’Kayla Brown, Stevan Smith, James Webster, Tyeshia Poole, teacher Mrs. Marsha Wren and Lenelle Renaud.  P.R. Roberts was the announcer and coach Willis Wright was the official starter for the games.
Search for missing woman
     leads to north Panola Co.
By Billy Davis

Law enforcement officials are set to begin a search for a missing Memphis female, Corie Duckett, but they have to know the right place to look before they can get started.

Melissa Ferris, a friend of Duckett, admitted this week to Florida law enforcement officers that she dumped Duckett’s body off Interstate 55, supposedly in the area of Como or Sardis.

Other than that description, law enforcement officials have little information to begin the search.

"We’ve been all over the county, and nothing matches what (Ferris) is telling us," said Panola County Chief Deputy Craig Sheley.

Sheley declined to give Ferris’ description of the area, saying only that it is in a rural area of the county.

Duckett, 22, has been missing since March 17. She and Ferris, 27, were both dancers at a Memphis strip club.

Sheley said the search for Duckett’s body began Tuesday, the same day Ferris admitted to Florida investigators that she and boyfriend, Jeffrey Opp, dumped the body in the county.

Opp, 38, is now dead, shot to death by Ferris on a Florida interstate while authorities negotiated their surrender, according to the Wednesday issue of The Commercial Appeal.

The best way to find Duckett’s body, Sheley said, is for Florida authorities to bring Ferris to North Mississippi and let her lead them to the body.

Ferris is charged with Opp’s murder and is being held in a Florida jail, The Commercial Appeal reported on Thursday.

Corkern seeks clarification on campus proposal
By Billy Davis

Tri-Lakes Medical Center Administrator Dr. Bob Corkern said Tuesday afternoon that he seeks clarification about his $28 million bid proposal for the hospital.

In particular, he said, he’s taking issue with the owners’ belief that he will put up $4 million as earnest money for the facility.

The public-owned hospital, located in east Batesville, is owned by the City of Batesville and Panola County.

Corkern is the highest bidder for its purchase, promising $28 million for the facility plus another $3 million for its west campus behavioral clinic.

In the proposed contract for the hospital purchase, the owners are asking Corkern to put up $4 million as earnest money toward the $28 million purchase.

Corkern, however, told The Panolian on Tuesday his bid proposal requested the west campus as collateral for a $4 million bank loan.

"That’s been the plan all along," Corkern said.

When asked Wednesday for a copy of his proposal, Corkern said he first proposed the west campus as collateral in a November letter sent to the owners.

Corkern met at Tri-Lakes with his attorney, Collins Bailey, supporter, Ed Allen and County Administrator and Hospital Board Chairman, David Chandler and Tri-Lakes Chief Financial Officer Ray Shoemaker.

The Panolian publisher John Howell Sr., editor Rupert Howell and writer Billy Davis were present for the meeting as well.

The Tuesday meeting at Tri-Lakes came after a "second Monday" meeting of the Panola County Board of Supervisors in which Bailey explained that Corkern doesn’t have the $4 million and needs the west campus as collateral for the bank loan.

In his discussion with supervisors, Bailey did not mention that Corkern had planned to use the west campus as collateral all along, however, stressing instead that Corkern needs the $4 million in order to close the deal.

Supervisors grew testy during the Monday meeting, accusing Corkern of reneging on his promise to put up $4 million as earnest money.

In the 40-minute meeting Tuesday, Chandler agreed with Corkern that the hospital administrator has continually sought to use the west campus for collateral, never proposing $4 million as earnest money.

Asked about the confusion between the county and Corkern, Chandler said the words "pre-payment" and "earnest money" may have been "skewed" as the proposed hospital contract was drawn up for submission to Corkern.

The proposed contract is in Corkern’s hands right now. He has less than seven days to propose changes and return it to the county for further negotiations.

At the Tuesday afternoon meeting, Bailey noted that the contract could possess a "reverter clause" that would return the west campus back to its owners if Corkern fails to purchase Tri-Lakes and its west campus.

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


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