Headlines Cont. – 5/13/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 13, 2005

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – May 13, 2005


County garbage fee collections
     show improvement
By Billy Davis

More Panola Countians are paying their monthly garbage bills to the tune of $123,000 over last year’s numbers.

Solid Waste manager Dean Joiner and clerk Jennifer Jackson announced the improved collections at the county supervisors’ "second Monday" meeting on Monday, May 9.

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Joiner said the December 2004 to April 2005 collections totaled $123,914.96 over collections from the previous ’03 to ’04 dates.

As of April, the total collections to date are $435,905.70 compared to $311,990.74 from April 2004, according to figures provided by Solid Waste.
Jackson credited the increased collections to the "flagging" of car tags by the Solid Waste department through the tax collector’s office. That practice started in December, she said.

"We get a list each month of whose tag is coming up for renewal, and we compare those names and addresses with our list of Solid Waste accounts," Jackson explained. "When (customers) get flagged at the tax collector’s office, they send them down here to us."

A collection agency, Quick Collect, is also recovering some funds, but the tag flagging has brought in the most overdue funds, Jackson said.

Panola County residents pay $11 a month for weekly garbage pickup.

On a related topic, county supervisors opened bids for two new garbage trucks and trade-ins on four trucks at the Monday meeting.

Supervisors took the bids under advisement.

The prices ranged from $106,872 to $120,452 for new trucks and $35,000 to $55,000 for each trade-in.

After the meeting, Joiner noted the lowest bid for a new truck didn’t include a trade-in allowance. The highest bid also included the highest trade-in, $55,000, he said.

Joiner told The Panolian the Solid Waste department began replacing its fleet of four trucks with two new trucks in November and will replace the other two trucks with the upcoming purchase.

In other county business:
Supervisors and contractor Nolan West tussled over his performance on Ballentine Road, failing to settle their disagreement over the road work.
     West demanded payment for the job while the supervisors requested that he improve his work on the road.
     Reached after the meeting, Board of Supervisors President Jerry Perkins said the dispute is being worked out by Warner McBride, whose engineering firm works with the county.
     In the meantime, Perkins said, McBride is working to get West a $13,000 payment for shoulder gravel.
  Supervisors voted 5-0 to write a support letter to the federal Department of Agriculture on behalf of Jerome Little, executive director of Tallahatchie Housing, Inc.
     Little appeared at the meeting to make the request, announcing plans for building a 19-unit apartment building for the elderly in the county.
     The property is located on Tubbs Road, District 2 Supervisor Robert Avant said after the meeting.
County civil defense director Son Hudson informed supervisors that the county is the recipient of a $41,924 grant from the federal Department of Homeland Security.
     The money is to be used at either or both of the county courthouses, Hudson said, for items such as metal detectors or emergency generators.
     The supervisors took no action on how to spend the funds.
Supervisors tabled a request from Fran Byers to close off the namesake road she lives on, Byers Road.
     Byers said family land surrounds both sides of the road, which is located east of Hwy. 315 and connects Orwood and Robison roads.
NP District hopes to avoid further state involvement
By Jason C. Mattox

If Mississippi Curriculum Test (MCT) results come back the way North Panola School District Superintendent Robert Massey expects, Como Middle School could avoid further school improvement restrictions by the Mississippi Department of Education.

The step after school improvement would be for the department of education to implement a school restructuring plan.

Massey said there have been major changes to Como Middle School since the 2004 tests were administered, changes he hopes will result in improved test scores.

"The biggest problem we had last year was not having 95 percent of our students present on test day," he said. "We have taken what we believe are the right steps to resolve that problem with this year’s testing."

Massey said the school has worked to improve average daily attendance and had more than 95 percent of its students present for the recent MCT.

One thing that Massey believes is helping the school is better staff than it has had in the past.

"We have Mike Hamblin who has experience running a level four accredited school in the Marshall County School System," he said. "Add to that the quality staff we have in place, and we believe Como Middle is making the right improvements."

Hamblin, however, submitted his letter of resignation at a February meeting of the North Panola school board. He will leave in June.

Rodney Flowers, current principal at North Pontotoc High School, has been hired to lead Como Middle School for the 2005-06 school year.

"He comes from a level five accredited school," Massey said. "He has been there for 13 years and we are excited to see what he can do to help Como Middle continue on the right track."

Massey said the district has also painted the school, hired Training Resources Associates (TRA) a consulting firm to help make improvements and assist with staff development and lowered the number of school suspensions.

"We have hired TRA to assist us with staff development and planning," he said. "We have also got tutors in place that are helping students that might be struggling in some areas.

"With all of the changes we have made, all of us in the North Panola district feel like Como Middle School should be out of school improvement, but we will not know for sure until the test results come back," he said.



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