Headlines – 6/10/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 10, 2005

The Panolian: HEADLINES – June 10, 2005

  From the 6/10/05 issue of The Panolian :             

In second run, Autrey sails into mayor’s post

     Batesville Mayor-elect Jerry Autrey (left) shares voting totals with opponent Gary Kornegay Tuesday at the Patton Lane Community Center in Ward 2. Autrey went on to defeat Kornegay and Dr. Richard Corson in the general election.
By Billy Davis

Batesville mayor-elect Jerry Autrey said his priorities in coming days will be talking with employees of the city and learning how the city works.

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"I really intend to meet with everyone of the department heads and their employees, just to meet them and talk to them," said Autrey, who will be sworn into office along with the city aldermen on July 4.

Autrey, 57, won the mayor’s office with 59 percent of the vote in the Tuesday general election, according to official results released Wednesday.

Autrey, who won office as a Democrat, defeated independent candidate Gary Kornegay and Republican candidate Dr. Richard Corson.

The official results were:
     – Autrey, 1,122 votes (59 percent)
     – Kornegay, 653 votes (34 percent)
     – Corson, 91 votes (four percent)

The total votes cast in the general election was 1,881, which was 75 more votes than the May 3 primary.

About 100 affidavit ballots were cast, and about 30 of those were counted toward the total votes, City Clerk Judy Savage said Wednesday.

According to official ward-by-ward totals, Autrey bested his opponents in all of the city’s four wards.
After heavily courting the city’s black vote, Autrey succeeded best at the Patton Lane Community Center in Ward 2. He won there over Kornegay by 214 votes ? 281 to 67 ? after campaign volunteers hauled voters to the center in a rented Dodge Durango.

Autrey also maintained a presence at the community center during much of the election day on Tuesday.

Kornegay also maintained a presence at Patton Lane, where his campaign volunteers held Kornegay signs beneath a white tent. He used a golf cart to haul voters to the polls there.

Kornegay was closest to Autrey in Ward 3, where he trailed by 36 votes ? 184 votes to 148 votes.

Corson’s best showing in the general election was in Ward 1, where 41 voters chose him as mayor. He did not visit the polling places on election day.

Wednesday morning, Autrey participated in a planning session for a June 23 job fair, which will be held at the Batesville Civic Center.

Autrey said he is personally promoting the job fair, which he said could draw more than 50 employers.
"I’ve said it before that I intend to hit the ground running on providing jobs," Autrey said. "All the candidates said it, and I’m sure they all meant it, so we’ve got to follow through on what we said."

Autrey and the city’s new alderman-at-large, Teddy Morrow, are the newest additions to city government.

Autrey and Morrow will join four returning aldermen, Bill Dugger, Rufus Manley, Bobbie Jean Pounders and James Yelton, who each were returned to office by voters.

The Batesville mayor’s office pays $56,381 annually. The at-large alderman’s position pays $14,308 a year while the ward aldermen positions pay $12,945 a year.

The mayor-elect and Board of Aldermen must choose a new police chief to replace retired Chief Roger Vanlandingham and a new city clerk to replace Savage, who is also retiring.

Autrey dropped by the police department Thursday morning to meet the officers and staff, he said.

Asked if he has a pick for police chief, Autrey said he is still "analyzing the situation."

Regarding any possible changes to the city’s departments, Autrey said he plans to keep the department heads intact and operating as they are now.

"I don’t have that in mind," Autrey said. "I just want to meet the people. I want to get an overall picture of the situation in Batesville."

At city hall, Savage said the post-election office talk is mostly questions about changes coming from the election of a new mayor.

"We’ve been working around Mayor Baker so long. People just wonder what’s coming next with a new mayor," Savage said.

Savage also alluded to the reported bad feelings between some of the present aldermen and Autrey. She hopes the board and Autrey can "work things out" and move forward in the new term.

The rift arose four years ago when some city aldermen backed outgoing Mayor Bobby Baker over Autrey in the 2001 primary. Baker edged past the first-time candidate with 14 votes.

Autrey said he plans to meet individually with aldermen soon, partly to put past disagreements behind them and move on for the sake of the city.

"I want them to know I want to work with all of them and seek their help," Autrey said. "They have the experience. I don’t."

Asked about the "rift," Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders said she wants Batesville to progress under Autrey as it did under Baker.

"I appreciate the hard work of Mayor Bobby Baker and (Alderman-at-Large) Hudson Still. They were good servants of the city," Pounders said Wednesday. "I look forward to working with the new administration."

Apparent murder/suicide to be investigated by S.O.
By Jason C. Mattox

A crowd of Sardis residents gathered on Butler Street in the early hours of Wednesday evening after several gunshots were fired in the neighborhood, gunshots that left two dead.

"We received a 9-1-1 call and responded to the scene at Butler Street at approximately 6:30 p.m.," Sardis Police Chief Sonny Stepp said.

According to Stepp, Ronnie Bolton, 49, shot and killed his wife Cynthia Broome Bolton, 37, before taking his own life.

The Boltons’ address is 354 Panola Ave. in Batesville.

Services for Cynthia Bolton are planned for today at First Baptist Church in Batesville.

Services for Ronnie Bolton were incomplete at press time Thursday.

Stepp said the shootings took place on the front lawn while two children played in the backyard and another was inside with a babysitter.

"The babysitter made the 9-1-1 call," he said. "Once she knew it was safe, she got all of the kids together and locked all the doors between them."

Stepp said there are potential witnesses to the incident.

"We have decided to hand off the investigation to the Panola County Sheriff’s Department," he said. "They have the resources to better handle the matter."

Panola County Chief Deputy Craig Sheley confirmed the department was investigating the matter, but could not offer further details.

Youth, streets matter to Batesville voters
By Billy Davis

More than 1,800 Batesville voters cast a ballot for mayor Tuesday, several of them saying opportunities for youth were among their concerns.

At the county Extension Service building in Ward 3, voter Anna Barnes said city officials should show concern for youth and also repair streets.

Barnes said her daughter plays summer basketball at the Batesville Boys and Girls Club. The program needs the support of the city, she said.

"My daughter couldn’t have played basketball if it wasn’t for the Boys and Girls Club. I think it’s a great program," said the mother, who said she supports the club’s planned move from Martinez Street to the former National Guard armory.

Outside the Patton Lane Community Center in Ward 2, Eva Ellis Everett said west Batesville is "10 years behind" the rest of the city and needs opportunities for youths.

"We need something, like maybe a swimming pool. All we have is Patton Lane Park," Everett said.

Everett, a mother of two boys, said she voted for mayor-elect Jerry Autrey in the general election.

"He seems like he’s looking out for the kids," she said.

Father Samuel Messina, rector at St. Mary Catholic Church in Batesville, said education is one of the most important issues facing the city.

Education matters as much as economic development, said Messina, who was casting a ballot at Fire Station No. 2 Tuesday afternoon.

"Education is important, too, because education is the secret to getting a job," Messina said.

Brannon Poland cast a ballot at the Extension Service building. A National Guardsman, he believes voting is a "duty" and a "privilege" that shouldn’t be ignored or taken for granted.

"It’s our duty to vote. You can’t have a say about what goes on if you don’t vote," Poland said.

Two more qualify to run in sheriff’s race
By Jason Mattox

Crenshaw Mayor Oscar Barlow and Sheriff’s Department investigator Mark Whitten are the latest candidates adding their names to the list seeking the office of Panola County sheriff in November.

The two new candidates joining the field bring the total to nine. That field includes Antonio Daniels, Kelvin Taylor, Jamie Tedford, Hugh "Shot" Bright, Steve Chancellor, Craig Sheley and Gary Thompson.
Whitten has been employed with the Panola County Sheriff’s Department since joining in April 1992 as a deputy. He was promoted to investigator when the division was started in 1996.

Barlow has served as mayor of Crenshaw three terms. He is also employed by Cobra Security.

The deadline to qualify is September 8. All candidates will appear on the November ballot.

The top two vote-getters will move to a run-off election.



*** 2005 Election Results ***
City of Batesville General Municipal Election Sardis Municipal Election
Jerry Autrey 1103 59.58%
Richard H. Corson 89 4.80%
Gary Kornegay 645 34.84%
Ed Allen 429 22.63%
Teddy Morrow 1389 75.04%
William "Bill" Dugger 421 61.73%
Danny Jones 255 37.39%
Rufus Manley 233 63.35%
James A. Yelton 280 80.92%
Michael Harbour 159 33.75%
Bobbie T. Pounders 294 62.42%
Ernest "Lit" Scruggs  224
Rusty Dye  448
Donald Russell 193
Roy Scallorn 449
Boots Still 41
JoJo Still 161


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