Headlines Cont. – 6/10/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 10, 2005

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – June 10, 2005


Morrow wins at-large seat, Pounders, Dugger re-elected
By Billy Davis

Batesville voters overwhelmingly elected 35-year-old Teddy Morrow as alderman-at-large in Tuesday’s general election, putting a new candidate in that seat for the first time in 20 years.

Voters on Tuesday also chose to keep the other two ward aldermen who faced opposition in the election.
In the at-large race, Morrow handily defeated Ed Allen, 64, for the open alderman’s seat.
Morrow pulled in 75 percent of the general election vote to Allen’s 22 percent, 1,413 votes to 424, a spread of 989 votes of 1,881 cast.

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The at-large seat opened up after five-term Alderman-at-Large Hudson Still gave up the seat to run for mayor.

Morrow advanced to the general election after defeating radio station owner J. Boyd Ingram in a runoff. The two candidates tied in the primary.

Morrow and the city’s four ward aldermen, as well as mayor-elect Jerry Autrey, will be sworn into office July 4.

The at-large alderman’s position pays $14,308 a year while the ward alderman positions pay $12,945 a year.

The Batesville mayor’s office pays $56,381 annually.

At age 35, Morrow is the youngest city official by 21 years. The next youngest official is Autrey, 57.

Morrow stressed economic development and support for Panola Partnership during his campaign, his first run for public office.

Morrow owns two downtown clothing stores, Williams and Stubbs.

He is a member of the Downtown Merchants Association,?Panola Partnership, and is president of J.P. Hudson Park.

The alderman-elect also defended the city’s expenditures on the downtown Square, where Memorial Park was dedicated in recent months and a street overlay is planned.

Morrow is married to the former Allyson Williams. They have three daughters, Mary Jane, 11, Julianna, 9, and Isabella, 2.

A Stubbs employee said the alderman-elect took his family on vacation Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. They were set to return to Batesville Thursday.

In other alderman’s races, voters returned incumbents Bill Dugger and Bobbie Jean Pounders to their ward seats.

Dugger and Pounders will return to city government along with Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley and Ward 3 Alderman James Yelton.

Manley and Yelton beat Democratic challengers in the primary.

Dugger defeated Republican Danny Jones in the general election, keeping his seat after the incumbent and challenger reportedly ran a gentleman’s race for the seat.

Dugger, who will now serve his third term, pulled in 61 percent of the vote, or 425 votes. Jones pulled in 37 percent of the vote, or 259 votes.

Dugger and Jones stressed economic development and city spending during the campaign.

In Ward 4, four-term incumbent Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders defeated Republican challenger Michael Harbour. Harbour was making his first run for public office.

Pounders captured 62 percent of the vote, or 300 votes, compared to 33 percent or 160 votes for Harbour.

Pounders advanced to the general election after defeating Wayne Thompson, another first-time candidate, in the Democratic primary.

During the campaign, Pounders defended city expenditures on the Square and voiced support for Dr. Bob Corkern’s planned purchase of Tri-Lakes Medical Center.

"I want to thank the voters for their support. It’s my privilege to serve the city of Batesville for another four years," Pounders said Wednesday.

Restructuring of BFD means supervisory changes
By Jason C. Mattox

Chris Olson has been named fire services coordinator and Rip Copeland will be fire safety educator, according to City of Batesville Fire Chief Tim Taylor.

In a recent interview, Taylor said these and other changes in the department will mean better fire protection for the people of the city. The need for reorganization has been present in the department for quite some time, he said.

The department has career firefighter and paid on-call firefighter. Both Copeland and Olson fall under the career firefighter.

Taylor said the department would handle the reorganization in two phases with phase one creating the positions of fire services coordinator and shift leader positions and establishing a ladder truck lieutenant.

Olson is responsible for updating the department’s standard operation guidelines and the city’s disaster operations plan. He also is responsible for researching what grants may be available to the department.

During phase two of the program, the position of fire safety educator will be created, three full-time personnel will be hired, and a firefighter ranking system will be established.

"The new full-time hires are budgeted positions that we have to fill vacancies in the department," Taylor said.

The chief indicated that Rip Copeland would receive the position of fire safety educator.

"Rip has been working in the schools and with our various community education projects for quite some time," he said. "We would like to see him brought on board for a five-day week to improve this service."

"The people we have designated as shift leaders are senior members of the department," Taylor said. "They will be acting as the shift supervisor, but they will still respond to calls.

"They are firefighters, no matter what their title is," he added.

Taylor said these changes would be a step in the right direction for improving the city’s fire rating.

The lower the city’s fire rating, the lower the price of fire insurance.

"I’m not going to say it will get us from a six to a five on rating, but it will get us on the right track once we complete the reorganization," he said.

Other responsibilities for Olson include but are not limited to the following:

coordinating activities between shifts;
assuring critical repairs are made in a timely manner;
identifying areas of need and reporting them to the chief officers to develop and achieve the best method of improvement; and
developing ideas and applications to incorporate advanced technology in fire service activities.

"There was a need for additional full-time supervision," he said. "By reorganizing the department, we get that by simply designating some of our existing personnel as supervisors."

The Batesville Fire Department runs three shifts of firefighter. A standard shift is 24 hours.

The shift leaders’ new responsibilities include:   

participating as a working team member and being responsible for their shift;
assuring routine daily tasks are completed within a set time frame;
acting as liaison between shift workers and supervisory firefighter personnel;
assuring idle time is minimized and daily work schedules are met;
dispensing work evenly among workers;
acting as a point of contact for his shift; and
making applicable decisions based on his experience and best judgement in the absence of senior officers.
Jason Williams’ visit home from Iraq is bittersweet respite
     Jason Williams distributes candy to Iraqi children in the area where he is stationed south of Baghdad.
By Rita Howell

When Jason Williams anticipated his two-week break from the war in Iraq, he probably didn’t think he’d be spending one of those days attending the funeral of a fallen comrade, but that’s what happened last week when his vacation coincided with the death and burial of his friend Daron Lunsford.

Williams, an E-4, is a sniper, part of the National Guard’s 155th stationed south of Baghdad, and was in the same area as Lunsford. He is with a unit from South Mississippi though he is affiliated with the local guard unit.

"I send deepest regards to his family from the 155th," Williams, 30, told The Panolian last week. "I went to school with Daron."

Also while home on leave, he has seen his good friend Ben McCarty, another local soldier who was wounded recently in Iraq and is home in Batesville recuperating.

"I’d like to say ‘thanks, Ben, for a job well done,’ " the soldier said.

During his time back in Panola County he’s also spent time visiting the local National Guard Armory and spending time with his mom Kay Williams and his grandparents Dorothy and Robert Hendrix.

He owns a home on a small lake near Oxford and has spent some time fishing there.

Williams has been in Iraq for six months and expects to serve another six months. He has been in the National Guard for five years.

As a member of a two-man sniper team – theirs is named "Reaper Two-Six" – Williams spends 72-hour shifts at an "observation point" watching for potential enemy activity. One man spots while the other lies with his gun poised and ready. They swap duties between spotter and sniper so neither becomes overly fatigued. They stay in position until night, when they can get up and move around, he said.

"We own the night," he explained. "They don’t have night vision equipment."

He is proud of his weaponry as well, showing pictures of the M-14, M-2-4 Remington 7mag; Barrett 50 cal., and M-4 rifles.

When he’s not on duty at an observation point, he might be on patrol in one of the uparmored vehicles the Marines left behind for the Guardsmen who followed them.

Williams has seen and heard his share of "improvised explosive devices" or IEDs. The thick armor and shatter-resistant glass on the vehicles has helped protect the lives of the soldiers he’s with. They also have robot devices they can send out by remote control to detonate suspicious-looking objects by the roads.

Unreliable Iraqi technology is a bonus for American troops, he said. Many times car bombs are rigged to explode with a cell phone call. Because the service is sporadic, American lives have been spared when the device was slowed or silenced by a bad connection.

Williams said his unit found – and took out of circulation – a stash of six truckloads of Iraqi weapons hidden in a trench.

While they are met with varying degrees of acceptance by adults, the Iraqi children swamp the soldiers at every chance.

"We give them bags of candy," Williams explained. He’s also been known to pass out teddy bears sent by his mother and friends Ray and Belle Lipe.

It may be impossible to completely win over the hearts and minds of adult Iraqis, but with the children, Williams thinks he has a chance.

Employers line up to participate in Job Fair on June 23 at BCC
By Jason C. Mattox

With over 30 employers committed to the upcoming Northwest Mississippi Job Fair at the Batesville Civic Center, applicants will have a large selection of jobs to contemplate in one building.

The fair will begin at 9 a.m. on June 23 and will be open until 2 p.m.

"We have received 38 commitments so far," job fair director Joe Bucker said. "At this rate, we could easily have more than 50 when the fair roll around on June 23.

"With that kind of time, the employers will get to interview a lot of applicants to find out who will fit their needs," he added.

Buckner said it is important for the unemployed to understand that if they are looking for a job, the fair is the place they need to be.

Buckner said with employers showing great interest in the fair, the focus has now shifted to applicant outreach.

"It is important that people who might be interested in attending know they can go to our website , to get a full list of employers who have signed up," he said.

"There is even a link where they can send a resume to the site and we will hand deliver it for the applicant if they cannot attend," Buckner added.

Bucker said 23 employers attended a job fair in Marks and 292 job offers were made.

"The major point we have now is to make sure that we get some quality applicants to come see what is available to them," he said.




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