Headlines – 6/21/2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Panolian: HEADLINES – June 23, 2005

  From the 6/23/05 issue of The Panolian :             

Aldridge, Rodgers qualify for sheriff
Two additions bring total to eleven
By Jason C. Mattox

Noel Aldridge Jr. and John Rodgers have added their names to the list of qualifiers running for Panola County sheriff in the November 8 special election.

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The election will fill the unexpired term of the late David M. Bryan, who passed away April 23 from colon cancer.

The late sheriff’s wife, Ida Bryan, is serving as interim sheriff.

The addition of the new candidates to the field means voters now will choose from at least 11 candidates.

Aldridge, whom Bryan defeated for the Democratic nomination in 2003, runs Aldridge Scrap Metal in Oxford. He served as supervisor in Quitman County from 1993-99 before moving to Panola County.

Rodgers serves as VP/loan officer for First Security Bank and has been employed in lending and finance for the past 25 years. He is a life-long resident of the county.

Also running are Oscar Barlow, Hugh "Shot" Bright, Steve Chancellor, Antonio Daniels, Craig Sheley, Kelvin Taylor, Jamie Tedford, Gary Thompson, and Mark Whitten.

The deadline to qualify is September 8. All candidates will appear on the November ballot with the top two vote-getters moving to a run-off election if no one candidate receives a majority.

Hopes are high for job fair
By Jason C. Mattox

Forty-three business and industrial concerns are confirmed for the upcoming Northwest Mississippi Job Fair at the Batesville Civic Center, which will take place this Thursday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

According to Joe Buckner of the Governor’s Job Fair Network, more companies could sign up the day of the event.

"We are very happy with the response we have gotten for this fair," he said. "It will only grow from here."

Those signed up include Ace Training Center, ACI, AMDATA, Avon, Batesville Casket, Batesville Job Corps Center, Batesville Win Job Center, Bell South, Beverly Healthcare, Bluegrass Marine, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store;

Crown Cork and Seal, Experience Works, Inc., FFE Transportation, Gardner Institute, Horseshoe Casino, Insituform, Jackies International, Jackson Police Department, KLLM, McBride Engineering, Mississippi Department of Corrections, Mississippi Department of Health;

Mississippi State University Extension Service, Mississippi Air National Guard, Mississippi Army National Guard, Mississippi Department of  Transportation, Northwest Mississippi Community College, Parker Hannifin, Performance Food Group;

Pinnacle Airlines, The Real Estate Training Institute, Schwan’s Home Service, SEC Training Centers, Swift Transportation, The University of Mississippi, Tower Loan, Tri-Lakes Medical Center;

United States Navy, Union National Life, Union Planters Bank, United Plastics and Waffle House.

"With this many companies attending, there will be people who leave the job fair with several job offers," he said. "We have a good pool of employers for the potential employees to choose from."

For more information about the job fair, visit .

Cable One franchise extended in city, surcharge to stay same
By Jason C. Mattox

Despite initial objections from Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders to limit the city’s new contract with Cable One to three years, the city unanimously voted to extend its franchise agreement with the service provider for five years.

Pete Peden of Cable One was on hand during a special called meeting Tuesday, June 14, in hopes of securing the new long-term agreement.

"You have been extending it for a month or two at a time for six months or more," he said. "I just want to see us get a deal done."

Pounders said she did not want to see the city commit to another seven to 10 year agreement that would lock the city in with Cable One.

"I don’t think we need to go any longer than three or four years," she said.

Peden said Cable One wanted an agreement for six years in order to recoup its investment in upgrades to the cable system. He also proposed upping the city’s portion of the franchise fee to four percent from its present three percent.

"I am not going to be for increasing anything that will mean more out of pocket for the people of the city," Alderman-at-Large Hudson Still said.

Mayor Bobby Baker pointed out to Pounders that the agreement with Cable One is non-exclusive meaning another provider could come into the area.

"If another provider wants to come in here and offer its services to the people of Batesville, they can certainly do that," Baker said.

Pounders said one of the sticking points for the new franchise agreement was providing cable to the new National Guard Readiness Center and Panola County Civil Defense.

Peden said the main reason Cable One is not providing services to Keating Road, where the Readiness Center is located, is because the developer of Keating Grove subdivision did not show an interest in bringing cable to the area.

"The developer told us they did not care if the people in the subdivision had cable or not," he said. "As for the Readiness Center and Civil Defense, we could run services out there for $9,800."

Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley asked if Civil Defense could pay for the expansion.

"That is something that can be looked at," Baker said.

Manley indicated during the meeting that he would make contact with Civil Defense coordinator Son Hudson to determine if funds were available to pay for the cable.

Pounders then asked about providing service to Tri-Lakes Medical Center.

"If you were able to get the hospital to agree to take services, would you consider offering services to Hunter’s Trace subdivision as well?" she asked.

Peden said just serving the subdivision would be a risky investment, but if the hospital would agree, it could be feasible.

"We want our investment to be self-sustaining," he said. "If we could get the hospital, I think we could definitely offer services to the subdivision."

The city voted unanimously to extend the contract for five years with no increase to the franchise fee.
Baseball bat assault sends man to Med
By Billy Davis

An 18-year-old is charged with aggravated assault after allegedly beating a man with a baseball bat.

Nathaniel Freeman is being held at the David M. Bryan Justice Complex after the Saturday night incident, Chief Deputy Craig Sheley said.

Sheley said the incident happened about 9 p.m. at Ramsey’s Trailer Park, which is located between Batesville and Sardis on Hwy. 51.

"The victim and Freeman both live in the trailer park," Sheley said.

Alcohol was a factor in the incident, he said.

The victim of the beating is in The Med in Memphis, said the chief deputy, who did not know the victim’s condition.

Sheley did not release the name of the victim.

New tint laws to affect auto inspection
     The driver’s side window of a Chevy Trailblazer gets tested by Ricky Swindle and his tint meter. A new state law will clamp down on window tinting beginning July 1. The vehicle, which belongs to The Panolian staff writer Jason Mattox, has only factory tint and passed the inspection.
By Billy Davis

A state law that begins July 1 will affect thousands of Mississippi drivers with tinted windows, including automobile owners from Panola County.

In Batesville, mechanic shop owner Ricky Swindle is telling customers about the coming legislation, which will limit the allowed thickness of window tinting on many vehicles.

Swindle operates a state inspection station from his shop, Batesville Tire and Muffler, in west Batesville.
"I’ve been told this is going to be the law, and law enforcement is going to enforce it," Swindle said. "I want to tell folks, ?Don’t shoot the messenger.’
I’m just spreading the word."

The law requires inspection stations such as Swindle’s to conduct a "light transmittance" test on after-market tint on vehicles. He had to purchase a $300 tint meter to conduct the tests.

When attached to the window, the meter registers the amount of light passing through the window. Per the new state law, the minimum amount of light allowed is 35 percent.

If a vehicle passes the tint inspection, the inspection station will collect a $5 fee from customers for a tint sticker, keeping $2 and passing $3 to the state’s Department of Public Safety.

Inspection stations already collect $5 for vehicle inspections, keeping $1 and passing on the $4 to the state.

If a vehicle fails the tint inspection, the tint must be removed before a sticker can be given, Swindle said.

"If the window tint doesn’t pass, the whole car doesn’t pass," he said.

The fine for illegal tinting begins at $120 for a first offense, Swindle said, and climbs to a maximum $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail for a third offense.

Many vehicles come with a factory tint, Swindle noted, a factor that will reduce the amount of after-market tint that can be attached to the windows.

"I’ve got to take the tint off my pickup because I had 35-percent (tint) put on but also had a factory tint," Swindle said. "When I measured the tint, it came out to 29.4 percent."

Only school buses, limousines and drivers with medical exemptions are exempt from the law, the law states.

The state legislature passed House Bill 734 during its regular session, and Gov. Haley Barbour signed it into law.

The window tint enforcement was requested by law enforcement officers for safety reasons, state lawmakers said during the session.

Batesville Police Department Major Tony Jones said the tightened law is a "no brainer" since it increases the safety for officers during vehicle stops.

"It’s obviously needed for officer safety in these days and times," Jones said. "You never know what you’re going to find out there."

Rep. Warner McBride of Courtland said he voted for the law for its impact on officer safety during traffic stops.

"I’ve ridden at night with members of the highway patrol to understand their job better," McBride said. "I’ve had the experience of walking up to a car at two o’clock in the morning. That’s a lot to ask a person to do."

Rep. Leonard Morris of Batesville said he, too, voted for the House bill.

Morris also cited the safety issue for law enforcement officers as his reason for casting a "yea" vote.

Jones said the police department will also abide by the new law, which includes law enforcement vehicles in the clamp down on tinted windows.

"I haven’t read the law, but I can tell you we’re going to follow procedure for what the law says," Jones said. "If it requires it, our people will follow the procedure on their police units and personal vehicles."

The new law will have an effect on business at Pro-Tint and More in Batesville, said owner Michael Hubbard, who learned about the coming law from Swindle last week.

Hubbard said a lobby group for tint businesses, the International Window Film Association, has been in Jackson in recent days to push for easing the new restrictions.

"We were never notified about the law. They sort of snuck it in," Hubbard said of the state legislature.
The business owner said window tinting accounts for about three quarters of his overall business.

Most Pro-Tint customers request a 32-percent tint, Hubbard said, a request that’s complicated by the factory tint present on most vehicles.

"This law is going to be hard on the business," Hubbard said. "It’s going to kill the business."

Cleanup slows but still going despite snakes, summer heat cleanup
By Billy Davis

The sun is burning, the grass is growing and the snakes are slithering, but the cleanup of Panola County still continues in some parts of the county.

In Pope, Clean Up Panola (CUP) captain Terry Marshall and a dozen volunteers plan to tackle old Hwy. 51 and downtown Pope this weekend.

The volunteer group cleaned up alongside Gleaton Road and Pope-Crowder Road in recent days, working early in the morning to beat the heat, Marshall said.

"We’re drinking water and Gatorade," Marshall said.

The Clean Up Panola program has officially gone into summer hibernation until the fall, though volunteers like Marshall are still at work, said CUP organizer Lygunnah Bean.

Bean is road manager for the county road department and is a trustee for the South Panola School District.

CUP will pick up momentum in the fall when the cleanup captains officially go to work to recruit cleanup volunteers, the CUP organizer said.

Meanwhile, the cleanup continues, at least to some degree.

Cleanup leader Curtis Bledsoe and other volunteers recently picked up roadside trash on Union Road, Bean said, and they plan to pick up trash on Barnacre Road this week.

A group of 20 to 30 volunteers cleaned up trash along Bethlehem Road Saturday, said Billie Shepard, who observed the cleanup in progress.

"They had tons of trash picked up, it seemed like," Shepard told The Panolian Monday. "It was definitely a move in the right direction."

"It looks like the neighborhoods are doing more," Bean said. "On the roads where the trash was cleaned up, folks are trying to maintain them now that they’re cleaned up."

Panola County inmates are also at work in the county. They picked up roadside trash around Greenhill Elementary two weeks ago, Bean said.

The CUP Program kicked off in January with Bean’s announcement of the county-wide cleanup. The program had progressed to an organized group of captains in March, then the cleanup efforts got under way in March and April.

The CUP program received vocal support from county supervisors, who have been wrangling with ways to fight the county’s garbage blight.

Board of Supervisors President Jerry Perkins said Monday morning the board will likely revisit an eight-page garbage ordinance that was offered to them earlier this spring by Sheriff’s Deputy Bobby Walton.

If fully adopted, the ordinance would clamp down on littering and illegal dumping on public and private property in the county.

"We definitely plan to pick that up again," Perkins said. "If we don’t plan to pursue it with some aggression, we’re be right back where we started."

Perkins said board attorney Bill McKenzie must research the proposal before the board can act on it.



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