| Sardis’ current, upcoming officials interview candidates for police chief
| By Jason C. Mattox
Following two sessions of interviews with 10 candidates, members of Sardis’ current and soon-to-be city board are working together to hire a new Sardis police chief.
The board of aldermen, with the new members sitting in, met last Tuesday and Thursday to conduct the interviews. The candidates answered pre-selected questions.
"We want to have continuity throughout the interview process," Mayor Richard Darby said. "We asked all of the candidates the same seven questions."
Darby said after the initial questions were answered, aldermen received their opportunity to ask direct questions.
Ward 4 Alderman-elect Rivers McArthur said he was impressed with the field of candidates.
"We really had some good candidates interview for this job," he said. "I don’t really know what our next step will be."
Ward 4 Alderman and mayor-elect Rusty Dye said he too was pleased with the quality of applicants the city had.
"The police chief is going to be someone that has to work closely with the mayor and with the people of the city," he said. "The new and old boards both want to see us make the right selection.
"I feel like with these candidates, we have a good group to choose from," he said. "The new board will most likely come up with a list of three or four top candidates and conduct a second interview."
Dye said once the next step in the process is decided, the board will move forward with the selection of a new chief to replace the retiring Sonny Stepp.
The new aldermen and mayor will take office July 5 and hold their first meeting two days later. That is the earliest action is expected.
| Fire Academy graduates 30 cadets after week of hard, hot work
| By Rita Howell
Thirty local children spent last week at Batesville’s Fire Station No. 3 on Nosef Drive, learning about fire safety from Batesville firefighters in a program jointly sponsored by the Batesville Fire Department and the Junior Auxiliary of Batesville.
The children, ages 6-9, practiced a home fire drill, climbed aboard the Medical Wings helicopter, and enjoyed "Wet and Wild Day" when firefighters hooked up their ladder truck to a hydrant and allowed the water to flow and the children to enjoy the results.
The children learned how to make a 9-1-1 emergency phone call and crawled through a maze with a blacked-out scuba mask on to simulate the dark conditions that firefighters encounter.
Firefighters Billy Broome, Rip Copeland, Cowles Horton and Travis Inman coordinated the instruction.
Junior Auxiliary members assisted and provided snacks and gift bags.
Attending the "Fire Escape" fire academy were: Hunter Anderson, Bailey Dewberry, Dalton Dewberry, Jake Broome, Cole DeVazier, Kelsey DeVazier, Kyle DeVazier, Dylan Douglas, Sean Copeland, Katie Horton, LaDerycka Hall, Joey Jacobs, Lee Jacobs, Jakob Moore, Vas Moore, Dalton Murphree, Adam Oakes, Steven Parker, Justus Sartain, Carson Smith, Faute Reed, Jason Turner, Brent Turner, Jordan Turner, Bradley Turner, Travis Sartain, and Sean Williams.
| Three Panola residents participate in HOBY conference
| By Madison Kilgore
Three Batesville high school students were selected to attend the annual Mississippi Hugh O’ Brian Youth Leadership Conference held June 3-5 at Millsaps College in Jackson.
Kathleen Snyder and Ashley Turman of North Delta School and Jessica Cannon of South Panola High School were selected to attend the conference from an essay written on leadership. Snyder and Cannon were sponsored by the Batesville Woman’s Club. Turman’s sponsor was the Batesville Junior Women’s League.
Two hundred thirty-two rising juniors attended the seminar, which aims to encourage students to become active in volunteer activities that improve their communities and to provide leadership development training for the students.
Over the weekend, students divide into groups to practice leadership skills, perform community service in Jackson, hear from Mississippi leaders and focus on career goals.
"The group sessions were a lot of help," said South Panola representative Jessica Cannon. "You hear other people’s experiences and learn new leadership skills and techniques."
Each group volunteered at different Jackson community organizations such as the Salvation Army, Stewpot and Keep Jackson Beautiful.
"My favorite part of the weekend was going to do community service," said North Delta representative Kathleen Snyder, whose group shaped trees in downtown Jackson.
HOBY students also had the opportunity to interact with Mississippi leaders including Jackson Mayor-elect Frank Melton, Supreme Court Justice Kay Cobb and Time Magazine’s "Person of the Year" Cynthia Cooper.
Students divided into career discovery groups over the weekend, where professionals spoke to groups about various careers. Cannon joined the public relations group, Snyder joined the journalism group and Turman went into accounting.
Each HOBY participant has the opportunity to return to next year’s conference as a counselor after completing 100 community service hours. In addition, HOBY graduates are eligible for over 85 college and university scholarships across the nation.
Ashley Turman of North Delta described the conference as "a great experience" and is working on service hours to return as a counselor.
Turman is a North Delta honor student and member of the Key Club. She is the daughter of Cynthia Turman and Billy Eads.
Snyder is a member of North Delta’s basketball, softball and track teams and is a member of the cheerleading squad. An honor student, she is also a member of Key Club and Student Council. She is the daughter of Scott and Wendy Snyder.
Cannon is South Panola Peer Counselor, and a member of Risque Business and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. A member of Rock Hill Baptist Church, she is the daughter of Deborah Campbell and John Cannon.
| Long-time educator Evans passes away after battle with illness
| By Myra Bean
Panola County is saying good-bye to another longtime educator.
Albert Harvey Evans died Thursday, June 23 after a long illness.
Funeral services will be today at 1 p.m. in the Batesville Intermediate School auditorium. Burial will follow in Macedonia Cemetery.
Evans taught in the South Panola School district for 31 years and served as a Corps of Engineers Park Ranger at Sardis Lake for 20 years.
Evans taught at Patton Lane High School and after desegregation, he was one of the typing, shorthand and business teachers at South Panola where he served out his remaining teaching years.
Evans retired from South Panola in May 1989. He was a member of the the Corps of Engineers from November 7, 1974 to December 3, 1995.
"He loved teaching and believed in education," said his wife of 42 years, Louise. "Everybody remembers him, old and young."
Evans was known as a strict disciplinarian who only had to correct a person one time.
"We were definitely not going to get away with anything," his daughter Kristy Hudson said. "In all his years, I never heard him say a cuss word."
Hudson shared other memories about her father. She said he had a "weird" taste in things.
"When everybody else would like vanilla and chocolate ice cream, he would want pineapple and stuff like that," Hudson said.
She said he also liked to ride in the back of the trailer pulled by the tractor. They would laugh at her dad when he would "cut the dirt," according to Hudson.
"He would stay out and cut the grass so long, we would say he was cutting the dirt," she said.
Evans like his world neat and in order, Hudson said. He loved tending to the flowers in the yard.
"He was the big man on keeping stuff neat and clean," Hudson said.
Another favorite memory of Hudson’s was how Evans catered to his seven grandchildren. He enjoyed taking them to Wal-Mart and seeing them spend money. She said they also received daily calls from him both morning and night.
"Sometimes we were not home, but we would see on the caller ID that he had called," she said.
Evans was a member of Bethlehem M.B. Church where he was a trustee and a choir member.
"He would always pat his feet when he led a song," Hudson said.
His longtime friend, fellow teacher, park ranger and neighbor Willie Townsend, also had some fond memories to share.
"He showed me around town when I first moved here," Townsend recalled. "At first, I said I am getting out of here.
"He was a great friend but most of all he was a Christian man," Townsend said.
Townsend said Evans was a workaholic and he would do anything anyone asked of him.
"We used to go around putting toys together," Townsend remembered.
Evans was honored for his dedication to the education profession during his lifetime. He was a member of the Mississippi Association of Educators (MAE) and the National Education Association (NEA). He was named teacher of the year by the Batesville Chamber of Commerce for the 1988-89 school year and received the Civitan Outstanding Educator Award for the 1982-83 school year.
He graduated from Alcorn State University and was a lifetime member of the Panola County Alcorn Alumni Association.
Evans leaves his wife, Louise, two daughters, D’Juanna Henley of Cordova, Tenn. and Kristy Hudson of Memphis, Tenn.; one son Drexter Evans of Ridgeland; seven grandchildren, five brothers and two sisters.
For a complete obituary, see page A2.
| Trustees approve SP staff salaries
| By Rupert Howell
School trustees for the South Panola District approved the 2005-2006 salary scales for all areas of staff at the regular June meeting held last Tuesday night.
Teacher pay ranges from $30,500 for a first year teacher with an A certificate to $55,750 for a AAAA rated teacher with 25 years or more of experience.
Teacher salaries of those employed by the South Panola District include a $500 subsidy from the district above what the state pays.
Actual teacher contracts will be issued next month after a delay in final approval of the state budget by the Mississippi Legislature.
Mississippi assistant teachers received an $800 increase this year. The local district subsidizes the assistant pay, offering incremental increase for years served. Those salaries range from $12,600 for the beginning to five- year assistant to $14,600 for an assistant with 15 years of experience.
According to incoming Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer, all current teacher assistants meet the minimum requirements that will go into effect in 2006.
School trustees approved approximately 30 new professional staff members who were not included in last month’s hiring renewal of current staff members.
New teachers or those who changed schools and were recommended for employment at Tuesday’s meeting included: Rachel Pittman, Lindsey Rice and Mandy Hood at Batesville Elementary School; Misty Houston, Tiffany Ross, Judi Caldwell and Leann McGovern at Batesville Intermediate School; Anita Cranford, Danielle Higgins, Alisha Lantrip and Brad Lightsey at Batesville Middle School; Holly Stewart, Leann Estes, Nathan Henton, Dennis Clements, Virginia Lynn Mills, Emily Griste and Jane S. Floyd at Batesville Junior High; Scarlett Wigley and Donna Box at Pope School; Calvin Trout, Deanna Dye, Carla Haney, Amir Hunt, Cathryn Patton, Brent Roberts and Sara Blalock at South Panola High School.
Other employees hired or rehired at Tuesday’s meeting were food service employees and classified staff members such as office staff and custodial personnel.