Headlines Cont. – 7/15/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 15, 2005

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – July 12, 2005


Panola native returns to show her art at Sardis Library today
Cathy Burdette of Atlanta, formerly of Sardis, will show over 100 drawings and paintings at the Sardis Public Library from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. today.

Burdette graduated from North Panola High School in 1982. Her high school art teacher was Elizabeth Beasnett.

Burdette’s most treasured memories of Mrs. Beasnett’s class occurred when some paint accidentally spilled over on a drawing she had been diligently working on for a week. This drawing was to be entered in a contest being held at the Liberty Grocery Store in Sardis.

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Out of disappointment the painting was thrown away. Mrs. Beasnett found the drawing in the garbage can and entered it in the contest.

"I purposely missed attending the contest, but was surprised to hear that I had won first place," Burdette said, "God dried the picture I called ‘Hanging in the Window,’ perfectly."

Burdette went on to attend Coahoma Junior College in 1983 where she studied art under Mr. Richardson. She also attended Northwest Mississippi Junior College where she majored in commercial art and studied under Mr. Smith and Mr. Dorsey. While at Northwest she served as a cartoon artist for the school newspaper.

Burdette sold most of her art work at Northwest with half of the earnings going to the college, with the exception of one, which was a still life drawing of a crystal owned by her friend and neighbor Mrs. Olivette Ellis, who is currently 98 years old.

Burdette is now sharing her art work with her home community and the world.

SSgt. Carl Shegog retires
     after 20-year career in Army
A Batesville native is retiring after 20 years of honorable service in the Army.

Staff Sgt. Carl Shegog was recognized during an awards ceremony July 8 at the U.S. Army Materiel Command, Fort Belvoir Va. The ceremony marked an end to his military career and the beginning of his civilian life.

Staff Sgt. Shegog graduated from South Panola High School and attended Northwest Mississippi Junior College. He is married to the former Valarie Hoskins.

Shegog joined the U.S. Army in 1985 and completed Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Dix, N.J.

"My mother always told me to do something with my life," Shegog said. "She isn’t with me now but I think she would be proud."

His work took him around the world including states in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

His first assignment was with the 1st Calvary Division in Fort Hood, Texas where he served as a motor vehicle operator, driver to the battalion executive officer and driver to the 1st Calvary Division’s commanding general.

In 1989 he was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Battalion in Schweinfurt, Germany. While in Germany, he served as a squad leader, unit instructor driver, hazardous cargo instructor, section sergeant and platoon sergeant. Shegog also served in Turkey and northern Iraq in support of Operation Provide Comfort.

Staff Sgt. Shegog was then assigned to the Operations Support Command in 1997 at Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Ill., as the driver to the commanding general. In December 2000 he was assigned to the Army Materiel Command in Fort Belvoir, Va. where he served as an executive driver and driver to the command sergeant major.

Shegog said he has enjoyed the time in the Army and is very appreciative of the senior leaders who have helped shape him as a soldier.

Staff Sgt. Shegog’s awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal w/ 3 Oak Leaf Clusters, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal w/ three Oak Leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon and the Ordinance of the Samuel Sharpe Award.

Sardis aldermen voice support for reversal of proposed annexation
Scallorn named town’s vice mayor
By Jason Mattox

The future of Sardis’ proposed annexation of areas including the Green Hill Subdivision could be dead in the water following last Thursday’s city board meeting.

Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye told the Board of Aldermen that the annexation had been hanging over the board for quite some time, and he wanted to know if the board wanted to proceed or end the effort.

"I guess we really need to know where it stands right now," Dye said.

The annexation progressed last year following a vote from former Mayor Richard Darby to break a two-two tie when Ward 1 Alderman Joseph "JoJo" Still and then-Ward-4 Alderman Dye voted against annexation. Ward 3 Alderman Mike Wilson was not present at the meeting.

Following that vote, the annexation area was cut back by Bridge and Slaughter of Oxford, the city’s planning consultants, to an area they believed the city could more adequately serve.

The issue has been tied up in court since September 2004.

City Attorney Tommy Shuler said the matter was on appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

"My suggestion would be to go to a judge and ask what it would take to reverse the decree for the annexation," he said. "Once I have checked with a trial judge, I will be able to tell you what the next steps need to be."

Shuler said he didn’t need action from the board but asked simply for a "nod" from the board that it wanted him to proceed.

"I have no problem with letting Tommy find out what our next steps need to be," Still said.

All four board members present insisted they wanted Shuler to move forward in an attempt to have the decree reversed.

The board also voted to hire a new police chief at the meeting.

Mike Davis was unanimously selected by aldermen as the next Chief of Police.

Davis will replace Sonny Stepp as the city’s police Chief. Stepp has agreed to assist the new chief in order to make an easy transition in leadership.
Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye said Davis was selected from a pool of 10 applicants.

"We had some really good applicants for the position," he said. "When it came down to it, everyone who participated in the interview process agreed that Mike was the best fit for the job."

Davis appeared before the board for two interviews in recent weeks. The selection was made following an executive session Thursday night.

He is presently employed by Turner Dairies. His previous law enforcement experience includes working as arson investigator with the Panola County Sheriff’s Department and K-9 officer for the Batesville Police Department.

Davis will begin his first job as a chief of police following a one-week notice to his present employer.

In other board business:
Aldermen voted 4-0 in Ward 3 Alderman Mike Wilson’s absence to name Alderman-at-Large Roy Scallorn the city’s Vice-Mayor.
Approval was given to Police Chief Sonny Stepp to purchase hand- held radios and security cameras for the police department. The equipment will be paid from a Homeland Security grant.
All city employees were re-hired when a unanimous vote came after an executive session.


Marina awaiting ‘right investor’
The City of Sardis is hoping to find a hotel/conference center developer to move forward with the second phase of the Sardis Lake Marina Project. City leaders want a development that will compliment the investment of Skipper Marine who operates the marina portion of the project.
By Jason C. Mattox

If all goes well in the City of Sardis’ search for a hotel/conference center investor, the next phase of the marina project could be moving forward by 2006.

According to Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye, city leaders are ready to go back to the table for a hotel/conference center.

"This is something the new administration has been working on since day one," he said. "People don’t understand how much of an impact a development like this will have on the city."

With the environmental studies completed, Dye said the city is waiting on the "right investor" to come to the table with a proposal.

Dye said there were two investors interested in the project approximately eight months ago, but interest wavered due to the presidential election.

"Large investors usually are not going to begin work on new projects when there is an election going on," he said.

Dye said the city hopes to select an investor by early 2006 for what is expected to be a $60 million hotel/conference center with an estimated 400 rooms.

As for appearance, Dye said whoever the board selects to develop the hotel/conference center will have to come up with a concept that blends into the surroundings.

"This will be the most expensive portion of the entire project," he said. "We have had investors looking into it that say this is a perfect project because it is untouched.

"That’s why it is important that whoever we pick constructs a hotel that won’t look out of place," Dye added.

The mayor said he believes the addition of the hotel/conference center will help make Sardis Lake a popular destination for corporate conferences.

"People are getting away from the casinos for their conferences," he said. "Companies take a lot of people over there and cannot find most of them when it is time for a conference.

"If they bring them to the lake, they will have less space to cover when they start looking for them," Dye added. "I really think companies want to get to a more relaxed and less hectic environment."

In addition to the hotel/conference portion of the project, Dye believes the developer will include at least one restaurant.

"Whoever comes in here and pulls this thing together will take care of the whole thing," Dye said.

Once a developer for the hotel/conference center is in place, the city will move forward in selecting a developer for the third phase of the project?an 18-hole golf course.

"I really feel like once all of the pieces are in place, this project will make Sardis Lake a tourist destination," Dye said.

City allows Maco to tap into water and sewer
By Jason C. Mattox

Once Maco Construction secures the proper easements, it can connect the water line to service Sardis Housing L.P. to the water line near the Sardis city limits on Highway 51? for a price.

When Maco completes the project, Sardis Housing will offer 20 apartments for senior citizens.

According to Mike Maddox of Maco Construction, the federally funded development was given an estimate of $1,800 total for the gas and water taps to city lines.

"That estimate changed to $8,400 during the last correspondence we had," he said. "As you can tell, that is a large difference."

Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye said he was not aware of the letter setting the price at $1,800.

"Who did you send the letters to?" he asked.

Maddox said all of the company’s correspondence had gone through Mayor Richard Darby.

"We were told that he was the one we needed to get the O.K. from," he said.

Dye pointed out that the contractors began work on their portion of the water line before receiving approval from the city.

"We tried to get the approval," contractor Tim Pruitt said. "We sent 19 letters to Mayor Darby telling him what we needed to do to keep the project on track.

"I didn’t send one letter or nine, I sent 19," he added. "I did everything I could to get approval."

Following an examination of several letters, the board of aldermen voted 4-0 to allow Maco to tap on the city water line at a cost of $2,000.

"We are doing this for the senior citizens of Sardis, and if this is what it takes to get the complex open, we will be more than happy to do it," Maddox said.
Maco will be responsible for carrying the existing city line to its property.

"I think as long as they are willing to extend the line and let us put a master meter at the tap, everything will work out fine," Alderman-at-Large Roy Scallorn said.

Land commission hears another proposal from Eureka resident
By Billy Davis

Although his plan for renting out his "party barn" hit a roadblock, Eureka landowner Anthony McCoy had an easier time this week with another project: opening a pre-school.

McCoy made his pitch for the pre-school Monday night, July 11 at the monthly meeting of the Panola County Land Development Commission.

McCoy, who was not on the agenda, announced plans for a "learning center" that will keep children ages 2 to 5.

"We’ve been keeping some kids in the house," McCoy said. "I plan to get licensed and keep more kids."

The home is located across Eureka Road from the red barn known by some as the Pauline Smith home.

State law allows care of five or fewer children in a home daycare setting, but state regulations kick in if more children are kept.

The commission delved into its land development rules regarding day cares and private schools, eventually agreeing that a private school is allowed in an area zoned for agricultural and residential use.

Although no action was necessary, commission members pressed McCoy on whether the school would serve as more than a baby sitting service.

Commission member Donna Traywick, who owns a Batesville pre-school, said that the state is pushing reading and math for pre-schoolers.

"Today you have learning centers, not children sitting in desks," Traywick said. "It looks like playing, but there’s instruction going on."

McCoy said he is working with the state on necessary paperwork, including having certified instructors.

Other land commission business included:
Commission members heard concerns from county permit clerk Diane Stewart concerning Stan’s Country Store, located at Hwy. 6 East, which has yet to pave its parking lot.
     "It’s not fair to others who have done what the commission has asked them to do," Stewart said.
     Board attorney Colmon Mitchell reminded the commission that it can take such matters to Panola County Justice Court to ensure its instructions are followed.
     On a related note, commission members instructed Mitchell to write a formal letter to Opal Henderson, who is fixing up an old building on her Hwy. 6 East property to use as a business.
     Citing concerns about the safety of the building, the commission denied Henderson’s request to sell flea market wares from the building.
     Henderson was listed on the meeting’s agenda but did not show up.
     "I’ll tell her that she’s not authorized to use that property, and she’s moving forward at her own risk," Mitchell told the commission.
The commission voted unanimously to allow final approval for the Holcombe Hill Estates subdivision.
     The 14-lot development is located at Brasher and Bethlehem roads.
Stewart reported property permits in the county for June: 15 new homes, eight existing mobile homes, six new homes and one existing home.
     The permits are a necessity for new homes and new residents and are issued by the county health department.


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