Headlines Cont. – 8/30/2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – August 30, 2005


SPD investigating drive-by shooting; juvenile injured
By Jason C. Mattox

The Sardis Police Department and Panola County Sheriff’s Department are looking for the those responsible for a drive-by shooting that left one injured Friday night in Sardis.

According to Chief Mike Davis, the shooting happened at approximately 10:45 p.m. at the corner of Highway 51 and Dewberry Street.

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"The victim, a juvenile, was shot in the foot," he said. "The gun used was small semi-automatic weapon."

Davis said the victim was transported from the scene to Tri-Lakes via ambulance where he was treated for the gunshot wound.

"From what we were told that night, the bullet went in and out," Davis said. "The victim is in stable condition at this time."

The chief said the department does have suspects, but no arrests have been made.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact SPD at 487-1383 or the sheriff’s department at 563-6230.

Sardis board approves increase in garbage fees, millage rate
By Jason C. Mattox

Sardis’ tax millage rate and garbage collection fees will increase as a result of a decision by the mayor and board of aldermen at their budget planning meeting last Thursday. The increased revenue will help the city meet its proposed $1.2 million budget.

Alderman-at-Large Roy Scallorn made the unanimously passed motions to increase garbage collection fees from $14 to $17 and to increase the city’s millage rate from 31.07 to 34.92.

The $3 increase to garbage rates will bring in an additional $25,000.

"We need to go up $3 just to break even on garbage," Scallorn said.

"With the rising cost of fuel, it’s easy to justify needing an increase," Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye said. "There hasn’t been an increase in fees for quite some time, and if we are going to do it, now is the time."

The mayor explained that the trend has been to leave the ad valorem taxes the same.

"I don’t think there has been a tax increase in a number of years, and if we are going to balance the budget, we need one," Dye said. "None of us want to do it, but it looks like it might be the only option we have."

"The way I see it, we are about $50,000 short on the revenue side," he said. "Raising taxes and the garbage fees will get us to where we need to be."

There will be no cost of living increases for city employees during the upcoming budget cycle.

"We have been pretty generous with raises in the past," Dye said. "We just can’t afford to do it this year."

Another item in this year’s budget that remained the same from last year is police fines.

"We budgeted the same amount for police fines this year ($130,000), because we felt like that was a fair amount," City Clerk Odessa Johnson said.

Scallorn said he believed the city could collect that money in fines.

"There was one time in the past the city collected more than $200,000 in fines," he said referring to a year he served as city clerk. "So, I feel like that number is attainable."

Police Chief Mike Davis said he believed more fines would be collected this year.

"We have been sending in the names to the Mississippi Warrant Network, and we have been getting some results," he said. "Add that to what we are doing on our own, and things are going to improve."

The city must adopt its budget by September 15.

Developers expressing interest in next phase of marina project
By Jason C. Mattox

After more than 12 months of inactivity, the City of Sardis is ready to get the Sardis Lake Marina project back on track.

Sardis Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye said the project has been on hold for quite some time due to lack of interest.

"It hasn’t been just Sardis," he said. "A lot of developers put their plans on hold due to a soft economy."

Dye said investors have begun coming back to the table for the next stage of development at the marina, which includes a hotel/conference center.

"We have some developers from Destin, Fla. and other places who are looking hard at investing in the future of the marina project," he said.

The marina project began in 1989 and Skipper Marine opened a 140-slip marina in 2003.

The mayor explained that one reason Sardis is gaining so much interest is because it has the potential to be an inland resort area.

"The investors are looking for inland areas that can be developed," he said. "The hurricanes are starting to turn people away from constantly developing on the coast."

Dye said the overall potential investment from a developer is expected to be a minimum of $40 million.

The proposed hotel is expected to have more than 200 rooms, and should blend into the natural setting of the lake.

"This is going to be a major project, and we only have interest in finding a big name to come to the table," he said. "We want someone to come up with a plan for something that doesn’t look out of place."

Dye said once the new phase of the project comes to fruition, the city expects to see more sales tax generated.

"With a project like this and the people we have that want to get involved, there is going to be money to be made in Sardis," he said. "That’s why we are going back to the table and whoever gets involved is going to be a major player."

Manufacturer shows interest in Air Kontrol building in Sardis
By Jason C. Mattox

A manufacturer that could employ as many as 25 skilled laborers has narrowed its search for a new home to Sardis and Horn Lake, according to Sardis Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye.

While Dye would not release the name of the company, he did say it is a manufacturer of wire and would train employees in the skilled labor positions that could pay as much as $20 per hour.

"We had a group from the company in town on Thursday," he said. "They toured the old Air Kontrol building on Highway 51."

Dye said the company is looking for a facility with 30-40,000 square feet of space.

"Our building is 40,000 square feet, and while it is city property, it is not in the city limits of Sardis," he said. "That means they would not have to pay city taxes if they located here."

The building was built for Air Kontrol, a manufacturer of air filters, in 2000 and the company closed its doors later the same year, leaving the city to pay back a loan from the Mississippi Development Authority.

The closure of the Sardis facility left approximately 30 people unemployed. Dye said the city presently pays $5,700 per month, or $68,400 per year for the building.

"The city has informed the potential tenant that we would be willing to sell or lease the facility," he said.

Dye said the company wants to be moved by Oct. 1.
"We are very hopeful that this company will come back to us with a positive answer," he said.


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