Headlines Cont. – 9/13/2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – September 13, 2005


Shooters apprehended in field
By Billy Davis

The Panola County Board of Supervisors have upheld the termination of two road department employees during a 40-minute hearing.

The supervisors voted 4-0 Tuesday to uphold the August termination of assistant road manager David Arnold, fired over allegations of insubordination.

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Arnold had said he was fired as a "whistler blower" for alleging the county provided culverts for private property in Wildwood subdivision.

District 1 Supervisor James Birge abstained from the vote against Arnold.

The supervisors voted unanimously to uphold the firing of Norman Hughes, a receiving clerk who worked in the road department shop in Sardis.

The county supervisors are permitted by law to hold such personnel meetings in private, meaning public access to the hearing is denied. The outcome, however, is public record.

Sardis attorney Jimmy McClure represented both Arnold and Hughes in the Tuesday hearing.

Reached later in the week, Hughes said he was also fired for insubordination after communicating with the state attorney general’s office about illegal use of county funds.

"We were both fired for reporting wrongdoing and misuse of county money," Hughes said.

Hughes faulted the supervisors for allowing County Administrator David Chandler to "control the county."

Chandler recommended upholding the firings to the county supervisors after he heard appeals from both Arnold and Hughes.

Sardis water tanks need costly paint job; city leaders consider options to finance it
By Jason C. Mattox

Water tanks in the City of Sardis need to be painted, but the questions of "when?" and "how much?" have the mayor and board of aldermen examining their options.

During a meeting Tuesday, September 6, Andy Morris of Phoenix Tank Services told the board exactly what needs to be done to the tanks.

"It is time for you to think about painting and cleaning both of the city’s water tanks," he said. "They needed to be painted a couple of years ago, and they need to be painted now."

Morris, who inspected the tanks prior to their 2002 cleaning, said at some point it would be important to sandblast the tanks.

"The water tanks have been painted with lead-based paints, and you are going to have to remove that at some point in time," he said. "Just take my word for it, that process is going to be expensive."

In 2002, the city’s cost for cleaning and painting the tank was $261,510. Just three years later, the cost of cleaning and painting the tanks would be approximately $280,000.

"We can’t do it for the price we quoted you in 2002, but the increase is only eight percent," Morris said.

Morris proposed three payment options to city leaders for consideration.

"When we discussed this in 2002, there were only two options," he said. "Those options were cash or a maintenance contract over a four-year period."

The third option Morris proposed to the city was financing through Consolidated Financial for a period of 10, 15 or 20 years.

"The financing would include the maintenance contract," he said.

Under the contract with Phoenix, tanks would be cleaned and repaired every two years and repainted every 10 years. Phoenix would also be responsible for sandblasting the tank when it became necessary.

"When the time comes that the tanks have to be sandblasted to bear metal, we will be the ones that come in and do it," Morris said. "There will be no additional cost to the city.

"Basically under the contract anything to do with the tank becomes our responsibility," he added.

The matter was taken under advisement and will be discussed at a later date.

Team Shephard meets up with sidelined Hancock publisher
      Bob Shepard (in truck) and Jamie Ledbetter unload boxes in Hancock County following Hurricane Katrina’s landfall there on August 29.
     "This community has been spellbindingly generous," said T. H. "Doc" Toups of Bay St. Louis, who sought refuge in Panola County from Hurricane Katrina and then met Shepard and other volunteers from this county when he returned.
     "I’ve never seen one this bad, and I’ve seen a lot of hurricanes," Pensacola, Florida FEMA Director Jim Johnston told Toups.
     "I don’t think they anticipated the magnitude of this storm," he added.
By John Howell Sr.

When the winds of Katrina subsided, T. H. "Doc" Toups found he had been blown into Panola County for refuge.

Toups and his wife, Margie, publish The Hancock Reporter, a monthly journal of county news, in Bay St. Louis. Or they did.

They found temporary refuge with their self-contained camper at John Kyle State Park, but by Friday, September 2, Doc had headed back to Hancock County in his small pickup to find his stepson and to see what was left.

Toups said that he didn’t find much left. Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo was living in and trying to run his city from the second floor of a waste water treatment plant. The Waveland Police Department had nothing left ? no cars, radios or equipment.

He also met Bob Shepard of Batesville and the impromptu relief effort that Shepard and several other men from Panola County had carried into Hancock County by truckloads.

"Bob has brought a couple of loads," Toups said last week. When Shepard first arrived, the publisher continued, he was directed to a Federal Emergency Management Agency warehouse with his load. Instead, Shepard bypassed the warehouse and found firemen in Waveland who were in desperate need of his supplies.

Shepard’s deliveries have spawned a relationship with the hard-hit coastal county that has led Toups to suggest that Panola County might adopt Hancock County during the recovery from the hurricane-triggered crisis. Whether a formal adoption arrangement comes into fruition or not, a de facto adoption has already occurred between Team Shepard and Hancock.

Though Toups’ business location is gone and his home heavily damaged, he has continued to chronicle events there with pen and camera. As he dutifully photographed Shepard and other volunteers unloading supplies, he said he felt like he needed to pitch in with more than his camera. At intervals, he put the camera down to unload supplies with the other men, most of whom stopped for an occasional break about as often as Toup stopped to make photos.

Except for one man who didn’t seem to require breaks and whose pace hastened their own, Toups said. Later, the presently-sidelined publisher asked about the dynamo whose output set such a frenzied pace during the unloading and found out that he is past age 70.

Toups pointed to the man in the photo whose energy had unwittingly driven them harder than they otherwise would have chosen and asked: "Do you know Jamie Ledbetter?"


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