Headlines – 10/25/2005

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Panolian: HEADLINES – October 25, 2005

  From the 10/25/05 issue of The Panolian :                    

Citizens sound off on Panola sheriff’s race
By Billy Davis

Over a cup of coffee and across the church pew, Panola Countians are swapping opinions and trading gossip about the November 8 sheriff’s race.

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Eleven candidates are seeking the sheriff’s office, and a November 22 runoff is likely because of the large slate of candidates.

Eureka resident Bo Mathews and his family moved beyond the city limits of Batesville six weeks ago to a new home in the Eureka community.

The Mathews family traveled only four miles from Dogwood Lane to Woodruff Road, but now the safety of their home is the responsibility of the Panola County Sheriff’s Department.

The issue of deputy manpower and their response time are two important issues of the race, Mathews said, while the idea of adding a substation in north Panola County is a bad idea.

Eleven sheriff’s deputies patrol the county and respond to calls, and many of the sheriff’s candidates are hammering at the issue of manpower and response time, promising to improve the department in both areas.

Various suggestions for the department include carving the county into separate patrol areas, adding a substation, reorganizing shift hours, swapping patrol cars to fund new deputies, and using part-time and reserve deputies to beef up the force.

"I like it that the candidates are talking about the need for a quicker response time and more deputies," Mathews said. "They either need more manpower or need to better manage the manpower we’ve got."

The addition of a substation, however, is a "waste of money," Mathews said.

"If you’ve got an office you tend to sit around, and those deputies need to be patrolling," he said.

Regarding the issue of response time, Terza resident Pete Hudson believes people might lose track of time during an emergency.

"The folks that are hollering about response time should think about the fact that three minutes feels like 30 minutes in an emergency," Hudson said.

Central Academy resident Cindy Runnels said equal justice is her main concern about the next sheriff.

"I want the law to be the same for everyone, not a law that favors some people over other people," Runnels said. "If you’re stopped for drunk driving, they shouldn’t let you go because of who you are."

Despite the issues of the race, Coles Point resident Jeff Padgett believes the vote for sheriff will boil down to a "popularity contest."

"There’s a good selection of candidates so it should be easy to find someone to support," Padgett said. "I just think when you look at either personalities or issues, personality will win."

Sardis Police Chief Mike Davis, a former sheriff’s deputy, said he’s had little time to pay attention to the issues since he was appointed chief in July.

"I haven’t kept up because I’m too busy dedicating my time to Sardis," Davis said. "And we don’t talk politics on the job."

The most important issue of the race, Davis said, is that the next Panola County sheriff continue a good working relationship with the SPD.

"We’ve got a good relationship right now, and all we want is to work together and be on the same sheet of music," the police chief said.

(This story is the fourth in a series of news stories leading up to the November 8 special election for Panola County sheriff. Next week: the Race for the Badge special section.)

Absentee voting is under way
Absentee voting is under way in Panola County in preparation for the November 8 special election.

Panola County voters will go to the polls Tuesday, November 8 to elect a new sheriff in a special election.

Eleven candidates are seeking the sheriff’s office after the death of Sheriff David Bryan, who died April 23.

The newly elected sheriff will enter office immediately and finish the final two years of Bryan’s four-year term.

If none of the candidates receive at least 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote getters will enter a November 22 runoff.

The option to vote absentee is available to Panolians who will be unable to get to the polls on election day, such as voters who work out of town.

Voters can fill out an absentee ballot in the circuit clerk’s office at either county courthouse in Sardis or Batesville.

Anyone who is 65 or older can also vote in the circuit clerk’s office at the courthouse. An election ballot can be mailed to their homes, but to be legal the ballot envelope containing the ballot must be signed in front of a notary.

Disabled voters are exempt from the notary stipulations but must have a person over the age of 18 witness the signature.

The county circuit clerk’s offices will have extended hours for absentee voting on Saturday, October 29 and Saturday, November 5.

The hours will be 8 a.m. to noon each day.

Saturday, November 5 will be the last day for absentee voting.

For more information, contact the circuit clerk’s office at (662) 563-6210 (Batesville) or (662) 487-2073 (Sardis).

Three-wheeled Freeway a mileage champ, Hudson’s ‘answer to OPEC’
     Red Hudson showed up early Monday morning at the courthouse in Batesville to buy a tag for his new gas-saving vehicle.
By Rita Howell

The bright yellow three-wheeled vehicle driven by Red Hudson Monday morning had heads turning. The tiny, low-to-the-ground, enclosed motorcycle requires that Hudson fold up his tall frame to slide inside for a trip to town.

"I bought it on e-Bay," Hudson explained outside the courthouse, where he’d gone to buy a tag.

"I got it in Illinois. Brought it back yesterday (Sunday)," he said. "It’s my answer to OPEC."

The vehicle, called a Freeway, gets 75 miles to the gallon. It is powered by a 12 horsepower Tecumseh engine and has a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour, Hudson said.

It’s a 1982 model, built by a Minnesota company called High Mileage Vehicles. The company made 700 Freeways during the early ’80s, he said. They are no longer in business.

The one-man vehicle is heated, has a horn, and a hatchback.

"I’m not going to Florida in it," Hudson said. "It’s just for around town. I figure an odd-ball fellow like me needs an odd-ball vehicle."

Altercation in ‘middle of road’ leaves one dead of single gunshot
By Jason C. Mattox

A shooting in Como last week left one man dead and two men charged for their roles in the altercation.

Johnny Wesley, 41, was shot on Lucious Taylor Road Friday afternoon and died on the scene, Panola County Coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge confirmed Monday.

"An autopsy is scheduled to be performed this afternoon (Monday)," she said. "We won’t know a cause of death until we get the results back, but it appears he died from a fatal gunshot wound to the side of the head."

Gulledge said she pronounced Wesley dead at the scene at approximately 3:15 p.m.

The body was transported from the road site to the Mississippi State Crime Lab in Jackson for the autopsy.

Chief Deputy Craig Sheley of the Panola County Sheriff’s Department said Clarence Dewayne Burton, 23, of Como has been charged with Wesley’s murder and Charles Lark, 32, of Como has been charged with attempted kidnapping and felony possession of a firearm.

"We got a call about a body in a ditch on Lucious Taylor Road and deputies responded," Sheley said. "From what we understand, it all started with an altercation in the middle of the road."

Sheley said both Burton and Lark remain in custody at the David Bryan Justice Complex. Their bond is set $100,000.

Wesley lived on Old Panola Road, the chief deputy said.

Funeral arrangements for Wesley had not been released by presstime Monday afternoon. 

     Lee Dixon (front) will direct his cast at the Panola Playhouse as they perform "The Canterville Ghost," a slightly scary but funny play by Oscar Wilde. The play will run from Thursday, Oct. 27- Sunday, Oct. 30. The curtain will rise at 8 p.m. the for the first two nights. A Sunday matinee will begin at 2:30 p.m.



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