Headlines Cont. – 11/4/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 4, 2005

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – November 4, 2005


Sardis aldermen put prosecutor on salary
By Jason C. Mattox

The prosecuting attorney for the Sardis Municipal Court will now receive a salary rather than a per case payment.

Aldermen voted 4-0, with Ward 4 Alderman Rivers McArthur absent, to pay city prosecutor Ray Tannehill $400 monthly rather than $50 per case.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

"The judge told us at the last meeting that he tried to schedule at least four trials so it would be worth it for him to come to court," Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye said.

City Clerk Odessa Johnson pointed out that court is only twice a month.

"Even though he is only here twice a month, it really wouldn’t mean an increase in what he makes," she said.

Johnson also said Tannehill wanted to be placed into PERS (the state retirement program). That would cost the city 10.75 percent of Tannehill’s salary.

"If it’s the same amount, I don’t see how this would really matter," Ward 1 Alderman Joseph "JoJo" Still said. "But if that’s what he wants, I don’t see a problem with it."

City attorney Tommy Shuler said the set amount would help him budget for supplies and other expenses.

Police Chief Mike Davis said Tannehill would include training to police officers in his salary.

"He told me if he came down and there wasn’t anything in court, he would come over to the department and show officers how to prepare a case for trial," he said. "He wants to do whatever he can to help the city."

In other board business:
Aldermen hired Bill Coker as administrator of the Federal Home Grant program.
Dye informed the aldermen that the city would be reapplying for grants to repair several ditches throughout the city.
Board members were presented with a list of repairs the city’s part-time mechanic had done including his cost compared to estimates.
Much cotton out of pickers’ reach
     Bolls stunted when plants ceased growing refused to yield their lint to passing cotton pickers, even during the machine’s second pass through the rows.
By John Howell Sr.

Panola’s cotton producers feel like they left much of their crop on the ground or otherwise unpicked, Lent Thomas said last week.

Thomas walked between rows of recently cut stalks where open, fluffy bolls that usually fill cotton pickers’ bins lay instead in the middles. In another field where the stalks waited to be cut, Thomas pointed to the fleecy fibers hanging from stunted bolls. Those bolls never matured sufficiently to open enough to allow the picker’s spindles to pull them free from the plant, he said.

Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Executive Director Kim Billingsley on Wednesday reaffirmed his earlier assessment of the county’s crop loss from back to back hurricanes and extremely dry weather.

By mid-October, the county had received an average of 24 inches of rainfall for 2005, Billingsley said. Panola’s rainfall averages 55 inches per year.
Still, the FSA official says cotton yield "depends on the site." With dry land cotton "if they caught a few timely rains, they did okay," Billingsley said.

William Cole of B and R Crop Insurance determining the extent of crop losses against insurance values is "probably a couple of weeks away."

Most of the cotton has been picked and is in the process of being separated from its seeds at area gins, Cole said. Once ginned, the grading process that follows will determine the crop’s value, the amount against which it has been insured.

"We’ve got a bunch of claims open," Cole said.

Thomas said that winds from Hurricane Rita caused the damage that kept his plants’ upper bolls from maturing.

"The wind turned the leaves upside down on the plant; it made them look they had been defoliated," said Thomas, who has been raising cotton for most of his 70-plus years.

"I’ve never seen the leaves turn upside down," Thomas added.

The top of the plants’ leaves must face sunlight for photosynthesis. When photosynthesis stops, growth stops.

"I’ve had two or three farmers tell me the same thing; it looked like it had been defoliated," Cole agreed.

Compounding the maturity and drought problems were hurricane-generated wind gusts that left stalks askew in its wake. Modern pickers glean their best yields from well-aligned plants, but when operators drove into fields this fall the stalks bent over into middles of rows.

"It was worse in rows planted east and west," Thomas said. Rita’s counter-clockwise rotation brought winds out of the north which bent boll-laden plants. With the mature stalks bent under the weight of foliage and open bolls, subsequent days of dry, sunshiny weather were never able to coax them back upright.

Cotton is not the only local crop with weather-reduced yields, Billingsley said. Soybean farmers are feeling the drought as their combines beat through plants and find fewer beans in the hopper.

Panola rice producers also see yields cut from hurricane-generated winds, Billingsley added.

When Katrina roared through August 29, south Delta rice producers were hit hard because the plants bearing maturing grain were pushed to the ground by the wind. With the grain in contact with the wet ground, the rice started sprouting, Billingsley said.

"I thought ‘wow’ we’ve made it through," Billingsley said of Panola’s rice producers whose crop was not yet at that stage of maturity.

"When Rita came (September 25), our rice was at the level of maturity of the south Delta rice" at Katrina’s passage, he added.



Copyright 2005-2006 by The Panolian, Inc..  All rights reserved
Copyright 2001-2004 by Batesville Newspapers, LLC.  All rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission  is prohibited.