|County makes surprise move on board president
| Birge leads vote to put Avant in top position
|By Billy Davis
A new president will lead the Panola County Board of Supervisors after a surprise vote at the board’s "first Monday" meeting.
Supervisors voted 4-0 to elect District 2 Supervisor Robert Avant as board president, effectively booting District 4 Supervisor Jerry Perkins from the leadership post.
The push came from District 1 Supervisor James Birge, who suggested Avant and provided a motion at the tail end of the supervisors’ meeting.
The supervisors voted 4-0 with Avant absent. He took a timely restroom break after first listening to Birge’s suggestion.
"I wasn’t expecting it at all," Perkins said of the vote, speaking to The Panolian. "I feel like I had done a good job."
The supervisors did not appoint a vice president. Avant had served in that position since Perkins was appointed president in 2004.
Birge made the suggestion to appoint Avant on the grounds of a gentleman’s agreement among the board, namely that the board president serves for a year before his leadership post is up for discussion.
That date would have come in three more weeks, January 1, the midway point before a board of supervisors is sworn into office for a new term in 2008.
The five supervisors are up for re-election in the summer of 2007.
"If Mr. Birge wanted change, why not wait until the proper time?" Perkins asked rhetorically.
The subject of the president’s post did not come up in January, 2005, the District 4 supervisor also said.
Reached after the meeting, Birge spoke vaguely of the need for a change in the board’s leadership.
"It was just time to move on," said the District 1 supervisor.
Perkins steps down from the job after the recent sale of Tri-Lakes Medical Center, which came after Perkins wrangled throughout the year with hospital purchaser Dr. Bob Corkern.
Avant served as board president before Perkins was elected to the post in January, 2004.
After the supervisors’ meeting, Avant said he knew of Birge’s intentions to appoint him but did not discuss the coming change with Perkins before the meeting.
| Tickets to SP game go on sale Thursday
|Tickets for Friday night’s 5A State Championship game will be available at South Panola High School office and the District office on Booth Street from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Thursday and 8 a.m. until noon, Friday.
Advance tickets purchased through the school are $10 with half going to the local school. Tickets purchased at the Jackson stadium are $12 with one-third going to South Panola.
School administrators announced Monday that South Panola District Schools would operate on the Tuesday schedule, which will allow school to dismiss early so that students and parents can get to the game at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson for the 7 p.m. kick-off.
Although the game will be televised, listings for local reception was not available at press time.
Those who want transportation to the game can contact Dolly Morse or Cassandra Morgan, who are planning a chartered bus ride to the game.
Cost of the ride is $20 per person (six and under $13).
Persons interested should call Dolly at 712-0145 or 563-4883, or Cassandra at 578-6244.
The bus will leave at 3 p.m. from the old Wal-Mart parking lot (next to Kroger) on Keating Road. The Morgans encourage reserving seats early.
| Batesville alderman ‘in good spirits,’ ‘doing well’ after stroke
|By Jason C. Mattox
Batesville Vice-Mayor James Yelton is resting comfortably in Tri-Lakes Medical Center after suffering a stroke last Thursday and hopes to be released soon, according to his wife Melanie.
Mrs. Yelton said her husband was stricken at Hardee’s restaurant on Thursday morning.
Since that time, Mrs. Yelton said, doctors have performed tests to find the cause of his medical problems.
Yelton, 78, has represented Ward 3 on Batesville’s Board of Aldermen for nearly two decades. Because of his sudden illness, a called meeting of the city board last Thursday was cancelled.
"He has improved some since being admitted on Thursday," Mrs. Yelton said. "He has been in good spirits, and he knows what’s going on.
"He is doing very well and the doctors are pleased with the progress he has made," she added.
The stroke affected the alderman’s left side, according to Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley.
"We have been told he is doing well," he said. "All of us on the city board want to wish him a speedy recovery."
Yelton won re-election to his seat this summer.
The board is scheduled to meet for a regularly scheduled session today at 2 p.m.
| Little luck put Walters as ‘Big Buck’ leader
|By Billy Davis
To hear Larry Walters tell it, he was in the right place at the right time.
The current leader in The Panolian’s Big Buck Contest was walking back to his four-wheeler after a morning hunt when a 10-point buck stepped out of a thicket.
The hunter and the deer were 50 yards apart.
"He just stepped out, and we looked at each other at the same time," recalled Walters, who harvested the deer about 10 a.m. Tuesday, November 29, in Quitman County.
The deer earned Walters 60.25 points in the contest, a score that came from a 21-inch inside spread, 24-inch main beam length, a 5.25-inch base circumference and the 10-point rack.
The buck weighed 190 pounds, said the hunter, who lives in Batesville and is retired from BellSouth.
Walters’ entry is the 13th in the 2005-2006 Big Buck Contest, co-sponsored by Batesville Pawn Shop.
The contest ends January 31.
The second-place entry to date is Lee Rico, who earned 58.50 points with a nine-point on November 19.
Chip Schiele was the 2004-2005 winner in the Big Buck Contest. He bagged a 14-point buck whose measurements totalled 65.50 points.
With nearly two months to go in the contest, Walters said he’s aware he could be bumped by another "big one."
"It only takes a second to get beat because the big ones are about to start moving," he said, referring to the start of the rut.
| Sheriff’s department seeks missing woman
|By Jason C. Mattox
The Panola County Sheriff’s Department is searching for a Batesville woman who has reportedly been missing since Thursday, December 1.
Sheriff’s Department investigator Barry Thompson said Carolyn Beavers reported her daughter Stephanie M. Adams Lane, a.k.a. "Tuffy," missing on Sunday.
Lane, 28, is 5′, 7" tall and weighs 120 pounds. She has blond hair and brown eyes, and was last seen wearing blue jeans and a dark brown shirt.
"Beavers told us that Lane left her home to have her car repaired and never returned," he said.
"Stephanie has four children and isn’t the kind of person that would just disappear," Beavers said.
Thompson said investigators are presently searching for any clues to Lane’s whereabouts.
Anyone with any information should contact Thompson at 563-6230.
| Christmas parade tonight in Batesville
| Santa Claus confirmed as participant in event
| An electronic Santa waves to passersby in front of the Charlie Baglan and Associates law firm on the Downtown Square. The law firm’s locale will be part of the Batesville Christmas Parade, which starts at 6:30 Tuesday evening.
| By Rupert Howell
Not many events during the year draw as many people to town as the annual Batesville Christmas Parade, sponsored again by the Batesville Lions Club.
Although the parade begins at 6:30 p.m., floats and other entries will begin lining up on Watts and Park Street by mid-afternoon today and if you’re planning on eating out tonight, better get there early as many parade goers use the opportunity to stay out of the kitchen on parade night.
The parade is expected to take its usual route south down Broadway Street, around the Downtown Square and exit on College Street.
Some may enjoy the parade view from the expanse on Broadway next to the railroad track, while others enjoy the raised view from the east side of the Downtown Square.
Well-connected folk may enjoy the view from the balconies of Downtown buildings along the parade’s route.
People with young children should take care to keep them from under the entries’ wheels as they chase after candy often tossed to the throngs from parade participants.
Don’t be surprised if a freight train comes through town during the festivities. (It’s really not a Batesville parade without one.)
Santa will again make his annual trek from the North Pole to Batesville to be in the parade, according to sources from his headquarters there.
"Santa is pretty happy overall with the behavior of the children in the Batesville area – for now," said Santa’s spokesperson, Elf Claus.
| Sheriff submits list of new hirings
By Billy Davis
Panola Sheriff Hugh "Shot" Bright made his first appearance as an elected official at the county supervisors’ "first Monday" meeting yesterday, where he submitted a list of new hirings and requested a budget amendment to add two deputies next year.
Bright made the requests formal with a December 5 letter and a sheet listing the salaries of the department’s jailers, deputies and support staff.
Sporting a pair of new black cowboy boots, Bright sat at the supervisors’ table throughout the December 5 meeting, occupying a seat normally occupied by County Administrator David Chandler, who sat behind him.
The county supervisors voted unanimously to allow the hiring of five deputies and a jailer, and to adjust the pay of Chief Deputy Otis Griffin Jr.
The new deputy hirings are part-timers Bobby Billingsley, Jarrell Mills, Raymond Pearson and Ezell Pegues, and full-time deputy Chuck Henson.
The part-time deputies will make $8 an hour. Henson will make $1,965 a month.
The jail hiring is Terry Bryant, who is returning to his former jailer’s job at $1,839 a month. Pearson and Pegues are also "re-hires" for the department.
Griffin will make $4,150 a month, or $49,800 annually, via Bright’s request.
The Panola sheriff’s salary is $72,000 a year, or $6,000 a month, an amount mandated by the legislature.
Bright told supervisors he was hiring a jail administrator for the department, who will start January 1, but did not name the person.
"He probably won’t do as much as I did because he’ll have to learn most of (the job)," Bright said of the coming hire.
According to the salary sheet, Bright is apparently retaining former Chief Deputy James Rudd at $2,081 a month, an amount paid to him eight months of the year.
Rudd worked alongside late Sheriff David Bryan as the department’s second in command.
"What work is Rudd doing?" asked District 1 Supervisor James Birge.
"He’ll be doing dam work," Bright said, referring to Rudd’s long-held job of patrolling the lakes.
The letter presented by Bright listed the resignation of a deputy but did not mention former Chief Deputy Craig Sheley, who left his job after losing to Bright in the November 22 runoff.
Regarding the hiring of two deputies, Bright said he would like to add the new manpower January 1 at monthly salaries of $1,965 each.
Responding to that request, board attorney Bill McKenzie explained that the supervisors’ role is to "vote on the money," meaning the approval of the hirings is a formality but they must look at the budget.
"What you need to do is to formally request that you want to amend your budget to increase it ?x’ number of dollars for the employment of two new deputies," McKenzie said.
McKenzie indicated that Bright and Chandler should meet about the request and then bring their finding to the board of supervisors.
| Pharmacy to host Medicare help seminar
|By John Howell Sr.
Senior citizens who have questions about Medicare’s drug coverage can learn answers at a seminar offered by Saverex Drugs at the Tri-Lakes Medical Center’s Education Room Tuesday December 13.
Many senior citizens are confused about the new Medicare Part D drug plan and the pending deadline for enrollment, Saverex pharmacist Susan Neese said.
"We’re just going to answer questions about Medicare Part D," Neese said.
At the meeting, which starts at 10 a.m., Linda Cathey with the Council on Aging will join Neese to help answer questions about enrollment.
"A lot of people don’t understand; a lot of people got a letter from Medicare and have questions," the pharmacist continued.
"If they don’t sign up during the enrollment period you’d have to pay a higher premium for the rest of your life," Neese said. "I tell people to at least sign up for the cheapest protection."
The Medicare Part D deadline is May 15, 2006.
Even if a person is not in need of prescription medication at present, that person needs to sign up to be eligible for the program in the event a medication need arises later, she said.
Under Medicare Part D, the government participates with the patient for total prescription expenditures up to $2,250. There is a coverage gap of $3,600 which has been dubbed the "doughnut hole" until the total prescription expenditure reaches $5,100. After $5,100, the Medicare plans pays 95 percent, while the patient pays five percent.
Prescriptions for Medicaid patients who are eligible for Medicare A and B will be shifted to Medicare Part D for payment, the pharmacist explained.
"It’s important that Medicaid patients choose their plan; otherwise one will be assigned to them and it may not be the best one to pay for the medicine they are receiving," she added.
Dental and eye care will continue to be paid through Medicaid.
Also available at the seminar will be Social Security form SSA 1020 with which many seniors can qualify for need-based prescription assistance up to $2,100 per year.
"It’s a great program; it offers real help for real people," Neese said. Ownership of a home or land is not a hindrance to qualifying for the help, she added.