Headlines – 12/9/2005

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 9, 2005

The Panolian: HEADLINES – December 9, 2005

  From the 12/9/05 issue of The Panolian :                    

Tonight, Tigers will go for Game No. 45
By Rupert Howell

Batesville and the south Panola area’s population is expected to drastically drop tonight as the South Panola Tigers attempt to win their third consecutive State 5A title in Jackson, this time against South-Half champion Meridian.

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The game begins at 7 p.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium.

South Panola will put its second consecutive championship and a 44-game winning streak on the line against former South Panola Coach Ed Stanley.

A part of the foundation of South Panola’s winning tradition, Stanley took the Tigers to the State 5A championship three consecutive years (1996-98), winning it all in 1998.

Stanley was also defensive coordinator in 1993 of South Panola’s first 5A state championship team. Head coach of that championship team was Willis Wright, who is presently defensive coordinator for South Panola.

South Panola’s head coach, Ricky Woods, is sporting a 58-1 record at South Panola. The only loss came in the state championship his first season with a team he respectfully inherited from Stanley.

Inside today’s edition is a special 16-page section, written and edited by The Panolian Sports Editor Myra Bean, that compiles the current season.

Sponsors of the tabloid include: Batesville Vision Clinic, Caldwell Insurance, Powell’s Country Store, Dale’s Smokehouse Cafe, Covenant Bank, BancorpSouth, Tri-Star Mechanical Contractors, First Security Bank, Hampton Inn, MMC Materials, Graves Oil Company, Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association, Reed’s Piggly Wiggly and The Panolian.

Tickets for tonight’s game are available at the South Panola High School office and the District Office on Booth Street until noon today for $10 or may be purchased at the stadium for $12.

Local station WBLE 101.5 FM will carry the radio broadcast. The game will not be televised locally live although WABG-TV, channel 6 in Greenwood/ Greenville, will air a delayed broadcast Sunday at 10:30 p.m., according to the WABG Web site.

(Please see C & D sections for additional sports information).

MDOT: bypass decision Dec. 20
By Billy Davis

The long-planned strategy to improve traffic flow in Batesville will be unveiled in two weeks at a meeting conducted by the Miss. Department of Transportation (MDOT).

MDOT engineers will disclose their choice between three plans ? bypasses that swing south of the city limits or a widening of Hwy. 6 West ? at the Tuesday, December 20, meeting.
The event, which is open to the public, is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the MDOT lab building in Batesville.

A similar meeting is planned for December 19 in Marks.
The coming changes to Batesville, whatever they are, will unfold as part of a larger MDOT plan to widen the two-lane thoroughfare between Batesville and Clarksdale.

In addition to those changes, a much larger project will also unfold west of Panola County in the Delta counties: Interstate 69, which will stretch 1,600 miles from Canada to Mexico when completed.

The I-69 project is divided into 32 separate projects from Texas to Michigan. Four of those projects are taking place in Mississippi, and one of the four will put I-69 through Tunica, Bolivar and Coahoma counties.

The future presence of I-69 west of Panola County is expected to bring heavy traffic through the Batesville/Highway 6 corridor, especially commercial trucks, making traffic improvements to Panola County an essential part of the future I-69 plan.

(For more information about I-69 in Mississippi, visit ).

The MDOT announcement comes after more than 100 people viewed maps of the possible bypass routes and aired their opinions in an October, 2004, public meeting.

"We’ve gone through the whole process and now the public will be informed of the situation," Jesse Stewart, assistant district engineer for MDOT’s construction department, said of the coming announcement.

MDOT considered three alternatives for Batesville, two varying bypass routes and the widening of Highway 6 through Batesville.

The bypass routes are plans "B" and "C" while the route through the city is "alternate E."

If state officials choose the bypass, both alternate "B" and "C" would take the same route from Hwy. 6 East to Interstate 55, crossing Eureka Road at Will Road and continuing to a new interchange on I-55 between Eureka and Shiloh roads.

Traveling west from Shiloh, the bypass routes differ from there.

"B" would go west toward Hwy. 35 with the interchange near Shiloh, crossing northwest through Farrish Gravel Road and tying into Highway 6 west of North Delta School.

While also crossing I-55 near Shiloh, "C" would cross Hwy. 51 just south of the Pope-Courtland water tower and travel through an interchange located between existing highways 51 and 35.

From there it would cross existing Highway 35 near First Assembly of God Church, also crossing Farrish and back into Highway 6 near North Delta.

The "C" plan would also include a new, relocated Highway 35 route.

The railroad overpass at highways 6 and 35 will also be improved regardless of MDOT’s plans for Batesville traffic, MDOT engineers have said.

Regarding possible bypass locations through homes, yards and pastures, Stewart stressed that the current mapping is only an estimate of the thoroughfare’s expected path.

"This is where the route will travel in approximate terms," Stewart said, "not how many feet it will be from your front porch."

After MDOT discloses its plans in the coming weeks, the next step in the project is survey and design work, the engineer said.

City officials disagree over utilities
By Jason C. Mattox

Following a unanimous vote by City of Batesville officials Tuesday to allow a developer to hook into city water, sewer and gas, a brief statement by Mayor Jerry Autrey triggered a 15-minute discussion about fairness to developers outside the city limits.

During the meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen December 6, developer Ted Stewart and project engineer Byron Houston of Houston Engineering appeared before the board to request city services for coming low-income apartments.

The apartments will be located just outside the city limits on Haddorn Road.

"The city will not have to pay for anything," Stewart said. "All of the expenses for hooking onto the city’s utilities will be paid for out of a grant we have received."

After Stewart addressed the board, Autrey instructed Gas Department Superintendent William Wilson to keep a record of costs on the project for billing purposes.

Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley then asked why the city would issue a bill to Stewart for running the lines and not the developers of a subdivision on Ballentine Road.

"We are running that line out of the city limits at our expense," he said. "I don’t understand why you are going to send a bill to [Stewart]."

Autrey said the only reason the city planned to charge Stewart for the line was because they volunteered to pay all costs.

"These were not conditions that we set," Autrey said. "They told us this would be done at no cost to the city."

"We just need to make sure that we treat everyone (developers) the same no matter who they are," Manley said.

Curtis fire displaces family of 3
     To help his partner battle the blaze, a Batesville firefighter pulls apart pieces of a flaming mobile home that caught fire Wednesday afternoon in the Curtis community. The single-wide trailer was destroyed in the blaze. 
By Billy Davis

A house fire that may have started at a wall heater destroyed a mobile home west of Batesville Wednesday.

The single-wide trailer at 21 Lamar Thomas Road was fully in flames when Batesville firefighters arrived about 1:15 p.m.

The home is located west of Curtis Road at the intersection of Lamar Thomas and Tom Cooper roads.

Barely 10 minutes after homeowner Priscilla Willis made a 9-1-1 call from inside her burning mobile home, fire had collapsed the roof and curled the trailer’s thin metal frame.

Willis said she was asleep in bed when a smoke alarm sounded. Running to the den, she saw flames at the base of a gas heater.

"The fire was climbing the wall," said Willis, 31. "By the time I called 9-1-1, it was up the wall."

Willis said she was napping before driving to her second-shift job in Oxford at the Whirlpool plant.

The homeowner said she has lived at the home for 10 years and lives there now with her children, ages 10 and 11.

Willis said she and her children will live at her mother’s home nearby until she can find another home. She did not have homeowner’s insurance.

Asked about the impact of losing her home weeks before Christmas, Willis said the holiday would be tough.

"I didn’t have a Christmas tree up but the presents were hidden in a back room," she said.

Supervisors hear urge to improve State Aid work

By Billy Davis

Panola’s county supervisors are set to meet next week for a "strategy session" to prioritize road improvements for the county’s State Aid roadways.

Panola County road manager Lygunnah Bean suggested the meeting to his bosses after explaining that the county is behind schedule and needs to ensure it’s up-to-date on road work.

The meeting is set for Monday, December 12, at 4 p.m. in the office of county engineer Larry Britt.

Britt’s firm is headquartered in Oxford but maintains an office on the Downtown Square in Batesville.

Bean cited Eureka Road as an example of State Aid work, saying the road spent several years on the waiting list before State Aid work was performed on the roadway.

State Aid is a department within the Miss. Department of Transportation that helps counties improve roadways that connect to major highways.
"No other programs are ready for an overlay so I’m suggesting a planning session," Bean said. "If it took that long for Eureka and there are no roads programmed, it will be several years until we see some results."

Bean said Britt had researched the county’s involvement in the State Aid program and cautioned the road manager that the county needs to move faster if it wants to participate.

In other county business:
Supervisors voted unanimously to "cut" the City of Batesville a check for $1.06 million, its share of net profit from the sale of Tri-Lakes Medical Center.
The city owned 40 percent of the facility while the county owned the remaining 60 percent.
     As a matter of record, county board attorney Bill McKenzie noted to supervisors that the sale of Tri-Lakes Medical Center is finalized but some closing expenses must still be paid.
     Regarding remaining funds, Chancery Clerk Jim Pitcock told supervisors the overall figure was $2.6 million "as of nine o’clock this morning."
     After the meeting, County Administrator David Chandler sought to clarify that the county’s "net profit" is a misnomer because the county still has obligations from the sale.
     "I don’t want people thinking we’re sitting on top of $1.6 million because we’re not," Chandler said.
     The county is sitting on top of $3 million, however, its pay for the sale of the former hospital building known now as the west campus. The county supervisors have yet to say how they intend to spend those funds.
Supervisors voted unanimously to pay a $911 repair bill for county constable Cleve Gale stemming from a car wreck that totaled his vehicle.
     Gale brought the bill to supervisors and asked them to pay, saying the amount covered the expenses of Batesville Communications replacing law enforcement lights in the vehicle.
Supervisors voted to allow solid waste manager Dean Joiner to advertise for seven dumpsters and a roll-off trailer to add to the department’s fleet.
     If the county utilizes a 36-month lease purchase, Joiner said, the new equipment would replace a hired contractor and saved the county $2,500 to $3,000 a month.
     The initial purchase would be about $75,000, he said.
Feds pour $300k into Longtown
By Billy Davis

Federal monies totaling $300,000 are steered toward a community center and volunteer fire department in the north Panola community of Longtown thanks to an appropriations bill passed by Congress.

U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker made the announcement in recent weeks that the federal tax monies will build a "multi-purpose center" in the area.

The project was included in the Treasury-Transportation-HUD Appropriations bill that cleared both Houses of Congress prior to adjournment for the Thanksgiving break.

The President later signed the bill into law.

The facility is projected to serve as a site for community activities and also house the fire department.

"We were fortunate to include funds to meet this need," Wicker said in a press release. "We hope it will provide a place for public affairs functions as well as youth programs, senior citizen activities, and a wide range of civic and recreational events for area residents."

County supervisors announced the appropriation at their "first Monday" meeting this week.

Panola County road manager Lygunnah Bean noted that District 2 Supervisor Robert Avant helped bring the funds to the community during a recent trip to Washington, D.C.

Avant represents the Longtown area as county supervisor.

Christmas Parade
     Annie Ruth Hughes clowns around with spectators at the Batesville Christmas Parade, which drew more than 10,000 people to downtown Batesville Tuesday night.



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