Headlines – 2/17/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 17, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – February 17, 2006

  From the 2/17/06 issue of The Panolian       

Ongoing tussle over county store has
     new topic: politics
By Billy Davis

An otherwise quiet and quick meeting of the Panola County Land Development Commission touched on a subject that has become a growing frustration for the volunteer board.

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Commission members were adjourning their monthly gathering Monday evening in Sardis when table talk once again turned to store owner Stan Holcombe and his parking lot.

In particular, commission members grumbled that he seems to be enjoying political cover from District 4 Supervisor Jerry Perkins, who works at the store, and also from County Administrator David Chandler.
Last month, the commission voted unanimously to allow county permit clerk Diane Stewart to sign an affidavit against Holcombe and pursue a fine against him in justice court.

The county land-use standards require business owners to pave their parking lots in order to receive a permit to operate in the county. In recent years, businesses such as the First Security Bank branch in Pope and Myron Hall’s plumbing service near Batesville have paved their lots.

After a year-and-a-half battle with the commission, Holcombe has since paved a small portion directly in front of the store, which is roughly one-fifth of the total area to be paved.

The tussle with Holcombe is a first for the commission and is testing its ability to oversee growth and development in non-municipal Panola County.

The discussion Monday began with Chandler as the topic. Chandler had complained to Stewart that he was never informed of the commission’s planned court action against Holcombe. That was an unusual move, commission members said, since Chandler never involves himself in the commission’s decisions.

Informed of that topic, commission member Danny Jones pointedly complained of political influence, wondering aloud if the commission would "lose a couple of members" if the commission’s work is manipulated by political maneuvering.

"This is the first time politics has gotten involved in the commission," added Jones, who is one of several original members of the commission.

According to Chandler, his complaint last month was with Stewart, not the commission. He called Stewart to his office and told her he should have been informed of the affidavit and her planned trip to justice court.

"I don’t get the minutes from the meeting until two weeks later. I’d like to know if anything controversial is going on before I read it in the newspaper," Chandler said.

While acknowledging that the county has no system by which Stewart informs Chandler of the commission’s monthly actions, Chandler said Stewart should use "common sense" to decide which commission votes are controversial.

Stewart, who is a county employee, is present at the land commission’s monthly meetings, where she acts on board action to contact parties who have business before the commission.

At the January meeting, the commission asked Stewart to pursue an affidavit against Holcombe, later putting its request to a formal vote.

"I don’t want Diane to be seen as the heavy in this," said Jones, who made the motion to take the matter to justice court.

Still gathered at their meeting table, commission members also noted that Perkins is a frequent sight at Holcombe’s business, suggesting a business arrangement with the store owner.

Perkins’ association with Holcombe and his store has surfaced at past commission meetings, though mostly through side conversations.

"He opens the store for (Holcombe) every Saturday morning," commission member Donna Traywick told her colleagues.

Informed Tuesday of the commission’s complaints, Perkins said he does work at the store at least twice a week, and defended his work there and his association with Holcombe.

Perkins said the topic of Holcombe’s unpaved parking lot "comes up" but Holcombe "doesn’t seem to expect me to do something for him personally."

Perkins said Holcombe "has every intention" of paving his lot, but he must first remove several dead trees lining the highway so the work won’t damage the newly paved lot.

"He has to get TVEPA to take them down, and TVEPA has to get a permit from MDOT to do the work," Perkins said.

More than a dozen towering pine trees line the highway right-of-way in front of Stan’s Country Store.

TVEPA general manager Brad Robison said Thursday morning that a crew was in the process of cutting three dead pine trees near the store.

"The trees aren’t on our right-of-way, but they could still fall on our lines," Robison said. "So they’re being cut as I speak."

Regarding Holcombe’s request, Robison said the store owner had "nonchalantly" asked a TVEPA employee for the trees to be cut.

Last month, Holcombe told The Panolian that he postponed the commission’s request because he plans to return to the board to request a slaughter house on the property.

"Otherwise I’d have to put out two red signs and that would cost $100 each time," Holcombe said.

The signs announce a landowner’s request for a variance and announce the date of a public hearing.
Perkins said he and Holcombe have been friends "for years and years."

"I don’t understand why they’re upset with me because I’ve got a good friend I help out," Perkins said. "It’s really none of their business who my friends are."

Still another issue regarding Holcombe is the language of the land-use standards and its requirements.

Land commission attorney Colmon Mitchell told the board Monday that the language needs to be tightened in order to hold up in court.

"I don’t know why we’re still quibbling over the driveway," said commission member Sledge Taylor. "If it’s not done, it’s not done."

District 2 Supervisor Robert Avant attended the commission’s Monday meeting, saying he came to see the commission at work.

Avant had left before the discussion turned to Holcombe and politics.

Dumpster dilemma causes stink
By Jason C. Mattox

One business owner in Sardis is doing what he can to avoid being fined for allowing trash to collect around a dumpster that’s no longer being emptied.
Mike Adieh, owner of Jr. Food Mart and the Pure station on Highway 51, said he’d switched dumpster services seven months ago, but his former garbage service has yet to retrieve its container. His current provider, BFI, won’t empty the old dumpster, which is being used as a trash receptacle by residents – without Adieh’s permission.

Adieh, along with several other business owners in the city, did not know the name of the old company when contacted by The Panolian Thursday morning.
"All any of them know is the owner’s name is Cris," Sardis Police Chief Mike Davis said. "But we are working with them to help find a solution to this problem.

"All of the businesses are trying to do something about it, but the owner won’t return phone calls," he added.

Adieh said he was unaware if the company went out of business or not.

"I don’t really know what happened," he said. "All I know is we have been trying to get something done about this dumpster problem for seven months. I don’t care if he just comes and picks up the dumpster.

"I know we have paid him to come and empty it one more time, and now we can’t even get him on the phone," he said.

"BFI won’t touch the (old) dumpsters because they don’t belong to them," he said.

In order to avoid being fined by the city for the trash problem around his old dumpster, Adieh said he paid an individual $80 to remove trash from it and transport it to the Panola County rubbish pit.

"The city is saying the businesses will be ticketed, and it is cheaper to pay someone to clean it up than it would be to pay the tickets," he said. "It’s not that we don’t want to keep the areas clean, it’s just hard when the dumpster owner won’t come pick it up.

"I pay someone to clean them out, but the next day people have started putting trash in them again," he said. "I don’t really know what I can do to solve this problem."

Magazine story lauds ‘Super Model’ Pegues
     Batesville native Leonard Pegues and his rise to modeling success is featured in the February issue of Mahogany magazine.
By John Howell Sr.

Batesville native Leonard Pegues and the story of his rise from relative obscurity as one of the 24 children of a Panola County couple to the success of his Reflections Model and Talent Agency is the cover of this month’s Mahogany magazine now on sale.

"Super Model Leonard Pegues, The Story Before the Glory," written by Gene Lawson, traces Pegues’ beginnings in "Peguesville," the area along Terza Road so densely populated with family members that it is unofficially named for them. It follows him from graduation at South Panola High School and his career at Ole Miss, where he majored in business management, broke the color barrier of the formerly all-white Ole Miss modeling board, and founded the Ebony Elegance Modeling board.

His university modeling career led to his discovery by international modeling agencies which provided international exposure through modeling in advertisements, Lawson’s story recounts.

A decade spent on the international modeling circuit led him back full circle to found the Reflections agency in 1995. Pegues "wanted to develop a modeling and talent agency that was not interested in selling dreams to rip people off, rather he wanted to create an agency that would train and build its students skill as well as their character," Lawson writes.

The agency has graduated over 3,000 trained models and entertainers during its first decade and currently maintains a portfolio of 500.

"When they graduate, students are not only ready for a career they are ready for life," states Lawson in the Mahogany cover story.

Two Reflections graduates who have also had success in international modeling are Tony Johnson and Renadda Wiggins. In 2005, the Maury Povich Show contacted Reflections to be a part of their "Extreme Makeover" series.

The success of the Reflections agency inspired Pegues in 2002 to found a non-profit organization, Reflections of Hope, "which caters to those who are at-risk and marginalized," according to Lawson’s story about Pegues.

Pegues also hopes to answer a call to the ministry which came through his work the the Cumming Street M. B. Church, where he is a member.

Following publication of The Story Before the Glory, Pegues has been featured on a Memphis television program and contacted about making the story into a movie, he said this week.

Pegues’ daughter Leighanne is featured in the opening page of the Mahogany magazine story. The other children of Leonard and Angela Pegues are Nicolas, Storm and Rhema. Pegues is the son of Mrs. Lela Mae Pegues and the late Joe Walter Pegues.

‘Hokey’ weather chugging this way
By Billy Davis

Winter weather in the skies above Panola County will do the "Hokey Pokey" this weekend as weather systems move in and then move out.

A weather system chugging from the northeast to the Mid-South could bring icy weather Saturday and Sunday, said meteorologist Marlene Mickelson with the National Weather Service in Memphis.

Areas north of Panola County, and especially those north of Memphis, will likely see icy weather, she said.

"Panola County is right on the borderline," Mickelson said. "There’s a chance you could have all rain the entire time frame."

Before the northeast front arrives, however, an earlier north-northwest front was set to move in Thursday.

The north-northwest front was set to replace this week’s spring-like temperatures with colder temperatures beginning Thursday night, she said.

An upper-level system spinning winds from the Gulf Coast caused daytime temperatures to jump into the 60s this week, Mickelson said.

Following the drop in temperature Thursday night, however, the coming northeast weather system could bring icy weather after midnight Friday, the meteorologist said.

The National Weather Service forecast for the weekend showed a low of 36 Friday night and a low of 30 Saturday night. The low Sunday night was also 36.

The forecast showed a high Saturday and Sunday of 37.

DeSoto speaker unveils development plans along I-55
Covenant Crossing could include restaurants, cinema
By John Howell Sr.

The northeast corner at the intersection of Interstate 55 and Highway 6 East could become home to a cinema, restaurants and a big-box retailer if its new owner has his way.

Alvan Kelly of DeSoto County spoke Tuesday to the Batesville Rotary Club and described plans for the property.

Kelly recently purchased 134 acres in the northeast intersection quadrant and 46 acres surrounding Tri-Lakes Medical Center from developer John Hyneman of Memphis.

"We want to be a positive influence in Batesville," Kelly said.

He presented an architect’s conception of how commercial development might take shape in the area surrounding Lowe’s that has been named Covenant Crossing. Kelly mentioned chain restaurants which might be contacted for possible location in the development, including Appleby’s, McAlister’s and Chili’s.

Kelly said that he would contact United Artists and Malco Theaters regarding the introduction of a cinema.

"We’re going after Target," Kelly continued. "If we can’t get an anchor, we’re going after a nice strip center," he said.

"Batesville is poised for some tremendous growth; I’ve just looked at some demographics from national companies. You’re not in it right now but you’re poised for some astronomical growth," Kelly said.

"I’m not a developer," said Kelly, a Eudora native and founder of Covenant Companies. "I’m a freight expediter; we broker truckloads of freight all over the country."

Phase two of Covenant Crossing will include residential property. Emphasis on its development will be a second priority after the commercial development.

"We’re not going to come in and put just anything on this," Kelly continued. "The temptation is the first guy that calls with the money to let him have it, but I’ve seen that."

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