Headlines – 2/28/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – February 28, 2006

  From the 2/28/06 issue of The Panolian       

Refinance could save SP $400,000
By Jason C. Mattox

The South Panola School District will save more than $400,000 once the refinancing of 1998 Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) Bonds is completed.

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The refinancing of MAEP Bonds will bring the district $186,350.15 and the recent refinancing of General Obligation bonds will bring around $250,000 in savings, District Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer said.

Trustees on the South Panola School District Board were informed about potential savings that could come with refinancing during their meeting last Thursday night.

"In December we might have been a little confused by it," board president Lygunnah Bean said speaking about the district’s recent refinancing of General Obligation bonds. "But I feel like we are old pros at it now."

Funds from both the MAEP and General Obligation bonds totaling approximately $15 million were used to construct South Panola High School and pay for other capital improvements to district property, according to Shaffer.

Jason Aykers of Watkins and Young of Jackson, told the board that savings over the remaining life of the bonds would be over $186,000, with most of that coming in an up front lump-sum payment.

"The largest portion of the savings will be seen up front," Aykers said. "The district will see $158,095.15 in up front savings."

District Superintendent Shaffer said the refinancing of the bonds will not lengthen the district’s commitment to the bonds.

"The bonds will be repaid over the same amount of time (bonds will be paid off by 2018)," he said. "This is just a chance for the district to get a better interest rate than what we have been paying for several years now."

Aykers said Watkins and Young are hoping to have the new interest rate for the bonds by April 15.

As for use of the savings generated by the refinancing of MAEP and General Obligation bonds, Shaffer said legally it can be used for any school purpose.

"The district can use the money for anything, but the decision amongst the board has been to use the funds to pay for capital improvements," he said. "We all seem to think that is the best plan for the money since that is what is was for in the first place."

Principals offer update on goings-on
     Batesville Intermediate School third graders
Emily Manning
(front) and Tori Willis hurriedly scribble the prefix of "disobey" Friday morning to earn a point for their team. The game is helping students prepare for the state MCT (Mississippi Curriculum Test) in May, said school librarian Danielle Moore, who was asking the questions. Both students got the answer right, though Willis was a few seconds quicker than her opponent.
By Jason C. Mattox

When asked to highlight one topic in their report at the monthly school board meeting last Tuesday night, Batesville Elementary School Principal Carolyn Graham promoted the pre-kindergarten classes.

Graham said the school had more than 80 applications for the 30 slots available in the 2006-07 school year.

South Panola School District Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer urged board members to visit the Pre-K classrooms when they were feeling a little down.

"If you go by that building and peak in, you will see all of those little faces anxious to learn, and all of your troubles will just melt away," he said.

"We would love to have the space to accept all 80 of those children, but we just don’t have it," Graham said.

She was the first principal to address the board under the new format that allows school principals to expound upon one topic from their monthly written report to the board.

Batesville Middle School Principal Willie Chapman told board members her staff found a way to motivate fourth and fifth grade students to learn their multiplication tables.

"We really noticed that our children were having a hard time with the times tables," she said. "One of the teachers came up to me and suggested a contest between the students to motivate them."

What came of that discussion was a tournament between all fourth and fifth grade classes.

"The students really started to get into it once there was some competition," Chapman said. "We decided this will be something we continue with in the coming years."

Batesville Junior High Principal Darrell Tucker told board members about his school’s recent science fair.

"Every eighth grade student participated in the science fair," he said. "And the thing we noticed was that students who weren’t doing so well in the classroom, did a really good job when it got to the hands-on approach of the science fair."

Billy Smith, director of South Panola High School’s technical education program, told board members the Reality Fair held earlier in February was a real success.

"It was something we discussed in the past, but it just wouldn’t come together," he said. "But we decided to move forward with it this year."

Smith said the Reality Fair was designed to teach students about real-life responsibilities.

"We based their salary on their GPA," he said. "Once that was done, they went around to booths and decided whether they wanted to rent or buy a house, and found out just how much things would cost.

"If a student had money left over at the end of the day, they were given a Payday candy bar," Smith added. "If they didn’t, they were given a Zero candy bar."

After hearing from other principals, board president Lygunnah Bean said he looked forward to hearing from them each month.

"We like to have the face-to-face meeting with you all," he said. "We can see the passion in your faces. It makes us excited because we can tell you are excited."

Cub Scout Pinewood Derby
     The scouting scarf of Webelos Cub Scout Travis Rowsey receives a last-minute adjustment from mom Natalie Rowsey prior to the annual Pinewood Derby race Saturday at Batesville Presbyterian Church in Batesville. The Cub Scout would later place first in the event.
Batesville sales tax figures show boost
Sales taxes collected in the City of Batesville and put back into city coffers during the month of February were up seven percent over the previous year’s check for the same period.

A sales tax of seven percent is collected by merchants and paid to the State Tax Commission who then returns approximately 20 percent to the municipality in which it was collected.

The City of Batesville received a check February 17 for $315,488.11 which represents their sales tax revenue less $24,962.05 for a grant repayment.

Year-to-date figures (July 1 through now) show that Batesville is up three percent in sales tax collections with $2,036,527.28 put into coffers this year and $1,971,517.65 collected during the same period last year.

The city will also receive $57,601 for the economic development and tourism tax for the same month. That tax is an additional three percent tax placed on restaurants and hotels within Batesville’s city limits. The number is down four percent from the same period last year but year-to-date figures are steady at approximately $438,000.

Other Panola County municipalities showed increases/decreases for the month as follows:
  Como, +38%, $16,749.56;
  Courtland, +7%, $1,444.18;
  Crenshaw, +2%, $3,269.30;
  Crowder, -25%, $954.73;
  Pope, +12%, $1,984.99; and
  Sardis, +4%, $23,380.53.

Year-to-date figures show Batesville increased three percent to $2,036,527; Como increased 20 percent to $97,276 and Sardis was up one percent to $151,169.

Other nearby municipalities showed increases/decreases in payments for the most recent reporting month for 2005 and 2006 respectively:
  Charleston, $28,162 and $28,553;
  Clarksdale, $269,038 and $257,008;
  Grenada, $375,281 and $380,841;
  Oxford, $480,553 and $439,241 and
  Senatobia, $184,928 and $180,914
Tax commission figures for the state indicate a 21 percent increase for the reporting month over last year and 12 percent increase in year-to-date totals.

Auction treasure hunt turns up no trunk, lots of junk
By Billy Davis

Like a game show contestant hoping for a pot of gold behind Door No. 2, 30 people anticipated the possibilities Saturday morning as mini-storage owner Roy Girner opened the doors to 12 units and started the bidding on the abandoned contents.

Few people called out a bid, however, and most left empty handed, passing up on a 20-year-old exercise bike, three Bud Light bottles, lots and lots of mattresses, and more than one piece of flimsy, broken furniture.

In one unit at Smoky’s Mini Storage on Van Voris, a decade of dust lifted off clothes and an ancient dishwasher when Girner rolled up the door.

A white toolbox looked more promising in another unit, and hopeful bidders quickly took a peek inside.
"Ain’t nothin’ on this end," one would-be bidder announced.

"Well, we’ve got some underwear on this end," another would-be bidder responded.

Roy Girner and his wife, Christy, were selling storage unit contents at three locations in Batesville, collecting money for the goods inside after renters failed to pay their bills.

The Girners call the auction "selling the door."

The business owners had publicized the sale in the legal section of this newspaper, publishing the names of the renters as well. The Girners followed the legal with an announcement in the classified section.

While most of the would-be bidders didn’t purchase any contents, the Girners made some money from regulars who hope to resell the goods they bought.

Sadie Logan, 76, attends the sales to stock the flea market business she operates with her son, Ken, at their home in Lambert.

While his mother ambles from unit to unit, assessing the contents with a trained eye, Ken follows with a bag full of locks for the doors they win.

"She does the bidding. I just load it and haul it," Ken Logan said.

On this day, Sadie Logan bought more than half the doors, hanging tough as the bids slowed to a battle of wills in $5 increments.

After the final door was bid and won, Christy Girner reviewed the totals. The highest bid was $500. The lowest winning bid was $10.

A $10 bid? Was that worth the work?

"I remember one time we gave somebody $5 to take everything in it," Roy Girner replied.



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