Headlines Cont. – 2/28/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – February 28, 2006


Pittman, Shackleford receive police department promotions
By Billy Davis

The Batesville Police Department promoted two of its patrol officers during a morning ceremony Monday.

Sgt. Kerry Pittman, 31, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant while officer Brad Shackleford, 28, was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

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The ceremony was held at the downtown police department, where the officers’ wives pinned new shields on their husbands’ uniforms.

Pittman and Shackleford both joined the police department in 1999 and graduated from the police academy in November of that year.

"We were hired on the same day," Shackleford recalled after the ceremony.

Shackleford left the BPD in 2003 to join the Panola County Sheriff’s Department. He returned last February to the police department.

Pittman, who has remained at the department, was promoted to the rank of sergeant in November, 2002.

Deputy Chief Tony Jones addressed a gathered crowd during their ceremony, saying the two promotions came after careful consideration from the department’s leadership.

"And now we’re going to expect more out of you," Jones told the two promoted officers.

Police Chief Gerald Legge, who has walking pneumonia, attended the ceremony but was unable to talk. Chief’s assistant Nita Taylor read a congratulatory message from the chief.

State’s oldest community theater gets boost from banks’ donations
A fund-raising campaign for Panola Playhouse has received a boost in the form of contributions from two local banks, according to Playhouse board member Pam Martins.

The campaign was spearheaded with a donation from First Security Bank in the amount of $3,000. The bank has had several staff members named to the Playhouse Board.

"It is our hope this donation will encourage other local businesses and financial institutions to become more involved in the revitalization plan for the Playhouse" said past board member and current bank vice president Teresa Boggan.

"The Playhouse is a historical and vital part of Sardis and we are glad to support any and all efforts to continue its involvement in our community," said Dennis Dye, president of the Sardis branch of First Security Bank.

Covenant Bank of Batesville also joined the campaign with a donation of $1,000. David LaVergne, Senior Vice President and spokesperson for Covenant, has been involved with the Playhouse for many years.

"I have enjoyed my relationship with the Playhouse and have fond memories of having been in several productions there. The Playhouse offers both educational and entertainment opportunities for our area. It is my hope that Covenant Bank will be a partner with the Playhouse for many years to come," LaVergne said.

"We are so grateful to these sponsors for their donations and commitment to future plans for the Playhouse and encourage other members of the community to join them," said Martins.

Panola Playhouse is the oldest continuously operating community theater in Mississippi.

A cast is currently in rehearsals for the comedy "Social Security," to be presented March 30-April 2.

Anyone wanting to make a donation to the Playhouse may do so by mail to the following address: Panola Playhouse – P.O. Box 43, 212 Main Street, Sardis, MS 38666. All donations are tax deductible.

Classmates, friends greet Selwyn Laughter at Pan-Gens meeting
By John Howell Sr.

The February meeting of the Panola County Geneological and Historical Society (Pan-Gens) morphed into a mini class reunion for speaker Selwyn Laughter as Joanne Autrey Druetto and Jerry Estridge of Batesville, and Mike Carson of Greenwood joined him and Pan Gens’ members and guests for the organization’s monthly meeting last week.

Druetto, Estridge and Carson were Laughter’s classmates in South Panola’s Class of 1968.
Laughter left Batesville 38 years ago after receiving an appointment to the Naval Academy at Annapolis. His presentation Thursday night, February 23, included slides from his Navy career was well from his Batesville childhood.

He told the Pan-Gens group that he grew up at the foot of Shuford’s Hill. His slides included views of the Batesville Square during the 1960s when his father, the late Leonard Laughter, served as Batesville Postmaster. Laughter recalled that the square was "hustling and bustling with rounded and streamlined cars" of that era.

Laughter told about the fondness for childhood friends, the memories of his grandparents and his father. He spoke of the Chapeltown farm of his maternal grandfather, the late Selwyn Shuford, where he spent many days when he was growing up. He said he was proud that the farm yet remains in the family.

The Pan-Gens speaker majored in aerospace engineering at Naval Academy and entered flight school following graduation. He became a pilot of jet fighters launched from and landed on aircraft carriers. Laughter’s presentation included many dramatic in-flight photos of the aircraft as they reached supersonic speeds.

Laughter recalled a Naval career that included flying the F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft, serving as a test pilot and commanding a squadron at the "Top Gun" Navy flying school when the movie starring Tom Cruise was filmed. He was later commanding officer of the Point Mugu Naval Air Station northwest of Los Angeles, Calif.

Following retirement from military service, Laughter joined United Airlines where he flies aircraft as a test pilot. "At least, I’ll find out tomorrow if I still have a job," Laughter laughed, referring to an expected February 24 ruling on United Airlines’ bankruptcy status.

Laughter and his wife, Jan, live in Zionsville, Indiana, near Indianapolis. Their son Jesse is a college junior; their daughter Eve is a high school junior.

His mother, Mrs. Dot Laughter, attended the meeting.

Editor’s Note: Mrs. Annie-Glenn Howell contributed to this story.

VFW Ladies Auxiliary being organized
A local Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW Panola Memorial Post 4968 is being organized. Wives, daughters, sisters, widows, grandmothers and granddaughters as well as foster and step families of veterans are encouraged to join.

A membership recruiting drive will be held Thursday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the food court of Factory Stores at Batesville.

For more information on joining contact the Post Commander James Hardy at 563-8427 or Carolyn Verucchi, state president, at 601-442-7668.

The auxiliary joins the VFW in promoting patriotism in schools and communities, helping hospitalized veterans and suppporting troops who are serving in harm’s way.



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