| Weekend offerings: a rodeo ropin’ or rasslin’
| By Jason C. Mattox
There will be a diggin’ at the rodeo and a whoopin’ at the rasslin’ match tonight as two events compete for a Friday night weekend crowd.
This year’s Bill Lipscomb Memorial Rodeo will feature a "Diamond Dig" tonight in which the first 500 women compete for a gold necklace with a diamond pendant.
The two-night rodeo, which begins tonight at the Batesville Civic Center, will also feature bareback riding, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, team roping, tie-down calf roping, breakaway calf roping, cowgirls barrel racing and bull riding.
Across town tonight at the Batesville Readiness Center, All-Pro Productions will feature a main event bout between WWE wrestling legend Jerry "The King" Lawler and "Luscious" Kenny Valiant.
Doors open at the readiness center at 6:30 p.m. The first match will begin at 7:30. Ringside tickets are $10. General admission seating is $5.
The children’s events at the rodeo will begin at 7 p.m. The rodeo will start at 7:30. Tickets for the rodeo are $12 for adults and $10 for children.
Advance rodeo tickets are $2 off and can be purchased at Vanity Fair, Napa Auto Parts in Sardis and Tri-County Farm Supply in Como.
For the second straight year, people buying tickets for the rodeo will be helping fund the education of at least one student attending Northwest Community College.
According to Arthur Martin, a long-time friend of the late Bill Lipscomb, he, Barry Hobson and Mark Lipscomb came up with the rodeo as a way of honoring the long-time cowboy.
"Anybody that knew Bill would tell you he loved to rodeo," Martin said. "More important than that, they would tell you how much he cared about children."
Martin said the three friends partnered with Preston Fowlkes’ Lone Star Rodeo Company to put on a full-fledged rodeo with a portion of the proceeds going to fund a $1,000 scholarship to Northwest.
"We are hoping to fund a second scholarship this year," Martin said. "We feel like Bill would want us to help as many kids as possible."
Martin said the scholarship recipients are chosen by a committee from Northwest.
"Northwest selects the student(s)," he said. "They don’t have to be rodeo team members; they can receive it based on academics or athletics."
Both nights of rodeo will feature children’s activities that include the "Best Dressed Cowboy/Cowgirl" contest and the Gold Rush for children ages 7 and under.
Children participating in the Gold Rush will be given shovels to dig through a pile of dirt in hopes of finding cash and prizes.
The "Diamond Dig," which will be held Friday night only, will be for a 14 karat white gold necklace with a one carat total weight diamond pendant. This event is sponsored by Dale Copeland Jeweler, which donated the jewelry.
The wrestling card includes a bull rope match, a manager’s match, a four-way ladder match, a coal-miner’s glove tag-team match and a battle royal.
| Abortion vote on its way in state House
| By Billy Davis
A state Senate bill that would ban abortions in Mississippi is among several bills that are still alive as the current legislative session stretches beyond its halfway mark.
The abortion bill passed out of the House Public Health and Human Services committee Tuesday with the abortion proposal inserted into Senate Bill 2922, The Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported Thursday.
The bill is on the House calendar, which means it’s scheduled for a vote in the coming days or weeks, Rep. Warner McBride said Wednesday.
The introduction of the abortion bill is making national headlines, coming just weeks after South Dakota legislators passed a similar bill that will likely wind its way through the courts.
Since abortion is legal in the United States, votes by state legislatures to ban the procedure are symbolic. The state of Mississippi has one abortion clinic, which is located in Jackson.
McBride described himself as a "pro-life" state representative and said he would support the bill when it comes up for a House vote.
"I would support an amendment that would allow it in the cases of rape or incest," McBride said, "but if that amendment wasn’t there, I would vote for it anyway."
Gov. Haley Barbour said Wednesday he would sign the abortion law if it reaches his desk, The Clarion-Ledger reported.
Thursday was the deadline for revenue and appropriations bills, and committee bills coming from one branch of the legislature to the other, McBride told The Panolian last week.
Proposed legislation that has died in recent weeks would have allowed sheriff’s departments to operate radar, would have required voters to show ID at the polls, and would have banned embryonic stem cell research.
McBride introduced 15 bills in the House during the current session, a legislative Web site shows, but few survived the power of House and Senate committee chairmen.
One bill authored by McBride is dead in the House while the Senate version is still alive. Senate Bill 2563 would abolish the Land, Water and Timber Resources Board and transfer its authority to the Mississippi Development Authority.
The Timber Board has been criticized for its role in the failed Oakland beef processing plant. The House version authored by McBride is his second attempt to eliminate the board.
The House recently passed a wildlife and hunting bill McBride authored, House Bill 978, the legislator said last week, but the bill has since died in the Senate.
The legislation reaffirms the right of outdoor sports in Mississippi and is meant to shield the state from extreme anti-hunting groups, McBride said.
McBride said the "killing" of his hunting bill and other bills he introduces is typical in the legislature – and so was his reaction to it.
"After they killed my bill I inserted that language into another one of their bills," McBride said. "Even though you see bills that have died, a lot of that language gets put in other places and makes it through."
The hunting bill died February 28 when it was transferred to the Senate Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee, a legislative Web site showed.
The bill came from a collaboration between the newly formed Sportsman’s Caucus and organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the Wildlife Turkey Federation.
"The bill is similar to other legislation that’s been passed in other states," said the legislator, who sits on the House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and Conservation and Water Resources committees.
Elsewhere in the state House, Medicaid legislation co-authored by Rep. Leonard Morris passed the House and Senate and was signed by Barbour. House Bill 229 will provide public transportation through Medicaid for kidney dialysis patients.
The patients’ care was affected through changes to the Medicare program, Morris has said in recent weeks.
"There are 28 people in Panola County who are on kidney dialysis and depend on public transporta-tion," the legislator said in an interview earlier this week.
Morris said he is also supporting a House bill that will allocate gaming dollars to the University Medical Center in Jackson, which is enduring a shortfall due to the cost of indigent care.
Morris authored and introduced five bills during the current session of the legislature, the legislative Web site shows.
To see the status and nature of bills introduced in the state legislature, visit the Bill Status System at .
| ‘Katrina kids’ treated to taste of home
| Seven students at Batesville Intermediate School are also "Katrina kids," children who were displaced when Hurricane Katrina came ashore six months ago on August 29. Celebrating a Mardis Gras party that was thrown for them this week are (front row, left to right) Dante Robinson, Mardis Gras queen Ajuree Vereen, Mardis Gras king Travione Bates, (back row, left to right) Nicholas Ellingburg, Madison Collier, Lucky Davis and Jasmine Coleman.
| By Billy Davis
The sound of jazz and the smell of jambalaya drifted down the hallways at Batesville Intermediate School this week, where the school’s "Katrina kids" enjoyed a taste of home.
BIS school counselor Shante Stutts, who meets with the students each Wednesday, threw a Mardi Gras party for the children as well.
In Stutts’ classroom, decorated with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold, students enjoyed King Cake and jambalaya, decorated their own floats, and dressed up in Mardi Gras attire.
Travion Bates, of McComb, was selected as Mardi Gras king and Ajuree Vereen, of Biloxi, was picked as queen of Mardi Gras. Both students answered the most trivia questions correctly about Mardi Gras.
Colorful fliers on the walls explained the history and meaning of Mardi Gras, detailing Fat Tuesday, the history of King Cake, and the colorful Carnival parades and floats.
The Mardi Gras information was meant more for the classrooms of students and teachers that rotated through Stutts’ room during the week.
Mardi Gras is a traditional part of the year for south Mississippi and the Gulf Coast, Stutts said, which means the students were taken from that culture and dropped into a new place.
"These kids eat flounder, not catfish," Stutts said. "Their culture was destroyed by Katrina, and now they’re trying to start over in a new world."
The seven "Katrina kids" at BIS are Dante Robinson, Slidell, La; Jasmine Coleman, Slidell, La; Lucky Davis, New Orleans, La.; Madison Collier, Vancleave; Nicholas Ellingburg, Gulfport, and Bates and Vereen.
The number of Katrina kids peaked at 10 shortly after Katrina hit the Coast six months ago, the counselor said.
Several of the students experienced the flood waters and destruction of Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the Coast six months ago on August 29.
"They call the waves ?big water’ and talk about seeing the ?big water’ coming into their homes," Stutts said.
The school counselor is also in frequent contact with the students’ parents. From that vantage point she is watching as Coast families still fight to survive a half-year after Katrina.
"I know we’ve got poor people in Panola County, but this is a different kind of poor," Stutts said. "If you’re poor you at least have some kind of a house and food and furniture. But they have nothing. They lost everything they have."
| BPD: old feud fueled shooting
| By Billy Davis
Batesville police are investigating a shooting that stems from an ongoing feud between two families.
The shooting occurred Tuesday at midnight and left one man with a wound to his leg, BPD Detective George Williford said Thursday.
Williford said at least three suspects could be charged with aggravated assault in the shooting, which is a felony.
The shooting took place on Everette Street, which is located in west Batesville north of Patton Lane.
The shooting victim, who was not identified, is recovering at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford.
"The injury is not life threatening," Williford said.
Williford said the shooting stems from a four-year-old feud between the Smith and Robinson families.
"These are two families that don’t like each other," Williford said.
| Concert nears next hurdle: ticket sales
| By Billy Davis
A rookie concert promoter and his bandmates are inching closer to pulling off a May 13 concert at the Batesville Civic Center.
Concert promoter Mark Davis said Thursday that sponsors are lining up to bankroll the appearance of Christian rock band Skillet, and area churches are working together to assemble a team of volunteer helpers.
Davis and his bandmates from Seven Days Waiting announced their plans in late January to bring national Christian artist Skillet to the BCC at an expected total cost of $30,000. The event is called "Grace Jam."
Skillet must draw at least 2,000 concert goers for the promoters to pay their bills and break even, Davis said in recent weeks.
A crowd that size would be among the biggest to converge on the BCC, which has seating for 6,000.
Davis said Thursday that more than 10 sponsors have signed up to back the concert and three churches – First Baptist Church and First United Methodist Church in Batesville and Hosanna Worship Center in Pope – are contributing money and manpower.
The money raised to date had paid deposits to schedule the headliner, rent the civic center and hire a sound equipment company, Davis said.
The next hurdle is ticket sales.
"People are asking why we’re not promoting the concert and I tell them it’s because we don’t have the money to do that yet," Davis said. "When we start selling tickets, then that money will go toward promotions, which brings in more money."
"It sort of works in a circle," added bandmate Brian Flint.
The general admission concert will cost $10 to youth groups, $12 for pre-sale and $15 at the door.
The Promises and Praises book stores will begin selling tickets March 6, and online ticket seller is currently selling tickets.
Regarding the help from area churches, Davis said he’s grateful that Baptist, non-denominational and Methodist congregations are working together to help the event succeed.
The volunteers are expected to help with publicity and marketing, band hospitality, and security.
"It’s just a fact that some people won’t give money to a group of young kids for a concert," Davis said. "The fact that these people believe in what we’re doing means a lot."
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