Headlines Cont. – 3/10/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 10, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – March 10, 2006


Sardis is ‘sleeping giant,’ developer tells city board
By Jason C. Mattox

Development was a big topic of discussion during Tuesday night’s meeting of the Sardis Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

Donald Daniels, a real estate agent and developer from Southaven, started the night by telling board members of potential interest in the Main Street area of town.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

"I have brought several people down to look at buildings on Main Street," he said. "But they all ask me the same two questions."

Those questions concerned the sale of alcohol and the condition of the buildings.

"People are beginning to discover the sleeping giant that is Sardis," he said. "But the board will have to consider some changes to ordinances to get some major development and revitalization on Main Street.

"In order for the city to get a quality restaurant in the downtown area, you are going to have to consider changes to your ordinances on alcohol," Daniels added.

Ward 1 Alderman Joseph "JoJo" Still said he is asked all the time why Sardis can’t be like Como.

"The people want to see our Main Street thrive like Como’s, and for us to do that, we are going to have to take a close look at changes that might need to be made," he said.

Daniels also mentioned he is working with an industrial prospect that has interest in the old Toro building.

"We are working with the owners of the building to get something done, and if it does, it will happen fast," he said. "So you will probably be seeing me again in the near future if everything works out."

Talk of restaurants continued when Allen Pickett told the board of his plans for the old NAPA auto parts building on Highway 51.

"I am looking at turning the building into a bar and grill," he said. "I just want to know what I can do before I go out and put money into renovating the building.

"It is going to take a lot of money to get this done," Pickett added.

Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye said Pickett had gotten a bad taste in his mouth due to bad treatment when he owned the GTL restaurant and bar.

Pickett said the problems he had at GTL were with the former Chief of Police, the late Roosevelt Pride.

"The chief came to me and said I couldn’t operate a black club east of the interstate," he said.

Both Dye and Still, who were on the board at the time, said that word never came from the aldermen.

"I think that came from one or two people," Dye said. "It didn’t come from the board.

"I’m not saying I support drinking, but we need the sales tax," he added. "So I think we need to support the people who want to put a business in our town."

Pickett said he believed in running a good, honest business.

"I want to get in there and establish a good business," he said. "You won’t have the underage drinking and problems like you have had at other establishments in the town.

"I just want to make sure there won’t be any problems before I move forward," Pickett added.

Ward 3 Alderman Mike Wilson said the board had no problems with it as long as they followed the ordinances the city has adopted.

"We can’t stop you," he said. "We just want to make sure you follow all of the ordinances."

Farmers can get market update at Extension meeting March 23
A meeting on March 23 will give farmers a marketing update and commodity price outlook. Dr. Steve Martin and Dr. John Anderson will provide information on current market trends and future outlook for commodity prices during this marketing year. Producers can find helpful information as they finalize crop mix decisions and refocus on managing market risk.

In years with large carryover numbers, profitable pricing opportunities are rare and may occur early in the season, an Extension spokesman said. Once enough acres are bought the next price upswing might be after Christmas.

This meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on March 23 at the Extension Building, Hwy 51 South in Batesville.

For more information, contact the Panola County Extension Service at 563-6260 or 487-2085.

Sardis police chief attends training
By Jason C. Mattox

A free training course at Mississippi State is already paying dividends for the City of Sardis.

Police Chief Mike Davis said the training he received during the six-day course will be a big plus for his department and the city.

"The forensics training they offered to us will be a big help when it comes to investigations," he said. "They taught us what to look for in cases of potential identity theft, child pornography, e-mail threats, and a whole lot more."

Davis said the identity theft investigation training will be of the biggest use to the Sardis Police Department.

"I already have two cases of potential identity theft in my office," he said. "They have been here for a little while now, but we are working on them to see what turns up. This training will help as we proceed with the investigations."

Classes the chief attended included introduction to cyber crime, which provided basic understanding of computer crime and introduced Davis to the hardware and software available for computer forensics.

In addition he received detailed instruction on tools and techniques used for investigation of computers in criminal cases.

Davis said he would pass on what he’s learned to his officers.

Sardis board moves to order dumpsters enclosed
By Jason C. Mattox

After several months of discussing dumpster problems in the city, Sardis aldermen voted to draft an ordinance requiring dumpsters to be enclosed.

Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye told members of the Board of Aldermen that the city had picked up trash near Dollar General, located on East Lee Street, on three occasions last week.

"I had five workers out everyday picking up trash," he said. "We have other problems we need to be dealing with besides this."

Ward 1 Alderman Joseph "JoJo" Still asked about making businesses enclose the dumpsters.

"I know we have discussed the problem at the past two meetings," he said. "We really need to do something about it."

City attorney Tommy Shuler said he had reviewed other ordinances, but was uncomfortable drafting one for the city without knowing exactly what the aldermen wanted.

Ward 3 Alderman Mike Wilson said he would like to see the dumpsters enclosed by a wooden or block fence.

"I know with the wooden ones, they might get to be unsightly, but that would be the business owner’s responsibility to repair," he said.

Alderman-at-Large Roy Scallorn said the board needed to have the enclosures tall enough to handle trash that might blow off.

"I think we need to have the fencing three feet taller than the height of the dumpster," he said. "And the top on the dumpsters needs to stay closed."

Dye said the enclosures should solve a lot of the problems for the city and the business owners.

"If the dumpsters are closed off, people won’t be able to get to them to fill them up so fast," he said. "And if there is trash that blows out of the dumpster, it will go inside the fencing and would be the property owner’s responsibility."

The board voted unanimously to allow the drafting of an ordinance requiring all dumpsters to be enclosed and the tops closed.

Consultant monitors teachers during test prep
By Jason C. Mattox

The North Panola School District Board of Trustees heard of potential for improvement at Como Middle School during its meeting last Monday.

Debbie Childress, who serves the district as an educational consultant to Como Middle School, told the board she has been working with the teachers since December to help them prepare for the Mississippi Curriculum Test.

Childress served as assistant superintendent of the Marshall County School District prior to retirement when she became an educational consultant.

The Mississippi Curriculum Test is a standardized test used to evaluate student advancement in the areas of math, English and language arts.

Childress said she first asked teachers for a list of their needs.

"Several of the teachers had the same problem," she said. "Their chalk boards were in such bad shape they couldn’t even write on them."

Childress said they purchased dry-erase boards for the classrooms.

Childress said she also spends time monitoring teachers in their classrooms.

"I will watch the teachers as they teach and when the class is over, I will tell them what they might do differently to reach out to the children," she said.

Childress said one of her biggest concerns is over-aged students at the school.

"We don’t want these students to stall out at the middle school," she said. "So the teachers and I are working on a plan to help advance them to where they need to be."

Childress said she has been impressed with the environment at Como Middle School.

"Everyone in that school has a genuine interest in the children, and that is a good thing," she said.

In other board business:
Como Middle School basketball coach Kenneth Bell addressed the board to thank them for allowing the team to participate in the McDonald’s Mid-South Middle School Basketball Tournament.
Board members voted to move forward with a needs study on the physical plant of North Panola High School.
Trustees heard a request from a mother, Christine Roberts, that her children be released from the North Panola School District so that they can attend school in the Senatobia City School District next year. Roberts told the board members that her older child had come home with injuries inflicted by other students numerous times while he was a third grader at Como Elementary. The child now lives with his father and attends school in another district, she said. She fears for her younger children’s safety if they start school next year at Como Elementary, she said.
     Trustees took no action.
Deadline nearing to sign for homestead exemption
By Jason C. Mattox

A plumbing problem that got Crenshaw Elementary School Students a day out of school on Wednesday has been resolved, according to principal Gilda Thomas.

Thomas said the day off for students became necessary when sewage was discovered backing up outside of the school.

"We didn’t discover the problem until after the students had gone home for the day on Tuesday," she said. "So we had to call radio and television stations and also make personal phone calls to parents to let them know about the situation.

"The sewage had not begun backing up into the building, and we wanted to get it resolved before it did," Thomas added.

North Panola School District Maintenance Supervisor John Reed resolved the problem with assistance from other workers and students returned to school on Thursday, Thomas said.

"We were very happy to get the problem resolved with the students only missing one day of school," she said.

City’s tennis courts to get repairs
By Jason C. Mattox

Tommy Lou Green appeared before Mayor Jerry Autrey and the Batesville Board of Aldermen at their Tuesday meeting to discuss erosion problems at her daughter’s home on Bates Street.

"I asked (Street Department Superintendent) Mr. (Teddy) Austin to come by my daughter’s home to look at problems caused by the water flow in the ditch," she said.

"All I got was a bunch of negatives from Mr. Austin," she said.

Green said one of the problems she discussed was the tall grass along the banks of the ditch.

The board directed Austin and Blake Mendrop of McBride Engineering to examine the ditch and report back to them about the problems.

In other board business:
Aldermen approved Park and Recreation Director Ronald McMinn’s request to repair seven tennis courts in the city. The money will come out of his budget.
Bids were received for a new dump tuck for the street department. Bids were taken under advisement.
Waste Water Treatment Plant Superintendent David Carr was given permission to attend at two-day workshop on March 21-22 with no expense to the city.
Aldermen voted to advertise for the purchase of three new police cars to replace three existing vehicles.
Police Chief Gerald Legge was given permission to order 485 t-shirts for students in the department’s DARE program in the schools.
BPD communications officer Lucille Hentz was given permission to attend a recertification course in Grenada. The city will pay expenses.
Panola County Civil Defense Assistant Director Daniel Cole informed the board about a multi-jurisdiction disaster response meeting that will be held in April at the new National Guard Armory.
Antique business booms with more dealers in town
By Billy Davis

The search for depression glass and Duncan Phyfe furniture is getting easier in Panola County as the number of antique stores keeps expanding.

Antique hunters who browse stores from Batesville to the Eureka community can find everything from stately European furniture to vintage kitchen gadgets – and lots in between.

At the Batesville Antique Mall, Cathy Talley of Clarksdale said she noticed the store while driving past. In the store, she was browsing booths for a wingback chair and a wardrobe.

"I found the chair, but it’s not the color I wanted," she said.

The more antique stores that open in Panola County, the greater the traffic that visits them, said Jeffrey Brock, whose Brock Antique Auction expanded in recent months into the mall.

"This isn’t like two competing convenience stores both selling Cokes and candy bars. You feed off one another," Brock said. "If you have several antique stores, then customers will be more inclined to stop because they have a better chance of finding what they want."

In the Eureka community, antiques dealer Rita Herron said Brock and other dealers regularly send customers to her Ribbons ‘N’ Roses store as well as the Trails End antique store operated by Al Mullins. She and Mullins do likewise.

"People have been so generous with each other because we’re all in this together," Herron said.

According to Herron and Brock, antique stores in Panola County currently include the Batesville Antique Mall, located at Highway 6 and 51; Ribbons ‘N’ Roses and Trail’s End, both located on Eureka Road; Eureka Antiques, located on the Downtown Square; and 1st Choice Antiques and More, located on Highway 51 South in Batesville.

Maria’s and Blades of Grass offer home decor as well as antiques. Maria’s is located on the Square. Blades is located on Main St. in Como.

At 1st Choice Antiques, store owner Kim Chunn said she’s had mixed results during her first year of selling antiques alongside modern home furnishings. She sold used furniture and appliances as 1st Choice Bargain Store before jumping into the antique business ? and had better success.

"The modern furniture sells the best, but if something is antique and it’s really, really rough, it sells really good, too," Chunn said.

Brock said more than 20 antique dealers are renting booth space at the Batesville Antique Mall. He moved his antique auction to the rear of the 15,000-square-foot store to accommodate the growing mall, but now the booths are creeping closer to the auctioneer platform and audience chairs.

Once the booth space takes over the store, Brock said he will likely move the auction to a building his family owns near the Downtown Square.

Patti Pickett of Enid said she is renting one booth from Brock and splitting the cost of a second booth with a neighbor. So far she’s been happy with the sales, she said.

"The glassware moves well," Pickett said. "Pictures and lamps don’t seem to move."



Copyright 2005-2006 by The Panolian, Inc..  All rights reserved
Copyright 2001-2004 by Batesville Newspapers, LLC.  All rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission  is prohibited.