| No. 2 at MDA will address Partnership
| By Billy Davis
The No. 2 leader at the Miss. Development Authority (MDA) will be the featured speaker this week at the annual Panola Partnership banquet.
Gray Swoope, deputy director and COO of the MDA, will speak Thursday evening in downtown Como at the Partnership’s 10th annual meeting and dinner.
Swoope, a West Point, Miss. native, has served on the Southern Economic Development Council and the Miss. Economic Development Council, where he served as president. He is a graduate of Mississippi State.
The dinner, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. at 211 Main, will be catered by Como Steak House.
The evening will also include the announcement of Panola County’s new Miss Hospitality, who has been chosen from a field of eight college-age nominees. She will serve as the county’s goodwill ambassador and will represent Panola in the state Miss Hospitality pageant this summer.
| Como, Sardis lead county in sales tax growth, figures show
| By Rupert Howell
Sales tax revenue for the City of Batesville increased in the month of March by five percent compared to a 15-percent increase for the state total.
Most Panola municipalities as well as other locales showed significant increases over the same month last year.
A seven percent sales tax collected within the city limits is paid to the state tax commission monthly with the commission returning approximately 20 percent of that total to the municipality in which it was collected.
The amount returned to the City of Batesville in March was $281,389 compared to $268,227 last year. That amount puts Batesville’s sales tax totals up four percent totalling $2,576,156 for the fiscal year which began July 1, 2005.
The City of Batesville also receives a three percent tax on hotel rooms and restaurants called the Tourism and Development Tax.
Receipts for that tax totaled $58,098 for March, up two percent, and $558,327 for the fiscal year, down two percent.
The Panola County municipalities recorded percentage increases/decreases and amount as follows:
Como, +58%, $15,845;
Courtland, +8.0%, $1,498;
Crenshaw, -10%, $3,163;
Crowder, -11%, $1,033;
Pope, +13%, $1,874; and
Sardis, +25%, $23,041.
Other nearby municipalities received sales tax returns with percentages increase/decrease and amounts as follows:
Charleston, +10%, $25,007;
Clarksdale, -3.0%, $234,079;
Grenada, +3.0%, $331,496;
Lambert, +9.0%, $3,112,
Marks, +33%, $26,295;
Oakland, +3.0%, $3,034;
Oxford, +9.0%, $416,899;
Senatobia, +4.0%, $167,163;
Taylor, +19%, $1,267;
Tunica, +20%, $46,316; and
Water Valley, -5.0%; $37,110.76.
| Developer still has ‘great expectations’
| By Jason C. Mattox
A man who called the City of Sardis a "sleeping giant" is still seeking funding to renovate the old Roper/Lawn Boy factory.
Developer Don Daniels said last Tuesday that he has been meeting with Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons and others in regard to funding that would help convert the vacant building into a modular home production facility.
"I stood before you all a few weeks ago with great hope and expectations for this project and others in the City of Sardis, and that has not changed," he said.
During Daniels’ initial meeting with the mayor and board of aldermen in March, he believed a $750,000 grant was available for the renovations. Daniels said there was apparent confusion. The $750,000 was, in fact, a loan.
In the new situation, the city would have to apply for the loan which would be repaid by the occupants of the facility, who have still not been named due to ongoing negotiations.
"I am not asking you to apply for that loan," Daniels said. "I understand that you just came out of a similar situation for the old Air Kontrol facility, and we don’t want to risk that happening again."
Daniels said he intended to go to Jackson to inquire about other potential funding sources to pull off the project.
"All of us were misinformed," Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye said.
Daniels reiterated that he was not giving up on the project.
| Answered Prayers participants lining up for fund-raiser event
| A day of entertainment, food, auctions, and a flea market will benefit four local children who have severe medical challenges as the Answered Prayers organization presents its annual benefit on Saturday, April 29.
The event will be at the Batesville Civic Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Answered Prayers organization has selected Shamekia Money, Amber Lamar, Garrett Allen and Tia Cathey as the recipients of the proceeds of this year’s event.
All activities will be indoors this year, according to Carolyn Williams, president of the group.
Among groups and individuals planning to participate are: South Panola High School art students, who will be painting faces; the Boys and Girls Club, who will be furnishing and supervising carnival games for children; Gena and Jeff Todd, sponsors of the Moon Bounce; Ricky Swindle and Johnny Pace, who’ll be providing live entertainment.
A flea market will feature local and out-of-town vendors.
The Courtland Fire Department will be selling barbecue and the South Panola Lions Club will be offering hamburgers and hot dogs.
Call Carolyn Williams at 563-9311 for more information.
| Hey, Panola County, have you seen these men?
| Sheriff’s dept. seeks one for burglary, two for drug sales
| By Billy Davis
The Panola County Sheriff’s Department is seeking three suspects and is asking for the public’s help in finding and apprehending them.
The wanted men are Barclay Lewis, who is wanted for burglary; Otis Porter, who is wanted for sale of crack cocaine; and Terry Jackson, who is wanted for sale of crack cocaine.
All three suspects have slipped away from law enforcement officials, beginning with Jackson, who fled a job in Oxford when he was tipped off that deputies were coming to arrest him.
"We heard (Jackson) was working in Oxford and called the business, and they said, ?yes’ he was there," said Chief Deputy Otis Griffin. "Someone undoubtedly told him we were coming."
Jackson had been indicted by a grand jury for sale of cocaine.
Griffin said Porter fled through a window of his home April 7 when members of the Panola Drug Task Force and Miss. Bureau of Narcotics showed up with a search warrant.
Law enforcement officers would have arrested Porter for selling crack cocaine from the Abe Chapel Road home, Griffin said.
Barclay Lewis, wanted for burglary, led sheriff’s deputies on a five-hour foot chase in north Panola County when he fled a traffic stop.
After ditching his car on Old Panola Road, he gained a 30-minute head start before sheriff’s deputies, a K-9 unit and a helicopter began a search.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Lewis, Porter and Jackson should call the Sheriff’s Department at (662) 563-6230.
| Marine volunteer to help bring Jam
| By Billy Davis
The promoters of next month’s Grace Jam concert are one step closer to pulling off the costly event thanks to a safety net thrown to them by the U.S. Marine Corps.
Actually, make that one U.S. Marine.
Grace Jam promoter Mark Davis accepted an offer last week from his brother, Marine Lance Corporal Billy Davis, to accept a cash loan if Grace Jam is strapped for funds in coming weeks.
The concert, which could cost as much as $30,000, is set for Saturday, May 13 at the Batesville Civic Center.
The Marine machine gunner, who has served in the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, has saved much of his pay while in those combat zones. When he learned about Grace Jam and its cost, he repeatedly told his older brother he was willing to loan money to help pay for the event.
"I turned Billy’s offer down more than once, several times in fact," Mark Davis said Monday. "Finally I decided to say ?yes’ because of the peace of mind it gives us knowing it’s there."
Mark Davis said he hasn’t taken his brother up on the loan offer yet ? and might not have to ? but the gesture means more to him than the money.
"Our family is a tight-knit group, and we watch out for each other," Mark Davis said. "When Billy joined the Marines, we told him we were here if he needed us. That’s how it’s always been."
The Davis brothers, who number five, range in ages from 33 to 19. Mark Davis is 24. Billy Davis turned 21 over the weekend.
Grace Jam performers include headliner Skillet and opening acts Decyfer Down, Day of Fire, and Seven Days Waiting.
Davis, the lead singer of Seven Days Waiting, is promoting Grace Jam along with bandmates Brian Flint, Michael Reynolds and Tim Christ.
With the concert barely a month away, Davis said the concert finances are in decent shape despite slow ticket sales that have yet to break 100. A total of 690 tickets sold is now the break-even point, he said.
The "catch-22," however, is that tickets sales supply funds for promoting the concert, which in turn fuels more ticket sales.
"We don’t expect anyone to buy a ticket now and hold onto it for a month," Davis said. "But the next couple of weeks will really tell us what to expect."
| SpringFest will include Moore’s ‘energizing, laid-back boogie’
| By Jason C. Mattox
With just over a month before Batesville’s SpringFest fills the air with live music and the fun-filled screams of children enjoying the carnival rides and games, a second musical act has been added to a line-up that already features David Lee Murphy on Saturday night, May 20.
On Friday night, May 19, the musical festivities will be headlined by Randy Moore and the Fabulous Suedes, a group with more than 15 years of touring experience.
According to a press release, Moore and company have toured the globe opening for Hank Williams Jr., Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Vince Gill and Amy Grant.
Moore and the Suedes’ musical style, which he calls "wreck neck blues," is a fusion of rockabilly, blue-eyed soul and Delta blues.
"He’s stood toe to toe with the likes of Springsteen and Bon Jovi," the release states.
Moore’s admiration for the two Jersey natives is simply summed up, "They’re just good ol’ country boys from New Jersey," he said.
As for the band, the Suedes are comprised of Bob Mummert on drums who has played on recordings with Roy Orbison, Dwight Yokam and Radney Foster. Keyboardist Joseph Anderson cut his teeth just down the road on Beale Street playing with the likes of Albert King and the Bill Black Combo.
Bassist Eddie Bedford, who’s been featured on Music City Tonight, also toured with country music supergroup Alabama.