Headlines – 5/16/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – May 16, 2006

  From the 5/16/06 issue of The Panolian       

CMA nominee will headline eighth annual SpringFest
By Jason C. Mattox

A sea of lawnchairs will transform Batesville’s Downtown Square this weekend as the eighth annual SpringFest gets under way with musical entertainment, food, carnival rides – and neighborly visiting.

Batesville band Seven Days Waiting, fresh from a performance at last Saturday’s Grace Jam concert at the Batesville Civic Center, will open the festival Friday at 6 p.m., followed by the Fabulous Suedes at 7:30 p.m. The Cigar Store Indians will take the stage at 9:30 p.m.

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Country Music Association award nominee David Lee Murphy will be the headliner Saturday night.

Saturday’s entertainment will begin at noon with Harmony followed by county natives Southern Country at 3:30 p.m., Sanders Bohlke at 5 p.m., Eden Brent at 6 p.m., Big T. Blues Band at 7:30 p.m. Murphy will take the stage to perform signature hits "Dust on the Bottle," "Party Crowd" and more at 9:45 p.m.

"There is a wide range of musical acts on this year’s bill," Batesville Main Street manager Colleen Clark said. "We have everything from country and rock to folk, blues and gospel."

Batesville Main Street, the downtown revitalization program, organizes the festival each year under the sponsorship of Panola Partnership with financial support from the City of Batesville.

In addition to the carnival, the rock climbing wall will be back as will a variety of food and beverage vendors.

SpringFest t-shirts will be available at the festival. Adults’ and children’s sizes are $15.

Grace Jam crowd ‘right at’ 800 but fails to put backers in black
By Billy Davis

The Grace Jam concert held Saturday at the Batesville Civic Center (BCC) pulled more than 700 attendees through the door but failed to generate enough income to push its cost into the black.

Even with the loss, concert promoter Mark Davis said he plans to schedule another music festival in 2007, next time learning from this first-time experience to improve the next show.

Davis and his bandmates of Batesville band Seven Days Waiting held Grace Jam at the BCC for the first time Saturday after holding a similar event last year at Batesville’s First Baptist Church.

Readers of The Panolian have been following plans for Grace Jam since the youthful band members announced plans in early spring to hold the costly concert at the BCC.

Grace Jam’s concert budget had sunk $9,000 into the red Saturday night by the time headliner Skillet finished its set about 10:45, Davis told The Panolian Monday morning.

The total cost of the concert was about $28,000, lower than the expected cost of $35,000 to pull off the event.

"Toward the end we saw there wasn’t going to be the turnout we needed and started cutting the budget," Davis said. "We would have been a lot worse off if we hadn’t starting cutting."

Over the weekend the $9,000 deficit was offset by family donations and a pass-the-plate offering Sunday at Batesville’s First United Methodist Church, knocking $3,500 off the cost, Davis said.

"They understand what we’re doing is an outreach ministry," Davis said of the weekend donations.

Grace Jam performers spoke about their faith between songs, telling the youth-heavy crowd that a relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important decision of their life.

Skillet lead singer John Cooper led an altar call after telling concert goers that they shouldn’t give up on God even if a church or supposed religious people have failed them.

"Jesus is the only person who has never let me down," Cooper said from the stage. "I love rock and roll, but I love Jesus more."

Day of Fire lead singer Joshua Brown, a recovering heroine addict, told concert goers that they would find peace only through God.

"God is for real and He loves you and me no matter what we do," Brown told the audience.

Reached Monday, BCC director Roy Hyde said the civic center counted "right at" 800 Grace Jam attendees.

Grace Jam’s total attendance was an above-average number for a town the size of Batesville, Hyde said.

"You’ve got to remember that Batesville has – what? – 7,000 people, so Grace Jam brought in roughly 10 percent of the population," Hyde said. "They’ve got a lot to feel good about."

Davis said, however, that Grace Jam needed a "foundation" of youths from Panola County churches that failed to show up for the event. The event also competed with Ole Miss graduation and South Panola’s football banquet.

A cursory survey of church buses showed Grace Jam attendees came from Batesville, Oxford, Water Valley, Grenada, Pontotoc and Amory.

The 2007 event will likely fall on a Saturday in April to avoid conflicting with May events, Davis said, and the musical lineup will include a better variety of music to suit more tastes.

The guitar-pounding and drum-banging sound of musical acts Skillet, Day of Fire and Decyfer Fire led to a "hard, hard, hard" lineup that likely turned away potential concert goers, Davis acknowledged.
The marathon-long night of music – the music festival was nearly five hours long – will likely be compressed into fewer hours next year with the absence of at least one band, Davis also said.

Grace Jam 2007 has at least one fan who’s ready for the next event.

"I thought the concert was really great but the music was too hard," said festival volunteer Dan Blair. "But I think it’ll be bigger and better next year and hopefully will become an annual thing."

Wreck leaves 16-year-old dead
By Billy Davis

A 16-year-old Mexican national was killed in a one-vehicle accident early Saturday morning near Batesville.

Jose Luis Fuetes died in the wreck about 1 a.m. Saturday morning on Highway 35 South, said Panola County coroner Gracie Grant Gulledge.

Fuetes was alone in the vehicle, a Ford Explorer, the coroner said.

Gulledge said Fuetes was from Mexico and lived in Charleston. His body is being sent back to Mexico for burial, she said.

Autopsy results showed the driver died of trauma to the head and chest. A toxicology report is pending.
The vehicle was virtually "folded in half" after the wreck, Gulledge said.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol worked the wreck and is investigating the accident. An MHP spokesman could not be reached by press time Monday.

Stadium to bear name of long-time SP supporter supporter’s name
Tiger field is now Dunlap Stadium
     South Panola head football coach Ricky Woods (left) presented a plaque to R.H. "Bob" Dunlap signifying the name change of Tiger Stadium to R.H. Dunlap Stadium. South Panola held its football ring and award ceremony Saturday night.
By Myra Bean

The South Panola School District Board of Trustees has changed the name of Tiger Stadium to "R.H. Dunlap Stadium."

Dunlap has been a major financial contributor to the South Panola Tiger football program, according to head football coach Ricky Woods.

The announcement was made Saturday night during the Tiger state championship ring and award ceremony.

"I can’t tell you how much Mr. Bob has meant to me and the program," Woods said.

The school board approved the name change in its April meeting.

Dunlap addressed the crowd of 350 who had greeted him with a standing ovation.

"I like to win," Dunlap said. "I don’t mind supporting you as long as you keep winning."

The crowd agreed with a laugh and applause.

Dunlap graduated from Batesville High School 59 years ago, he said.

"I never would have thought my name would be on the stadium," he said.

Autman returns from Iraq duty
By Rita Howell

For anyone living in the grit and dust of the Iraqi desert, clean clothes must be as comforting as mashed potatoes or a letter from home.

Batesville resident Shakera Autman, 21, just spent a year there engaged in the task of keeping several companies of Marines in fresh clothes.

Autman, who is an Army Reservist with a Memphis unit, was attached to the 597th Quartermaster Company, a Puerto Rican unit. She was the only one from the Memphis group sent in with Puerto Rican laundry/textile specialists who serve as a support group for a Marine base at Fallujah.

Autman’s unit also built showers and erected tents for the Marines.

But it is the Army’s mega laundry system that enabled Autman’s unit to process laundry for several hundred Marines each day. One machine handles washing and drying, and can process about 40 mesh bags full of dirty clothes at one time. The process takes about 45 minutes, she said.

"The Marines appreciate the service," she said. "I like that part."

Autman said even though she spent a year in the middle of a combat zone, she felt safe on the base, which she never left during her service there.

Autman, a 2003 graduate of South Panola High School, has been in the Reserves for three years.

She returned home to Batesville last week and is staying with her mom and stepfather, Patriaica and Anthony Rodgers.

Autman is also the daughter of James Autman of Marks.

She’ll have three months to decide her next move, she said. This summer’s agenda will probably include a trip to Puerto Rico to visit some of her new friends.

Sardis Depot transformed into workout facility
By Jason C. Mattox

After years of sitting vacant, the Sardis Depot near the railroad tracks has found a new purpose thanks to one citizen.

Bill Alred leased the property from First Security Bank and fully restored the interior of the building and offered it for use by police and fire personnel for exercising.

The outside, once pale and weather beaten, is now a rich red and green.

The inside of the building is now decked out with various pieces of workout equipment to be used by city employees at their convenience. It also has a new shower for after those workouts.

"The building wasn’t gutted," Alred said. "All of the wood and cabinetry were restored," he said.

Alred receives no compensation for the city’s use of the building.

"Bill just wanted to do something for the city’s police and fire personnel," Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye said. "He did all of the work, and we were able to get exercise equipment donated from people throughout the city."

"The depot was originally opened in the 1830s," Dye said.

"There was a big picnic held there when the first train came through."

Dye personally thanked Alred for his investment in the building and his dedication to the city.

"We are very appreciative of what Bill did," he said. "That building was really in bad shape, and he took and interest in it and now it can be used to the benefit of city employees.

"It took a lot of hard work and man hours to get that old building back into shape," Dye said. "It is very fitting that it now gives our employees a place to go and exercise whenever they like."

Police Chief Mike Davis said officers are excited about the new workout area.

"This will give officers, and myself, a place to go and workout and get or keep ourselves into shape," he said. "This will be a big asset to the city."

In addition to the workout facilities, Dye said the building will play host to the Mayor’s Picnic in June.
"This depot is a historical landmark in the City of Sardis," he said.

"It was the site of a big picnic over 150 years ago, and it will be the home of this year’s Mayor’s Picnic."



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