Headlines – 5/26/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 26, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – May 26, 2006

  From the 5/26/06 issue of The Panolian       

     "Desperados" is the nickname personal care attendant Ricky Brown (right) gave himself and graduating South Panola senior Stuart Risner. Brown has assisted Risner for the past 4 1/2 years and "become part of the family" according to Stuart’s mother, Debbie Robison, who said that Brown’s assistance went beyond just being a job. Stuart was the recipient of the David M. Bryan Courage Award named after the popular Panola County sheriff.
NP trustees vote to restructure, close struggling Como Middle
By Jason C. Mattox

Seventh graders presently attending Como Middle School could have new homes next year as all elementary schools in the North Panola School District will become K-8 schools for the 2006-07 academic year.

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North Panola District Superintendent Glendora Dugger had introduced the reorganization suggestions to school trustees at the May 15 meeting.

Board members voted 4-0 Wednesday morning at a special called meeting to move forward with the restructuring plan. Trustee Tracy Thompson, who represents the Como area, abstained from voting.

All seventh and eighth graders in the North Panola district have attended the Como Middle School.

In addition to relocating students to schools in their respective communities of Sardis, Crenshaw and Como, the change also eliminates an administrative position within the district. A principal will no longer be needed for Como Middle School.

"The money we save by not having another principal will help offset the cost of the restructur-ing throughout the district," Superintendent Dugger said.

Teachers presently at Como Middle School will be placed into either Como Elementary, Green Hill or Crenshaw Elementary.

Trustee Rosa Wilson asked how it was decided who would be moved.

"We made the decision based on seniority," Dugger responded. "Those who have been there the longest will get to stay unless they request a move to one of the other schools."

Under the restructuring plan, the school improvement status of Como Middle School will become non-existent, district Federal Programs Director Mary Grady said as she read an e-mail from the Mississippi Department of Education.

"How the restructuring would impact the school improvement status has been a question we have all heard from several people," she said. "The Department of Education says the status of Como Middle School will be lost."

Dugger pointed out there was also some concern about the low student population in Crenshaw in relation to state funding.

"The restructuring will increase the number of students at Crenshaw Elementary," she said. "That will mean you won’t eventually have to make a decision about consolidating it with another school in the district."

Green Hill Elementary will experience more changes than just an increase in students.

The North Panola Alternative Learning School will become Green Hill Extended and will house one Pre-K class and four kindergarten classes.

On the main campus, the office will be moved to the south end of the building facing east to allow a more visible account of who is coming in and out of the school.

That change will also mean a re-routing of traffic so bus drop-offs are near the new office.

"[Elementary principal] Ms. [Lakeldra] Pride is concerned about the safety issues that come up by not knowing who is coming in and out of the building," Dugger said. "We feel like by re-routing to Atkins Street and fencing in the campus will increase the security on the Green Hill campus."

The main entrance for Green Hill is presently from West Pearl Street.

The previously discussed formation of a North Panola 7th and 8th grade sports team was greeted warmly from board members. Athletes would be bussed to a central location to allow practice. The restructuring plan also calls for construction of new gymnasiums on the Green Hill and Crenshaw campuses.

"We feel like our students will be better prepared for what is before them in high school if they have been on the same team with people since 7th grade," Dugger said.

"All of us who helped develop this plan believe it will be a good thing for the students of the district," she said.

Following the meeting Dugger said an exact cost for the renovations and new construction was not known.

"We will have to put all of these items out for bid, and we have not been able to do so because the board had not approved the proposal," she said.

Robber’s trick led to treat for police
By Billy Davis

Batesville police sent a convicted armed robber to prison this week thanks in part to an unlikely ally: an egg.

Police detectives had been looking for suspect Keyandric Jones, whom they believed had robbed a store clerk at the Murphy USA convenience store, near Wal-Mart.

The holdup occurred in early October of last year.

Then came Halloween. On Halloween night, Jones threw an egg at a police cruiser and was caught.

"We got an arrest warrant on (Jones) but we couldn’t locate him, and then on Halloween night he shows up at the police station," recalled Detective Captain Paul Shivers.

Circuit Judge Andrew C. Baker sentenced Jones to a six-year prison sentence at Parchman with five years of post-release probation during "plea day" Monday in Batesville.

Jones was represented by public defender Clay Vanderburg.

During plea days, a judge hands down sentences to defendants who have opted to plead guilty to a felony charge instead of moving forward with a jury trial.

According to Shivers, the egg-throwing arrest wasn’t Jones’ only bizarre brush with law enforcement. He once hid in a bathtub, completely naked, while being pursued by county drug task force agents during a drug sting.

"He broke into an elderly lady’s house, stripped out of his clothes, and hid behind the shower curtain," Shivers said. "He figured they couldn’t I.D. him because he wasn’t wearing any clothes."

Jones was out on bond for the narcotics charge when he robbed the Murphy gas station, Shivers said.

Other pleas Monday included Cardale Smith, who pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary and one count of forging a check stolen from the scene.

Sentencing was rescheduled for June 2 at the request of his attorney, Helen Kelly.

According to Shivers, Smith had twice broken into a home on Tubbs Road and also broke into a home on Court Street.

"He was out on bond for the first (break-in) when he broke into the home on Court Street," Shivers said.

Smith was 17 when the crimes were committed.



In Memory…
     Mary Frances Woods and Cameron Belk, grandmother and girlfriend respectively of the late Brandon Presley, will be clinging close to "Old Glory" this Memorial Day weekend as they remember their U.S. Marine who was killed in December by a car bomb in the war zone in Iraq.
     The flag was a was sent as a gift to Woods from her grandson’s Marine unit before the unit left Iraq. She and Belk later visited the unit and met each member, including the ones that had signed the flag in Brandon’s honor.
     A Memorial Day Service will be held at noon Monday at the Downtown Memorial Park in Batesville.
Memorial Service is Mon. on Square
By Ben Floyd

On Monday, May 29 at noon, the Batesville Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #4968 will hold a Memorial Day presentation in Batesville, at the Downtown Memorial Park.

The Ladies Auxiliary of Post #4968 will be assisting by handing out small silk poppies in remembrance of those who gave their lives in foreign wars. They will be handing these poppies out at 10 a.m. at Wal-Mart, Batesville Factory Stores Outlet, Piggly-Wiggly, and the Downtown Square.

The poppies are free, but donations are accepted. The donations go directly to assist and support veterans and their families.

The actual celebration will begin with the posting of the colors by the AFJROTC color guard. The laying of the wreath at the Memorial monument and the singing of the National Anthem will follow.

Lt. Colonel William G. Smith, who served in the U.S Air Force for 27 years, will be the main speaker. "Taps," performed by bugler Nikki Reinemann, will follow.

A row of flags honoring those who have lost their lives while defending America will also be on display.

Cities, county close doors for holiday
By Billy Davis

The Memorial Day holiday coming Monday will affect closings at municipal and county offices.

In Batesville, City Hall will be closed in observance of Memorial Day.

BFI garbage pickup will not operate on Monday but will resume Tuesday after the company observes the Monday holiday.

In Sardis, garbage pick up will be on Tuesday and Thursday.

Panola County government will close its doors as well for the holiday.

Garbage pickup in the county will continue Tuesday with trucks running a day behind their regular schedules.

Local banks will also be closed in observance of Memorial Day.

Board president expects action on litter ordinance after table talk
By Billy Davis

The countryside is awash in junky yards and trash-strewn roadways.

A solid waste enforcement officer works to nab the illegal dumpers, but a court fine requires an eyewitness to the misdemeanor crime. And, of course, he can’t be everywhere at once.

At least one neighbor routinely burns tires in his yard, neighbors say, choking them with the thick smoke.

This conversation over litter and junk is going on…right next door in Lafayette County.

Lafayette County’s litter plight was the subject of a May 21 story in the Northeast Miss. Daily Journal, the Tupelo daily newspaper, in a story written by Errol Castens.

"In fast-growing Lafayette County," Castens writes, "the juxtaposition of litter with luxury and old tires with new money is common."

Lafayette’s story is similar to other counties in Mississippi, where roadside litter is 30 percent above the national average, according to a Web site maintained by the Miss. Department of Transportation.

Enter the Panola County Board of Supervisors, which has a copy of Wayne County’s ordinance in hand after solid waste manager Dean Joiner presented it to the board May 1.

While Wayne County adopted and is using the ordinance, Lafayette and Bolivar counties are "looking at" the ordinance, Joiner told supervisors during the meeting.

If supervisors pass the ordinance, they would put teeth to the litter problem with new regulations, enforcement and fines, but the issue could backfire on the board politically if voters disapprove.

The proposed ordinance allows great flexibility for prosecuting illegal dumpers, but it would also permit the county to crack down on "junky" private property by fining landowners if they fail to clean up their property.

"You’ve got to do what the majority wants or you don’t stay around, and the majority are saying, ?Leave us alone,’" said District Four Supervisor Jerry Perkins, who told The Panolian about the Daily Journal story during a phone interview.

According to District 2 Supervisor Robert Avant, the board of supervisors plans to take a closer look at the ordinance and will likely approve at least some parts of it.

"We won’t pass something just to put it on paper because we don’t want to have to come back to it later," Avant said. "It will probably take a little time for us to sit around a table and talk."

Asked if supervisors felt "cornered" to take action with the ordinance, Avant said he didn’t have such feelings.

"This is something that’s needed," Avant said. "The majority (of the board) feels like something needs to be done."

The topic of adopting a litter ordinance is new territory for the board of supervisors, Avant said. He cited the topic as an example that the board is slowly evolving beyond its traditional role as overseers of county roads and bridges.

"We’re slowly moving beyond that point," Avant said. "Economic development, for example, is starting to be an issue as time passes."

District 5 Supervisor Bubba Waldrup said constituents he has talked to support a crackdown on illegal dumping.

"Everybody I talk to says we need to do something about it," Waldrup said. "Folks are saying these people need to be held accountable."

Waldrup said he’s heard no feedback about the private property issue, however, though he agreed that three-fourths of District 5 is located inside the Batesville city limits, which is already governed by a code enforcement office.

Regarding a crackdown on illegal dumpers, Avant said the presumption of guilt when a person’s name is found in a trash bag is "a little tough."

"You’re assuming that person is guilty when they should be presumed innocent," Avant said. "To me that’s a reverse of the law."

Waldrup said he supports the illegal dumping language as-is in the ordinance, calling it "common sense."

"Nobody’s going to get Bubba Waldrup’s garbage and throw it on Vance Bottom Road," Waldrup said.

Regarding a future crackdown on private property, Avant said he believes the county shouldn’t dictate what is allowed on private property.

Avant acknowledged that he himself has had several "junk" cars on his own property but said any vehicles at his home are currently running.

If supervisors approve the controversial crackdown on private property, automobiles, appliances and other similar items would be affected by the new regulation.


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