Headlines Cont. – 6/9/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 9, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – June 9, 2006


Commission’s work reported to supervisors
By Billy Davis

Panola County leaders believe they took a positive step forward Monday when a line of communication officially opened up between Panola County supervisors and the Panola County Land Development Commission.

The im- provement came by way of Diane Stewart, the county permit clerk who also works with the commission and attends its monthly meetings.

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Appearing at the supervisors’ "first Monday" meeting in Sardis, Stewart handed supervisors a brief summary of the commission’s May meeting and told them of matters expected to be discussed at the June 12 meeting.

A public hearing and two special exception applications, one for an office/warehouse and one for a laundromat, are on the commission’s agenda for next week.

The land development commission oversees a strategy of planned, orderly growth in non-municipal areas of Panola County. The development plan was implemented by Panola County supervisors in 1999.

Motorcycle accident claims Sledge man
By Billy Davis

A funeral service is set Saturday for a Sledge man who died Tuesday in a motorcycle wreck.

James Brown Ray, 40, was killed after the motorcycle he was operating left Highway 3 about a mile south of Crenshaw, said Panola County coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge.

Ray was transported by an Air Evac helicopter to The Med, where he later died, Gulledge said.

"Mr. Ray was driving with a passenger, Terrance Johnson, who was transported from the scene by ambulance to The Med," the coroner said.

Johnson’s injuries were not life threatening, Gulledge said.

The Miss. Highway Patrol responded to the wreck, but a spokesman could not be reached by press time.

A funeral service for Ray is set for Saturday at noon at McNeal M.B. Church near Crenshaw. Grant Funeral Home of Tunica is in charge of arrangements.

Sardis aldermen consider dumping
     closed landfill
By Jason C. Mattox

For the third time in as many meetings, Sardis leaders discussed the sale of the city landfill to a private company.

Clay Lane appeared before the board again, representing the Jones family that owns the company proposing the purchase of the 19-acre landfill.

The proposed purchase price was not disclosed, but Lane gave two factors that helped the company reach the figure.

"It is going to cost us approximately $125,000 in capital investments to reopen the facility," he said. "The city will also receive 50 cubic yards per month for dumping, at no cost to you.

"We know it is a risk to make this kind of investment, but we are willing to take that risk," Lane added.

Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye asked Lane about the permit process.

"Would you want to operate on our permit until yours is completed?" he asked.

Lane said the company would not operate on the city’s permit. The permit would be transferred to the new ownership group.

"We just don’t want to get down the road four or five years from now and get all the problems handed back to us," Dye explained.

Lane said if the city accepts Lane’s proposal for purchase, the new owners would become responsible for all existing problems and new ones that may arise.

City attorney Tommy Shuler told city leaders if they intend to sell the property they will have to go through the sealed bid process.

"We understand that," Lane said. "We just wanted to make sure that the city understood our proposal."

Lift station problems plague Sardis board
By Jason C. Mattox

Problems with sewerage lift stations continue to plague the City of Sardis – this time near the baseball fields on Highway 51.

During Tuesday night’s meeting of the Sardis Mayor and Board of Aldermen, Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye updated the board on the newest problem.

"We are having to go by there once or twice a day to pump out those lift stations," he said. "We are in a situation now where we really have to do something."

Dye said he has spoken with C & C Lift Station Repair about the pumps in question.

"He suggests putting in a pair of submersible pumps to keep them from shorting out when the water gets over the top of them," Dye said. "With the existing pumps, if they get water in them, they will short out."

The estimated cost for the two submersible pumps is $18,500.

Pearson residing in Indiana
     while awaiting trial
By Jason C. Mattox

It remains unclear if John "Cody" Pearson will be able to stand trial on the recently set date of August 28, according to his attorney Ron Lewis of Oxford.

"He was moved from the Panola County jail to Baptist Hospital in Oxford and then to Northeast Mississippi Regional Medical Center in Tupelo for treatment of various physical problems," Lewis said.

From Tupelo, Pearson was released into the custody of doctors in Indiana. He is now residing there with family. An earlier report that he is in the Panola County Jail was incorrect.

Lewis said staff at the Panola County jail was not equipped to handle the medical problems of his client.

Pearson is scheduled to stand trial on a 10-count indictment stemming from alleged inappropriate sexual activity with four juveniles who were all 15 years of age.

The 47-year-old is accused of abusing one boy in 2002 and the others in 2004, according to a copy of the indictment.

The indictment states Pearson allegedly sexually assaulted the teenagers, abusing two of the boys four times each over the summer and fall.

The other two juveniles were allegedly abused once each by the accused.

Ages of the alleged victims were not directly stated in the indictment, though three of them apparently were 15 and one was under 14 when the alleged acts occurred.

Pearson could receive life in prison or 30 years per count if victims were under 14.

Infant’s death ruled accidental suffocation
By Billy Davis

An autopsy performed Monday confirmed that a two-month-old Sardis infant died of accidental suffocation.

The family of Marcus Dewayne Gassion Jr. learned of the autopsy results Tuesday evening, said Panola County coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge.

Gassion is the son of Lakesha Davis of Sardis.

The suffocation is known as "rollover," which occurs when a child is accidentally suffocated while sleeping in bed with an adult.

Gulledge had suspected rollover as a cause of death, citing several other similar cases in recent years, but said she was unsure until an autopsy was performed.

Sardis police were called to the family’s home on Center Street about 6:30 Monday morning.

Funeral services for Gassion include an 11 a.m. graveside service today at Mt. Level M.B. Church, said a spokesman for Felix-Cauthen Funeral Home in Senatobia.

Mayor wants to weigh in
     on replacement for Olson
By John Howell Sr.

The Batesville Mayor and Aldermen dealt with several personnel matters, including two during executive session, during a three-plus-hours meeting Tuesday, June 6.

Action taken during executive session and reported afterwards included the approval of a transfer for city employee Embry Moody from the police department to the city clerk’s office.

Aldermen also voted to issue a disciplinary notice that includes two days’ suspension to Batesville police officer Jeremiah Brown. After Brown has been given the notice, he will be allowed to respond at the June 20 meeting if he chooses.

Another personnel action began with what appeared to be a routine request from Fire Chief Tim Taylor that aldermen accept the resignation of Fire Services Administrator Tim Olson, who has accepted a job with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency as Northwest Regional Services coordinator. Olson will remain a volunteer for the Batesville Fire Department, Taylor told the mayor and aldermen.

Taylor said that he would make a recommendation for Olson’s replacement at a subsequent meeting.

"We’re going to be involved with that too," Mayor Jerry Autrey said.

"Oh, you are?" responded Taylor.

The mayor said that he and the board would like to join the selection process.

"Do you want to tell me who it’s going to be?" Taylor asked.


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