Headlines – 6/20/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – June 20, 2006

  From the 6/20/06 issue of The Panolian   – 

     Orbit the Clown spreads cheer at Saturday’s community picnic hosted by Tri-Lakes Medical Center at Trussell Park. Houston Snyder and his dad were recipients of one of her balloons.
Mayor halts vote on mobile homes
Crenshaw gets help to move back into black
By John Howell Sr.

"You’re doing an excellent job of catching some of your indebtedness up," Lygunnah Bean told Crenshaw city officials at their June 15 meeting of the board of mayor and aldermen.

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Bean was among several people who spoke during the early minutes of the meeting that lasted over three hours, including a lengthy executive session during which a new attorney and policeman were hired. Bean and David Chandler are working on Crenshaw’s budget in conjunction with Town Clerk Ren?e Ward to organize the city’s finances, Bean said. They also serve, respectively, as Panola County’s road manager and county administrator.

The town’s budget is due in July," Bean continued. "We’re through with last year’s numbers," he said.

In an interview Friday, Bean said that Crenshaw’s ability to successfully apply for grants had been hampered by the lack of recent audits of city finances. As 2006 fiscal year finances have been reviewed, "it showed that you’ve been spending more but you’re spending money to catch things up," Bean said. Accounts formerly in arrears with state retirement, Internal Revenue and Social Security have been brought up to date, he said.

"We’d like to set up a meeting with Mr. Chandler, a budget session" for city officials, Bean added.

Bean was among several people who spoke after the meeting got off to a bumpy start when Mayor Sylvester Reed sought an executive session to discuss matters dealing with "hiring and salaries," he told aldermen and visitors.

When The Panolian objected to closing the meeting, aldermen voted 3-2 to stay in open session. Mayor Reed then postponed the hiring matters and recognized several people who had made previous arrangements to be included on the board’s itinerary.

Sam Presley referred to two letters he had written to the mayor addressing concerns over enforcement of the city’s ordinances regulating the placement of mobile homes and the confinement of vicious dogs. Presley quoted from a reply he received from the mayor, which stated: "… at the present time being advised by the attorney that research is being made to see what is our legal status" regarding mobile home placement.

The legal status of mobile home placement was a question which permeated the meeting, including the remarks of Bob Bryant who followed Presley in remarks before the town officials.

"Crenshaw is the only municipality in Panola County that allows a mobile home in the city limits except in a trailer park," Bryant said.

"Can anybody give me an idea how many [mobile homes] have moved into the town limits of Crenshaw?" Bryant asked, rhetorically. He added that he had counted about 97.

"If we ever have a tornado come through, we’re going to have lots of funerals," Bryant added.

Subsequent discussion following Bryant’s remarks about the city’s regulation of mobile homes included an attempt by alderman David Whitsell to declare a moratorium on placement of the homes until an attorney could determine what ordinances have already been adopted.

Whitsell’s motion received a second from alderman Alberta Bradley, but Mayor Reed deferred action until an attorney could research existing ordinances.

"I can make a motion right now and if it’s seconded, we can vote on it," Whitsell said.

"We have to follow procedure," the mayor replied.
Other discussion centered on a mobile home which had already been placed through a permit error in an area where they had been prohibited and a second erroneously issued permit.

Store owner refutes story,
     claims ‘equal treatment’
By Rupert Howell

In an interview Friday with The Panolian, Sam Allred of Sam’s Coles Point Grocery wanted to make a point that "me and my family are not racists" following a story on the front page of last Friday’s issue of The Panolian.

The story, headlined, "Family claims racial troubles after move to Sardis Lake home," regarded a black family, the Nelsons, who claimed to be enduring racial troubles since moving to a home in the Cole’s Point area.

In the story, Eric Nelson claimed that the owner of an unnamed store "down the road" from his family’s home refused him service when he attempted to make a purchase.

According to Allred, however, the only instance of non-service at his store could have been when someone was refused tobacco and beer due to improper or no identification.

A Vietnam veteran who fought alongside African Americans, Allred said, "I wouldn’t refuse nobody because of their color. All colors are treated equal in our store."

Allred also said that he has black customers who come by his store everyday.

Crenshaw adds attorney,
    police officer to payroll
By John Howell Sr.

Crenshaw town officials acting during executive session hired a new attorney and a policemen at their Thursday, June 15 meeting.

The hiring of a town attorney during executive session appears to be in violation of the state’s open meetings act. Attorneys are independent contractors and are not municipal employees. Discussions relating to their hiring are not exempt from the open meetings act.

Following the 45-minute executive session, during which spectators were ushered from the meeting room into an evening of brisk mosquito activity, Mayor Reed announced that the board had voted 3 to 2 to hire Mary Brown of Grenada as the city’s attorney.

City Clerk Renee Ward reported that aldermen Shirley Morgan, Keith Pride and Milton Phipps voted for Brown’s hiring. Aldermen Alberta Bradley and David Whitsell voted against it.

Mayor Reed also reported that Robert Killett had been hired as a policeman for the city. Another applicant was rejected, he said.

In other business, city officials unanimously approved a resolution authorizing Larry Haynes of Mid America Development Foundation to apply for a small cities grant of up to $150,000 for construction of a new city hall/police station combination.

Haynes said that because the deadline for the application was June 30th, "we’ve got a short window to apply."

The Town of Crowder has built a new facility through a similar grant, Haynes said.

Art Exhibit
     The Batesville law firm of Smith, Phillips, Mitchell and Scott hosted an art exhibit and reception Friday evening, featuring work by the seven artists of The Mississippi Studio. Panola Countian Rachel Ballentine of Sardis displayed her pottery, which she creates using a traditional Nigerian pottery style. Other artists in the group are Carol Roark of Enid,
Vickie Wood of Charleston, Heather Ryan and Hope Carr, both of Yazoo City, Robin Whitfield of Grenada and
Susan Russell of Madison.
Weekend rains relieve some, not all,
     in county
By Billy Davis

A line of blue-and-black thunderstorms lined up like dive bombers over the weekend, whipping up high winds and bringing long-absent rainfall to much of Panola County.

A series of upper-level disturbances mixed with hot, humid temperatures, produced the wet weekend, said Jason Beaman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Memphis.

Rainfall amounts ranged from one to three inches over the weekend, Beaman said, noting that the county is "two to four inches" below its average annual rainfall, which is at least 25 inches by the start of summer.

At Sardis Lake, a rain gauge at the Sardis Lake Field Office recorded 3.36 inches over the weekend, reported park attendant Kathy Pittman.

Rainfall in the area totalled 4.26 inches in April and 3.78 inches during the entire month of May, Pittman said. Before rain arrived over the weekend, June totals were 0.02 inches on June 2 and 0.43 inches on June 5.

At Enid Lake, field office secretary Micki Coleman said weekend totals were barely over an inch, 1.19 inches, after .25 inches fell Saturday and .94 inches fell Sunday.

What was the May rainfall at Enid Lake?

"None," Coleman said. "Zero."

In Batesville, gardener Wallace Cochran said only a half-inch of rain fell over the weekend on his garden of tomatoes, cucumbers and squash on James Street.

The chain of thunderstorms brought strong winds that felled trees and ripped away limbs. Panola County road crews removed 10 trees from roadways over the weekend, said Panola County road manager Lygunnah Bean.

"We had two trees down on Pope-Water Valley road, six (trees) down on Brewer, one down on Woodruff and one on Baker," Bean said.

Across the Mid-South, the weekend weather pummeled Jackson, Tenn. with a flash flood and produced an F-1 tornado in the Cordova area of east Shelby County, Beaman said.

"The tornado hit about 20 homes but nobody was hurt," the meteorologist said.

Post-job fair figures: one out of six
     offered employment
By Billy Davis

A post-event report filed by the Batesville WIN Job Center shows that more than 1,700 job seekers made more than 8,000 visits to potential employers at the Northwest Mississippi Area Job Fair last week.

Fifty-nine employers representing industry, law enforcement, the military and other job fields participated in the event, the second in as many years at the Batesville Civic Center.

The Batesville job fair is organized through the Governor’s Job Fair Network with cooperation from local officials, such as the mayors of Batesville and Sardis.

According to the job fair report, employers cited 8,174 total visits to their booths, resulting in 469 employee interviews. Employers reporting made 272 on-the-spot job offers, which equates to a job offer for every six job seekers.

Filling out a survey for the job fair, employers indicated that they will likely hire 723 employees in the coming year as a direct result of the event.

Panola County’s unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in April, the latest figure available, which is down exactly a point from April, 2005, figures from the Miss. Department of Employment Security (MDES) Web site show.

The unemployment rate last May jumped to 9.5 percent just prior to the first annual job fair, which was held June 23 at the Batesville Civic Center.

The 1,700-plus attendees last week was lower than last year’s total, said WIN Job Center manager Cindy Martin, who wondered if the higher jobless rate last summer also meant a higher turnout at the job fair.

"Maybe it was lower because the people who came last year are working this year," Martin said.
Regarding any tweaking of the two-time event, Martin said the Batesville Job Center will likely advertise its workshops better next year prior to the job fair.

"We would like to help job seekers with their job search skills to help them improve their job hunt," said Martin, noting that some job seekers last week failed to wear attire that was appropriate for a job interview.

One employer complained of the job seekers’ attire, and still another complained that applicants lacked the skills to complete the application.

Another employer commented on the "high caliber" of job seekers, however, and still another expected to interview 20 applicants.

Northwest Miss. Area Job Fair
by the numbers
     Attendees: 1,700
     Employers:      59
     Visitors to
     employer booths:
     Resumes submitted
     to employers:
     On-site interviews:    469
     Job offers made:    272
Figures from WIN Job Center
Batesville location
BPD arrest one, stop armed mad momma
By Billy Davis

Batesville police, responding to a frantic 9-1-1 phone call made Friday, have charged the victim’s boyfriend with domestic violence.

Police arrested Johnny Jackson, 31, for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Nashundria Dunnigan, 24.

Jackson allegedly hit Dunnigan several times on the head inside an apartment at the Timber ridge Apartments in West Batesville. The assault victim is pregnant with Jackson’s second child, police said.

The incident occurred about 2:15 Friday afternoon in Apartment No. 13.

BPD officer Ryan Koehn said he arrested Jackson outside the apartment as the suspect was leaving in a vehicle. As the officer was arresting Jackson, Dunnigan’s mother, armed with a kitchen knife, was stalking the alleged attacker in the apartment’s parking lot.

Koehn said the mother, who was not identified, dropped the knife after he brandished his sidearm.

Jackson will be charged with a misdemeanor because he did not use a weapon in the alleged assault, said BPD Major Don Province.

Kindergarten registration underway
     at BES for fall
Parents who haven’t already enrolled kindergarten-bound children at Batesville Elementary School should do so this summer, according to school spokesman Diane Heafner.

Out of an expected 300 kindergarten students, only about 175 have registered, Heafner said.

Parents can come to the school office on College Street Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. They should bring with them a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate, the child’s Social Security card and immunization record, and two proofs of 911 address.

"If they don’t have all this, they can bring what they have and we can help them," Heafner said. "If they don’t have a birth certicate we can order one for them."

The important thing, she said, is "don’t wait until August."


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