Headlines Cont. – 6/23/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 23, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – June 23, 2006


Options available for would-be homeowners
     Personnel at the office of Rural Development in Batesville include (clockwise from front) Patty Tutor, Dorothy Burns, Bruce Bolen, Pat Little and (not pictured) Lee Hitchcock.
By John Howell

June is National Homeowner’s Month.

For most people, that may not mean much. After all, every month is national something-or-the-other month.

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But for Bruce Bolen, National Homeowner’s Month means something. Bolen is Rural Development Manager for the USDA Rural Development. Bolen and other Batesville Rural Development office personnel, including Dorothy Burns, Pat Little, Patty Tutor and Lee Hitchcock, specialize in programs that help people become homeowners.

Bolen’s programs include liberal financing options that few people know about. He would like for more people to know about them. There’s a guaranteed loan that requires no down payment. For that reason and several more, it may be Bolen’s favorite. He said that he likes the guaranteed loan program because working families can qualify.

A family of three, for instance, can make up to $61,700 and qualify, he said. That fits many people he knows. ‘Usually, you can get into one for $1,500,’ he said, for insurance deposits, attorney fees and other legal expenses. ‘We send them to a conventional lender; they make the loan; we sign off on it and guarantee that the bank won’t lose any money on the loan,’ Bolen said.

Other features of the Office of Rural Development guaranteed loan allow the homeowner to build a home of any price range, and they are not limited in square feet, number of bedrooms or bathrooms or even to conventional design.

‘Several of the Reeves-Williams homes’ have been purchased through the program, Bolen continued, referring to the Woodland Road development in Batesville.

For applicants who are unable to qualify for a guaranteed loan, there is the ‘direct 502’ program.

‘We make the loan ourselves, then,’ Bolen said. Again, the program offers 100 percent financing.

‘It can be a subsidized payment based on income with interest as low as one percent,’ Bolen said.

It addition to the Rural Development programs to help people become homeowners, there’s another that helps low income homeowners with repairs to their homes, Bolen said. The 504 program offers grants, loans or a combination. ‘It’s probably the best program we’ve got; it helps people who can’t get help anywhere else,’ he added.

Through the home repair 504 program loans are available up to $20,000 and grants are available up to $7,500. Under that program, a loan applicant’s income cannot exceed $12,000 for one person. The grants are available to people age 62 or older. ‘We help a lot of people on Social Security,’ Bolen said.

The repair assistance is not available for cosmetic repairs like new carpet or new cabinets, but for replacing roofs, adding storm windows or handicap access construction, Bolen added.

The USDA Office of Rural Development is located in the new Batesville USDA office building at 175 Broome Ridge Road. The office performs the home loan duties of the old Farmers Home Administration. For additional information about loans to build new homes or repair existing homes, call 578-8045, ext. 4.

And when you speak to them, wish them a happy June. With the programs they have available, they have reason to celebrate National Homeowners Month.

McBride Engineering associates with Mendrop-Wages firm
By Rupert Howell

Mendrop-Wages Engineering of Ridgeland and McBride Engineering Company Inc. of Batesville have announced their recent association according to Warner McBride.

The two companies worked together in 2002 and have been working together since April of last year and currently are involved in several projects both public and private in Northwest Mississippi.

Warner McBride of McBride Engineering emphasized his belief that the association with Mendrop-Wages will help the community considering the high growth rate being seen and predicted for additional areas in North Mississippi including Batesville and Panola County.

He stated that not every firm had the ability to assist in planning and development in fast growing areas.

‘Their experience in high growth areas will keep us from having to reinvent the wheel,’ McBride said.

Wages added that through his firms experience they have learned to assist communities with what they want and where they need to go–not just somebody doing something so that we can have a project.

‘We want to help our customers look at the big picture,’ Wages added.

Blake Mendrop has been working with the City of Batesville through McBride Engineering.

The five-year-old Mendrop-Wages firm has an impressive list of clients in both the public and private sectors including the State of Mississippi where Wages served as lead engineer on the Nissan Plant project.

While working together in 2002 on an economic development project, the two engineering companies learned of their similar desire to promote local communities in Mississippi and surrounding states according to a recent news release.

Mendrop and Wages, who have become officers in McBride Engineering Company, will increase the engineering capabilities needed in the region according to McBride.

The family-owned engineering firm has worked with the engineering and construction industry almost 50 years to enhance the advancement and development of the Northwest Mississippi region according to McBride.

His father, Jacob McBride, founder of McBride Engineering, served as the firm’s president from 1957 until his recent retirement.

He served in the United States Army, in both the European and Pacific theaters during World War II before practicing civil engineering in Memphis.

The elder McBride returned to the home of his wife, the former Bonnie Finnie, in Panola County in 1957.

Panola and Tate Counties were among his list of clients as Jacob McBride established values and traditions that have characterized McBride Engineering and their work with their clients and the community.

Warner McBride, grew up spending his summers and Saturdays with the survey crews for the engineering company. Warner entered the family business soon after graduating from Mississippi State University and served as an officer of the firm until he began his service in the Mississippi Legislature in 1992.

Warner continues to work with both firms as a consultant in a business development capacity.

Continuing the tradition of construction and community development, Jonathan McBride became the third generation of McBrides to work with the family firm.

He graduated Mississippi State University with a degree in construction management and land development. After working with Hill Brothers Construction Company on such projects as the ‘Stack’ in Jackson and the widening of Interstate-55 in DeSoto County, Jonathan developed a construction materials testing business.

Earlier this year, Jonathan formed McBride Co., LLC to provide contractor services for such items as construction management, erosion control management and installation, materials testing, and quality assurance/quality control along with services as a general contractor.

In this new endeavor, Mendrop-Wages Engineering and McBride Engineering plan to continue the 50-year tradition of working with their clients and the community to promote advancement and development.

Dog Reunion
     Panola County Humane Society volunteers (clockwise from lower left) Kim Strickland, Lindsey Cannon and
Pam White met the family of Marissa last week when they drove from Missouri to be reunited with the small, mixed-breed dog which had become separated from them after an auto accident on I-55 at Batesville. The dog was located, identified, housed and finally reunited through the efforts of the humane society volunteers and other animal lovers including The Panolian classifieds.
SPHS grads got $668,843 in scholarships, board told
By Rupert Howell

Seven assistant principals met with South Panola School District’s board of trustees at the June meeting Tuesday night.

Principals tradtionally meet with board members and give brief oral reports after submitting more detailed written reports for the board’s perusal.

Batesville Elementary School assistant principal Kay Parker presented each trustee with an orange and explained how the fruit can be used to teach lessons that that would involve learning skills required. She then passed around a sheet with required skills asking the board if they knew they would be taking a test.

‘You won’t be coming back,’ Board President Lygunnah Bean quipped while scratching his head at the assignment.

‘Mission accomplished,’ responded Parker who probably wanted to be elsewhere than a boring board room on a June evening.

Bean later commended the Elementary School assistant principal for her presentation stating that she had set the bar high for the remaining assistant principals’ reports.

Jeremy Stinson of Batesville Intermediate School took his time to promote the school’s field day at the end of the year. He stressed that parental involvement had increased at the field day and throughout his time at Batesville Intermediate and said that parental involvement relates to increased acheivment.

Julia Bainer who has been assistant principal at Batesville Middle School for six-years described how her school was incorporating games into students learning benchmarks.

Virginia Johnson of Batesville Junior High School told trustees that how students coming into junior high are put into teams to ease the social transition from the lower grades into junior high.

Matthew Dillon, also an assistant principal at Batesville Junior High School, reported to trustees about recent staff development training.

‘He sounds like a principal,’ Bean told other trustees.

Pope School assistant principal Cedric Graham told board members about a grant from Lowes that will be used towards the development of a wellness policy that will include putting a fitness train at Pope School.

Leslie Busby of South Panola High School told trustees that South Panola graduates received $668,843 in scholarships during the awards day at the end of school.

‘We’re ecstatic about these awards,’ Busby stated.

Trustees will meet again today, Friday, for a budget hearing and the following Friday to adopt a budget.

North Panola trustees keep with policy, denies pair of transfer requests
By Jason C. Mattox

Two parents made requests to the North Panola School District Board of Trustees to release their children to attend the Tate County and Senatobia City School Districts, respectively.

Nancy Koger approached the board with the first request to release her daughter Stephanie, a 10th grader presently enrolled at Gateway Christian School in Sardis.

Koger, who lives in Crenshaw, explained that her daughter had been attending Strayhorn in the Tate County School District.

‘This is not a slight to you all, but most of the white parents living in Crenshaw send their children to Strayhorn,’ Koger pointed out. ‘My daughter has been attending Strayhorn since she started school, and we don’t want to change that.’

‘It’s kind of like going to a doctor,’ Koger’s husband added. ‘When you get a doctor and establish roots with him, you don’t want to go changing that.

‘Our daughter has roots at Strayhorn and we would like to see her continue there until she finishes high school,’ he said.

Board attorney Alix Sanders informed the Kogers of the board’s policy not to release students from the district.

‘The state department discourages allowing a student to transfer to another state funded school district,’ he said. ‘You want us to send the child, and the money we get for that child to another district. It’s kind of a catch 22.

‘We have been through all this many times before,’ Sanders said. ‘We will have to tell you no. That has been our policy for quite a while.’

Once the Kogers left the room, Jennifer Schosson, who also lives in Crenshaw, appeared before the board asking for the release of her son James Medina, to attend Senatobia City Schools.

Schosson explained that both she and her husband worked early in the mornings which makes it difficult to drop off their son.

‘We spoke with the Senatobia City School District and were told there is a tuition program available,’ she said.

Sanders asked why, if it was a tuition program, they were approaching the board of trustees.

‘We were told by them on two different occasions that we need to obtain a release from you all because we live in the North Panola District,’ she said.

Board vice-president Pearlean McGlothian reiterated the board’s policy.

‘The state wants you to attend school in the district you live in,’ she said. ‘That has been our policy, and that’s all there is to it.’

Following that discussion, trustees voted 3-0 to deny the requests. Cecil Dowden and Billy Russell were absent for the second straight meeting.

Communicare offers services to NP
By Jason C. Mattox

The North Panola School District is considering allowing Communicare to place a therapist in the schools following a presentation by Maureen McGowen.

McGowen told members of the district board of trustees that therapy could help the school meet the requirements set forth by the ‘No Child Left Behind’ legislation.

‘The schools are under a lot of pressure to meet those requirements,’ she said. ‘What most schools fail to realize is that one out of every five people in the world has some sort of mental health disorder.’

McGowen explained that Communicare would place a therapist on-site in whichever schools the district thought was most in need.

‘We will hire a master’s level therapist to work with the students,’ she said. ‘All the district will be required to do is place $10,000 in an account for overages and provide office space for the therapist.’

The $10,000 would come into play if a child who is involved in the therapy loses insurance or medicaid coverage.

‘If the student loses insurance or medicaid, the $10,000 would be used to pay for the continuation of services,’ McGowen said.

As for the therapy sessions, McGowen said students could be referred by family members or teachers.

‘The only people that would know about the therapy sessions would be the student, his teachers, parents and the therapist,’ she said.

‘We have found that the therapist can make a big difference,’ McGowen added. ‘We try to make the sessions fun so the child will want to go to therapy.

‘While in therapy, they will be working on skills that can make a difference for the child in the classroom and in the community,’ she said.

One concerned parent who attended the meeting asked how it could be confidential if the other children see the student going into the therapist’s office.

‘What about the students who see the child go in and say, ‘Johnny’s going in the crazy room,’ she asked.

McGowen said the times would be arranged with teachers to try and prevent that kind of an incident.
No action was taken.

In other board business:
Trustees adopted revised policies dealing with promotion and retention and school attendance.
  An agreement between Mid-State Opportunity Inc., and the school district was approved.
  The resignations of Cassie Pharr, Kevin Farmer and Joshua Patterson from Como Elementary School were accepted.
  Trustees approved the retirement of Emile Williams from North Panola High School and Donna Allen from Como Elementary.
  Resignations of Michelle Shegog-Cox, Tiffney Town and Latrice Harris from Crenshaw Elementary School were accepted. Other resignations in the district included Lindsay Richardson and Patrice Durr from North Panola High School and Robin Logan, gifted music instructor, from Green Hill and Crenshaw Elementary Schools.
  Trustees approved 15 recommendations to fill vacancies in the district among those recommendations were four administrative positions. Anthony C. Barnes was hired as principal of North Panola High School. Ausbon Dawn Weed was hired as principal of Como Elementary School, Jessie J. Edwards was hired as director of the NP Career and Technical Center and Versa H. Brown was hired as director of the North Panola Alternative Learning School.



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