| Theater arts camp planned at Playhouse
| The Panola Playhouse on Main Street, Sardis is inviting young folks aged 6 though 14 to take part in its first annual theatre arts summer camp. The camp will be held at the historic Playhouse from 1 p.m. till 6 p.m., from Monday, July 17 through Friday, July 21.
Participants will engage in and be taught many aspects of stagecraft such as acting, singing, dancing, costuming, as well as many of the technical aspects of theatre.
The participants will perform in the play "Sleeping Beauty" at the conclusion of the camp. Performances of "Sleeping Beauty" will take place Saturday, July 22 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 23, at 2 p.m.
The week-long camp will focus on general theatre education, as well as on preparation for staging the culminating production.
The Panola Playhouse is the oldest continuously-operating community theatre in Mississippi. Local area amateur actors and stage hands have been producing and performing in several plays each year at the Playhouse since it opened in 1962.
The summer camp is to be led by Rick Crick, who recently directed "Grease (School Version)" at the Playhouse. Crick is the performing arts instructor at Senatobia City Schools. The camp staff also consists of other experienced theatrical directors, actors, and educators.
The camp’s two assistant directors, Makesha Kinard and Vic Henson, are young educators in nearby schools who already have had experience in both directing and acting in community theatre productions, as well as in directing the technical areas of lighting and sound effects.
The camp staff includes as well acting and dance coach Abby Sewell and acting and vocal coach Cassidy Porter.
The cost of the camp is $75 for a single participant and $50 per person for siblings or for groups. Payments should be made at the Playhouse on the first day of camp. The enrollment fee includes a camp t-shirt and daily snacks. The camp must have at least eight participants, and the maximum number of enrollees to be accepted will be twenty. Camp enrollment should be made by or before
Prospective campers can find an enrollment form at the Panola Playhouse Web site at .
| Longtime band director decides
not to return to SP
| By Rupert Howell
South Panola School District will be looking for a new director of bands as current director William McEwen failed to return his contract for re-employment by an extended deadline last Friday.
McEwen reached later said, "I have enjoyed serving in the capacity of director of bands for South Panola School District. I feel that I can no longer fulfill the obligations as senior band director."
School trustees were meeting Friday to approve the 2006-2007 budget.
Each trustee present expressed their confidence in McEwen with Board President Lygunnah Bean saying, "We will never find anybody that loves children more."
Trustee Dr. Carlock Broome said, "Everybody in here hates to see him go."
McEwen said later, "The administration and board has done everything possible to accommodate me as director of bands," adding that he considered leaving the position earlier and noted that personal matters including family obligations weighed-in on his decision.
McEwen has taught for 26 years, 22 in the school district and 11 of those as director of bands. He said he still enjoys teaching life skills along with music.
School Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer told trustees, "I have to do what I have to do to maintain the integrity of the band program. The deadline was not met," but then added that McEwen’s application would be given serious consideration if he chose to apply.
McEwen had nothing but kind words for both South Panola High School Principal Dr. Gearl Loden and Superintendent Shaffer saying that if someone needs to lay blame for his decision, it should be on him (McEwen).
| Snake Man
| A rare Coachwhip snake is the center of attention Friday at the Batesville Public Library where the "snake man," herpetologist Terry Vandeventer, introduces his slithery friend to an audience of 200-plus children and their parents.
Vandeventer introduced several nonpoisonous snakes, from a tiny Milk Snake to an enormous Burmese python, to an overflow audience. The goal of the presentation, Vandeventer said, was to educate the public about the snake’s importance to both man and Mother Nature.
| Library requests six-percent budget increase from county
| By Billy Davis
The First Regional Library is seeking a six-percent increase in funding from Panola County government, county supervisors heard this week.
First Regional director Catherine Nathan made the budget request last Monday. The budget increase would bump Panola County government’s contribution to the library system to about $294,680 in the coming fiscal year, she said.
First Regional operates 13 library branches, four of them in Panola County, across a five-county region.
Nathan is the first budget-time visitor to make an appearance before supervisors in preparation for the new fiscal year, which begins October 1.
The county’s tax pie is carved up among the sheriff’s department and jail, the road department, justice court offices, county constables, and various courthouse offices such as the circuit and chancery clerk’s offices.
The county also budgets money for Northwest Community College and the county drug task force.
Nathan told supervisors the increase would help First Regional regain working hours that were cut from library branches in Sardis and Crenshaw during the past year.
"We don’t want to have to do that again," Nathan told the board.
The monies would also be used to buy new materials for the branches.
"We all know how important you are to the community and want you to have maximum hours," Avant told an audience that included branch managers and library patrons who attended last Monday to show their support.
The board president added, however, that supervisors are "not going to do it," referring to the requested increase.
The remaining supervisors had no comment about the budget request.
Figures provided by Nathan Monday showed Panola County’s libraries issued 1,715 new library cards last year and attracted 23,792 people to 635 various programs. An estimated 4,493 people used one of the four Panola branches each week.
Reached after the meeting, Nathan said supervisors responded last year with a $10,000 increase after First Regional asked for a 7.5 percent increase.
"We’re asking for the six percent because we’re trying to restore some of our book budget," Nathan said, reiterating her words to the supervisors.
| History page, i.d. contest start Friday
| Starting Friday, The Panolian will begin a weekly "Blast from the Past" feature that will include news and photos from five, ten, 15, 25 years ago as well as news from 50 and occasionally 100 and 150 years ago.
"Readers ask us about this all the time," Publisher John Howell said.
"We’ve talked about it for months and never really settled on a format. Finally, we’ve just decided to do it," he added.
The series will include a weekly photo identification contest.
"We will include a photo from our files and award a cash prize to the person who can provide the most identifying information about it," the publisher continued.
Photos from old files will be made available for purchase on .
Needed are sponsors.
"Producing the page each week is time-consuming, but we feel that readers will enjoy this immensely," Howell said.
"It’s a great opportunity for advertisers who want to share the intense readership anticipated for the page," he continued. "All of us ? from about the time we finish high school ? get nostalgic."
For information about becoming a page sponsor, advertisers should contact ad representatives Beverly Boyett, Bob Boggan or Becky Brewer at