Headlines Cont. – 7/14/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 14, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – July 14, 2006


Mobile home owner claims he’s legal;
   shows board permit he purchased from city
By John Howell Sr.

The owner of a mobile home which has been at the center of controversy in Crenshaw has objected to published references that the structure is located in an area where they are prohibited.

Jerry Jennings presented a city privilege license from the Town of Crenshaw dated January 9, 2006, for which he had paid $50 and a receipt for $100 for water service from the town’s water department dated June 9, 2006.

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"There was a mobile home there for years; we just put another one there," Jennings said. He said that prior to placing the mobile home, he went to city officials and asked what was required. He said he was sold a permit and told that he had done everything he needed prior to moving the mobile home to its present location.

"We thought everything was all right," Jennings said. He became aware that there was a problem after water service was established on June 9. A city official contacted him and asked if the city could refund his money, the mobile home owner continued. He said that he had spent thousands readying the mobile home. "It’s their mistake, but it seems like they want us to spend our money," he added.

The issuance of the permit and its placement on Terry Street has been the subject of discussion during the last two months’ meetings of the Crenshaw Board of Mayor and Aldermen. At their July 5 meeting, aldermen set a July 22 date to meet with Jennings about the mobile home. The date was later changed to July 29.

"There was a mobile home there for years; we just put another one there." There’s a few people in Crenshaw who are upset about mobile homes, and that’s what this is all about," Jennings added

City of Sardis considering bidding out trash collection
By Jason C. Mattox

The City of Sardis may soon find itself out of the garbage business.

During last Tuesday’s city board meeting, aldermen discussed taking bids for once-a-week garbage collection service to replace the current twice-a-week pick-up now operated by the City of Sardis.

"It means we wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not a garbage truck tears up," Ward 1 Alderman Joseph "JoJo" Still said.

During an interview on Friday, Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye said one of the biggest reasons the city needs to get out of the garbage collection business is the expense of garbage trucks.

"The bad thing with the garbage trucks is that by the time you get through paying for one, they’re so worn out you need another one," he said.

Dye also said the end of city-provided trash pick-up would free up 16 additional days of work per month for men usually on the garbage truck.

"There is a lot of other stuff in the city that we can use these workers for," he said.

Dye said eliminating trash pick-up will not eliminate city operated brush removal.

"We will continue to run a limb truck on a daily basis," he said. "That is one service we don’t see changing anytime soon."

As for rates, the mayor said he does not expect an increase if the city does bid out the service.

"We charge $17 a month for trash pick-up twice a week," he said. "I don’t see a reason the bill would increase."

As for losing the twice weekly pick-up, Dye said it won’t have much impact.

"Really and truly, we are one of the last cities offering trash pick-up two days a week," he said. "It will take some people a little while to adjust to it, but it won’t be that hard for them."

Dye gave no indication to when the city might advertise for bids on the service.

"All I will say is, the city wants to be out of the garbage business as soon as possible," he said.

Erosion tamed, storm weathered during Dye’s first year in office
By Jason C. Mattox

Wild Dog Ditch is being tamed by an erosion control project spearheaded by Alvis "Rusty" Dye during his first year as mayor of Sardis. The problematic drainage ditch was one of the issues he faced when he took office a year ago after defeating Earnest "Lit" Scruggs.

This week he reflected on accomplishments of his first year in office and plans for the future.

"I think we both ran a good race and the people were ready to make a change," Dye said. "In my first year, I have done what I felt was in the best interest of the city."

Funds and Growth
In that first year, the city received a $409,000 grant for the Wild Dog Ditch erosion control project to correct problems that had plagued Sardis residents for years.

"We had been getting complaints on that ditch for quite some time," he said. "We knew there was money out there to help with erosion problems, so the city went out and applied."

The grant came from the USDA and Natural Resource Conservation Services.

In all, during Dye’s first year in office the city received $959,000 in grants. Another $500,000 in grant funding is pending.

"I am out there looking for whatever money we can find to help with some of the city’s problems," he said.

Perhaps more important than the ditch project was the recruitment of a new business to the city.

Dye and the board of aldermen advertised the old Air Kontrol Building just off Highway 51 on an internet site for a matter of weeks before a company expressed interest.

That company, Steelmatic Wire, Inc., recently opened for operations in the location, and now employs 13 people.

Once the city received a commitment from Steelmatic, they were able to secure $200,000 in grant money to help pay for modifications to the building.

Dye said Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons and James Curcio of North Delta Planning and Development worked diligently with the city to secure the resources.

"That building had been sitting there, and the city wasn’t getting anything off it," Dye said. "It was being used for storage and warehousing for a couple of other industries in the city, but the rent was really minimal, and those companies didn’t hire any new employees."

Dye said Steelmatic has indicated to the city they plan to eventually hire as many as 45 employees.

"The people here need jobs," he said. "So, we are very happy that Steelmatic is taking a step to increase their staffing."

Dye said the revitalization of downtown that many people have been hoping for is closer to becoming a reality.

"We have a developer who is looking in to what it will take to make our Main Street popular," he said.
Alderman-at-Large Roy Scallorn said the mayor has done an excellent job during his first year in office.

"He has been very prolific in going out and finding money to help make improvements in the city," he said.

Growth can be seen in areas other than industrial and commercial.

Since last July when the new administration took the oath of office, there have been 63 new water deposits made, meaning several new residents have moved to a city one developer called "a sleeping giant."

One big development that may wake the giant from its sleep is Phase II of the Sardis Lake Marina Project.

"We have worked diligently to find a developer with an interest in the next phase of development at the marina," Dye said. "Emad El-Turk has worked hard to secure a developer and to help get the next phase of this project moving."

With the election last summer of Dye in Sardis and Jerry Autrey in Batesville, the two new administrations have demonstrated a spirit of cooperation between Panola’s larger municipalities.

"(Batesville Mayor) Jerry (Autrey) and I both realize that when something happens that impacts one of our cities, it will indirectly impact the other," Dye said.

The bond between the two mayors goes back to their college days as fraternity brothers at the University of Southern Mississippi.

"With the relationship we have, each of us wants to see the other succeed," Dye said. "Since day one of our administration, we have not tried to make this a north or south of the river issue."

Never was that more evident than in the spring when a tornado touched down in Sardis, causing damage to several businesses and knocking out power to the entire city.

"We made a call to Batesville and Jerry sent people down here with trackhoes to help with the clean-up," Dye said.

"The city owes a great deal of thanks to the City of Batesville, the Panola County Board of Supervisors and Panola County Civil Defense for their help in getting Sardis put back together," he added.
Dye also commended Panola County Sheriff Shot Bright for help with improvements at City Hall.
"Shot and his workers really helped us out when they came in and helped us repaint City Hall," he said.

Landscaping and other improvements to the exterior of City Hall were completed by Dye’s wife Lynn and their daughter-in-law Diana Thornton, with help from the mayor.

"I want to thank everyone who has worked with me in the last year to make the improvements we have, no matter how large or small they were," Dye said. "I am optimistic about the future of this city, and with the work of the board of aldermen and our friends elsewhere, I anticipate continued growth."


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