Headlines – 7/18/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – July 18, 2006

  From the 7/18/06 issue of The Panolian   –   

Wreck victims’ families thank all for support
Staff report

The families of four Panola County teenagers injured last week in an automobile accident sought to express thanks to the community for an outpouring of prayers and support.

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"There are people everywhere praying for these children," said Mona Harrison, whose son Monroe was involved in the July 13 wreck that also injured Tyler Benson, Brandon Taylor and Jonathan Ware.

The four teenage boys are all students at South Panola High School where they are members of the varsity baseball team.

The accident occurred about eight miles north of Philadelphia on Highway 19, where a Jeep Cherokee occupied by the teenagers collided with another vehicle, said a state trooper who investigated the wreck.

Monroe Harrison remains in Rush Foundation Hospital in Meridian while Benson, Taylor and Ware are at the University Medical Center (UMC) in Jackson.

The three UMC patients "have come a long way" and are "continuing to make progress," Bo Ware, Jonathan Ware’s father said in a statement sent by the three families at UMC.

"Each family wants to express their thanks for all of your prayers and concerns," Bo Ware stated. "Please continue to pray for our boys."

Scott Harrison, Monroe’s father, reported Monday that his son had successfully undergone surgery that day and the prognosis for his recovery is good.

"He is stable and if there are no complications, he should recover," Harrison said.

"We want to say thank you for the overwhelming Christian support we have had throughout this ordeal," the father added.

Mayor, aldermen will discuss sign ordinance, zoning fines
By Jason C. Mattox

After several months of wrangling over business signs in the city limits, the Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen will hear some new suggestions during today’s afternoon meeting at City Hall.

Code Enforcement Office Administrator Pam Comer told The Panolian yesterday that Bob Barber would present the aldermen with revised ordinances to regulate signage.

"The board raised the rates on variances in February, and there has not been a request since," Comer said.

The rates went from $100 for a commercial variance to $500. Residential rates increased from $50 to $100.

After the rates were raised, city leaders asked Comer and the Batesville Planning Commission to discuss updating ordinances dealing with the amount of signage allowed at a business.

In addition to working on new sign regulations, city leaders are also discussing a policy that would allow them to impose penalties on anyone found to be in violation of zoning conditions.

"The board just recently discovered they have the ability to impose penalties," Comer said. "This change will allow code enforcement officers to levy fines or charges against people they find to be in violation."

Comer said this change in policy is long overdue and will make a big difference.

"There are only a few people we find in violation of conditional use permits, but if we have the ability to fine them, it might prevent us from focusing our energy on one location," she said. "A hit in the wallet will really make some people stand up and take notice."

Community starts to rally for injured teens
By Billy Davis

The Panola County community is locking arms and opening hearts to help the four teenagers who are currently hospitalized following an automobile wreck last week.

A benefit car wash is set for Saturday to raise funds for accident victims Tyler Benson, Monroe Harrison, Brandon Taylor and Jonathan Ware

The benefit car wash will take place in two locations in Batesville, at Treasurer Loans, 345 Highway 6 West, and at Barnett Chiropractic Clinic, 315 Highway 51 North.

The car wash is set for 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.

A blood drive is set for Wednesday and Saturday at Wal-Mart in Batesville to benefit Taylor, who was severely injured in the July 13 wreck.

"Brandon was hurt really bad, and he’s used a lot of blood during surgery," said Dawna Webb, a family friend.

The blood drive is set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The drive will help replace blood used for Taylor and help defray costs of the hospital stay, Webb said.

A bank account for Taylor’s medical expenses has been set up at First Security Bank and BancorpSouth.


     Pumper No. 11 is Batesville’s newest piece of firefighting equipment and was recently obtained using several funding sources to purchase the $314,000 truck according to BFD Chief Tim Taylor.
     Some local firefighters who recently assisted with getting the pumper ready for service include: (from left)
Bobby York
, Rip Copeland, Joey Bridges,
Bobby Walton
, David Tarver, Travis Inmon,
Tim Tatum
, Jason Turner, L. E. Garner, Brett Childs, Jay Baker, Steve Whitworth, Billy Whitworth, Charles Rhea, and Timmy Smith.
Suspect sought after Friday night murder
By Billy Davis

A Batesville woman was shot and killed Friday night in west Batesville outside her apartment, and police are seeking a suspect in her death.

The Batesville Police Department is seeking witnesses to the midnight slaying that took the life of Jamie Rochell Milam. She was a resident of the West Ridge Apartments.

Milam, 28, was shot on the stairwell outside her apartment around 11:45 Friday night, said BPD Deputy Chief Tony Jones.

"We are asking for cooperation from any witnesses who saw what happened, and we are offering a reward for the arrest and conviction of the person who did this," Jones said.

Panola County coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge confirmed that Milam died on the scene from a gunshot wound, citing an autopsy performed over the weekend.

Jones would not comment on a motive for the shooting, citing an ongoing investigation by the BPD and the Panola County Sheriff’s Department.

A funeral service for Milam is set for Saturday at 2 p.m. at Antioch M.B. Church in Courtland, said a spokesman for Cooley’s Mortuary, which has charge of arrangements.

An obituary notice for Milam was incomplete at press time, the spokesman said.

The homicide Friday night follows a Friday, June 30 shooting in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Batesville, marring the past few weekends with violent acts within the city limits of Batesville.

Citing last weekend’s shooting, Jones pointed out that Milam’s murder is the first homicide in Batesville this year. The city recorded "zero" homicides in 2005, the deputy chief said.

"The police department will do everything in our power to keep Batesville safe," Jones said.

Any witnesses to the Friday night shooting should contact Detective Paul Shivers at the police department or investigator Barry Thompson at the sheriff’s department, Jones said.

Legislators see their bills put on the books
By Billy Davis

A pair of prescription drug bills and a self-defense bill are now state law following the work earlier this year by Panola County’s state legislators.

One of the most controversial bills to become law this year is the so-called "Castle Doctrine," which gives greater leeway to gun owners seeking protection by using a firearm.

State Rep. Warner McBride co-authored the Castle bill, borrowing language from a similar Florida law that shields gun owners from prosecution if they use a firearm for self-defense.

The bill was labeled "controversial" due to critics who envisioned a Wild West scenario, but McBride said legislators met with prosecutors to compromise on the bill’s language.

The Castle bill and hundreds of other bills became law on July 1.

A 22-page summary that includes a page of appropriations and eight pages of ceremonial commendations totals about 600 new state laws, McBride said.

In the state Senate, Sen. Nolan Mettetal said he was proud to be involved in a pharmacy bill that combats fake prescription drugs by tracking the supplies purchased by wholesaler buyers.

"The bill is designed to keep counterfeit drugs out of our state," said Mettetal, who is himself a pharmacist.

A second pharmacy bill that is now law aids pharmacists by requiring that they are paid promptly by drug companies for the prescriptions they dispense to customers, the state senator said.
Pharmacists often have to wait for days and weeks before they are paid by so-called pharmacy benefit managers, Mettetal said, and the introduction of Medicare’s "Part D" plan last year caused the cost to skyrocket.

"The point of the bill was to see that pharmacists get paid in a timely manner and get paid for the cost of the drug," Mettetal said. "In one month, because of the Part D, (the cost) increased some $30,000 for some pharmacists. That can drive a small pharmacy out of business."

Although Rep. Leonard Morris said he didn’t introduce any bills that became law this year, he cited several new laws that may interest the public. The bills passed this year:

Ban smoking in all state-owned facilities
Allow public school districts to reimburse school bus drivers for the cost of attaining a commercial driver’s license
Allow state wildlife officers to test hunters and fishermen involved in accidents for alcohol and drugs
Bump a physical assault on a municipal court judge from a misdemeanor crime to a felony.

New state laws also increase the regulations on registered sex offenders, said sheriff’s assistant Robbie Haley, whose job includes gathering and logging biographical information on sexual offenders in Panola County.

According to Haley, new state laws require sex offenders in the county to give her the make, model and tag numbers of their vehicle as well as similar information if they live in a mobile home. The new state law also forbids them from living within 1,500 feet of a daycare center or school.

Haley said 35 sex offenders are currently registered in Panola County.

Of the hundreds of new state laws, McBride noted that one new law solely affects Panola County, allowing for a county-wide utility district.

Panola leaders sought the new law to help lure a future mega-industry to the county, saying the utility district would speed up the process of bringing water and sewer to an industrial site.


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