Headlines Cont. – 7/25/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – July 25, 2006


City hears library request for funding
By Jason C. Mattox

Barbara Evans, branch manager of the First Regional Library in Batesville, appeared before Batesville city leaders on Tuesday to ask for a five percent increase in the city’s contribution to the public library next year.

Evans is requesting $183,750 in city funds to help with operations of the county’s largest library. Last year’s contribution from the city was $175,000.

In a press release handed to aldermen during the meeting, Evans pointed out that all money contributed by the city is used at the local library.

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The money budgeted last year was used to fund the purchase of new materials, conduct several programs for young and old alike and repair the problematic air conditioning system.

Some statistics provided included:

– Checked out 134,919 library materials
– Helped an estimated 2,574 people in the branch
  per week
– Issued 1,183 new library cards
– Helped 33,281 people use computers.
– Registered 1,226 children for the summer reading

"Estimates show that approximately 50 percent of the homes in Mississippi still don’t have computers," she said. "And the people who are using the library’s computers are looking for jobs or working on resumes."

Evans said the library appreciates the support the city gives the library each year.

The Panola County Board of Supervisors contributed $278,000 last year.

"We appreciate all the work you all do for the children and adults in our community and we will carefully consider your request," Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders said.

In other board business:
The Batesville Police Department was given permission to destroy old records.
Police Chief Gerald Legge was given permission to assist with DARE officer training in Tunica Aug. 14-15.
Aldermen reappointed Colmon Mitchell to the post of Assistant City Attorney.
Deputy city clerks Misty Jones and Patricia Todd were given permission to attend certification training Aug.10-11 in Oxford.
The mayor and city clerk were given approval to sign a lease between the city and the South Panola School District for the use of the Batesville Intermediate School gym for city league basketball.
Seizure nets sheriff’s office $50k
By John Howell Sr.

The Panola County Sheriff’s Department is almost $50,000 richer as a result of a check received from the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics last week.

Sheriff Hugh W. "Shot" Bright said the amount was 20 percent of a cash seizure that resulted following a minor auto accident on I-55 March 15. Officers found $236,434 hidden in a false compartment under the windshield after the driver aroused their suspicion by "trying to brush it off, acting real nervous," said a state trooper following the accident.

After the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics ran a legal notice stating "If you are the owner of the defendant’s money and you wish to contest the forfeiture of said money" there was, not surprisingly, no contest.

The defendant "said the money wasn’t his," the sheriff said. The publication cleared the way for the money to be divided between the agencies involved – eighty percent to the state because a state officer initiated the search and 20 percent to the sheriff’s department since its officer, Deputy John Lantern, assisted the investigation. That’s a formula set by the legislature for forfeitures. ("We might want the legislature to take another look at that," Bright commented)

The sheriff also praised the cooperative effort between the MBN, Mississippi Highway Patrol and his department in the cash seizure, the largest since he took office late last year.

The money was placed in the sheriff’s seized funds account according to state law and can only be used for law enforcement purposes, Bright said.

"We’re working all over the county; we’ve taken guns, dope, knives," the sheriff continued. "If they’re standing on the street corner and they’re selling drugs, we’re going to get them," he added.
"The drug task force is doing a heck of a job; everybody in the county is working together, the drug task force and all the municipalities, they’re working excellent," the sheriff continued.

An the errant driver whose fender bender on I-55 led to the discovery of all that cash?

"We turned him loose; he said it wasn’t his. I just want him to go back and get some more and come back," the sheriff said, referring to the driver’s role as a "mule," hired to transport cash or drugs.

City board to reconsider request for mobile home
By Jason C. Mattox

A second public hearing was set by the Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen to reconsider placement of a mobile home on the property of Edith Cole on Patton Lane.

Cole’s initial request was denied during the first July meeting of the mayor and board of aldermen after a public hearing was held.

Cole appeared before the board on Tuesday to ask them to reconsider.

"I have a signed petition and none of the neighbors have a problem with us putting in a mobile home," she said.

Cole said her son wants to be able to have a four bedroom mobile home in place in time for school to start.

"Some people have asked why we don’t just build a house, but the truth is we don’t have time," she said. "School is going to start soon."

Assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell told the board if they intended to hear new information on the matter, there would need to be a new public hearing.

The public hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. on August 15.

In other board business:
A bid of $3,328.60 from Custom Sign Company was accepted for lettering on the north end of the Batesville Civic Center.
The low-bid of Tri-Lakes Asphalt of $4,400, was accepted for repair of the sinkhole at the Batesville Civic Center.


National Safety Council recognizes Batesville Casket
     The National Safety Council has awarded Batesville Casket company its Excellent Achievement Award based on the company’s 2005 performance minimizing on-the-job injuries. Company officials, including (from left) Chuck Grogan, director of wood operations; Bill Mundroff, technical service manager; Jeff Maynard, human resources director;
Bill Panlener
, Panola plant safety coordinator; and
Todd Bigelow, corporate manager of environmental health and safety, acknowledged the award following the announcement last week.
By John Howell Sr.

The National Safety Council (NSC) has recognized Batesville Casket Company with its Excellent Achievement Award to recognize the Panola plant’s safety record.

As a NSC member, safety data for lost-time injuries is submitted and compared to similar industries, said Todd Bigelow, Batesville Casket Company’s corporate manager for environment and health safety.

Over 500 workers are involved in various aspects of wood casket construction at Batesville Casket Company’s Panola plant. To direct an emphasis on safety to all of the workers throughout the facility, "you have to care," said Chuck Grogan, director of wood operations. "We let them know we are concerned about their safety," he added.

"It starts with each individual coming to work and thinking about being safe," said technical service coordinator Bill Mundroff. "Nobody goes to work thinking they’ll have an accident; it’s all about the right mental attitude," Mundroff added.

NP board denies pair of resignations
By Jason C. Mattox

Two teachers with the North Panola School District had their resignations denied and will have to honor their contracts rather than going to other school districts.

Board members voted 4-0 to uphold the contracts. Trustee Pearl McGlothian was absent from the monthly meeting Monday night.

North Panola Superintendent Glendora Dugger informed district trustees during their meeting Monday night that Sarah Thompson and Christopher Daniels who are teachers at Como Elementary had submitted their letters of resignation.

"It is up to the board to decide whether or not to let them out of their contracts, but both are considered to be highly qualified teachers," Dugger said.

Trustee Tracy Thompson asked how effective the teachers would be if they were not allowed out of their contracts.

"We want teachers that are going to be good in the classroom, and just how good will they be if they don’t want to be here?" she asked.

Board attorney Alix Sanders told board members they were within their legal rights to deny the resignations and have the two honor their contracts.

"They signed contracts in May and you can make them honor those if you choose to," he said.

In other board business:
Trustees accepted a $5,000 grant from the Laura Bush Foundation. The funds will be used in the Como Elementary library.
Permission was granted for board members to attended the Southern Region NASB Conference July 23-26 in Destin, Fla.
Assistant Superintendent Lucinda Carter was given permission to attend the International Reading Conference in Reno, Nev.
The North Panola School District student handbook was adopted, as was the Greenhill Elementary faculty and staff handbook.
Renovations to the North Panola High School library were approved. The renovations will total $25,000.
The bid of General Steel Corporation of Lakewood, Col., was accepted for the construction of P.E. buildings on the campuses of Greenhill and Crenshaw Elementary. The total cost will be $90,552.
NP board approves salary for assistant principal at meeting
By Jason C. Mattox

The salary of the new North Panola High School Assistant Principal was called into question Monday night during the meeting of the School District Board of Trustees, but was eventually approved

Board President Cecil Dowden spoke up at the meeting informing Superintendent Glendora Dugger he had a problem paying Fletcher Harges’ proposed $53,000 salary.

"How did you arrive at that figure," he asked.
Dugger explained that the figure came as result of a negotiation process with Harges, herself and district finance personnel.

"I just have a big problem paying a man that kind of money when he only has five years of experience," Dowden said. "I know I am only one vote, but I can’t go along with it."

When the matter was put to a vote, Dowden was the lone "nay" vote. Board member Pearl McGlothian was absent from the meeting.

Other personnel hired included Ronald Hoskins, computer technician, Marcus Gross, mechanic/bus driver, Kristal Young, speech therapy, Reginald Sibley, guidance counselor, (Crenshaw Elementary), Nashonda Johnson, social studies (Alternative School), Fred Butts, security officer (NPHS), Wanda Jo Branch, reading assistant (Como Elementary); Lindsey Bren Sinquesfield, social studies (Como Elem.), Marco Findley, lead teacher (Como Elem.), Jessica Jarreau, science (Crenshaw Elem.), Andre’ Harris, music (Greenhill), Jim McDowell, science (Crenshaw Elem.), Tracie Wilson, social studies (Crenshaw Elem.), Kimberly Caraway, English (NPHS), John Courtney Wilson, anatomy (NPHS), and Inda Linzy, remedial reading (NPHS).

In other board business:
The resignations of Dorothy Black, Madilyn Hale and Nancy Flowers were accepted.
The Boys and Girls Club of Crenshaw was given permission to use Crenshaw Elementary for after school tutorial programs.
  Como Middle School’s activity fund account was closed. All funds will be disbursed equally among other schools.
  A tax resolution was adopted and will be presented to the Panola County Board of Supervisors that calls for no tax increase on behalf of the district.

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