Headlines – 8/1/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 1, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – August 1, 2006

  From the 8/1/06 issue of The Panolian   –   

Vote possible today on new mobile homes
By Billy Davis

The town of Crenshaw is edging closer to stopping the flow of mobile homes into the tiny town, but the issue could be decided tonight if town leaders vote a future ban up or down.

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Following discussion on the topic Saturday morning, city attorney Mary Brown told the mayor and board that she would draft an ordinance for the Tuesday meeting, putting the volatile issue up for a final vote.

"I will draft an ordinance that says no mobile homes except in mobile home parks," Brown suggested, concluding her business with the city after a 40-minute discussion.

Mayor Sylvester Reed and the board of aldermen met Saturday morning to discuss the mobile home issue as well as to pore over budget numbers as they prepare for the upcoming start of a new fiscal year.

In a board vote that strengthened the city’s seemingly forgotten mobile home ordinance, board members voted 5-0 that any mobile home allowed inside the city limits must have a shingled roof and siding.

Saturday’s vote was partly targeted at mobile home owner Jerry Jennings, who told city leaders Saturday he did not realize he needed permission from them personally before receiving the permit he mistakenly requested and received from the city in January.

Jennings, who lives in Tate County, told city leaders he set up the trailer as a rental home.

Jennings and Alderman Alberta Bradley tussled over the issue, but when Bradley made a motion to enforce the city’s 1996 mobile home ordinance, which would force Jennings to remove his trailer, he hinted at litigation.

"I talked to Housing and Urban Development, and they offered to file a complaint," Jennings said, suggesting a double standard since the town is awash in mobile home trailers.

Following Jennings’ statement, Brown suggested to the mayor and board that Jennings was hinting at a lawsuit and then suggested an executive session to discuss the issue.

After a 12-minute consultation with Brown behind closed doors, the aldermen voted for the shingle and siding requirement. Brown followed with her suggestion of a drafted ordinance and up-or-down vote today.

The board meeting continued with the same missteps that have plagued earlier meetings. When Bradley made a motion to boot Jennings’ mobile home, Reed said she was not allowed to do so.

"You can’t make a motion without any discussion," said Reed, who has stumbled over parliamentary procedure during his term as mayor

"There is a motion and second on the floor," corrected Brown. "Mr. Jennings can now be discussed."

The second had come from Alderman David Whitsell.

SP starts classes Aug. 9 – minus school uniforms
By John Howell Sr.

South Panola School District Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer expects increased enrollment when students return August 9.

"Of course, you really don’t know until they walk in the door," he said.

Returning students will notice some changes in their schools that are tangible and others less so.

Shaffer begins his second year as district superintendent confident in the "overall perspective of putting emphasis on student achievement." And, he said, the district has done "a good job of communicating with our parents about higher expectations and what goes along with achieving what’s expected."

Among tangible differences in the district for the 2006-’07 school year will be the new location for the Parents’ Center. It has been relocated to a more visible and accessible facility on College Street where the Child Development Center was formerly housed.

Work continues on the new baseball and softball fields across from South Panola High School on Tiger Drive, the superintendent said. "We’re doing as we can" with community support from parents and businesses, Shaffer added. "We can’t afford a turnkey operation."

The new facilities will include a longer baseball field with more parking away from a congested residential area, Shaffer said. The high school baseball team has used the facilities at Batesville’s American Legion Park. Slow pitch and fast pitch softball teams have used city fields at Trussell Park.
Art instruction has been added to the junior high curriculum this fall. "It gives our junior high-age children another dimension [in which] to be successful," the superintendent said.

"We continue to grow our co-curricular activities – band, R.O.T.C., clubs and activities," Shaffer continued. "Our maintenance department has done a real good job of replacing and upgrading" – putting jobs like interior painting and servicing and replacing heating and air conditioning equipment on a rotating basis, he said.

Dr. Terri Davis "brings an elementary strength to the administrative process here, from the district office’s point of view," Shaffer said. Davis, whose classroom experience includes extensive instruction at the elementary school level, has been hired as district Director of Curriculum.

And Shaffer’s answers to the questions he hears most often from parents and students about the coming school year?

"Yes, we will have school; it will start on August 9 and no uniforms!," the superintendent said.

(Editor’s note: All South Panola schools will open for students August 9, but not all students at Batesville Junior High and Batesville Elementary School will report that day.

At Batesville Junior High, only sixth graders will attend Wednesday, August 9. Only seventh and eighth graders only will attend BJH on Thursday, August 10. All three grades will attend Friday, August 11.

At Batesville Elementary, all first graders and kindergarten girls will attend August 9. Kindergarten boys will attend on August 10. All BES students will attend August 11.)

Lighthorse Bands concert postponed
A concert planned as a fund-raiser for the South Panola High School competitive cheerleading squad has been postponed. The event, with the Harry Lighthorse Band set to perform, is rescheduled for January 20. Anyone who needs information may contact Serena Morrow at 609-9777
Catfish Run
     Rick Kilgore of Greenwood hoped the last minute detailing of his 1935 Oldsmobile would help him in the competition portion of the Catfish Run held at Sardis Lake Saturday and Sunday.
Como Opera Guild Fundraiser
     Among the guests at Saturday night’s fund-raiser for the Como Opera Guild at The Eureka in Batesville was internationally-known opera singer Kallen Esperian (right) of Memphis. The famous soprano was among about150 people who attended the performance of The Bouffants to help boost the resources of the guild. The organization is entering its fourth season and has two operas and a number of concerts planned.

Rolando ready for ‘full blast’
     With Panola County supervisors as his audience, Roland Butler shows off products Monday made by the food company he oversees. Butler has ownership of the former Dana plant in Crenshaw.
By Billy Davis

Panola County government handed over the former Dana plant in Crenshaw to Maryland-based Rolando Foods Monday, hoping the exchange will bring jobs to the little Delta town.

"I thank you for voting today and I look forward to a long-lasting relationship," Roland Butler, chairman and CEO of the food company, told supervisors at the courthouse in Batesville.

Butler had sought Panola County as a new location for his business but wanted ownership of the plant as part of the move to Crenshaw.

With the building in new hands, Butler said the company can now "go full blast" toward renovating the facility in anticipation of an October deadline for opening. Rolando employees are already at work on the facility, he said.

Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons told supervisors Monday that Rolando will begin with about 30 employees and jump to about 150 workers over a two-year period.

District 2 Supervisor Robert Avant has urged his colleagues to support Rolando and its plan to relocate to Crenshaw, which has no industry after Dana downsized then finally closed its doors more than a year ago.

The isolated Delta community, which Avant represents, is situated in northwest Panola County on the Quitman and Tunica county lines.

Against the backdrop of Rolando’s possible relocation to Crenshaw, the town’s elected officials are receiving outside instruction about the town’s upcoming budget and wrangling over stopping the flow of mobile homes into the city limits.

City leaders are acting on a seemingly forgotten ordinance after concerned citizens have demanded for months that the city enforce a cleanup of junky, overgrown property around the town.

With the town just a shell of its former self, Avant has said unemployment in the Crenshaw area likely hovers at 25 percent.

Butler showed supervisors some of the products workers will be sending into the marketplace, such as bottled orange juice, bottled water, rice products and baby formula.

The company chairman did not specify which product would start production at the plant.

New state law stretches hunting on city acreage
By Jason C. Mattox

Some hunters within the city limits of Batesville can now bag their game on smaller tracts of land, thanks to a change in Mississippi Law.

According to Col. Tony Jones of the Batesville Police Department, the new law only requires 10 acres of land for hunting with a shotgun. Rifle hunters are still required to have 20 continuous acres.

"The city has allowed people to hunt on 20 acres in the past, but now the state law says 10," Jones said. "But there are restrictions as to the weapons that can be used."

According to House Bill No. 1141, a county or municipality may not apply a regulation relating to the discharge of firearms or other weapons in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the county or municipality or in an area annexed after Sept. 1, 1981, if the firearm or other weapon is a shotgun, air rifle, BB gun or bow and arrow.

As for the land requirements, it must be on a tract of land of 10 acres or more and more than 150 feet from a residence or occupied building located on another property.

State law requires 50 acres of continuous property for rifle discharge. The City of Batesville’s ordinance only requires 20 continuous acres.

Rep. Warner McBride said the bill was designed to help those with large tracts of land who lost their hunting rights due to an annexation.

"A lot of those who were in annexed areas were left out when it came to their right to hunt," McBride said. "And we are talking about people who have a lot of land that was just sitting there.

"There’s a lot of cities out there that didn’t handle this as well as Batesville did," he added. "[Batesville] annexed and allowed people to hunt, but it has been one of the few cities to do so."

Aldermen could act on the revised ordinance as soon as today’s board meeting.

NP touts fencing, bus cameras as safety upgrades
By John Howell Sr.

Students returning to the North Panola School District will find more physical education and computer discovery opportunities plus increased security on campuses and on school buses, District

Superintendent Glendora Dugger said.

Last spring the North Panola School District Board of Trustees adopted sweeping changes starting with the ?06-’07 school year, including the elimination of the Como Middle School, moving those grades to three district elementary schools.

Green Hill, Como and Crenshaw elementary schools will now accommodate North Panola students from kindergarten through the eighth grade. Of these, Green Hill Elementary in Sardis has the largest enrollment at 700 and serves "Sardis-area children only," Dugger said.

Workers are hurrying to complete a new school entrance road at Green Hill. The entrance has been moved to the campus’ east side, the superintendent said.

Green Hill pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students will attend school in the Green Hill Annex, formerly used to house the alternative school, Dugger said.

Bids have been received for new P. E. facilities on the main Green Hill campus and the Crenshaw campus. The 100 feet x 50 feet x 20 feet structures "should be finished by the time the weather turns," she said.

Crenshaw’s expected enrollment, she said, is 260 students.

About 450 K-8 students are expected at Como Elementary. Students should use the Como Elementary entrance which served as the original office, the superintendent said.

Counselors have been hired for every school and lead teachers have been added. Full-time teaching assistants and an assistant principal have been hired for the Green Hill school "because of the overload," the superintendent said.

The district is also in the process of "securing computer/career discovery teachers for all K-8 schools as well as a nurse for each school," Dugger continued.

"We’re fencing our campuses for safety; we want our district safe," Dugger said. She said that fences are not currently planned for the high school facility but that traffic barriers will prohibit vehicle access to the grounds after hours.

Security features will also include school safety officers at Como, Green Hill and North Panola High School.

"We’re going to look at Crenshaw," she added.

The district is "adding cameras to our buses as a safety feature. All of our buses will have cameras in them," Dugger said. "If parents are in doubt about disruptive behavior, they can come in and review the tape.

The North Panola Alternative Learning School has been moved to Como where it will utilize the south end portion of the old, two-story building, the superintendent said.

For junior high football and basketball, athletes from all three schools will participate together as North Panola teams. "There will be a district football team and a district basketball team," Dugger said.

"Coaches will be in charge of practice, transportation and supervision," the district superintendent continued. "They will be in charge until we get them all home."

Junior high football games will be played on the North Panola High School field on Tuesday nights for which bids on new visitors’ bleachers are being accepted, the superintendent said. Basketball games will be played in the Como campus gym.


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