Headlines Cont. – 8/1/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 1, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – July 25, 2006


Eleven local delegates attend MML meeting
By Jason C. Mattox

Panola County’s municipalities were well represented with Sardis, Como and Batesville sending a total of 11 delegates to the Mississippi Municipal League’s annual convention last week.

This year’s event was held in Tunica rather than on the Gulf Coast due to the still remaining damage of Hurricane Katrina.

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Those attending from Batesville included Mayor Jerry Autrey and aldermen Bill Dugger, Rufus Manley and Bobby Jean Pounders.

Sardis Attendees were Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye and aldermen Joseph "JoJo" Still and Bill Smith. The three attendees from Como were Mayor Azria "Bobby" Lewers and aldermen Everette Hill and John Walton.

"The conference was more spread out than it had been in the past, but I thought it really worked out well," Dye said of the new venue.

Dye said he spent most his class time learning more about grant writing and recruiting industrial prospects.

"The classes are always really helpful," he said. "Each year they present us with updated materials, but it seems like everyone is out there looking to attract businesses.

"Everybody I talked to had a row of empty buildings and more of them on the way," Dye added. "A lot of towns seem to be losing businesses."

Rufus Manley, Ward 2 Alderman from Batesville, said he benefited from a seminar on newly enacted state laws.

"We have an issue now we are looking at, and one of the laws they talked about tells us how we might handle it," he said.

Manley would not elaborate on the issue the city is discussing.

Mayor Jerry Autrey said he enjoyed seminars on several topics including an economic development discussion and a round-table discussion on the open meetings law.

"All of the information you get from the classes is important, but the most important thing is growing the relationships you have with other leaders in different communities," he said. "Contacts are very important."

Calls to Como representatives were not returned.

Crenshaw board discusses basic budgeting with Bean
By Billy Davis

City of Crenshaw officials were told Saturday that the city’s ability to perform the basic duties of a municipality depends largely on city government’s ability to control its most precious commodity: water.

"If you’re going to do well, it’s going to be because of your ability to control your water," consultant Lygunnah Bean told city leaders at a budget meeting held Saturday morning.

Crenshaw residents’ water bills account for about 60 percent of the city’s revenues, Bean said, citing an extensive review of the city’s revenues and expenditures in past years.

Another 37 percent of the city’s budget is labor, Bean also pointed out.

Bean is helping the city’s elected officials understand and tackle the town’s budget, drawing from experience as a former plant manager, and a trustee and president of the South Panola school board, to do so.

Bean and Panola County Administrator David Chandler are helping the town prepare for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins October 1.

Flipping through a folder of facts and figures prepared by the pair, Mayor Sylvester Reed and the city aldermen listened as Bean explained in elementary terms the process of preparing a city budget based on expected revenues and expenditures.

Using police fines as an example, Bean showed where city officials must pencil in the city’s projected 2006-2007 revenue from fines, noting that 8.7 percent of last year’s total funds, about $31,500, came from the payment of misdemeanor fines.

When aldermen grumbled nervously about the unpopularity of fines, Bean noted that the revenue is part of the "big picture" of the budget.

"It’s a source of revenue and it pays for the police department," Bean told the city leaders.

Alderman David Whitsell volunteered that he had first-hand experience with paying fines.

"I used to be a punk," he said. "They would come to my house."

Regarding the water issue, Bean said the city will be in excellent financial shape in the coming year if it can fix water leaks and ensure that the utility bills are paid.

"I’ve challenged you in past meetings to fix your leaks," Bean said. "You want to control the output of the water on the other side of the faucet."

Breaking down expenditures from the water department, Bean said utilities accounted for 36 percent while labor accounted for 13 percent.

The Saturday budget meeting came after the mayor and board debated the need for a moratorium on mobile homes within the city limits.

Citing that debate, Bean asked the mayor and aldermen to "switch your mind" from that topic to the budget.

"This will take more than one meeting because this a big deal," Bean said. "This is how you run your town."

Snake crawls in through toilet, borrows tub
     Sherman’s visitor tried to borrow his shaving brush.
By Ben Floyd

Wes Sherman, pastor of Pilgrim’s Rest Baptist Church, was in for quite a surprise Thursday morning when he discovered a snake in his bathtub.

Sherman reported that he had heard noises in the bathroom, went to check, and found the snake in the tub.

"Apparently it had come in through the toilet and then went into the tub, knocking over my shaving soap cup and brush in the process," the pastor wrote in an e-mail to friends. "Once my heart started beating again (and really fast I might add) I killed it with a shovel (causing a horrific stench that nearly made me gag)."

Further investigation revealed the snake had apparently found an opening in the pipes and slithered its way up. Sherman subsequently capped the open access pipe.

Initially Sherman thought the serpent was a cottonmouth, but further inspection (after it was dead) indicated it was probably a chicken snake. It measured an impressive five feet in length.

What did he do next? He did what any refined southern man would do – he took it to church, to show off to his friends.

Young scholar instructs Spanish classes at Sardis library
     Ciardi Love works with Deby Klyce, one of his students in a Spanish class at the Sardis Public Library.
By Jason C. Mattox

A Sardis teenager has developed a passion for learning foreign languages, and the Sardis Public Library has tapped into his talents, offering Spanish classes for children and adults.

Ciardi Love, son of Juanwanda Love, teaches Spanish to children and adults as part of his job at the Sardis Public Library. But that’s not the only foreign language he knows.

Love, who will be a senior at North Panola High School this fall, has also learned Portuguese, French, Japanese, Arabic and Hindi.

"I started learning the languages when I was four years old," he said. Spanish was the first language he learned.

Love said he not only took online classes but also had tutors his mother found in the Memphis area who would come to his home in Sardis.

"My mother made the decision at first," he said. "But as I got older, I really loved learning the different languages.

"It has allowed me to make friends in Mexico, Puerto Rico and other countries," Love added. He communicates with pen pals via regular mail and e-mail.

Love, who is most fluent in Spanish, considers learning other languages a hobby and has set of goal of 25 languages.

He has been teaching others Spanish during the summers and on Tuesday afternoons for approximately two years.

"[Librarian] Miss Charlene [Bradford] came to me a couple of years ago and asked if I would be interested in teaching a Spanish class," he said. "It was one of the new year plans for the library."

Love has been instructing about 45 children in weekly classes this summer at the library, in addition to continuing his year-round adult Spanish class on Tuesday evenings. About ten adults attend.
Love said his adult students are the ones who take the most away from the lessons.

"I think it is wonderful when older people show an interest in learning something new," he said. "Most people would say they have learned enough and want to teach me, but these people have been very open to the experience.

"The children I have," Love added, "they want to play and do something other than focus on Spanish."

As for gauging the progress of his students, Love said his students do take tests.

"It has been fun to watch them all as they improve," he said. "They all tell me they speak Spanish whenever they get the chance to."

Bradford said she is thankful to Love, who works at the library shelving books, for his time leading the class.

"Everyone knows about the budget crunch we have experienced," she said. "I was able to use his hours to allow for the Spanish class, and the rest of us handled his shelving duties.

After high school, Love plans to purse a degree in either the science or law field, where he hopes to make excellent use of the languages he knows.

For more information on this program and others offered at the Sardis Public Library, contact Bradford at 662-487-2126.

Ben Floyd contributed to this story.


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