Headlines Cont. – 8/25/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 25, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – August 25, 2006


Mud Boys
     An accidental fall into a fish pond on Highway 35 South led to a muddy good time for (left to right) Ridge Simmerman, 10, Bailey Sullivant, 10, and Lige Simmerman, 5. "They had to have three baths," reported mom Sally Simmerman.
Sardis city board considers increase in rates for its water customers
By Jason C. Mattox

After meeting with representatives of the Mississippi Rural Water Association Tuesday night, the City of Sardis is considering an increase in water rates although nothing was decided.

Tom Abernathy explained to Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye and the board of aldermen that a rate increase is needed.

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"For some of you who were on the board during the previous administration, I recommended a rate increase three years ago," he said. "For whatever reason, the board decided against that increase, and one is needed now."

Abernathy explained that the biggest revenue would come from a rate hike inside the city limits.

"You have 673 residents inside the city," he said. "That is your largest customer base, and would generate the most revenue."

Abernathy explained that it would be easier on residents if the board raised rates by a small percentage each year rather than one large hike every four.

"It is definitely easier to raise the rates a little at a time rather than hit the residents with one large one that might raise a flag," Dye replied.

Dye told board members there was a need for the increase due in part to an increase in other utility rates.

"Over the last year, our utility rates have climbed nearly 25 percent," he said. "There is really no way for us to budget for an increase we don’t see coming, but we do need to get our rates more in line.

"And believe me I know raising rates is a sore subject as much as raising taxes, but there is really no way around it," Dye added. "We have to keep offering the services, and the rates are going to have to go up to keep providing the same services we do."

If rates are increased to $15 from $12.55 and the overage charge is increased to $4 per 1,000 gallons, it would generate $56,000 in revenue (annually) for the city, Abernathy said.

"There are municipalities out there that don’t even offer a minimum rate," he said. "They charge you a rate for the service and whatever you use you pay for."

The last water rate increase implemented by the city was in 2003, according to City Clerk Odessa Johnson.

Dye and aldermen also discussed repairing and replacing an estimated 60 water meters.

"We have a lot of meters that are stuck, and that is going to have to be fixed or simply increasing the price for additional usage will not be a big benefit to the city," Alderman-at-Large Roy Scallorn said.

Aldermen are expected to finalize the new water rate during a meeting next Monday at 5 p.m.

In other board business:
An increase in dispatch fees for the Como Police Department was discussed but not acted upon.
     "I don’t think we have increased their dispatch fees in the last two years," Johnson said. "That is certainly something you can do if you choose to."
Michael Purdy was named assistant code inspector for the city. He will assist Robert Earl Wilkie.
     "We sent Purdy to school, and I think he can be a big help in home inspections and code enforcement," Dye said.
North Panola board denies transfer request
By Jason C. Mattox

The North Panola School District Board of Trustees continued its practice of not releasing students from the district during Monday night’s meeting.

Josie Armer appeared before the board seeking board approval to transfer her children from Crenshaw Elementary and North Panola High School to Strayhorn Elementary and Strayhorn High School in the Tate County School District.

Armer was requesting the release due to her children’s health problems.

"My oldest daughter is a cardiac patient, and both of my sons are asthmatic," she said.

Armer told the trustees that having her children enrolled in Strayhorn Schools would make things easier on her and her husband.

"My husband works a few minutes away from the schools," she said. "He would be able to pick them up in the event of an emergency. It would take us longer to get to them if they are enrolled here."

Armer also explained that her children are not presently attending school in the North Panola School District.

"My children are presently enrolled in Senatobia City Schools," she said. "They instructed me to leave them where they were until we could get them released."

This situation puzzled a few board members momentarily.

"So they aren’t even going to school in this district," Trustee Pearl McGlothian said.

"If they aren’t in the district, you don’t need a release from us," board president Cecil Dowden said.

McGlothian pressed for more information.

"Where are you living now?" she asked.

Armer explained that she and her children are living in Askew very close to Strayhorn Schools.

"We live just on the other side of the Welcome to Panola County sign," she said.

Board attorney Alix Sanders of Greenwood explained the board’s policy of not releasing students to the concerned parent.

"It has been this board’s practice for years that we do not release students," he said. "I am sorry that this doesn’t help your situation, but it is our common practice.

"My suggestion to you is to establish residency within the district where you want your children to attend school," Sanders added.

Board members unanimously voted to deny the transfer request.

In other board business:
Teachers at Como Elementary School were given permission to participate in Scholastic Book Clubs and Book Fairs.
North Panola High School Principal Anthony Barnes was given permission to purchase parking decals for students. Students will pay $5 for the decals.
A school bus turnaround at 111 Dishmon Road, Como was approved with Billy Russell voting against it.
Board members voted to accept the 2007 Dyslexia Grant in the amount of $24,022.17. The grant will be used at Como Elementary School.
The bid of The Bleacher’s Company, Inc. was accepted for bleachers on the visitors side of the North Panola High School football field for $47,251.85.
The school district will employ Marian Shelton as a consultant for Como Elementary, Green Hill and Crenshaw Elementary. Shelton will provide professional development and technical support to former seventh and eighth grade teachers now working in the elementary schools.

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