Headlines – 9/8/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 8, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – September 8, 2006

  From the 9/8/06 issue of The Panolian   –   

     Eight Japanese students from Iwaki Meisei University yesterday visited a local cotton field and saw how a cotton picker works. George Caffey (front center) explained the mechanics of his cotton picker near the cotton field farmed by Ernie Vaughn in the McIvor area.
     The tourists are students of Panola native Jimmie Carol Still (far left) who teaches English at their university. They watched the moon rise over Sardis Lake Thursday night, are in Memphis today and will go to Mississippi State and Ole Miss while on their tour.
‘Clean’ shot fired from handgun hits Tate County driver in face
By Billy Davis

Panola County sheriff’s investigators are seeking information about a shooting east of Como that occurred over the Labor Day weekend.

A single round fired from a handgun smashed the back glass of a truck driven by a Tate County man, striking him in the jaw, said Chief Deputy Otis Griffin.

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The bullet went through the victim’s jaw and lodged in the dashboard, the chief deputy said.

The shooting took place September 2 on Hunter Chapel Road, located near the Tate County line.

"Right now we have no leads," Griffin said.

The shooting victim, who is 26, was treated and released at a Senatobia hospital, where he had been taken by relatives, the chief deputy said.

"Apparently he had left a deer camp and was headed home," Griffin said. "After he was shot, he drove himself back to camp and got help."

A relative of the victim said the shot was "clean" and left no permanent facial injuries, though the victim is experiencing ringing in an ear.

The relative also asked that the name of the victim remain anonymous, citing the lack of an arrest.

"We don’t want whoever did this to come back and finish what they started," the relative said.

The shooting occurred just north of the intersection of Hunter Chapel Road and Compress Road, the relative said. The deer camp is located about a mile from the site of the shooting.

A white vehicle was pulling into the intersection as the victim turned north, the relative said.

"The white car went on through (the intersection), but maybe they saw something," the relative said.
A second shooting over the weekend led to an arrest and a charge of aggravated assault, Griffin also reported.

Brenda Pettit faces the felony charge after allegedly shooting a bystander September 1 on Atkins Street, located just west of Sardis.

Griffin said Pettit admitted to firing a handgun at her boyfriend, Akeira Spears, during an argument at an apartment complex. A round from the handgun ricocheted off a stairway handrail and struck a bystander in the left leg, Griffin said.
Paramedics from Emergistat treated the victim at the scene, Griffin said.

Pettit posted bond after a $50,000 bond was later reduced to $10,000 in justice court, Griffin said.

Sheriff’s investigators are seeking Spears to interview him about the shooting, Griffin said, but he has outstanding warrants from the Sardis Police Department and knows he will be arrested if found.
"So far we’ve talked to him over the phone," the chief deputy said.

Tedford will work in Oxford
By Jason C. Mattox

The Batesville Police Department’s K-9 officer has a new job.

Jamie Tedford was scheduled to be assigned to the Federal Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force following Tuesday’s meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

According to Police Chief Gerald Legge, the task force is a new law enforcement agency.

"Assigning him to this task force will mean we can have access to its resources and manpower when we might need it for a bust or a manhunt," he said.

Tedford had previously been working in Oxford in the DEA’s HIDA (High Intense Drug Traffic Area) program until Panola County Sheriff Hugh "Shot" Bright removed the county from participation September 1.

As reported in Tuesday’s edition of The Panolian, Bright withdrew Panola County from the HIDA program because the number of drug-seized funds had slowed to a trickle.

Tedford, who is planning for the sheriff’s position in the 2007 election, alleged the move was political. Bright said the decision was to consolidate manpower.

City officials voiced initial concerns about what Tedford’s availability to the city would be.

"So this means Jamie will be working in Oxford daily?" Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders asked. "What will this mean to the city?"

Legge, who has designated Tedford for the assignment, said Tedford would be available to the city when needed.

"If there comes a time when we need Jamie here, we can simply inform the task force of that and he will be here," Legge said. "Not only that, but we will have access to the task force’s resources as we might need them."

Legge explained to city officials that there is no financial obligation to participate in the new program.

"The only financial obligation will be to pay Jamie’s salary, which we have been paying," he said. "They will reimburse us for any overtime he might accumulate as a result of the new job."

Batesville will also have no specific time frame they will be required to participate in the program.

"If we look into it and see that it isn’t really working out for us, all we have to do is give them a 30-day notice that we are withdrawing from the program," Legge said.

With the new task force, Tedford will be traveling to counties around north Mississippi and working where needed, but he would report to work in Oxford daily.

"So he would be all over north Mississippi," Pounders asked. "My problem there is what if he is not in Oxford and we have something come up and need him and the dog for a search or something?"

Mayor Jerry Autrey asked Legge what Tedford’s reaction would be if they declined to participate in the program.

"I guess the real question is, if we decide we want him in Batesville full-time, would he quit on us?" the mayor asked.

Legge told city leaders he could not answer that question.

"I will say this, I feel like this is a good option that will present us with some good benefits," he said.

"We don’t have any real time commitment, so if we see it isn’t working, we will know," Alderman-at-Large Teddy Morrow said. "At least we can pull him out if we decide to."

Alderman-at-Large is new vice mayor
By John Howell Sr.
and Billy Davis

Batesville aldermen elected Alderman-at-Large Teddy Morrow vice mayor Tuesday following the resignation of Ward 3 Alderman James Yelton from the position.

Yelton suffered a stroke in December, 2005, and is living in the Oxford Veterans Home.

"He’s stepping down as mayor pro tempore and keeping his position as alderman," Mayor Jerry Autrey announced at the city meeting.

The City of Batesville learned of Yelton’s resignation when Assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell received a letter from the alderman’s son, Andy Yelton, Autrey later told The Panolian.

The election of a new vice mayor solves a potential problem that might arise in the signing of municipal checks. Checks require the signatures of both the mayor and the city clerk. In the city clerk’s absence, the assistant clerk has been approved as a signatory, but until Tuesday’s action, only Autrey could provide the second signature needed.

Morrow, 36, was elected to the city board last May. He is the youngest member of the board.

"I’m grateful for the board’s vote, but I would rather see Mr. Yelton still have it and still be here with us," Morrow said, referring to the vice mayor’s slot.

The long-serving alderman was known for his fiscal knowledge, and Morrow said Yelton’s absence has been felt in recent months.

"If anybody knew finances, it was Mr. Yelton," Morrow said.

In other board action:
Aldermen agreed to help serve lunch September 23 to members of the Batesville National Guard unit who have served in Iraq. A lunch has been planned at the Batesville armory for the soldiers and their families, said Norman Hughes, a spokesman for the Family Readiness Group, which is helping to organize the event to honor Iraq War veterans.
Repaving city streets is costing less than estimates, city engineer Blake Mendrop of McBride Engineering told aldermen. Brewer Road was nearing completion for $47,813.90 as opposed to an estimate of $55,611, according to the engineer’s figures.
     "I want to thank you for the job you did on Hoskins, Normandy, Goodhaven and Cedarcrest," Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley said.
     The aldermen said that citizens had paid their compliments to him and that he was passing them on. That project cost $65,332.78, under the $70,003 budgeted, according to Mendrop’s figures.
Money to repave Harmon Road, Trianon, Boyles and Marie Street and Faith Drive was also budgeted during the current season. However, the mayor said Wednesday additional work might be needed on Trianon before the street surface is repaved.
     "We don’t want to repave it and then have to come back and tear it all up," Autrey said.
Municipal Judge Bill McKenzie and court clerk Rene Hubbard will be invited to the next meeting of the mayor and aldermen to try to resolve growing amounts owed the city in unpaid fines.
     Unpaid fines have grown to $780,000, up from $600,000 two years ago, City Clerk Laura Herron said.
     "I wanted to bring up making partial payments on fines," Manley said.
     "I will look at the affect on the warrant," Mitchell said. A partial payment might prevent arrest on an outstanding warrant, he said.
Following a short executive session about a police department disciplinary matter, police officer Cedric Griffin was suspended without pay for three 12-hour shifts.
Burn ban dies out
By Billy Davis

Panola County officials allowed a county-wide burn ban to expire Wednesday, removing the county from a 30-day restriction.

Panola County supervisors agreed Tuesday to allow the ban to expire at the recommendation of Panola County Emergency Management.

Supervisors had agreed to the ban in order to curb the danger of grass fires during a hot, dry summer.
"We still had problems with people burning," EMA deputy director Daniel Cole told The Panolian. "In fact, we had more problems than in the past."

Violators were not punished for burning during the ban despite a threat of ticketing by sheriff’s deputies, Cole acknowledged.

State law considers violation of a county burn ban a misdemeanor penalty with a minimum $100 fine and a maximum penalty of $500.

"In the future you’re going to see less tolerance," Cole predicted.

Supervisors OK tag credit for volunteer firefighters
By Billy Davis

Many of Panola County’s volunteer firefighters will receive a thank-you from the county, a $100 credit on their automobile tags, beginning October 1.

Panola County supervisors voted unanimously for the allowance at their September 5 meeting, which was delayed a day due to Labor Day.

State legislation that became law last year allows counties to waive car tag ad valorem taxes for firefighters who have served three or more years with a volunteer fire department.

October 1 marks the beginning of the fiscal year for county government.

About 125 volunteer firefighters serve at departments throughout the county, and about 100 will qualify for the deduction, said Daniel Cole, deputy director of Panola County Emergency Management Agency.

If the qualified firefighters request the deduction, the estimated cost to the county in the coming year will be about $10,000, Cole said.

Each firefighter will receive up to $100 waived for one car tag during the year, the deputy director said.

"There are also other fees included when you purchase a tag," Cole said, "so no one is exactly getting a tag for free. The $100 maximum just covers the ad valorem taxes."

Firefighters who want the car tag credit must visit the county’s emergency management office with a letter from their fire chief verifying service with the department. The emergency management office will then issue paperwork that is taken by the firefighter to the county tax collector’s office.

"We have to have the paperwork in writing with a signature from the fire chief," said emergency management director Son Hudson.


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