Headlines Cont. – 9/8/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 8, 2006

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – September 8, 2006


Opera. . . under the stars
The Como Opera Guild will present its fourth annual Opera Under the Stars on Saturday, September 16 at the Mitchell Meadow in downtown Como.

The program will include music from opera and Broadway and dance. Admission and parking are free.

The show starts at 7 p.m. A children’s opera workshop begins at 5 p.m.

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Concert guests are invited to bring blankets or lawnchairs.

The Como Volunteer Fire Department will operate a concession stand.

Pope man killed in wreck on I-55
By Billy Davis

Funeral services were held Tuesday for a Pope man who died over the Labor Day weekend in a one-vehicle wreck.

Daniel Everett Dungan Sr., 37, was killed when the GMC truck he was driving left the southbound lane of Interstate 55. The accident occurred between Batesville and Sardis.

Dungan, who was a truck driver, leaves behind a daughter, Brandi Marie Dungan of Grenada, and a son, Daniel Dungan Jr. of Pope.

Dungan’s death was one of three reported across the state over the weekend. The others occurred in Jefferson Davis County and Lamar County, The Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported, quoting a Mississippi High Patrol spokesman.

MHP spokesman Scott Swanson said Dungan’s automobile accident occurred shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday.

Dungan’s burial was in Friendship Baptist Church cemetery. Newson Funeral Home of Charleston was in charge of arrangements.

Batesville aldermen still wrangling over auto dealer’ sign
By Jason C. Mattox

While there was no change in the outcome, a motion was modified in the minutes of the August 15 meeting of the Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen regarding a signage request from William Pride.

After a public hearing that day, William Pride, owner of Pride Auto Sales, was permitted a variance to allow a larger sign to advertise his new line of Hyundai vehicles.

Initially Pride has asked for a variance that would allow a "reader board" attached to the sign that would allow him to change messages.

A reader board is a sign used to promote weekly specials in a business. An example is the sign would in front of Batesville Tire and Muffler.

The board voted that request down, but approved the larger sign without the reader board in Pride’s subsequent request.

Ward 1 Alderman Bill Dugger said the way the minutes read, it appeared he was against allowing more signage.

"The only thing my motion was meant to do was say ?no’ to a reader board," he said. "I don’t have any problem with the additional signage as long as there isn’t a reader board.

"Pictures of the new sign looked really good without the reader board," Dugger added. "I just feel like we should leave it off."

Alderman-at-Large Teddy Morrow said the reason he voted against the reader board is because the business is already over signage limit.

"If we are going to have the ordinances then we need to stick to them," he told The Panolian Thursday morning. "I have nothing against a reader board. If he thinks that will help his business, he could take some of the other signage off and I would be fine with it."

Local businessman Woody Loden Sr. spoke in support of Pride’s original request.

"That man uses that board regularly to let people know what sales he has going on," he said. "I think you need to allow him exactly what he asked you for.

"If you want this city to generate some tax dollars, you should let him have that sign the way he wants it," Loden reiterated.

Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders agreed with Loden.

"Amen, Woody," she said. "Help me out on this one."

Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley explained that the purpose of the discussion was to amend the minutes, not to fully revisit the issue.

"If this goes much further, I am afraid we might be opening a big can of worms," he said.

Aldermen voted 4-0 to amend the minutes to read: "It was ordered that William Pride of Pride Hyundai be granted a variance to allow 144 square foot pole sign, an additional 78 square feet of building signage with the exception of a reader board."

In other board business:
Bids for uniforms for city employees were taken under advisement for further review.
Jessica Hunt made a presentation on the Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter ambulance service, which is housed on the Tri-Lakes Medical Center campus.
Batesville commits E-911 funds to county
By Jason C. Mattox

The City of Batesville will supply a letter of commitment to the Panola County Board of Supervisors in support of new E-911 equipment.

Batesville Police Department, Sardis Police Department and Panola County Sheriff’s Department will have so-called stand-alone 911 systems.

"If you all remember, the original plan was for the county to go with a centralized dispatch with each city providing dispatchers," Daniel Cole, with Panola County Emergency Management said. "They changed that decision and went with the stand alone units."

The Panola County Board of Supervisors disussed the centralized system that would have put police dispatchers from Batesville and Sardis under one roof along with sheriff’s department dispatchers, and under the day-to-day management of Panola County government.

The second option was the "stand alone" system that operates similarly to the current system, allowing dispatchers to remain in the police departments in Sardis and Batesville and the sheriff’s department.

Cost numbers provided by Cole show the centralized system will cost $176,978 while the stand-alone system will cost $278,313, a difference of $101,335.

The letter requested would mean the city would lose 911 funds each year for five years, totaling $19,000 annually, to help the county offset the cost of the new equipment.

E-911 funds provided to the city from the county are used to fund half the salary of a dispatcher for the Batesville Police Department.

Aldermen questioned when they would begin receiving the funds again.

"The way I understand it, we would be giving up the money for five years," Mayor Jerry Autrey said. "After that we will begin receiving funds again."

Autrey said the county did not put that portion of the agreement in writing.

"If they don’t want to put it in writing, that is not their intent knowing the county," Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley said.

Police Chief Gerald Legge suggested the city provide the letter as requested.

"I believe they will begin funding the $19,000 back after the equipment is paid for," he said. "After that first five years they might give us more funding."

In other board business:
City leaders voted to move forward with the clean-up of property located at 106 Queen St. belonging to the Clifton Roberson Estate.
The bid of H & H Chief Sales, Inc., of Carthage of $8,950 for the bed on the city’s new dumptruck was accepted.
  Resignations from five part-time employees of the Batesville Civic Center were accepted.
  At the request of Waste Water Treatment Plant Superintendent David Karr, a 1992 Ford Ranger was declared surplus property.
  The costs and penalties for the clean-up of property belonging to Martha Johnson and Jaunita Wallace were adjudicated. The cases will be taken to court to receive an order to allow the city to clean-up the property.
Derelict property issue nags Crenshaw board
By John Howell

Crenshaw town officials revisited mostly familiar subjects during their monthly meeting Tuesday night as citizens crowded the meeting room to voice discontent at continuing inaction on complaints about abandoned and rundown property, and about water bills.

Familiar subjects included an executive session involving a "personnel matter" at the meeting’s conclusion, the placement of a rental trailer owned by Jerry Jennings, the cleanup of abandoned and derelict property in the municipal limits and the town’s broken-down backhoe.

When asked by The Panolian for a more specific reason for the executive session, town attorney Mary Brown replied that it was to discuss her contract with the town, The Panolian objected to that objection.

With Mayor Sylvester Reed stating that the newspaper representative was out of order in making his objection, the attorney explaining that the newspaper’s objection had been duly noted in the minutes and the crowd of visitors murmuring discontent at the closing of the meeting, aldermen in the din voted 3-2 to enter executive session.

Aldermen Shirley Morgan, Keith Pride and Marvin Phipps voted for the closure; Alberta Bradley and David Whitsell against it.

Jennings was represented by attorney Minnie Howard who questioned whether Crenshaw’s ordinance regulating mobile homes included vinyl siding and conventional roof requirements. Aldermen voted on July 29 to require that of the trailer Jennings moved to a Crenshaw lot in January.

Howard said also that even though the town clerk had issued Jennings a permit by mistake, "That was your mistake." She also accused the city of having allowed other mobile homes to be placed in Crenshaw without requiring vinyl siding and conventional roofs.

"We’re asking this board and this mayor to reconsider," Howard said.

"Saturday, July 29th, this issue was supposed to be settled," Alderman Albert Bradley said. "As far as I’m concerned this has been settled."

However, it was far from settled. After 45 minutes of occasionally acrimonious discussion, the July 29 action was shelved when a motion to reconsider passed 3-2. Aldermen Shirley Morgan, Keith Pride and Marvin Phipps voted to reconsider. Bradley and Alderman David Whitsell opposed.

Cornelia Gates is among several Crenshaw citizens who have been urging property clean up. She spoke to town officials after a previously scheduled visitor failed to appear at the meeting.

Gates asked for a clarification of the town’s policy and urged town attorney Mary Brown to get letters out to owners so that "cleaning up all those abandoned houses" can begin. She cited Batesville, Como and Sardis. "We need to find out what they do," Gates added.

The issue of cleaning up the town had first surfaced at the start of the meeting when Mayor Sylvester Reed passed out copies of the night’s agenda. Bradley requested that "clean up of property" be added. The agenda was adopted with the addition.

Later, when Bradley identified three properties in her ward that she wanted the town to target for cleanup, she read a letter from Sardis Mayor Rusty Dye offering the loan of the Sardis building inspector to visit "eight or 10" sites in Crenshaw at no charge to the town to assist in the cleanup process.

"I have to verify," Brown said, "to determine ownership."

"On each research, there is a process; each one is going to be case-by-case," the town attorney said, responding to a question about the cost to the city.

The mayor said that an amount for legal fees had been added to the proposed 2007 budget that might permit payment for the legal research.

"Can we afford them to run?" Reed asked, referring to the legal steps that include the notice of a public hearing published in the newspaper. "I cannot sign a check" if funds are not available, he continued. "All of this needs to be looked at after the budget is approved," he added.

Contacted by phone Wednesday, Batesville’s assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell, who routinely handles condemnation notices and hearings, said that his research about property that needs to be cleaned up includes checking the most recent tax rolls. He then checks to make sure that the property has not been sold within the last year. If a structure is to be torn down, Mitchell said, he conducts a more thorough title search to make sure no liens have been placed on the structure.

However, the state statute which governs municipalities’ approach to cleaning up overgrown property or tearing down abandoned structures allows a penalty of up to $1,500 to be assessed to the property, Mitchell said.

In other business:
Aldermen voted unanimously to advertise for a new backhoe while having the non-operating backhoe the town currently owns checked to see of it can be feasibly repaired.
Aldermen authorized town employee Sammy Harold to spend $2,000 on materials for construction of a gabled roof on the town hall. Harold will use state inmates from the Quitman County Correctional Facility. Aldermen voted to pay Harold $500 for the use of his tools.
A little league football program sponsored by Y.O.U. of Marks received permission from town officials to use a county-owned park within municipal limits for their youth athletics.
Minutes of the August 1 and August 15 meetings were approved after considerable confusion over the August 15 meeting. The August 15 meeting was called by aldermen Bradley and Whitsell to inquire about the mayor’s failure to tell other city officials about a proposal by Atmos Energy to sells its former Crenshaw facility to the town. During that meeting, Mayor Reed walked out followed by aldermen Morgan and Pride, leaving Bradley, Whitsell and Phipps who passed a resolution calling for the mayor’s resignation.
     However, Brown, on Tuesday night, told the city officials that an action required four city officials to be present for the action to be official. Aldermen voted to approve the August 15 minutes when Brown said that they were only approving the minutes and not whether the action was legal.
     And finally, at the conclusion of the executive session Brown reported, that no action was taken.
City of Sardis may continue with its own garbage service
By Jason C. Mattox

After news of a low guaranteed price on the City of Sardis’ two garbage trucks reached the boardroom table, aldermen are considering staying in the garbage business.

The city had received one guarantee on both garbage trucks. The company, Deanco Option Company , guaranteed the city $29,000 for the two trucks at auction.

The company would take the two trucks to auction and if they brought more than the guarantee, would be entitled to a seven percent commission. If they didn’t bring the $29,000 minimum guarantee, Deanco would pay the city the difference in the bid and the guarantee.

According to Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye, a bid for the two trucks, one of which the city is still paying for, came in at $29,000.

"With a price like that, it looks like we might be in the garbage business for a long time," he said.

Dye did inform aldermen that another municipality has looked at the newest truck and expressed interest in a potential purchase.

"They seem like they might be interested, but they might not do anything," he said. "It’s hard to say right now."

City leaders had hoped to get a secured bid that would have been enough to pay off the newest truck and enter into a garbage collection contract with Panola County Solid Waste.

The city owes $133,000 on the year-old garbage truck.

Panola County Solid Waste submitted a bid of $8.50 per month for each customer. They also handle trash collection in the City of Batesville, Como, and Crenshaw as well as the unincorporated areas of the county.


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