Headlines – 9/26/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – September 26, 2006

  From the 9/26/06 issue of The Panolian   –   

Drug roundup nets suspected dealers
     Panola County sheriff’s deputy Bill McGee (left), an agent of the Panola County Drug Task Force, leads a drug suspect from his home in Batesville after an arrest Tuesday.
By Billy Davis

The jail log at the David M. Bryan Justice Complex jumped by 32 names following a "roundup" of drug suspects in Batesville last week.

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During the roundup, which was conducted Tuesday, Batesville police officers and members of the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the Miss. Bureau of Narcotics helped the Panola County Drug Task Force serve arrest warrants on suspects.

The warrant searches came after the the task force targeted sellers of illegal narcotics over the last six months, conducting undercover buys from the sellers to attain the arrest warrants, said Panola Sheriff Hugh "Shot" Bright.

In a September 19 story about the task force, Bright said the agents favor a "buy" over "buy bust," which is an immediate arrest of a suspect following the purchase of illegal drugs.

Bright said the task force was seeking 65 suspects when it hit the streets.

The roundup kicked off at 2 p.m. Wednesday when law enforcement officers assembled in the Batesville City Court building, located on the Downtown Square, which also served as a processing center for suspects.

Once on the streets, a caravan of police cruisers and unmarked vehicles moved from street to street in west Batesville, the police work witnessed at times by curious onlookers.

Railroad crossings will get closer look
By Billy Davis

Panola County’s railroad crossings will get a closer look next month from the board of supervisors following the death last week of a county road department worker.

Gravel truck driver Thomas King died Wednesday, September 20 at a railroad crossing on River Road when his vehicle was struck by a southbound Canadian National freight train.

A second train wreck south of Pope, on Nelson Spur Road, this one involving a four-door car, occurred Thursday. Two passengers were reported injured.

In a recessed meeting held Monday, supervisors agreed to discuss installing crossing signals for some sites when they meet for their "second Monday" meeting October 9.

Supervisors reviewed a list of crossing sites in Panola that had been provided by Son Hudson and Daniel Cole, both with Panola County Emergency Management.

Cole told supervisors that most of the county’s railroad crossings are located in north Panola County.

"There is a possibility of getting some signals if we close some of the crossings," Supervisor Robert Avant told his colleagues.

"If you close, for example, three public crossings and two private crossings, the railroad might put together a financial package (for the county)," Cole said.

Panola County has 53 railroad crossings that are either public, private or pedestrian, Cole later told The Panolian.

"Most of those are in the Sardis and Como areas," he said.

Two Canadian National-owned railroad lines are located in the county. The so-called Yazoo line goes through Crenshaw while the so-called Grenada line snakes through Batesville, Sardis, Como, Pope and Courtland.

Crenshaw leaders approve ’07 budget
By John Howell Sr.

Town officials in Crenshaw adopted at the recommendation of consultants David Chandler and Lygunnah Bean a $500,000 budget following a public hearing Thursday night, September 14.

City officials also agreed to give mobile home owner Mrs. Jerry Jennings 12 months to add a shingle roof and vinyl siding to a rental mobile home she and her husband have located in the town. The Jenningses were accompanied by their attorney, Minnie Howard of North Mississippi Rural Legal Services. Howard and Crenshaw board attorney Mary Brown met outside the board room seeking to resolve the differences between the couple and town officials.

The 2007 budget includes a 4.37 mills tax increase to account for a decline in the assessed valuation of property in Crenshaw.

"To keep it (the budget) exactly as it was last year, it would take a 2 1/2 mill increase," Chandler said. A large number of residents over 65 who are exempt from taxes on the first $75,000 of assessed valuation and a large number of mobile homes in the town limits, account for the decrease in valuation, Chandler said.

Panola County Board of Supervisors President Robert Avant, whose district includes Crenshaw and who attended the hearing, explained the similarity between auto values and mobile homes values, citing an annual decrease in the cost of a car tag and the annual decrease in tax assessment on mobile homes. Avant urged aldermen to adopt the budget and also to consider annexation.

"We’ve got a chance to grow here in Crenshaw," Avant said.

The supervisors’ president also urged town officials to clean up vacated and abandoned property and overgrown lots:

"Nobody wants to come to an area that’s run down," Avant said.

Crenshaw resident Sam Presley, who has appeared frequently at recent board meetings to voice concern over the appearance of the town and the placement of mobile homes, attended the budget hearing and again expressed his concern.

"I’m still in the dark about what we’re going to do about the trailer issue," Presley said. "I thought we were going to move the trailer," he added. Presley noted the decline of assessed valuation that Chandler and Avant blamed on mobile homes.

"Let’s try to get all of the questions on the budget," Mayor Sylvester Reed said.

"The trailers are devaluing," Presley replied.

Crenshaw library branch manager Martha Rayburn thanked the mayor and aldermen for budgeting $2,000 for the town’s Sam Lapidus Library. She also asked if $1,000 which had been budgeted for the current year, and not yet paid, would be received.

"We’ll do our best; the closest looks like the latter part of the year," the mayor responded.

Alderman Alberta Bradley raised a question of the amount of salary budgeted for the town clerk.

"The clerk took a pay cut from her previous job; she should at least be raised up to her previous pay," said Bob Bryant, a Crenshaw citizen who attends all town board meetings.

"I would like to give my raise to my employees who work for me," Police Chief Daryl Linzy told the mayor and aldermen. "For the work they do and they put their lives on the line and they get no benefits," Linzy added. "I don’t want my raise."

Mayor Reed’s request for a motion to accept the budget brought a question from Presley: "If y’all pass it, can it be amended?"

"Yes," the mayor replied.

"Any budget can be amended," Chandler said.

Alderman Shirley Morgan made a motion to adopt the budget, seconded by Alderman Keith Pride. Aldermen Whitsell and Bradley joined them to pass the budget 4-0. Alderman Marvin Phipps was absent.

After the budget was passed, further discussion attempted to clarify the motion passed in regard to the Jennings trailer.

Sardis overlook named for Tapp
     Shown at the recent dedication of the Arty Tapp Overlook at Sardis Dam are (from left) John Tapp, Barbara Tapp, Arty Tapp, and Kara Tapp, with Colonel Anthony Vesay (Commander, Vicksburg District Corps of Engineers) who assisted with the ribbon-cutting.
By Andrew Strickland,
Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg District, has bestowed a rare honor on one of its employees by naming a recreation area after him. The overlook on top of Sardis Dam has been renamed the Arty R. Tapp Overlook in honor of the Batesville resident.

Arty began his 18-year corps career with the Sardis Lake Field Office as a park ranger. He later became the project forester and used the overlook now named in his honor as one of the points to triangulate the location of forest fires on Sardis project lands.

Today, Arty serves as the environmental safety ranger for the Sardis Project Management Office where he identifies the risks associated with each job activity and coordinates the training needs of project personnel to ensure a safety conscious workforce and to maintain a safe work environment.

A 1978 Baldwyn High School graduate, Arty earned a forestry degree from Mississippi State University in 1983. He worked for a time with the Mississippi Forestry Commission before joining the Corps of Engineers at Sardis in 1988.

In 1994, Arty was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a motor neuron disease that eventually causes the loss of muscle movement and atrophy.

Rather than give in to the crippling effects of the disease, Arty maintains the belief that each day is a gift that should be cherished and views his disease as an opportunity to influence people in a positive way by sharing the story of his courageous battle.

Arty married the former Barbara Roellgen in 1984. They are parents of two children, Kara and John. Arty and his family reside near Batesville where they attend Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church.

CEO ‘Tom’ visits Batesville plant
By John Howell Sr.

Insituform Technologies President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Rooney gained a different perspective on the work of the global company’s Batesville manufacturing facility last week. He visited the plant and spent a couple of days working with the people who actually make liners used to rehabilitate pipe around the world.

"It looks like the equipment does it all; the people who operate it make it look easy," said Rooney, who encouraged everyone he met to call him "Tom."

"I had the idea the equipment was 90 percent of the effort; … it turned out to be the opposite," he said Thursday after having spent most of two days with the workers at the factory in the W. M. Harmon Industrial Complex. "The equipment just gets you into the game."

"Most of the critical operators have been with us a very long time," Rooney continued.

So has former plant manager Chuck Trammel, now Insituform’s vice president of global manufacturing. Trammel started as the Batesville plant manager when the local factory was founded.

Bob Callihan of the Batesville Insituform plant described the impact of Rooney’s visit to the local facility as "very positive; something we haven’t seen before out of a CEO."

Insituform hired Rooney three and one-half years ago to turn the company around and place it onto a more profitable footing. He implemented a series of quarterly "town hall meetings" with employees, broadcast live to Insituform locations in 45 countries through the company’s intranet.

"I’ll answer any questions," he told Insituform’s employees. As it turned out, Rooney continued, "most of them were tough," like: "’Why are you paid so much?’ or ‘Why don’t you get off your butt and put some of the time in the ground?’"

That prompted Rooney last November to make a challenge to Insituform employees. With a crew of his choice he would take the place of a crew in the ground. That led to Rooney and a "crew of my choice: COO, CFO, CIO–all the corporate big wigs" taking the place of "one crew in Mobile, Alabama. In April ’06, we installed 1,300 feet of tube in the ground," Rooney said.

At the end of that day in Mobile, Rooney and his crew were "covered with raw sewage from head to toe," he said, but "came away with an altogether valuable appreciation; I learned so much in April doing the job of installing the tubes."

Rooney decided to continue visiting Insituform’s plants as a worker with a goal of "working my way around the world," he said.

That will include a visit to Canada’s north slope next February "when the tundra freezes" for crude oil pipeline repair. The BP oil pipeline whose breach became a factor in increasing gasoline prices last summer requires an Insituform-type technology: "We’re the kind of company that fixes those," Rooney said.

During Rooney’s Batesville visit, he was by himself and slightly less hands-on than in Mobile. "These jobs are very highly skilled; I’d just screw things up," he said. Nevertheless, he found himself crawling into machines and talking with operators throughout the facility. "I start hearing things that I ought to know about," Rooney said.

The Insituform CEO listed steps that keep the Batesville plant competitive in a global market. A $10 million expansion at the Batesville plant in 2003 "has already paid for itself," Rooney said. Shopping the international market for the basic felt raw material used in the local facility found a source in China at an annual savings of $2 million, he said, increasing the local plant’s efficiency. A formerly outsourced resining process is now performed in-house, Rooney added.

"This plant is so efficient that we’re shipping product to Tokyo, mainland China, Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong; … we’re a U.S. manufacturer so efficient we can ship our material to Korea," Rooney said.

Insituform Technologies’ net income more than doubled to $5.5 million in the second quarter, a factor that lead analysts at Morgan Joseph and Company to move their recommendation on the company’s stock from "hold" to "buy," according to newratings.com. The company’s stock is traded on the NASDAQ exchange as INSU.NAS and closed Friday, September 22 at $24.15 per share.

4-year-old gets TV time
Four-year-old Carrington Carter, daughter of Tonya and Lyndell Carter of Batesville, will be interviewed Friday morning on WREG-TV in Memphis.

Carrington will be featured on Channel 3’s "Live at 9" broadcast, in a segment about a fund-raiser for LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center, where Carrington has been a cardiac patient.

City slow to extend sewer service to Eureka
By Jason C. Mattox

A Batesville man appeared before the Mayor and Board of Aldermen last Tuesday wondering how much longer he would have to wait for city sewage.

"I have lived in the city for 20 years," John Egbert said. "It took me three years to get water and then another 10 years to get gas. But I still have no sewage."

Egbert told city leaders that his area, Eureka Road, should not have been annexed into the city if they could not provide all the city services.

"When you take people into the city limits, you should be able to afford the infrastructure you are going to need," he said.

Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders suggested trying to piggyback Egbert and others onto a potential project in his area.

"We all know there is some property being developed out there that could ask us for water and sewer," she said. "When that time comes, maybe we could look at adding you onto it then."

Egbert told the board he was not there to complain, rather to just find out the possibility of getting the service.

"I don’t mean to be critical, but 20 years is a long time to wait," he said.

No action was taken on the matter.

"Sometimes we forget you’re out there when you get annexed in," Pounders said.


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