Headlines – 10/27/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 27, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – October 27, 2006

  From the 10/27/06 issue of The Panolian   –   

‘Boss’ picks ‘nuts as new venture
Peanut crop rare sight on Panola farms
By Rupert Howell

Of the 16,000 acres of commercially grown peanuts planted in Mississippi this year, between three and four percent (approximately 550 acres) are in southern Panola County, grown by Eureka planter Lamar "Boss" Johnson.

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Harvest is underway and it takes four specialty pieces of equipment to do what needs to be done to peanuts. Equipment used for beans and cotton won’t do.

Johnson admits a considerable investment in a peanut combine, a peanut digger, a peanut vine conditioner and a peanut buggy, but also sees many advantages in the rotation crop.

"We don’t know peanuts about peanuts," Johnson said, but pointed toward Amadis Equipment field representative Cris Beatty who is walking the local farmer through the first harvest.

The shiny new blue equipment quickly looks seasoned as the dust and dirt of a peanut harvest makes the harvesting equipment look more a shade of desert camouflage.

Johnson notes that the peanut harvesting equipment is designed to help separate dirt from the peanut. A legume, peanuts grow in the ground in clumps. The above ground vegetation is left on top of the ground following harvest.

County agent Judd Gentry, along with Area Agronomy agent Art Smith, whose area encompasses seven counties, were on hand Tuesday to watch the harvest in a field next to Long Creek on Bell Road in southeastern Panola County.

"Peanuts are a great rotation crop with cotton, one of the best," Gentry surmised.

Smith explained, "Because they are a legume, that returns a lot of nutrients to the soil."

Gentry noted, "He didn’t have any rain for 112 days on some and 115 on another field."

"Under normal conditions he would have had a tremendous yield," Smith stated.

Johnson is not complaining about the yield but estimated he would have had a "much, much" larger yield if the peanuts had been irrigated. He also said the peanut fields would have been harvested much sooner if they had received adequate rainfall.

An experienced cotton farmer, Johnson said peanuts appear to be more forgiving than cotton, noting that early indications reveal that he may have above state average yield of peanuts, which he said is two tons per acre.

Johnson also noted that neither he nor Panola County has a peanut crop history, making him ineligible for crop insurance this year.

The peanuts were planted beginning in the last week of May in a field on the Long Creek Bottom near Eureka, a field north of Highway 6 west of Batesville and in Yocona Bottom not far from Yocona Gin on Highway 35.

The digger is used to get peanuts from under the ground to the top where they must dry for a few days. The vine conditioner turns the peanut plants over so that they can air dry and unsticks them from the ground if there has been rain since running the digger.

The combine is an eight-row equivalent and will harvest approximately 30 acres a day running approximately 1.5 miles an hour. Stainless steel parts jog and shake the peanuts as they are picked leaving much of the dirt and the vegetation behind.

A similar-sized combine that would be used for corn or soybeans might harvest 120 acres per day.

The peanuts are then dumped into a buggy which is porous enough to allow more dirt to separate from the "pea" but still hold the peanuts.

The peanuts are then loaded to an awaiting transport truck and will be shipped to Alabama where they may be used for candy, peanut butter or pressed for oil.

Whatever the outcome of this year’s harvest, expect to see more locally grown goobers during the next growing season.

City picks engineer for project
By John Howell Sr.

Batesville aldermen selected Evans Engineering for city engineering work needed for a Community Development Block Grant project to rehabilitate sewer in areas of Harmon Circle and Martin Luther King Street.

The 4-0 vote came Tuesday, October 24, in a special meeting. The city officials selected the proposal of Evans Engineering over that submitted by Elliot and Britt Engineering. A proposal by Blake Mendrop of McBride Engineering was withdrawn prior to the meeting, Mayor Jerry Autrey said.

In other action at the brief meeting on Tuesday aldermen approved their attendance at a Mississippi Municipal League conference in Oxford during November, a Mississippi Economic Council "Hobnob" in Jackson, also in November, and the MML Mid-Winter Conference in Jackson in January.

City Clerk Laura Herron told the mayor and aldermen that one city employee had not been included in hospitalization coverage when the city switched health insurance carriers last year. Herron provided city officials with the amount that the carrier would have paid on a claim submitted by the employee if the employee had been covered.

"It’s our mistake; we should pay it," Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders said. Aldermen Teddy Morrow, Rufus Manley and Bill Dugger agreed, voting to pay the amount that the insurance carrier would have paid on the employee’s claim.

Police Chief Gerald Legge said that additional booster antennas may need to be installed on two sides of the city to assure that officers’ walkie-talkies will work in all areas of the municipal limits.

‘Dracula’ at Panola Playhouse
     During the final rehearsal for the Panola Playhouse’s production of "Dracula," Chad Martin (right) and
J.C. Martin
ran through the opening scene in Dracula’s castle. The play opened last night on Main Street in Sardis. The play is expected to run just over two and a half hours. For show dates and times, see story, page B6.
Plus regular PANOLA PEOPLE features:
Hundreds remember man ‘who lived what he believed’
     As a gentle rain falls at the grave site, pallbearers with the Miss. National Guard carry the casket of police officer Robert "Robbie" Langley at Forrest Memorial Park east of Batesville. The University of Mississippi police officer was killed October 21 during a traffic stop. Funeral services were held Wednesday afternoon on the Ole Miss campus at the Gertrude Castellow Ford Center, where an overflow crowd honored the officer and guardsman.
By Billy Davis

When doctors at The Med unhooked the life support Saturday from Ole Miss police officer Robert Langley, Lisa Bryant Langley had already placed her hand on her husband’s chest. She was able to feel the final beat of a heart that lived life to its fullest.

A capacity crowd that packed into the Gertrude C. Ford Center Wednesday on the Ole Miss campus witnessed a heart-stirring eulogy of Robert Michael "Robbie" Langley, including the story of the husband and father’s final moments.

"Lisa told him again that she loved him as she felt his last heartbeat," said Rev. Kevin Crofford, the family’s pastor, who relayed the story near the end of a one-hour memorial service.

Langley, 30, died from injuries sustained during an early-morning traffic stop Saturday, when a university student dragged him about 200 yards.

Germantown resident Daniel Cummings, 20, is now facing a capital murder charge after Langley’s death.

Langley, a K-9 officer for the campus, was the first University of Mississippi officer to die in the line of duty, press reports have noted.

Langley also served in the Mississippi Army National Guard and served a 14-month tour of duty in Afghanistan when his Guard unit was called to active duty. He rejoined the police department when he returned in April.

U of M Police Chief Jeffrey Van Slyke read from a writing sample he pulled from the slain officer’s personnel file. In the writing, Langley repeatedly wrote that law enforcement officers "must set a high standard" because the public watches their actions.

"I’ve been a police chief for 18 years," Van Slyke said, "and this was one man who lived what he believed."

Rev. Barry Male, who was once Langley’s youth minister, recalled that the athletic and popular Langley would routinely befriend others who were not so athletic or popular.

"He had a servant’s heart. He was an encourager," Male said, adding that Langley followed Christ’s instruction that "he that wants to be greatest must first be the least."

The memorial service included the song "An American Soldier," a patriotic nod to America’s military by country artist Toby Keith. While the song played, photos of the war zone, including Langley in uniform and a shaky homemade video of a vehicle convoy, flashed upon a projector screen.

As a photo of an American flag faded to black, the crowd at the Ford Center saw video footage of Langley himself, apparently out of breath on the slopes of a barren mountain.

"I’m climbing this mountain. I’m looking for ?em," Langley tells his wife. "I miss you and love you."

After the service, a bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" while National Guard pallbearers moved Langley’s flag-draped casket into a white hearse at the front entrance of the Ford Center.

While the pallbearers loaded the casket, military servicemen, police officers and sheriff’s deputies from surrounding cities and counties stood at attention while a soft rain fell.

Langley was laid to rest at Forrest Memorial Park east of Batesville.

Questions a-plenty posed to supervisors
By Billy Davis

A group of Panola County citizens didn’t get their chance Monday to face off with a business owner in front of county supervisors, but they did pepper the board with questions about its working relationship with the Panola County Land Development Commission.

Several questions tossed at supervisors hinted at a lack of organization on their part after they could not describe an appeal process or say who enforces the guidelines set by the land commission for commercial businesses.

About 12 residents from the Chapeltown community had come to the supervisors’ meeting expecting to debate Chris Aldridge, whose request to open a recycling center was rejected by the land commission October 9.

Aldridge, who purchased the site of a former concrete plant off Highway 6 West, was a no-show at the supervisors meeting, but the residents expressed their views – and asked questions – anyway with the supervisors as their captured audience.

District 2 Supervisor Robert Avant fielded most of the questions since he serves as president of the board, though he stumbled at times over the basic workings of the two county bodies.

Avant told the gathering that they were "putting the cart before the horse," incorrectly suggesting that a public hearing is the next step.

Minutes later, District 4 Supervisor Jerry Perkins corrected his colleague by noting that the public hearing had already been held at the land commission meeting. An appeal by Aldridge would be the next step, he said.

Guy Walker, who opposes Aldridge’s plans, noted that the former concrete plant operated late at night, clogged up traffic and maintained a dirty workplace. Resident Susan Roberson asked supervisors how the county enforces the commission’s guidelines for commercial property such as working hours, landscaping and cleanliness.
"Who would oversee the working of it?" Roberson asked.

Fielding the question, Avant suggested that the sheriff’s department is "probably" in charge of enforcing the commission’s rulings.

No enforcement policy is in place, however, and commission members have complained over the past year that their guidelines have no "teeth."

Citizens who had come to protest the recycling plant wondered how prepared the supervisors were for tackling queries about the appeal process.

At present Aldridge would be allowed to appeal the decision without either the land commission or Chapeltown residents being notified of his planned appearance.

Instead, Avant suggested to Roberson that they contact Supervisor Mack Benson, who represents their area, and ask him if Aldridge is on the meeting’s agenda.

Supervisors have heard two appeals in the last year, turning down Anthony McCoy’s "party barn" on Eureka Road and siding with Stan Holcombe’s grocery business over the commission regarding his unpaved parking lot on Highway 6 East.

The land commission publishes upcoming public hearings in the legal section of The Panolian, but appeals to the board of supervisors are not published.

Blood drive set for November 1
Framed Picture Enterprise will hold a blood drive Wednesday, November 1 from 8:30 AM – 1:30 PM.

"It is vital for eligible blood donors to donate blood every 56 days in order for Mississippi Blood Services to maintain a stable blood supply within the state," said Kelly Scrivner, MBS communications and public relations manager.

Mississippi Blood Services will have a donor coach in the Framed Picture parking lot. All donors receive a t-shirt.

Less than four percent of Mississippians are providing the blood needed for transfusions while 60 percent could actually donate.

"Donating blood is a simple and safe way to save lives in your community," Scrivner said. 

All donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and have a valid ID.

For more information, call (800) 817-7449.


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