Headlines – 11/3/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 3, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – November 3, 2006

  From the 11/3/06 issue of The Panolian   –   

Batesville bypass hits speed bump
By John Howell Sr.

It will be a decade before Batesville motorists will find east/west traffic relief on Highway 6, but by 2017 traffic should be flowing over the long-parleyed bypass, Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) District Engineer Jimmy Dickerson said.

Speaking at a meeting of the Batesville Rotary Club last week and in interviews this week, Dickerson described the 8.04-mile project which will channel through traffic south of the current path of Highway 6.

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The actual construction of the bypass, after planning, design, and right-of-way acquisition has been completed, will begin in fiscal 2013 with completion expected in four years, Dickerson said. When construction begins, MDOT engineers have allowed the option of constructing portions of the bypass as two lane, he said.

The bypass will be planned and designed with four lanes, and all interchanges will be constructed as four lanes, the district engineer said. However, if construction funds are inadequate, portions will initially be constructed with two lanes, with two additional lanes added later when funding permits.

"Batesville will still see immediate relief in its traffic, even with two lanes in some places," Dickerson said.

He described the bypass route as follows:

Departure from existing Highway 6 East route
Traveling from east to west, the bypass will leave the current highway west of the Good Hope Road/Highway 6 intersection at a "grade-separated intersection" to be constructed, Dickerson said. The intersection will be designed for safety, to "keep everything moving; you won’t have to stop and face traffic," the engineer said.

Mt. Olivet Road
From its eastern starting point, the bypass will veer to the southwest, crossing Mt. Olivet Road with an overpass near the present Kyle Road intersection. The bypass’ first intersection will be constructed at Trantham Road, between Cotton Plant Road and Pine Lodge Road.

Eureka Road
Further southwest, the new route will pass over Eureka Road near Will Road and Fog Road. The curving route of the bypass will then turn west-northwest towards Interstate 55.

Intersection with I-55
Continuing from I-55 in a west-northwesterly direction, the Highway 6 bypass will intersect I-55 between the interstate’s overpass of Eureka Road and Shiloh Road, Dickerson said. The interchange will include a cloverleaf design similar to the presented Highway 6/I-55 intersection except that the new interchange would be built to current safety standards which require longer acceleration/ deacceleration lanes than those built when the existing cloverleaf intersection was in the 1960s.

At Highway 51
No interchange is planned at U. S. Highway 51, Dickerson said. The close proximity of the I-55/bypass interchange on the east and the railroad on the west do not leave enough space to meet current highway design standards, Dickerson said. The route will continue west-northwest, passing over Highway 51 between the water tower which serves the Pope-Courtland Water Association and Victory Baptist Church.

Intersection with New
Highway 35

The bypass construction project includes the rerouting of Highway 35, beginning at the intersection with Shiloh Road and ending at Highway 51, just south of the current Flexcel building, formerly known as the Batesville American building. The Highway 35 intersection with the new bypass will be constructed between the current route of Highway 35 and Highway 51.

Intersection with
current Highway 35

The current route of Highway 35 between Shiloh Road and the existing Highway 6 railway overpass will revert back to the city or county, Dickerson said. The new bypass will cross over the current Highway 35 route near Walls Road, making necessary the removal of the existing Batesville First Assembly of God facility, Dickerson said.

"We agreed to listen to their proposal and negotiate with them," said Pastor Don Mullins of the Batesville First Assembly of God Church.

Reconnection with current Highway 6 West route
Midway between the existing Highway 35 and the intersection of Chapel Town Road and Highway 6, the bypass route will turn due west, rejoining the existing route near Wade’s John Deere.

What about Highway 6’s existing route?

Improvements slated for the existing route include making the current I-55/Highway 6 interchange safer, widening to five lanes from Bates Street through the railway overpass and replacement of the railway overpass, Dickerson said.

The short acceleration and deacceleration lanes need to be lengthened on the existing cloverleaf, he said.

A new railway overpass will replace the existing, narrow overpass, with a five lane structure correctly aligned with the approach route, he said. Dickerson said that there is currently no funding identified that would allow widening of the existing Highway 6 from the railway overpass to Chapel Town Road.

"Some of these projects have doubled in cost," Dickerson said about project.

Dickerson attributed the increases to Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath driving up construction costs as well as the increasing cost of fuel.

The Batesville bypass project has climbed to $84.7 million, making it the largest public works project in Panola County since the construction of Interstate 55 in the 1960s.

Marks will view new route
By John Howell Sr.

At a public meeting in Marks Monday, Mississippi Department of Transportation officials will present a bypass route about 3,000 feet north of the current intersection of the intersection of Highways 6 and 3, MDOT district engineer Jimmy Dickerson said.

In the original proposal for the intersection on the widened route, it was located about 1,200 feet north of the present highway intersection, Dickerson said. However, the land nearer the existing intersection was part of a buyout by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which designated the land as floodway.

Once land is so designated, "it’s got to stay floodway," the MDOT official said.

The public meeting will be held from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Marks Community Center, 340 Pecan Street in Marks.

Citizens are invited to come and go as they please, view the alternatives and speak to MDOT representatives.

Plus regular PANOLA PEOPLE features:
     Panola County voter Mary Lou Evans looks over her absentee ballot after receiving it this week from Circuit Clerk Joe Reid. See page C10 for a sample of the November 7 ballot.
Scouts invite all to flag ceremony
Two Iraq War flags part of retirement
By Billy Davis

A flag retirement ceremony, a moving event that is common among the Boy Scouts but rarely seen in public, is scheduled for November 12 in Batesville.

During the ceremony, Boy Scout Troop 478 will retire worn American flags, including two flags flown by American armed forces in Iraq.

The retirement is done by respectfully dropping each flag over a camp fire.

The United States Code of Justice suggests destroying the Stars and Stripes by burning when the flag "is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display."

The Scouts are inviting the public to attend the ceremony and bring tattered and worn flags to be retired.

The ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. at Robert Dunlap Stadium in the west parking lot located on the visitors’ side of the stadium near Highway 51.

"When I saw the Scouts perform this ceremony, I was just in awe that the Scouts perform this duty," said Nita Taylor, whose two sons are Eagle Scouts.

"Most people don’t know that the Scouts perform this ceremony and never get to see it," Taylor added. "It makes you proud, as a parent, to know that your children are a part of this, learning respect for our country and the American flag."

Troop 478 Scoutmaster Curtis Lauderdale said the ceremony ends only when ashes are left. The ashes are then collected and buried elsewhere in a reverent ceremony, he said.

The pair of war-flown flags will be the last flags retired, when the striped section of Old Glory will be cut into pieces and distributed to those in attendance, who will then drop each piece into the fire.

"We will then lower the field of stars into the fire, which will end the ceremony," Lauderdale said.

Flags for the retirement ceremony can be brought that day or dropped off in Batesville at Whitten Insurance Agency or the National Guard Armory.

Stay alert during twister month
By Billy Davis

The month of November brings us Thanksgiving turkey, and it also brings severe weather across the state.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has declared November "Tornado Awareness Month," spurred by statistics that show November is the second most dangerous month during the year.

"The month of April comes in first followed by November then March," said Daniel Cole, deputy director of Panola County Emergency Management.
National Weather Service statistics show a total of 99 tornadoes in 2005, many spawned by Hurricane Katrina, broke the state’s 1998 record of 62 twisters. The state average is 24.

In Panola County, an F2 twister killed three and injured more than 100 in the Crenshaw and Sledge communities when it struck on November 24, 2001.

Then-Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove declared a disaster area in an eight-county area that reported damage to 103 homes, 34 mobile homes and 14 businesses.

State statistics show 17 tornadoes in November, 2004, killing one person in Winston County, and 10 struck in November, 2002, killing one person in Lowndes County.

According to Cole, the best defense against bad weather is a weather radio programmed to pick up information from counties southwest of Panola.

"That’s where our bad weather typically comes from," Cole said. "What’s happening there will usually give us a warning about what’s coming our way."

Grant money has helped pay for weather radios for Panola County schools, Cole also noted.

Panola County EMA will program weather radios to pick up the correct channels if people purchase one and need it programmed, Cole said.

"What we don’t want is for people to turn their radio off when it goes off because it’s programmed for some warning in northeastern Mississippi," Cole said. "Then they have no warning even though they have a radio."

Christmas parade set for Dec. 5
Batesville’s Lion’s Club will once again sponsor the Batesville Christmas parade on Tuesday, December 5 at 6:30 p.m. All local churches, school groups, civic clubs and others are encouraged to participate.
Groups will be asked to pay an entry fee, with proceeds going to meet needs of families during the Christmas season.

Entry forms are available at the Lions Club or at The Panolian. A parade committee will review and approve applications.

Marching groups, auto and motorcycle clubs will be screened and entry fees based on the number of units in their group.

"We encourage participation but want to keep Christmas as the reason for the parade," a Lions spokesman said.

The Lion’s Club has contacted Santa and he will be here. His only request was that there be no duplicates in the parade. He feels that one Santa is enough. He also agrees that there should not be any horses in the parade for safety’s sake.

The parade route will be the same as in the past, going through downtown Batesville. For information you can call the club at 563-4689 or come by to get an application and pay your entry fee.

Book Sale
     Barbara Evans and Doris Mason of the Batesville Public Library prepare for the annual book sale sponsored by the Friends of the Library at the Panola County Extension Building on Highway 51 South November 15 -18.
     Donations of books will be accepted November 13-14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hours of the sale will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. November 15-17 and from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday.
     For more information call Geneva Baird at 563-8207.

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