Headlines – 11/7/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 7, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – November 7, 2006

  From the 11/7/06 issue of The Panolian   –   

District agency to upgrade, will move to Power Drive
By John Howell Sr.

The North Delta Planning and Development District’s Batesville office expects by mid-January to be operating in the 8,000 square feet facility on Power Drive at Highway 6 East which formerly housed the North Mississippi Satellite Crime Lab.

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Brad Baker of Century 21 Real Estate said the sale was completed last week. "I think it’s going to improve and change the face of Batesville," Baker said.

The approximately 20 NDPDD Batesville office employees now share about 1,800 square feet of space in the Cliff Finch County Office Building.

"There’s three people in my office; some have four; we’re literally all over each other," NDPDD program specialist Trey Hamby said.

NDPDD employs almost 50 full-time workers with many part-time workers and volunteers, Hamby said, in offices in Hernando, Tunica and Clarksdale in addition to Batesville.

Of the 20 Batesville employees, eight to 10 are utilized in planning and program assistance for the municipalities and counties of the northwest part of the state. Assistance includes obtaining grant funds, small business loans and making local officials aware of the many government programs that become available or change on a weekly basis.

"It will help us be visible; we’re kind of behind-the-scenes folks," Hamby said, describing the non-profit NDPDD’s role.

The remaining employees are utilized in Aging Services which offers a broad range of assistance to elderly people in the NDPDD area, including elderly transportation, home health nurses, Medicaid waivers, senior citizens homemaker assistance as well serving "thousands of meals to the elderly," each week, Hamby said.

Minor renovations will be required to convert the former crime lab building to NDPDD’s office use, according to Hamby. A "nice, formal board room" will be constructed and a portion of the facility not presently divided for offices will be partitioned, he added.

General election is today
Three contested races are on today’s ballot with the polls opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 7 p.m.

Republican U.S. Senator Trent Lott faces Democratic Erik Fleming and Libertarian Harold M. Taylor.

Also a Republican, incumbent U.S. Representative Roger Wicker faces Democrat James K. (Ken) Hurt.

Incumbent Chancery Court Judge Melvin McClure representing District 3, Sub-District 3-2, Place 2 faces challenger Vicki B. Cobb.

BPD retrieves purse, minus $30
By Jason C. Mattox

Batesville Police officers had to travel to Yalobusha County to make an arrest in a purse snatching that took place in October.

According to Det. Capt. Paul Shivers, 52-year-old Ruthell Jones of Water Valley was arrested last Friday at her home and charged with petit larceny for stealing a purse off a counter at Wal-Mart on October 21.

"The charge is petit larceny because the value was less than $500," he said.

Shivers said detectives were able to use video surveillance from Wal-Mart to identify the suspect.

"We went back and watched the footage from Wal-Mart and could identify her in the video," he said.

During the arrest officers were able to recover the purse and all of its contents except $30 in cash.

Jones is out of jail on a $305 bond.

Planning commission approves subdivision
By Jason C. Mattox

Two potential developments, one residential and one commercial, received preliminary approval from the Batesville Planning Commission during a meeting Monday, October 30.

The first, the proposed Covenant Crossing, at the Highway 6 and I-55 intersection, received preliminary plat approval for three lots.

Blake Mendrop of McBride Engineering told the commission he had no problems with the preliminary approval despite receiving no letters from the Mississippi Department of Health or Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

"Typically, you get a water and sewer letter from the health department and DEQ," Mendrop explained. "They can’t move forward and get those yet because they are working some things out with the city."

Mendrop was making reference to the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funding the city is applying for on behalf of developer Alvan Kelly and Covenant Crossing.

Mendrop told commission members that Kelly could not move forward with installation of water and sewer infrastructure until after those letters come back from the health department and DEQ.

"We know he wants to move forward so his tenants can start work as soon as possible," commission member Brad Clark said. "He wants to get the road work done so the building construction can begin."

Kelly thanked the commission for its approval prior to leaving the meeting.

"We know we can’t get started on the water and sewer," he said. "But the sooner we get the road construction finished, the sooner the businesses can come in and start working on their locations."

The second preliminary approval was given to Wade Aldridge, who plans a residential development on Lakewood Drive across from Lakewood Place near the post office.

He is also awaiting letters from DEQ and the Mississippi Department of Health.

Paul Costalino, the project engineer, said the current plans call for 26 total units, 10 of which will be single-family homes, while the remainder of the construction will be duplex-style condominiums.

"This is going to be a nice subdivision," Aldridge said. "I want it to be nicer than anything Batesville has ever seen."

North Delta Schools plan early dismissal Friday
In order to allow time for teachers, students and fans to be able to make the trip to Natchez this Friday for round one of the football playoffs, North Delta School will be operating on a special half-day schedule this Friday, Nov. 10.

The Green Wave football team (6-5) will be facing Trinity (8-2) in Academy A playoff action at 7 p.m.

The early dismissal on this day will be as follows:

  • K3 and K4:
    11:30 a.m. dismissal (normal dismissal);
  • K5-4th grade:
    12 noon dismissal;
  • 5th grade-12th grade:
    12:10 p.m. dismissal.

Lunch will be served on this day. Also, the school’s Extended Care will remain in operation for its normal hours on this day, closing at 5:30 p.m.

If enough students and fans sign up, the school will be chartering a pep bus. The cost of the bus ride will be $31.50. The deadline to sign up for the bus (including payment) is Tuesday, November 7.

For more information about the pep bus or the special schedule, call 563-4536.

Family bringing BBQ franchise to Batesville
     A block wall gets attention from Verdell Brown, of Clarksdale, and his trowel last week at the coming Whitts Barbecue in Batesville. The Belk family of Batesville hopes to open the "quick-serve restaurant" franchise by January. A cooking facility is located west of Batesville. Whitts is based in Alabama.
By Billy Davis

The small building currently under construction near Highways 6 and 51 in Batesville is a coming barbecue restaurant franchise from Alabama.
The Belk family of Batesville purchased a franchise from Whitts Barbecue and plans to open the doors by January 1, co-owner Raymond Belk said last week.

Whitts will operate as a take-out and drive-through restaurant, although a porch will have tables for outside eating, Belk said.

"The industry refers to it as a quick-serve restaurant," he said.

Whitts will employ about 10 people, including at least two who will cook meats at a separate facility located west of Batesville on Gin Road.

Supervisor sides with business
By Billy Davis

Even though business owner Chris Aldridge has yet to make an appearance, residents who oppose his plans for a recycling center are continuing to await his presence before the Panola County Board of Supervisors.

Husband and wife Billy Elmore Sr. and Betty Elmore presented a petition to supervisors Monday at the "first Monday" meeting in Sardis, where the Elmores and another ally, Guy Walker, staked out the meeting for about 40 minutes before departing.

Betty Elmore handed the petition to board president Robert Avant, announcing that "lots of" Panola Countians had signed the petition to voice opposition to Aldridge’s plan.

After the meeting, the couple said the petition contained 172 signatures.

The site is located on Chapeltown Road, near its intersection with Highway 6 West, but the petition sported signatures and addresses from residents through the county.

If supervisors do hear from Aldridge, they would customarily ask the opinion of District 3 Supervisor Mack Benson, since the former concrete plant and the Chapeltown community are located in District 3.
Benson said he supports Aldridge’s plans since it will "bring jobs" to Panola County.

"I’m gonna let him have it," Benson told The Panolian after the supervisors meeting Monday.

Despite the petition, Benson said that opposition to the recycling plant is limited to those in attendance Monday.

"I haven’t heard from anybody except them," Benson said.

Reached by cell phone Monday, Aldridge said he has no plans to appeal the land commission’s vote to supervisors, who have the authority to overrule the commission.

"I really haven’t thought nothing about it," said Aldridge, who could not be reached by cell phone after making that comment.

During a public hearing last month, Aldridge told the land commission that he plans to use a building already on the property to collect metals such as aluminum and copper for sale to a Memphis company.

"This is not cars or piles of scrap iron laying around outside," said Aldridge, who listed himself and one other person as the employees.

Aldridge was seeking a special exception to conduct commercial activity in an area zoned agricultural. He purchased the site, a former concrete plant, about six months ago.

Eleven residents spoke against Aldridge’s plans, however, suggesting that the recycling plant would bring back the dirty yard and snarled traffic of the former concrete plant.

Wood stove blamed for weekend death
By Billy Davis

A weekend house fire has taken the life of a Panola County resident.

David Mickens, 29, died of smoke inhalation Saturday during a late-night fire that at his family’s double-wide mobile home.

The Mickens’ home is located on Longtown Road near Crenshaw.

An autopsy performed Sunday showed that Mickens died of smoke inhalation, said Panola County coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge.

Gulledge said Monday that family members had not made funeral arrangements with Pate-Jones Funeral Home in Senatobia.

Firefighters from Crenshaw and Como responded to the house fire, said Daniel Cole, deputy director of Panola County Emergency Management.

Panola sheriff’s deputy Gerald White, who serves as fire investigator, said a wood-burning stove in the home was the source of the fire.

"We don’t know if the stove overheated or what started the fire, but it definitely started at the stove," White told The Panolian Monday morning.

White said the stove was the "only heat source" in the home.

The fire victim’s father, Raymond Mickens, is an employee with the county road department. County road manager Lygunnah Bean formally told supervisors of Mickens’ death at the supervisors’ "first Monday" meeting.

"We need to pray for Raymond and his family," Bean told supervisors. "They need our support."


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