Headlines – 11/17/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 17, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – November 17, 2006

  From the 11/17/06 issue of The Panolian   –   

Flippo named ?06 Miss DSU
     Delta State University seniors Brittany Flippo of Pope and Robert Smart of Lexington were recently elected Mr. and Miss DSU by the student body of Delta State in elections sponsored by the Student Government Association.
     Flippo, a nursing major, is a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority where she serves on the continuing education committee, Student Alumni Association and Order of Omega. She was elected Junior Class Favorite. She is the daughter of James and Shelia Flippo of Pope.
Partnership CEO points to progress
By John Howell Sr.

Panola Partnership Chief Executive Officer Sonny Simmons lauded economic growth in the county, and praised the "quality of leadership" that helped make that possible during a speech this week to the Batesville Rotary Club.

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"Four times I have been to the board of supervisors, four times I have received unanimous approval" for his requests on actions needed to facilitate economic development, Simmons said, speaking at Tuesday’s noontime meeting of Batesville Rotarians.

"The City of Batesville, also; Sardis and the other communities" have responded with similar enthusiasm, Simmons continued.

Simmons, who became Partnership CEO in September, 2005, was a retail jeweler in Winona when he entered local politics with his election as a city alderman in 1985. In 1993, Winona elected Simmons mayor, a post he held for two terms.

Simmons’ economic development work as a local elected official led to an offer from the Mississippi Development Authority which named him senior project manager for MDA’s business and trade division during the completion of the Canton Nissan plant’s first phase completion and its decision to expand.

Upon completion of the massive undertaking to bring the auto manufacturer to Mississippi, Simmons said that he had applied for positions as an economic developer for Cleveland and for Brookhaven when he learned that Panola Partnership was seeking a CEO.

"I wanted to be a part … ," Simmons said. "I made the right decision, I assure you; you have welcomed me to Batesville and Panola County unreservedly.

The Partnership CEO reviewed the county’s economic development during the last 12 months: four expansions at existing industries – Batesville Casket Company, ACI Building Systems, Crown Cork and Seal and United Solutions – for a net gain of 187 new employees.

Simmons said that the Partnership had formed an "existing industry association" which had its second monthly meeting planned for the following day, Wednesday, November 15.

"We’re not going to let them get pushed aside," Simmons said.

Four new industries – Steelmatic in Sardis, Rolando Foods in Crenshaw, PHNS and Majestic Corp. in Batesville – have located in the county this year and are expected to employ 350 people within the next 24 months, Simmons said. "I doubt there are many counties that are this fortunate with expansions and new industries," he said.

The Partnership CEO praised employees Colleen Clark and Gloria Westbrook. Clark is Office Manager and also serves as Director of Batesville’s Main Street program. Westbrook works as receptionist, research assistant and coordinator of many Partnership events, he said.

The Panola Partnership has experienced a net growth of 26 new members this year, Simmons said. He encouraged those who are not currently members to join the organization which supports the county through multiple programs.

The Panola Partnership’s annual legislative open house will be January 8, 2007, the second Monday in January, Simmons said.

Supervisors OK plea to improve appeals
By Billy Davis

Panola County supervisors gave their voiced approval Tuesday to improving the appeal process for applicants whose permit requests are turned down by the county’s land development commission.

Board attorney Bill McKenzie urged supervisors to accept some guidelines, citing the repeated return of Chapeltown residents to board meetings as they awaited an appeal from business owner Chris Aldridge.

"It’s pitiful that these people have to run up here every time we have a meeting," McKenzie told supervisors.

"It’s not fair to anybody," agreed District 5 Supervisor Bubba Waldrup.

Possible changes could include a time limit for the applicant and a more public-friendly process, said McKenzie, who received permission to work with Bob Barber, the land commission consultant, on a new policy.

According to county permit clerk Diane Stewart, who handles permits for the land commission, the current appeal process is simply to "get on the supervisors’ agenda."

"I told Mr. Aldridge to let me know if he planned to appeal and I would get him on the agenda, but I never heard back from him," said Stewart, who was reached after the Tuesday meeting.

Panola land commission chairman Danny Walker, who was also reached after the meeting, suggested that the appeal process probably needs some attention since it is seldom used by rejected applicants. He could recall only one appeal in recent memory, the so-called "party barn" on Eureka road owned by Anthony McCoy.

Supervisors rejected that appeal last August.

The supervisors might have yet another decision to make regarding a new appeal process. If they approve an appeal, do they send the business owner back to the the commission to set conditions for the business, such as hours of operation and landscaping requirements, or do they impose those rules themselves?

"That would definitely be their call to make," Walker said.

Like the two meetings before, Chapeltown residents had camped out at the Tuesday meeting after receiving a "tip" that Aldridge would show up, relying on unmentioned connections to learn if he was coming.

District 2 Supervisor Robert Avant allowed the residents to speak out against the appeal but insisted their presence was unnecessary since Aldridge wasn’t on the meeting’s agenda.

"We probably won’t make a decision anyway until we see the minutes of the other meeting," said District 4 Supervisor Jerry Perkins, referring to Aldridge’s October appearance before the commission.

The Chapeltown residents did leave the meeting but remained in the courthouse, saying later that they were attentive enough to hear a friend of the Aldridge family, Jerry Darby, mention to the crowded room that he expected Aldridge to be at the meeting.

"Someone told him to be here at 11 o’clock," Darby had told the supervisors. The comment drew no response from the board, but the Chapeltown residents heard it and decided to once again to maintain a vigil at the courthouse.

Darby had come to support Aldridge’s appeal, describing the business owner to supervisors as a "real neat person who’s trying to make a living."

After McKenzie’s suggestion regarding the appeal process, the meeting’s agenda moved on to other topics until 10:30, when supervisors took a 10-minute break to await the arrival of county engineer Larry Britt.

During the break, a reporter observed the Chapeltown residents seated in the courthouse lobby. Across the lobby sat Aldridge and his father, Noel Aldridge.

According to Noel Aldridge, a county supervisor had told him to come at 11 a.m. to meet with supervisors. He did not name the supervisor.

Plus regular PANOLA PEOPLE features:
Shopping aplenty at Open House
By Rupert Howell

New attractions will be added to this year’s Holiday Open House, which marks the official start of the Christmas buying season in Batesville, this Sunday afternoon from 1-5 p.m.

Along with the traditional carriage rides, Santa photos and individual store open houses, a Christmas Bazaar will be held at the Eureka and Veranda on the Downtown Square.

Children are welcomed for a nominal fee to make a Christmas decoration for the official Batesville Christmas tree at Memorial Park and to write letters to Santa at the Alley on the southwest corner of the Square behind Copeland Jewelers. A "fun bounce" will be nearby for children to enjoy donated by Gil and Nancy Bridges of Magnolia Rental.

On Highway 51 north at Tradeway Village Shopping Center, Peter Woods of Peter’s Pottery will be signing pieces purchased at Talk of the Town during open house as will be Richie Watts, artist of The Good Earth Pottery from 1-5 p.m. at The Candle and Gift Shoppe.

At Security Station Shopping Center at Hwy 6 and Eureka St., Saverex Drugs will serve refreshments and offer free gift wrapping during Sunday afternoon’s open house. Phil Webb Office Supply is offering homemade refreshments and door prizes with your visit.

Batesville Antique Mall at Gateway Plaza on Highway 51 North will have special sale prices, refreshments and door prizes.

On the Square, Malcolm Morehead Photography will be taking Santa photos and Stubbs Department Store will welcome customers during the businesses’ open houses as will Dale Copeland Jewelers who is offering an assortment of jewelry at a special price.

Carriage rides will be offered for $2 at the Downtown Square, shopping sprees will be given away and live entertainment will be provided at Memorial Park.

Some items available at the Christmas Bazaar include jewelry, purses, homemade candy, goats’ milk soap and ornamental ironwork.

Pam Fortner Scott of Reeves Williams Realty will host an open house in Keating Grove, Lot 59 with "The Tennyson" house model on display.

Batesville event just beginning of festivities
By Jason C. Mattox

Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and towns around the county are already planning their annual Christmas activities.

Batesville will kick things off from 1-5 p.m. Sunday with its annual Holiday Open House presented by the Batesville Main Street Association.

This year’s Holiday Open House will feature carriage rides, live entertainment and the first appearance of Santa Claus in the area.

In north Panola County, Como will hold its second annual Christmas in Como on Main Street Monday, Nov. 27. There’s no charge for the festivities, which will last from 4 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Businesses up and down the street, such as Paint Your Own Pottery, Blades of Grass Gift Shop, and Hope & Art Gallery and Cafe will be hosts to an Open House and will provide some interesting artistic activities.

Performers will sing carols on the sidewalks, and Forrest Clark of Batesville will play the bagpipes. At six there will be more caroling and a lighting ceremony near the big Christmas tree, followed by refreshments at a party at Hope & Art.

Como will hold its Christmas Parade Monday, December 11. Line-up is 5:30 p.m. The parade is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Anyone wanting to participate in the parade can call City Hall at 526-9647.

Sardis will hold its parade one week earlier than Como on December 4 at 6 p.m.

Chamber of Commerce Director Patty Carter said they want to build on the response to last year’s parade.

"We had a wonderful turnout for last year’s parade," she said in a release this week. "We had 35 entries and would like to improve on the number this year."

The deadline to enter a float in the parade is November 30.

The chamber asks that the themes of floats keep with the spirit of the season, but the only float allowed to feature Santa Claus will be the Chamber of Commerce float.

In case of rain, the parade will take place on Thursday, Dec. 9. For more information contact the Chamber of Commerce at 487-3451.

Batesville Lion’s club will once again sponsor the Batesville Christmas parade at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 5.

All local churches, school groups, civic clubs and others are encouraged to participate. To enter a group you must get an entry form from the Lion’s club or The Panolian. Entry fees are being assessed this year to help the Lions provide for needs of families at Christmas. For more information call 563-4689.

Crenshaw will hold its annual Christmas Parade on Thursday, December 7, starting at 7 p.m., Mayor Sylvester Reed announced.

Decorated cars, trucks and floats are welcome. Trophies will be awarded to outstanding entries, the mayor said.

Crowder will hold its annual Christmas Parade Saturday, December 2, starting at 2 p.m., town clerk Lynette Bland said. The Christmas Parade Committee is also seeking donations to help defray expenses, she added. For further information, contact Bland at 324-8822 or Parade Committee Chairperson Sherry Stevenson at sherry.crowdertownhall@yahoo.com.

DHS will help 500 this season
By Jason C. Mattox

The state may not require the Panola County Department of Human Services (DHS) to assist needy families at Christmas, but each year they help at least 500.

"This is not a state mandated program," DHS employee Diane Davis said. "We are just trying to make sure as many children as possible have a good Christmas that might not otherwise."

Davis said DHS helped nearly 600 children last year.
"We had a lot of people come in looking for help last year," she said. "And we made sure that everyone got something."

The goal of DHS is to have as many families as possible "adopted" to individual families, churches or civic organizations.

"Last year we had about 300 families get adopted," she said. "We were able to provide for the other families with donations we received."

So far, 25 families have been adopted for the upcoming holiday season.

"We would like to see all of the families get adopted because an individual or group will be able to provide more for them," she said. "The ones that aren’t adopted, we split the donations among them."

In order for a family to participate in the program, they must complete an application that provides DHS with all of their financial information including income and expenses.

"We check the applications closely to make sure we only assist those who are really in need," she said.

Davis said they hope to assist another 500 families this year.

"We know we can assist 500," she said. "But we will do whatever we can to assist whoever comes in."

The application deadline for 2006 is December 15.

"We try to set a date that will allow us time to get as many families as possible adopted out," she said. "That date also allows us time to go out and shop for the ones who aren’t adopted."

A big change this year is that DHS wants to be able to help those they have not helped in the past.

"We have some people on the list that we have helped for several years," she said.

"We understand they might be having a hard time again this year, but we also know there are other families out there that need our help," she added.

Davis said DHS is asking people to turn in names of families that need assistance that might not ask for it.

"There are people out there that work hard to make ends meet that are too proud to ask us for help," she said. "Those are the people we want to try our best to help this year."

Anyone interested in adopting a family for the upcoming Christmas season can call Davis at 487-2098.


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