Headlines – 11/24/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 24, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – November 24, 2006

  From the 11/24/06 issue of The Panolian   –   

     South Panola Tigers fan Brenda Burdette shows the string of tickets she purchased Tuesday at the school district office for the SP-Olive Branch re-match tonight in Olive Branch. Tickets will go on sale at 4:15 at the stadium. Gates will open at 5 p.m. with opening kick-off at 7 p.m.
     The two teams faced off September 29 in Olive Branch in a 12-7 nail-biter before a capacity crowd. This time Olive Branch High sent 1,000 tickets to pre-sell. SPHS principal Gearl Loden said he wants thousands of Tiger fans to "fill the stands with red and blue."
Skaters appeal to city leaders
By Jason C. Mattox

A group of teenagers and their junior high teacher appeared before the Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen Tuesday, where they were met with positive feedback in their quest to bring a skate park to Batesville.

Emily Griste, Merit Class teacher at Batesville Junior High, and members of her class presented information to city leaders that included cost estimates and potential injuries.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

"The students in my class were asked what they wanted to study this year, and they selected extreme sports," Griste said. "They started researching the facts about skateboarding and learning what it would take to bring a skate park to the city."

Some of the reasons given for the need of a skate park included:

  • It provides a safe environment for kids to hang out.
  • It would keep kids off the street and out of unsafe areas.
  • A skate park can bring in tourists and money for the city.

"There are an estimated 400 skate parks in the United States and there are almost 16 million people skateboarding," one student told city leaders during the presentation.

Griste explained that there was a 48-percent growth in the number of skateboarders between 1999-2000.

"If you look at the numbers against other sports, you will see a small decrease, but the number of skateboarders continues to climb," she said.

Griste also explained that the percentage of injuries in skateboarding is lower than other sports.

"You have .77 percent of people participating in skateboarding who will sustain some kind of injury," she said. "Compare that to the 1.99 percent of people involved in football who receive some kind of injury."

Aldermen questioned how much a park would cost.
"The average cost is between $12 and $25 per square foot," Griste said. "That comes out to about $150,000 for an average-sized skate park."

The students who attended said they would attempt to raise the money for the park, because the closest one is located in Oxford.

"We would have all kinds of fund-raisers," one student said. "We can sell t-shirts, seek grants, hold skate-a-thons, ask for donations and sell engraved tiles or bricks that would be at the park."

Following the presentation, Mayor Jerry Autrey told Griste and her students that he has spoken with some potential grant sources about funding.

"I have talked with the people from fisheries and parks," he said. "They told me the money has already been given out for this year, but we can and will apply for it next year."

Autrey did not specify the amount of the grant but said it was an 80/20 matching grant.

"It might be next year before we can apply, but that would give us all plenty of time to get our part of the matching funds together," he said.

Autrey mentioned the park, if constructed, could be located at Trussell Park.

"I think it would work out well for all of us involved if we can incorporate this into Trussell," he said.

Griste asked the board if the group could proceed with fund-raising but was told to wait until assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell had met with the mayor to discuss the city’s involvement.

Felony charges filed against caught couple
By Billy Davis

A couple who evaded law enforcement during a three-day crime spree are facing a list of felony charges stemming from their alleged drug-fueled rampage through Panola County.

Justin Scott Hadorn, 28, and Amy Gail Turley, 31, each face one count of armed robbery, two counts of burglary and two counts of grand larceny.

Hadorn also faces two additional counts of grand larceny for the alleged theft of a Chevrolet Suburban and a Ford Ranger, said Panola County sheriff’s investigator Mark Whitten.

Whitten named off the felony charges to The Panolian Tuesday after Hadorn and Turley made an initial appearance that same morning in front of Justice Court Judge James Appleton.

Hadorn’s bond was set at $150,000 and Turley’s at $100,000, though both suspects are still in custody, Whitten said.

Panola County sheriff’s deputies, backed by other authorities, cornered Hadorn November 10 at Sardis Lower Lake as he fled in the stolen Ford Ranger.

A day earlier, a bloodhound from the Parchman prison had tracked Turley to the trunk of a junk car behind a residence on Eureka Road. She and Hadorn had fled into thick underbrush hours earlier after authorities tracked them to a nearby residence.

In a November 14 story about the three-day search, Panola County Sheriff Hugh "Shot" Bright said the couple’s criss-crossing crime spree was fueled by a crack cocaine binge.

Whitten said the armed robbery charge stemmed from a November 7 incident at the Super Wal-Mart in Batesville, which actually kicked off the three-day manhunt for the couple.

Regarding the two burglary and two grand larceny charges, Whitten said one of each are related to the theft of an ATM from the Bilbo’s convenience store, which is located west of Batesville on Highway 6.

Whitten said the second pair of charges of burglary and grand larceny stem from the theft of two air conditioners from a home.

Whitten did not cite any details of the alleged theft, citing the privacy of the crime victim, but the November 14 story reported that the items were stolen from a home belonging to Hadorn’s aunt. The ATM machine was recovered in a barn behind the home.

SP boasts ‘highly qualified’ teachers
By Rupert Howell

All but two teaching positions in South Panola School District are filled with teachers considered "highly qualified" in their areas of instruction, school trustees learned at a monthly meeting held November 16.

Federal mandates require school districts receiving federal funds have a plan of action for those teachers who do not fall in the highly qualified category. All teachers in the district are properly licensed.

District Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer said it is highly unusual for a school district the size of South Panola to have so few teachers not classified "highly qualified." He credits school principals for pushing teachers toward the highly qualified classification.

To become highly qualified, a new teacher would need 21 hours of study per area of endorsement, with some teachers needing two areas of endorsement. Some teachers may become classified as highly qualified by successfully taking an exam or praxis that would indicate sufficient knowledge in the area of endorsement to qualify.

School principals gave reports that included letting trustees know that the Panola County Road Department was assisting with construction of a walking track at Pope School.

Batesville Junior High School Principal Darrell Tucker reported that his math department is meeting with the math department of the high school to align curriculum between the two schools. Other principals reported similar meetings between schools to vertically align objectives and accountability in similar subject areas in the different schools.

Tucker also reported that instructors in eighth grade algebra have been given additional training and calculators have been updated to address an area of concern.

The junior high school principal also noted that Batesville and Pope Junior High School classes face more assessment – almost a month of standardized testing – than other schools.

Tucker went on to suggest that some students don’t take testing seriously since it has no impact on their grades, a decision that impacts the school’s test results. That suggestion found nodding approval from school trustee Dr. Carlock Broome, a former principal at Pope School who also served as district test coordinator before his retirement.

"If you are going to hold me accountable, you need to hold the students accountable," Tucker explained.

Batesville Elementary School Principal Carolyn Graham reported ongoing assessments at her school so teachers would know what to go back and re-teach.

School trustees meet regularly each month on the third Tuesday. This month’s meeting was held early due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Teenagers encouraged to attend program Friday at Batesville Junior High auditorium
By Jason C. Mattox

The auditorium at Batesville Junior High will be filled with stories of second chances and lives gone right at 10 a.m. today in an event planned for young people.

Batesville’s own Robert Govan will host the event, "Giving Thanks for a New Run on Life."

Musical entertainment will also be presented.

"I want the parents to bring their teenagers so they can see the importance of making the right choices in life," he said.

The event will feature motivational speeches from Govan, former Panola Countian Eric Tucker, and inmates from the Panola County Jail.

Tucker is a ’97 graduate of South Panola High School who received a master’s degree in social work from LSU and now serves as director of clinical services for the Boston Health Commission.

Musical performances will be by West Camp Male Chorus, The Jones Sisters, an a cappela gospel group from Oxford; Bridgett Fondren, Bill Wiggly, and Seven Days Waiting, a Batesville Christian rock group whose members include Michael Reynolds, Stephen Reynolds, Tim Christ, Brian Flint and Mark Davis.

Govan’s intention is to let young people hear from trusties from the jail, who will talk about decisions they made that led to their incarceration. He said the trusties will be accompanied by a deputy of the Panola County Sheriff’s Department.

Eric Tucker will address the young people to encourage them that "you can get out of a situation and make something of yourself."

Admission is free for the event.

Decades-old plan hatching into reality at Enid Lake site

"We built the best hatchery we could build and it’s sitting in your back yard."

               – Ron Garavelli
                 Chief of Fisheries, MDWFP

By David Howell

A project that will improve the crappie fishing and attract visitors to North Mississippi’s flood control reservoirs is nearing completion.

This project, a multi-species fish hatchery and visitors’ center which has been in the planning stages nearly two decades by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, is down to the last details.

The hatchery, which is constructed on a 58-acre site, is located in the northwest corner of Yalobusha County between the Enid Dam levee and Interstate 55. Over a dozen ponds have been constructed and some already contain fish. A spring release of the first fingerlings produced at the new hatchery is a realistic goal.

In order for the visitor’s center to open, funding above what has been appropriated by the state legislature is necessary. The building has been constructed, but the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Foundation has undertaken the task of securing funding necessary to outfit the center, MDFWP Foundation Director and Water Valley native Bob Tyler said last week.

Included in this project is architectural work, a mural in the lobby, a theater, and multiple displays for numerous exhibits.

Last Friday, a steering committee held its first meeting to gather input on raising the needed funds. Committee members were a cross-section of Panola and Yalobusha businessmen and other officials.

The steering committee meeting was coordinated by Tyler. A June, 2007 opening date for the visitor’s center, which became evident as the meeting unfolded, is contingent on raising in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million dollars to furnish it.

During the meeting, hatchery site manager Justin Wilkins; his boss Ron Garavelli, who serves as Chief of Fisheries; and his bosses’ boss, Dr. Sam Polles explained the roll that the hatchery and visitor’s center will play in north Mississippi. Polles is the director of MDWFP. Garavelli formerly lived in Batesville for about five years when he served as MDWFP fish biologist.

Tyler said that the Foundation would work to identify corporate donors and other funding sources. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has already committed $25,000 to the project.

The Foundation is also looking for old fishing equipment, such as lures, rod and reels and boat motors to display at the museum.

While the MDWFP Foundation is busy raising money for the visitors center, funding is also being sought at the state level to build the last 13 ponds at the hatchery.

"This project is an example of when things happen right when you do a project for the public," said Representative Tommy Reynolds, who has helped guide legislation through state hurdles to fund the project.

"We are working on having a spawn next year," Reynolds said.

Reynolds added that private funds and funds from other governmental entities would be important to complete the project.

Reynolds is looking specifically at finishing the remaining 13 ponds so the hatchery can operate at full capacity.

"The North Delta levee board is showing a lot of interest in helping with in-kind help," Reynolds said, referring to an offer from the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee Board which has agreed to donate the construction of the 13 additional ponds.

Yazoo-Mississippi Delta Levee Board trustee Reggie Barnes of Clarksdale serves on the MDWFP Foundation board

Other donors who have already made commitments toward the completion include the Corps of Engineers which has pledged $25,000 towards the visitors’ center. The Corps also provided the land on which the hatchery has been constructed.

"The Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks were going to put one somewhere in north Mississippi, what better place than than to do one down at Enid?" Representative Leonard Morris asked, rhetorically. "It will be an asset for us; close to school kids and the interstate," Morris added.

"It was also a good way to use the water from the pipeline to LS Power," Morris continued, referring to a pipeline constructed to furnish water to LS Power’s electricity-generating facility in Batesville to provide water for which a pipeline was constructed from Enid Lake.

Welcoming Visitors
The visitors’ center is 5,000 square feet and will provide a positive outreach to anglers and the general public regarding natural resources and MDWFP management practices. A 10,000 gallon aquarium will feature native Mississippi fish in a natural habitat setting. There is also be a pond for anglers to catch and release while visiting the center.

Hatchery site-manager Justin Wilkins said, during a presentation last Friday, that the hatchery is located in a high-traffic area and should become a favorite stop. Visiting hours will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Sundays, when it will be open a half a day.

Although $250,000 seems like a hefty price tag to outfit the museum, Polles said the visitor’s center would be comparable to the Mississippi museum of Natural Science, although on a smaller scale.
Tyler said the Foundation also assisted with expenses of outfitting the science museum.

Hatching Fish
The hatchery, when completely finished, will house operations for six different species of fish ? walleye, crappie, bass, bream, catfish, and the Magnolia crappie which is a brand-new hybrid.

The fingerlings will be released in state-owned ponds and also in the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers lakes. Fingerlings will not be available for sale to the public. The Magnolia Crappie will be released in smaller state ponds, where it will be ideally suited because it can not reproduce and create an overabundance of small fish.

When questioned about stocking Enid with crappie, biologist Garavelli said that crappie will be stocked. This, Garavelli explained, would help in years when the natural spawn was down, curbing the cyclic nature of the crappie population.

Panola members of a steering committee named to assist with completion of the North Mississippi Fish Hatchery include First Security Bank Chief Executive Officer Frank West, Heafner Motors President and conservationist Henry Heafner, attorney and Yalobusha native Ben Barrett Smith, Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons and former Mississippi A and I Board Director Mike Amis, all of Batesville; and Lakeside Market owner Jim Berry of Como.

Trail of beers: thief left evidence for BPD
By John Howell Sr.

"I wish there was some way we could hold the parents of these juveniles accountable," Batesville Deputy Police Chief Tony Jones said Wednesday after a night of rascality, which kept city police officers busy with investigations of really dumb crimes.

One group of juveniles broke into the home of a policemen, took his city-furnished automatic pistol and fired it into the air at a nearby trailer park, Detective Sergeant George Williford said. Later that night a juvenile involved in a beer burglary of Mr. Jiffy BP at James and Broadway left a trail of unopened beer cans that led officers to his nearby home, the investigator added.

Two 16-year-old juveniles and one 13-year-old apparently targeted the officer’s home, Williford said. They stole the pistol, gun belt, a Play Station and other personal items. Officers were called to the home about 7 p.m. and were writing reports when they heard gunshots.

"They went to Still Trailer Park and fired five times into the air," the detective said, bringing officers to the scene who talked to witnesses who provided information that led to the arrest of the three juveniles.

"They did a great job; it was very chaotic, especially with the firing of the gun; I’m glad nobody got hurt, Williford said. "All of the property was recovered," he added.

Lt. Billy Sossaman, Sgt. Gray Nichols and officers Nick Hughes, Jeremiah Gray and Brandon Moses were involved in the investigation and apprehension, Williford said.

By 10:30 p.m., the three juveniles were in transit to a juvenile detention facility at Rosedale, he said.

Minutes later, a Grenada man’s newly purchased red 2006 Ford F-150 pickup was stolen from Rascal’s at the intersection of Highways 6 and 51, Williford said.

Donnell McNeal left the keys in the ignition when he went into the store, and when he returned, it was gone, he told officers. A witness saw the truck driven away from the parking lot. The vehicle had not been recovered at press time.

The beer burglary was reported to police around 3 a.m. Wednesday morning. Officers found that a brick had been throw through a glass partition between the store’s front doors, allowing entry. Burglars stole only beer, Williford said. Officers found an unopened beer can nearby and then another and another, leading to a nearby home on Gay Street.

When they knocked on the door at the end of the trail, they found a 15-year-old with very little beer left, Williford said. Subsequent investigation led police also to 17-year-old Bryce Barber at his home on nearby Pollard Street.

Barber was charged as an adult. Both are charged with burglary and petit larceny, Williford said.

"Sometimes we can’t prevent burglaries, but we’ve got a good record of solving burglaries; we fully intend to prosecute these people," said Jones. "If you don’t, these very same people will be out there again."

Grand jury indicts Ole Miss student
By Billy Davis

A Lafayette County grand jury has indicted University of Mississippi student Daniel Cummings for the murder of a campus police officer.

Cummings, 20, is charged with capital murder for the October 21 death of police officer Robert Langley, who authorities say died when Cummings’s vehicle dragged him about 175 yards during a traffic stop near the university.

Langley, who is from Batesville, later died at The Med.

A toxicology report of Cummings’ blood and urine showed alcohol, marijuana and cocaine were in his system during the traffic stop.

District attorney Ben Creekmore convened a special grand jury session to hear the state’s case against Cummings.

A bond hearing was set for Wednesday in which Creekmore was expected to argue against bond being granted for Cummings.

Cummings is represented by high-profile defense attorney Steve Farese of Ashland, who is arguing that the capital murder charge is unnecessary.

"I’m not saying my client shouldn’t be punished, but it shouldn’t be for capital murder," Farese told The Commercial Appeal newspaper earlier this week.

Press reports also note that the family of Langley, including his wife Lisa, did not want Creekmore to seek the death penalty against Cummings.

The district attorney apparently abided by those wishes.

Plus regular PANOLA PEOPLE features:

Copyright 2005-2006 by The Panolian, Inc..  All rights reserved
Copyright 2001-2004 by Batesville Newspapers, LLC.  All rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission  is prohibited.