Headlines – 12/12/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – December 12, 2006

  From the 12/12/06 issue of The Panolian   –   

Boys & Girls Club sale
     Dottie Merritt, unit director of the Boys and Girls Club in Sardis, puts a Christmas house back into its box Saturday morning at the Boys and Girls Club in Batesville. Merritt was among club supporters who were selling Christmas decorations and yard sale items as part of a Christmas fund-raiser. Joann Wesley, secretary of the Sardis unit, is watching Merritt at work.
Scrap yard vote may go to court
By Billy Davis

Panola County supervisors suggested and approved several requirements for a scrap metal business at their "second Monday" meeting, learning also from their board attorney that the appeal they approved November 27 is likely headed to court.

Supervisors learned from board attorney Bill McKenzie that Panola County farmer Lent Thomas is the "main objector" in a legal document, a a bill of exception, that was filed last week against the county.

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"It looks like we’re headed to circuit court," McKenzie told the board.

In a bill of exception, an attorney files a listing of exceptions to a decision in preparation for an appearance in court.

Thomas was among several Chapeltown residents who voiced disapproval at supervisors’ meetings in November about a proposed scrap metal business owned by Chris Aldridge and his company, Aldridge Enterprises.

McKenzie told the board that court documents show Thomas has hired a DeSoto County attorney. The board attorney did not say if anyone had joined Thomas in the suit against the county.

Supervisors made no comment about the matter, which is the second time in two years that an appeal before supervisors has gone to court.

A ruling is pending from the Miss. Court of Appeals after Dr. Mike Cockrell’s appeal was turned down by supervisors in favor of Martin Bros. Scrap Metal of Sardis. Cockrell lost his appeal in circuit court and appealed to the state court.

The board of supervisors backed the county land development commission, which approved Martin Bros. in that matter, and overruled the land commission when it approved Aldridge’s business last month.

Regarding the requirements, supervisors voted to require Aldridge to fence his business in 90 days, forbid parking on the public right-of-way on Chapeltown Road, and operate his business from
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

After approving Aldridge’s business, supervisors could have either set requirements or sent the matter back to the members of the land commission.

District 5 Supervisor Bubba Waldrup suggested that Aldridge have 90 days to add fencing to the south and west property lines in order to dissuade thieves from entering the property. Some fencing already surrounds the site.

"They would have free access otherwise," Waldrup said.

McKenzie asked supervisors if Aldridge was obligated to keep materials inside a building on the property, a proposal the business owner had suggested in recent weeks, but supervisors Robert Avant and Jerry Perkins said Aldridge had promised only to keep the property clean and neat.

"He will have cardboard boxes inside the building," Avant replied.

The five-acre site formerly operated as a concrete plant, and Chapeltown residents cited the unsightly plant as a main reason for objecting to Aldridge’s scrap metal business.

Judge-elect asks county board for elbow room
By Billy Davis

Chancery Court Judge-elect Vicki Cobb invited county supervisors to a swearing-in ceremony Sunday and asked the board for better office space.

Cobb, a Batesville attorney, unseated Chancery Judge Melvin McClure in the November 7 general election.

The swearing-in will take place at 3 p.m. at the Panola County Courthouse in Batesville, where Cobb’s sister-in-law, Supreme Court Justice Kay Cobb, will conduct the investiture ceremony.

After making note of the ceremony, Cobb said she would like to move into office space at the Cliff Finch County Office Building when a state agency moves out in coming months. The Cliff Finch building is located on Eureka Street.

Until that move takes place, Cobb said she could use a $4,000 office allowance from the state to continue renting office space on the Downtown Square.

"They will be gone in five or six months," District 2 Supervisor Robert Avant told Cobb, referring to the North Delta Planning and Development District office.

After polling his colleagues about the office space, Avant asked Cobb to "work out the details and get back with us."

"I know it’s busy around the holidays, but I hope y’all can make it Sunday if you can," Cobb told supervisors.

Alleged robber gets Indictment No. 2
By Billy Davis

A 17-year-old who was already under indictment for his alleged role in the September armed robbery of a grocery store has been served a second indictment for a second armed robbery.

Batesville police said last week that JaMichael Strong was served an indictment last week for the robbery of the Day’s Inn on September 6. The hotel is located at 280 Power Drive.

"Strong was out on bond for the robbery of Helmes Grocery when he was served an indictment for the Days Inn robbery," said Batesville police Detective Lee Martin.

Martin said Strong is now in jail awaiting trial on both armed robbery cases.

Batesville police Detective Paul Shivers said Strong was arrested by police without incident when he was served the second indictment Wednesday at his home at 107 Goodhaven Road, located in northwest Batesville.

Shivers said a hotel desk clerk was robbed when a gunman, armed with a nine millimeter pistol, entered through a front door that had been left unlocked.

Regarding the Helmes robbery, Shivers said Strong was one three suspects who were indicted for that crime, which occurred September 18.

Helmes Grocery is located on Panola Avenue.

Even though the robbery at Helmes occurred weeks after the Days Inn robbery, Martin said the police department was able to gather evidence for the Helmes robbery first and present it to a grand jury, which led to Strong’s second indictment while he was out on bond.

DHS needs 120 ‘adoptions’ before Christmas
By Jason C. Mattox

With two weeks remaining before Christmas, the Panola County Department of Human Services still has 120 children in need of "adoption" for the holiday.

DHS is not required by the state to hold its "Adopt-a-Child" Christmas program, but each year, local employees work to find help in the community to provide gifts for needy Panola children.

"Most of the children we have signed up have been from single-income families," DHS county homemaker Diane Davis said.

Unlike most years, DHS cut off their sign-up deadline ahead of schedule to limit the number of children enrolled, assuring that they didn’t have more than they could handle.

"Most years we have between 500-600 children signed up," Davis said. "We have a hard time providing a good Christmas for them all. This year we only have about 350."

Anyone wishing to adopt any of the remaining children can do so by contacting Davis at 487-2098.

"If there are people out there who have adopted or would like to adopt or simply make a donation to help the children, we need to have all the gifts in by December 18-20," she said. "That will give us plenty of time to get them wrapped and to the families for Christmas."

Anyone wishing to make financial contributions to the program can make checks payable to the Batesville Exchange Club. The club will then make a one-time donation to DHS.

Riser was servant of community
By Rupert Howell

Norma Shuford Riser’s obituary notice only reflected a small fraction of the activity that she crammed into 88 years of life.

Mrs. Riser passed away last Friday following complications from a fall a few hours earlier.

That she lived unassisted at her Kyle Street home until the end was comforting to those who knew the independent lady whose genealogy in Panola County goes back several generations.

Both she and her late husband were active in promoting worthy causes and quality of life issues well before those words became catch phrases.

At her funeral, friend Bob Haltom recalled her trip in the wild down the Amazon River while sleeping in hammocks at night.

"She was probably the only woman in Mississippi who could afford it and wanted to take it," Haltom said characterizing her as a "scenic back roads" type.

Among accomplishments and affiliations listed was her membership in Batesville First United Methodist Church. She must have served on every committee holding every office multiple times. There was also membership to the DAR, and she was a charter member of the Batesville Garden Club. She helped organize the first special education class in Batesville and organized the Batesville Girl Scouts. She was also active in the Panola County Genealogical and Historical Society.

She and her late husband, Robert Riser, were essential in the founding of the First Regional Public Library in the United States and served on local and regional library boards. She had also worked diligently with the local Literacy Council promoting adult literacy.

For a while she was Batesville’s First Lady as her husband served at Batesville Mayor. He also served as the city’s attorney and later as attorney for the Panola County Board of Supervisors where it was noted she could get the "supervisors’ ear" with an extra piece of scuppernong pie.

World travelers, the Risers had a keen interest in nature and their surroundings. Mr. Riser was an early proponent of zoning and she would later serve as a member of the Panola County Land Use Commission when it was established

While eulogizing Mrs. Riser, Haltom told mourners, "She was the most involved person I have ever known."

(Please see complete obituary page A2)


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