Headlines – 12/15/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 15, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – December 15, 2006

  From the 12/15/06 issue of The Panolian   –   

Fido eulogized at send-off befitting public service he provided community
     Jamie Tedford eulogizes his canine partner, Fido, at a memorial service held at the Batesville Police Department on Thursday. The police dog died unexpectedly this week.
By Emily Williams

Batesville law enforcement officials, friends and family gathered yesterday for a unique and poignant memorial service for their canine colleague, Fidolf Von Echin Grobe, also known as "Fido."

Fido, eight, badge number B-99, a German Shepherd police dog, died Tuesday from heart failure due to complications from a blood infection. Memorial services were held at the Batesville Police Department. He was buried next to the PD building.

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Jamie Tedford, Batesville Police K-9 officer, his human partner, said he had a chance to play catch with Fido one last time before he passed away.

Tedford tearfully told in his eulogy, "No one else but me can explain the many nights we spent trying to catch the bad guys."

Eight years and eight months ago, Tedford was sent to Augusta K9 Services in Rocky Gap, Va.

"I drove 14 1/2 hours one way to this place. As I arrive, I am anxiously waiting to see my beautiful new partner who I would train for the next 3 1/2 months in a 600-hour Patrol K9 and Master Trainers Course," said Tedford during the memorial service.
Tedford laughed when he reminisced about Fido’s appearance when he first met him.

"I was introduced to one of the ugliest dogs in the kennel. His hair was matted and he looked like a sheep.

"In the days to come Fido and I returned to Batesville and began to work as a team on an hourly and daily basis. I grew to love everything about him and knew he loved me."

Tedford explained that Fido wasn’t just a dog.

"Fido was an officer just like you and I. I always said that if I could have taught him to drive and talk on the radio, I would have been out of a job!

"Fido ? known as B-99 ? wore a badge just like you and I. He was not just given his badge; he had to earn it just like you and I."

The badge number was retired.

Fido helped track many drugs and helped with the capture of many felons, Tedford said.

Many tears were shed as different people shared their memories of Fido.

"He was a blessing to our department," said Police Chief Gerald Legge.

Detective George Williford read a poem called "Guardians of the Night."

"Fido was not only great at the enforcement end of the law, but he was well-known by all for his great public relations work. Kids at the school loved him, he impacted so many lives."

Letters were read from school children who thanked Tedford for letting them meet Fido. Local schools had sent flowers for the service.

"You see," Tedford said, "I really can’t explain how my heart feels about the loss of my dear partner Fido, because I know he was an animal, but a very special one he was."

Cobb to take oath Sunday at Courthouse
Newly elected Third District Chancery Judge Vicki B. Cobb of Batesville will be sworn in at an investiture ceremony at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17, at the Panola County Courthouse in Batesville.

Mississippi Supreme Court Presiding Justice Kay B. Cobb of Oxford will administer the oath of office. The two are sisters-in-law.

Senior Chancery Judge Percy Lynchard Jr. of Hernando will be the master of ceremonies. Chancellor Mitchell M. Lundy Jr. of Grenada and retired Chancellor Dennis Baker of Batesville will assist Chancellor Cobb in donning her judicial robe.
The Third Chancery Court District includes DeSoto, Grenada, Montgomery, Panola, Tate and Yalobusha counties.

Chancellor-Elect Cobb is among 20 new chancery, circuit, and county court judges statewide who will take the oath of office within the next few days.

Cobb worked for six and a half years as court administrator for Judge Baker in the Third Chancery District. She previously worked for more than two years as county prosecuting attorney for Panola County. She has practiced law since 1982.

She graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1979 with a bachelor of social work degree, and earned her law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1982.

Coming gas line to bisect Panola County
By Rupert Howell

A proposed natural gas pipeline will bisect Panola County running from Conway, Arkansas to Calhoun County according to a Federal Energy Regulation Commission publication.

In a notice to prepare an environmental impact statement, Ozark Gas Transmission Company reveals the project that would include approximately 225 miles of 36-inch diameter pipe, three compressor stations and five new gas meter stations, one interconnecting with the existing ANR Meter Station in northwestern Panola County running easterly near Batesville before angling toward the southwestern county line toward Lafayette County.

The project would receive and transport about 1.0 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

A "scoping period" has been opened between now and January 31, 2007, to receive comments on the proposed project. Notices have been sent to local media, affected landowners, environmental agencies and other interested parties according to the notice.

A typical construction right of way would be 115 feet wide with OGT retaining a 75 foot permanent right-of-way for operation following construction.

OGT will attempt to acquire easements from property owners, after the project is given a go-ahead if approved.

"…You may be contacted by an OGT representative . . . (who) would seeks to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement," the notice said.

If the project is approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the company would have the right of eminent domain, meaning the pipeline company could initiate condemnation proceedings if an agreement could not be reached with the landowner, allowing the courts to determine the worth of the right-of-way.

With the current notice, the commission is requesting public comments to be addressed by an Environmental Impact Study.

That study will discuss and address environmental issues such as current land use and safety and evaluate alternatives to the proposed project.

Following completion and distribution of the Environmental Impact Study, a 45-day comment period will be allotted for review of the draft.

Additional information can be obtained about the project from the Commission’s Office of External Affairs, at 1-866-208-3372, or on the FERC Internet website

New CEO named to replace Shoemaker
Barry Morrison has been named Chief Executive Officer at Tri-Lakes Medical Center in Batesville, effective January 2, 2007, according to a news release provided by Tri-Lakes. Morrison brings a wealth of healthcare experience to Tri-Lakes, including more than 22 years in hospital and health systems leadership, strategy, operations, finance, physician relations and marketing, Tri-Lakes hospital administrator Dr. Robert Corkern said.

Morrison replaces former CEO Ray Shoemaker.

"We believe Mr. Morrison’s broad based experience in the industry will enable us to continue on the growth pattern we’ve experienced in the past five years," Dr. Corkern said. "Tri-Lakes has firmly established itself as an innovator in delivering community-based healthcare programs and we expect to continue that upward trend under Mr. Morrison’s leadership. We are pleased that Mr. Morrison shares our commitment to becoming the premier healthcare provider in North Mississippi."

Morrison has held leadership positions at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Healthsouth Corporation in Birmingham, Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, and Catholic Health Partners in Cincinnati. He recently retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the United States military after 27 years of active and reserve service.

A widely recognized expert on the subject of healthcare administration, Morrison frequently lectures at numerous national and local health care conferences. He has served as a guest lecturer at the United States Army War College. Morrison has been published in Modern Healthcare, the healthcare industry’s leading journal, and has authored chapters in healthcare textbooks.

Morrison holds two bachelor of arts degrees from Mississippi State University, a master’s in public and private management with a healthcare emphasis from Birmingham-Southern College, and master’s in accounting from the University of Alabama – Birmingham. He is also a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College.

Former CEO Shoemaker is widely credited for making significant improvements at Tri-Lakes, including a vastly improved financial position for the organization and the creation of various innovative healthcare programs for the north Mississippi community.

Land commission approves appeals procedure, sends to county board
By Billy Davis

The Panola County Land Development Commission is recommending a 10-day filing deadline for anyone appealing its votes and a monthly slot at county supervisors’ meetings for the appeal to be heard.

The commission made the pair of recommendations after about 20 minutes of discussion to conclude its December meeting, which was held Monday evening in Sardis.

The action taken Monday came after Chapeltown community residents attended all supervisors’ meetings during October and November to await an appeal by a business owner whose request to open a scrap yard had been turned down.

At the supervisors’ November 14 meeting, board attorney Bill McKenzie received permission from supervisors to work with its consultant, Bob Barber, on an improved appeals process.

Barber, a city planner from DeSoto County, began the discussion by noting that McKenzie had asked via a letter for recommendations.

"Mr. McKenzie asked if other counties have a deadline for appeals, but all I know is the county I work in, which gives you 10 days to appeal," Barber told the commission.

The countdown for the deadline could begin Tuesday, the day after the commission meetings, for 10 calendar days, Barber also suggested.

A 10-day deadline for filing an appeal is reasonable, commission members agreed, and further discussion resulted in the recommended second Monday of the month meeting of the supervisors held at the Batesville courthouse.

To notify the public about an appeal, commission members agreed that an appeal should be heard only if it’s listed on the supervisors’ "second Monday" agenda, which would help keep any opponents, such as the Chapeltown residents, aware of the appeal.

"That way the public can call the chancery clerk to get the agenda," said commission chairman Danny Walker, referring to Chancery Clerk Jim Pitcock, who oversees the agenda.

"But what if it’s supposedly not on the agenda and it really is on the agenda?" asked commission member Sledge Taylor, making a reference to the November meetings.

No one responded to Taylor’s question.

The commission chose not to publish a public notice in the newspaper that an appeal had been filed.

The commission recommended the "second Monday" meeting for appeals to allow more time since the commission meetings and a 10-day deadline could almost bump into the supervisors’ "first Monday" meeting.

Barber said he would send the recommendations to McKenzie via e-mail.

City Board approves changes recommended by commission
By Jason C. Mattox

Changes to Batesville’s zoning ordinances which were adopted last week provide a buffer for the mayor and board of aldermen by giving the Planning Commission more authority.

The changes come after the Planning Commission and consultant Bob Barber spent the past few months looking at ways of strengthening the city’s existing ordinances.

According to the revised ordinances, the Planning Commission will have the ability to approve or deny a request for any type of zoning change.

Once the Planning Commission makes a decision on a zoning matter, they will submit a recommendation to the board of aldermen with reasons for approving or denying the request.

"When we were researching potential changes to the ordinance, we were advised that this is the method that most towns are handling zoning," Planning Commission member Brad Clark said.

Clark said the Planning Commission is somewhat more knowledgeable of ordinances and codes in the city, and can provide a solid reason for why the city leaders should approve or deny a request.

"We work with the codes on a regular basis," he said. "It doesn’t take the final decision away from the city board. What it does is provide them with a buffer."

A second major change is dealing with the problem of ever-increasing signage.

"The changes we made in that regard really clear up some gray areas," Code Enforcement Office Administrator Pam Comer said.

Comer said the ordinance will not directly impact an existing business that has received a variance to allow more signage, but it will affect any potential new business owner.

"Whether or not someone comes in here and purchases an existing business or puts in a new one, they will know just how much signage they are allowed," she said. "And they will have to provide solid evidence of how a larger sign will help their business in order for the Planning Commission to allow any requested variance."

The change also means if a business changes hands, the previous variance is null and void, according to Comer.

"If someone purchases an existing business, they will have to bring the building into compliance," she said. "They will not be allowed to continue on with the same amount of signage unless they receive a variance of their own."

Changes to the zoning ordinances will go into effect January 4, 2007.


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