Headlines – 12/26/2006

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – December 26, 2006

  From the 12/26/06 issue of The Panolian   –   

2006 Photo of the Year
     Mary Frances Woods and Cameron Belk, grandmother and girlfriend respectively of the late Brandon Presley, brought by The Panolian office a flag bearing signatures from Presley’s Marine unit in Iraq and sent to Woods in time for Memorial Day, May 29. Presley was killed in Iraq in December, 2005. The photo, which ran on the Panolian’s front page on May 26, was selected by the newspaper staff as the best photo of 2006.
Deputy chief says four were ‘grinches’
By Jason C. Mattox

Four Batesville teens apparently weren’t very selective of their victims as they have been charged for their roles in recently vandalizing Christmas decorations, some in the yard of Batesville Police Deputy Chief Tony Jones.

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One more teen will be charged after the first of the year, Jones said.

The acts of vandalism took place December 13-17 between the hours of 2-4 a.m., Jones said.

Patrick Ellis, 18, Pittman Harrison, 18, Harrison Nickle, 19, and Forrest Wilbanks, 19, have been charged with two counts each of malicious mischief. Nathaniel Abernathy, 18, will be charged in early January, Jones said, explaining that he was out of town for the holidays.

"We will charge him as soon as he returns," Jones added.

Ellis, Harrison, Nickle and Wilbanks are all out on appearance bonds after being booked at the Batesville Police Department rather than at the county jail.

"They were cooperative and forthcoming with information, but the biggest reason we booked them at the PD is because the (Panola County) jail is not accepting any charges that aren’t felonies," Jones said.

(The jail was operating at full occupancy last week.)

"They told us in statements they were just trying to move the property around and they didn’t mean to cause any damage, but that is a little hard to believe," he added.

Jones said each suspect faces $530 in fines plus their portion of $1,838 in restitution for damage caused at five reported residences.

"I hope these kids know that what they did was a total lack of respect for the individuals they hurt and the property that was damaged," Jones said. "All of these kids come from good families that would not condone this kind of activity.

"You have people who put out these decorations for others and themselves to enjoy, and these kids were just total grinches," Jones added.

Anyone with additional information concerning vandalism is asked to contact Batesville Police Department at 563-5653.

"There could be more charges pending since we did have five homes vandalized in different parts of town," Jones said.

2006 saw ‘lot of good going on’
By Billy Davis

In 2006, good fortune could have happened more often for Alvan Kelly, the rookie commercial developer from DeSoto County who owns the Covenant Crossing site in east Batesville.

Kelly will enter 2007 after selling only one parcel, a five-acre site, for a future high-end hotel. He is watching 2006 come to an end with names such as Walgreens and Chili’s, which he courted this year, slip away from him like the year itself.

A 1.5-acre site at Highways 6 and 51 is the likely future locale of a Walgreens, and Kelly said he believes Chili’s, if it comes, would locate south of Highway 6 on another commercial lot.

But if Kelly has any hard feelings, he’s hiding them well beneath an aw-shucks attitude that is as positive in December as it was 10 months earlier, when Kelly unveiled his plans at a meeting of Batesville Rotarians.

And why is Kelly so optimistic?

"Because anything good that’s happening in Batesville is good for me," Kelly explained, "and right now there’s a lot of good going on."

Like the little engine that could, retail business continues to chug along in Batesville. During the year, standard sales tax stories in The Panolian showed figures that were anything but standard: the city’s sales tax figures revealed Batesville was besting cities with populations that are double and triple that of Batesville.

At the newly opened Tractor Supply Co. in Batesville, store manager A.R. Robinson said he is witnessing the secret to Batesville’s retail strength, which is the abundance of shoppers who hail from adjoining counties.

Sketching on a piece of paper, Robinson draws lines for Highway 6 and Interstate 55, then draws a circle around Batesville and his store.

"We weren’t expected to draw customers from the other side of Oxford or even from Senatobia, but we are," Robinson said, who is welcoming customers from as far away as Cleveland, which is located west of Clarksdale, and communities south of Grenada.

The year also saw growth in manufacturing jobs, which are still the leading employer in Panola County.

Expansions during 2006 of three industries in Batesville and one in Sardis added 187 new jobs, said Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons.

In 2007, Simmons said more than 350 new jobs are expected to be created, led by a pair of to-be-opened companies, medical billing firm PHNS and Rolando Curtis Foods.

PHNS is leasing the former Wal-Mart building on Keating Road. Rolando is opening in Crenshaw.

Simmons noted that 2007 will also include a search for a major industry for the so-called mega-site in Como.

Industry’s discharge caused water warning
By Jason C. Mattox

The citizens of Sardis and the Pleasant Grove community were issued a "do not drink" warning last Friday by the Miss. Department of Health after the city’s water supply was possibly contaminated.

The problem was caused after approximately 200 gallons of anti-freeze were accidentally released into the city’s ground water supply, a Miss. Department of Health press release stated.

The discharge happened after employees of Steelmatic were installing new equipment at the facility, according to a Miss. Department of Health press release and Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye.

Steelmatic, which opened this year, is located on Highway 51.

Water customers supplied by the City of Sardis were placed under the order, which included a warning not to bathe, while water samples were taken to Jackson for testing.

"We were notified of the problem early in the morning and the water was tested as soon as possible," Dye told The Panolian Friday afternoon.

The mayor said the Sardis industry has now been instructed to install safety valves to prevent another discharge.

Water customers were expected to be inconvenienced for a day as the city flushed the ground water supply Friday afternoon to resolve the problem.

"I wasn’t going to just flush the system without having the water tested first," Dye said. "Once the water test came back, the system was flushed."

Dye said the problem did not affect the water in the city’s towers.

"We have check valves in the tower and tanks that will keep it out of that supply," he said. "The ground water supply is what was impacted."

Panolians shined in our pages
By Rita Howell

Panola County can boast a Super Bowl champion, a spelling bee champion, and a number of other folks who have done significant and interesting things during 2006, and whose achievements have been noted in the pages of The Panolian during the year.

A Sardis businessman, Jessie Stitcher, captured the attention of producers who came to Sardis to film a documentary last January. Stitcher has no legs but manages to run his satellite sales and installation service from a wheelchair. The documentary has been shown on the Discovery Health Channel.

South Panola High School alum Deshea Townsend famously thrilled his hometown fans during team introductions at the Super Bowl last February. The Pittsburgh Steeler cornerback introduced himself as "Deshea Townsend, South Panola University."

Batesville’s Cherry Mathis, 12, finished 22nd out of 274 spellers at the prestigious and highly competitive Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in May. Cherry had won the Mid-South Spelling Bee in Memphis to advance to the national bee. She is the daughter of John and Keiko Mathis and the sister of Meg Mathis, who had competed in the national bee in 2004 and 2005.

Nezzie Jackson celebrated her 100th birthday in August. Mrs. Jackson lives independently, enjoys KFC and reads the Bible and The Panolian.

Longtime Boy Scout leader Arty Tapp saw four of his troops earn Eagle Scout rank. With Tapp’s encouragement and help, Wesley King, Joshua Ratliff, John Tapp and Jarrett Taylor all earned scouting’s highest award.

That Batesville’s Mayor Jerry Autrey and Sardis’s Mayor Rusty Dye don’t mind riding together to meetings in Jackson shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The two were fraternity brothers at the University of Southern Mississippi during the 1970s.

Diane Coleman leads a group of volunteers on a weekly mission: pampering residents at the Sardis Nursing Home with hair styling and manicures.

Art teacher Miriam Wahl of Batesville was named 2006 National Middle Level Art Educator of the Year. She teaches at Lafayette Middle School.

A German man who spent time in Panola County during World War II as a prisoner of war at Como returned for a visit last summer. Werner Lobback and his wife and daughter were entertained with a coffee hosted by the Batesville Woman’s Club. Sara Trotter of Batesville had been corresponding with Lobback after he had made inquiries through the Mississippi Department of and History. She is a member of the Panola Historical and Genealogical Society.

Nineteen-year-old Constance Collins transformed the pediatric surgery suite at Tri-Lakes Medical Center last summer by painting Disney-inspired murals from "Peter Pan."

Lamar "Boss" Johnson, who farms in the Eureka community, planted 550 acres of peanuts.

Local Boy Scouts respectfully disposed of 79 worn American flags by burning them in a ceremony on November 17.

     Tractor Supply Co. store manager A.R. Robinson shows customer Andrew Heags of Lambert the store?s selection of ATVs. Robinson said he has been impressed by the large trade area that Batesville enjoys.

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