Headlines – 12/29/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 29, 2006

The Panolian: HEADLINES – December 29, 2006

  From the 12/29/06 issue of The Panolian   –   

     Ron Hood lowers the flag at the Batesville Downtown Memorial Park on Wednesday following the death of President Gerald Ford. Hood went around town lowering flags to half-staff in compliance with the Flag Code of the United States, which instructs that the tradition be followed for 30 days following the death of a President or former President.
City water posed no problems
By Jason C. Mattox

An anti-freeze spill that prompted the Miss. Department of Health to issue a "Do Not Drink" warning concerning the City of Sardis water supply on Friday, had no effects on the water, according to Mayor Alvis "Rusty" Dye.

The warning was issued after city officials contacted the health department about the spill of anti-freeze by Steelmatic Wire.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

"The original thinking was that it was over 200 gallons," Dye said. "It was only 25 gallons."

The spill happened while Steelmatic employees were installing new equipment at the facility on Highway 51.

"The new equipment did not have check valves on them yet and the anti-freeze got into the ground water supply," the mayor said. "It never got into the towers because we have our own valves there to prevent it."

Steelmatic will be required to install check valves on the equipment, the mayor added.

Dye said samples of the city’s water were pulled from all over the municipality and sent to Jackson for testing.

"The water samples were pulled a different check points in the system," he said. "When they came back, there was no evidence of contamination."

Dye said once the tests came back negative for contamination, the city cleared the lines by opening up fire hydrants around the city.

"If we had done that before the tests came back, any contamination that was present near the spill would have been pulled through the lines around town," he said. "So we opened up the hydrants at the site first and then the others."

Two professional athletes, who are South Panola High School graduates, reportedly ordered bottled water from a Memphis distributor to be delivered to Sardis if the city needed it.

"Deshea Townsend and Dwayne Rudd called a bottler and told them whatever the city needed to get it on a truck and get it to us as soon as possible," Dye said. "We ended up turning the truck around, but we sure appreciate their efforts, along with the efforts of business owner Michael Saripkin."

Supervisor’s wheels were spinning in ’06
By Billy Davis

Panola County Supervisor Robert Avant accumulated more than $13,300 in travel expenses this year, easily leading his colleagues in county reimbursements for private auto mileage, meals and hotel stays, county figures show.

The second-highest travel reimbursement was $5,104.44, which District 5 Supervisor Bubba Waldrup received through November for private auto mileage and private cell phone use.

A review of county checks written to supervisors from January, 2006, through November, 2006, showed Avant received 17 reimbursements or travel advances for attending multiple events, such as supervisors’ meetings in Tunica and Natchez, and also for travelling in May to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where he surveyed damage from Hurricane Katrina.

Avant, who represents District 2, is serving as board president during 2006.

Waldrup is the only Panola supervisor who does not drive a county-furnished pickup. He receives a mileage check each month instead, which totalled $4,600 for about 10,377 miles driven through November. Waldrup’s reimbursements for private cell phone use totalled $504 through November.

Per state law, the supervisors’ reimbursements mileage and other travel expenses are published monthly as public notices. The notices list the recipient and check number, and the purpose of the reimbursement, such as a cell phone bill or hotel room.

Supervisors turn in a monthly mileage sheet, which lists the purpose of travel in a private vehicle and the total number of miles, as well as any paperwork showing hotel expenses and cell phone bills.

The mileage rate for most of 2006 was 44.5 cents per mile, said County Administrator David Chandler.

"It dropped from 48 cents a mile early in the year," Chandler said.

Other supervisors and their travel expenses during 2006 are as follows:

  District 1 Supervisor James Birge: $1,950. Birge’s travel expenses included four travel advances to supervisors’ meetings. No other expenses were listed.
  District 3 Supervisor Mack Benson: $2,177. The total does not include an $850 travel advance returned to the county in September by Benson. The travel advance was given in May on Check No. 53084, the September public notice states, though the May public notice does not list any travel advance for Benson.
  District 4 Supervisor Jerry Perkins: $2,502.91. The total does not include $266 that Perkins returned to the county in March for a homeland security conference ($124) and in May for refunding of prior travel advances ($142).

Perkins’ total for 2006 also does not include a March cell phone bill, for which the cost was not listed in the public notice for that month. The records also do not include the travel advance for the homeland security meeting.

Although issued a county-owned pickup, Avant reported mileage in a private vehicle for 11 consecutive months, receiving a total of $11,223.66 for mileage. Adding the auto mileage to travel advances, hotel expenses and meals, the District 2 supervisor was reimbursed $13,377 from January until November, 2006.

Using the 44.5 mileage rate, the board president has logged about 25,220 miles from January through November, though the reimbursements also include any valet services and parking garage fees.

According to Avant, the mileage accumulated during the year partly because his county-owned GMC pickup has logged more than 265,000 miles and constantly breaks down. He is driving a personal vehicle instead of the county pickup.

Avant said he may ask the board of supervisors to purchase him a new truck in the coming calendar year.

Avant also cited his participation since August in the state’s Delta Task Force, which he said is meeting in Jackson and Tunica to develop a plan to tackle poverty in the Mississippi Delta.

"We’ve been meeting sometimes twice a week," Avant said. "I would run down there for the meetings, and sometimes I would stay and sometimes I would come back. It depended on what times the meetings were."

Avant’s mileage sheets from recent months show the supervisor attended Delta Task Force meetings in Greenwood on August 25 (258 miles, including some county travel), in Tunica September 25-27, (248 miles, including a 92-mile round trip from Tunica to Crenshaw and back to Tunica), and October 26 in Jackson (202 miles).

Although the mileage for December is not yet available, Avant said it will show the task force has met several times to prepare its report for the state legislature, which convenes January 2, 2007.

According to Avant, other reasons for logging miles include observing the condition of roads and bridges in District 2, meeting with citizens who voice complaints and concerns, and travelling to meetings with state and national officials in pursuit of grant funds for Panola County.

"When people call me and they’ve got a problem, I go check it out," Avant said. "I’ve got a large district and I travel my district. I don’t go out there interfering (with county road crews), but I definitely go check after hours, and on the weekends I ride the roads."

A round trip drive to the county courthouse in Batesville from his home in Crenshaw is 70 miles according to Avant.

SP Tigers dominated news, too
By Billy Davis

Mississippi’s undisputed powerhouse of high school football, the South Panola Tigers, claimed more than a state championship this year. The Tigers also claimed a first place finish among The Panolian newspaper staff as story of the year.

The Panolian staffers pulled out their ink pens to rank the year’s top ten stories among 17 choices. When staffers put down their pens, the top story was the Tigers’ December 1 state championship win in Jackson, which earned the team a fourth consecutive state championship in five years and a 60-0 record to end its season.

Notified about the Tigers’ top place finish, head football coach Ricky Woods said the top story recognition symbolizes the community support the football team enjoys.

"The players really and truly play for the positive recognition they receive," Woods said.

After the Tigers, other top five contenders include:

2. The October 21 death of University of Mississippi campus police officer Robert Langley, 30, during a weekend traffic stop.
Langley, who was from Batesville, died at The Med from head injuries after a university student, Daniel Cummings, reportedly dragged him about 200 yards. Cummings, 20, is awaiting trial on a capital murder charge.
3. The murder trial, conviction and sentencing of Sardis bail bondsman Johnny Green. Green, 60, was sentenced October 20 in a Yalobusha courtroom in Coffeeville for the 2005 murder of Ricky Taylor Jr.

Panola County jurors found Green guilty on September 21 of gunning down Taylor on Old Panola Road on July 23, 2005. The murder trial was held in Sardis over a four days.

4. In November, readers of The Panolian learned that the so-called industrial mega-site located near Como had undergone a certification process that may help land a major industry.

Entergy Mississippi and Panola Partnership worked together on the certification process and also split the cost of an extensive labor survey.

The 1,700-acre site, located southeast of the Como exit, was a finalist in 2003 for a Toyota plant.

5. Readers of The Panolian learned in February that a DeSoto County man plans to development acreage he recently purchased into a retail property.

Alvan Kelly unveiled his plans at the February 14 luncheon of the Batesville Rotary Club, where he announced the purchase of 134 acres from Memphis developer John Hyneman. The development, located between Lowe’s and Interstate 55, is called Covenant Crossing.

Kelly has snagged two clients so far, a Mi Pueblo restaurant and a high-end hotel that will occupy five acres.

Other stories of the year that failed to crack the top five included the manhunt for a couple that ended with a car chase at Sardis Lower Lake; the sudden resignation this month of Tri-Lakes CEO Ray Shoemaker; and a group of young concert promoters who sponored a musical event, Grace Jam, at the Batesville Civic Center.

Events a-plenty will honor King birthday
In what is becoming a January tradition in Panola County, planning is under way for a full weekend of activities in commemoration of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

A basketball tournament, a musical program and a commemorative march are among events being organized for the long holiday weekend of January 12-15.

The South Panola High School Hi-Y and Tri-Hi-Y Clubs, along with the Sardis District Ministerial Alliance, are planning the weekend with the theme "Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day of Dialogue, Tribute and Celebration," according to the Rev. Zannie Leland, one of the coordinators.

This year’s celebration will begin with a Basketball Jamboree on Friday, January 12 at the Batesville Intermediate School gym. Dennis Hoskins is coordinating this event.

A banquet on Saturday, January 13, will honor African-American businesses. The dinner will begin at 6 p.m. at the Patton Lane Community Center.

On Sunday, January 14 a musical program will commemorate the life of Dr. King at 6 p.m. at the Sardis District Association Building in Sardis.

A prayer breakfast will begin at 7 a.m. on Monday, January 15 at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. All clergy and community leaders are invited to this event, hosted by the Sardis District Ministerial Alliance.

Church and community groups, minority business representatives and anyone else who is interested may join in the commemorative march from Mt. Zion Church to the Batesville Intermediate School auditorium.

Formation begins at 9 a.m. at the church. The march will begin at 10 a.m.

"We are inviting all city and county officials, ministers and individuals of all denominations and races to participate in this historic event," Zannie Leland said.

Each participating group is asked to prepare a banner stating the theme and the name of the group.

At the conclusion of the march, a commemoration service will be held in the BIS auditorium, where Dr. Dwight Montgomery, a contemporary of Dr. King, will be the featured speaker. Dr. Montgomery served as an aide to Dr. King.

For more information on any of these activities, contact Dennis Hoskins at 578-7309 (basketball tournament), Rufus Manley at 563-0328 (business recognition banquet), Rhonda Leland at 654-0420 (musical program), or Zannie Leland at 563-3020 (march and services).

Walgreens sign gets city’s OK
By John Howell Sr.

Batesville city officials met briefly Saturday morning, December 23, to hold a public hearing about a sign at the intersection of Highways 6 and 51.

Sinker LLC, a developer which is purchasing the property at 105 Highway 51 North owned by Jerry Goodnite where Dale’s Smokehouse Cafe and four other businesses are now located, plans to locate a Walgreens on the site. The developer sought approval for a lighted message board on a sign to be located on the property. City code officer Pam Comer said that the sign would be within the size allowed for the site but that the city’s ordinances regulating signs does not allow the message board. She said that the sign was for a "proposed Walgreens."

"I don’t know why it’s not allowed in our ordinance," Comer said, referring to the message board which would be similar to a sign at KFC Restaurant, she said.

After the brief hearing, at which no one spoke for or against the proposed variance, aldermen voted unanimously to allow it, with Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders making the motion and Bill Dugger providing the second.

Pipeline meet set for Jan. 11 at Batesville Civic Center
By Rupert Howell

Batesville Civic Center will on January 11 be the site of one of four "scoping" meetings concerning a proposed natural gas pipeline that is scheduled to run through Panola County.

The pipeline will run from Conway, Arkansas to Banner in Calhoun County, Mississippi running across northwest Panola County through southeast Panola County.

The meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the civic center at 290 Civic Center Drive on Highway 6 East in Batesville.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed East End Expansion Project and request comments on environmental issues. The gas line is proposed by Ozark Gas Transmission, LLC.

According to FERC, notices have been sent to landowners, government agencies, elected officials, environmental and public interest groups alerting them of the proposed natural gas line.

Some landowners may be contacted by an OGT representative concerning acquisition of easements concerning the construction, operation and maintenance of the line and project facilities.

If the project is approved by FERC, that approval conveys the right of eminent domain allowing unsuccessful easement negotiations to be settled in a court of law.

The project will include approximately 225 miles of 36-diameter pipeline, eight miles of 24-inch pipeline, three compressor stations and five new meter stations, one in Panola County.

The project will be constructed to receive and transport 1.0 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day and is proposed to be operational by December of 2008.

Typical land easements require a 115-feet-wide right-of-way for construction and permanent 75 foot permanent easement for maintenance.


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.