Headlines – 2/13/2007

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Panolian: HEADLINES – February 13, 2007

  From the 02/13/07 issue of The Panolian   –   

BFD names newest truck after Broome
     Among family members who attended Sunday’s ceremony dedicating Batesville’s newest fire engine in memory of former Fire Chief William David Broome was his son and namesake, William David Broome Jr. His father was called "Dave;" he goes by "Billy," and is lieutenant of Batesville Fire Department’s Engine 7.
By John Howell Sr.

The Batesville Fire Department honored a former fire chief Sunday, naming its newest fire truck in memory of William David "Dave" Broome.

A host of relatives including children and grandchildren joined friends, Batesville firemen, city officials and former firemen at BFD Station One to unveil a plaque on the side of the department’s new Engine No. 11, a 1,000-gallon capacity Pierce pumper.

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"I have real personal feelings about the many we’re going to honor," BFD Captain Banks Brasell said.

Brasell told the group that he had asked Fire Chief Tim Taylor to allow him to speak about Broome during the program. He said that as fire chief, Broome "was able to guide some younger people through what were really hard times."

Dave Broome (1928-2000) served as chief from 1953 until 1971. He had joined the Batesville Fire Department in 1943 and served as a Memphis fireman for one and one half years, Fire and Life Safety Officer Rip Copeland said.

Broome received advanced training in firefighting at Oklahoma A and M University and at the Universities of Maryland and Mississippi. He also worked for the Mississippi Forestry Commission from 1955 to 1966.

"Dave Broome understood what it would take to defend your property and lives. He taught the Batesville Fire Department how to protect our lives," Brasell said.

Brasell referred to "big fires" the department was called to respond to during Broome’s tenure as chief and said he hoped that such large fires would not occur again.

Brasell described one fire on the downtown Square during which he had difficulty placing the fire engine in correct alignment with the fire plug to allow the connection to the water.

Amid shouts of "where’s the water," Brasell and Broome finally got the water flowing into the fire hoses. "It seemed like it took hours," Brasell said.

Later, when firemen were asked why it took so long to get the water flowing, "I wasn’t saying anything," Brasell said. "Dave said, ‘We had a hard time getting the hose hooked up,’" Brasell continued.

"That meant a lot to me," Brasell added.

Fire Chief Tim Taylor said that when he became chief, "Dave became a mentor to me."

Fire fighter Tim Smith welcomed the guests and opened the brief ceremony, giving a brief biography of Broome and his fire department career and an opening prayer.

Morris Scholarship
     After a scholarship fund set up at Covenant Bank in memory of Leonard Morris reached $5,000, his family decided to put the money toward the Leonard Morris Endowment Scholarship at Northwest Community College. Morris, a former state representative, served on the Northwest Board of Directors. He passed away January 12. Shown are (left to right) daughter Lillian Morris, wife Belinda Fay Morris and Sybil R. Canon, director of the Northwest Foundation.
Before recent Strong hoopla, ACT was on school’s radar
By Billy Davis

Months before The Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported that South Panola linebacker Chris Strong is attending a private school to improve his chances for eligibility for admission to Ole Miss, the high school had begun an initiative to help students improve their ACT scores.

In fact, improving students’ ACT scores was one of several goals set by principal Gearl Loden when he became principal in July, 2005. That effort kicked off last fall when students in a humanities course and advanced placement courses began testing their ACT skills on a tutorial program.

The ACT is a college-entrance exam that is required by community colleges and universities. Students are timed in English, reading, math and science, and score from 1 to 36.

In addition to gaining college admission, students can also attain academic scholarships if they boast an above-average score on the test.

"There’s a lot of scholarship money out there, and we want our seniors to get their share of it," said Loden.

At the high school, students log into a Web-based tutorial program that allows them to perform ACT practice tests. The Web site can be entered by any computer with Internet access.

A student’s ACT tutorial can be set for a long-term tutorial in several courses or set for a fast track to prepare for an upcoming test, said high school teacher Gary Carter. Carter is helping his humanities students and other South Panola students learn to navigate the tutorial program.

"What we want students to do, if they have time, is to work on their test taking a little at a time," said Carter. "That way, they know the areas where they’re weakest and they’re working over time to improve on those areas."

According to Loden, South Panola High students and their parents can expect to hear teachers and counselors talking more about the importance of the ACT, part of the principal’s long-term plan to improve academics.

At South Panola High, Loden believes each student should begin preparing for the ACT as a sophomore by taking the so-called plan test. The plan test evaluates a student’s strengths and weaknesses.

"I want to get this message out: a student should take the ACT three times during high school, beginning in the fall of their sophomore year with the plan test," Loden said.

The ACT currently costs $30 to take, but the fee can be waived if a student qualifies for free or reduced lunches.

Special election held today
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. today as voters elect a state representative to fill the District 11 post left vacant by the death of Leonard Morris in January.

Five candidates are vying for the position: Kay Buckley-Houston, 42, of Batesville; Joe C. Gardner, 62, of Batesville; Myrt B. Price, 51, of Sardis; Steve Richardson, 48, of Senatobia and Teresa Wallace, 59, of Como.

Buckley-Harris is an educator/counselor who sees overcrowded jails and child support redesign as the two most important issues facing voters.

Gardner, who serves on the South Panola School District Board of Trustees and operates a commercial truck driving school, listed education and economic development as the two most important campaign issues.

Price, a property investor, lists provisions for education and health insurance as the most important issues facing the legislature.

Richardson, a retired Extension agent, sees education as the most important issue.

Wallace, a Realtor, lists education and rural development as key areas for legislative attention.
Panola Circuit Clerk Joe Reid urged any voter who has a question about whether he or she lives in the district to call his office at 563-6210.

Candidates are not listed by party affiliation on the special election ballot.

If no candidate receives a majority vote today, a runoff will be held on February 27.

Sheriff: beefed-up dept. now patrolling ’round-the-clock’
By Billy Davis

Panola County supervisors learned Monday that the sheriff’s department has expanded its patrolling to now include round-the-clock coverage.

Sheriff Hugh "Shot" Bright briefly mentioned the improved coverage when he asked supervisors to approve two hirings and the purchase of two vehicles, an approximate new cost of $90,000 to the sheriff’s budget.

Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the hiring of Mike Davis as a deputy and move jailer Edward Dickson to a deputy position as well.
Davis, who currently serves as Sardis police chief, announced his resignation last Friday. He has served as a Panola sheriff’s deputy in the past.

Bright told supervisors Davis will work as school resource officer (SRO) at Pope School, where he will replace SRO Eddie Matthews, who will now patrol county roads.

The South Panola School District will reimburse 75 percent of the salary and benefits to keep Davis as an SRO, the sheriff told supervisors.

Reached after the supervisors meeting about the patrol coverage, Bright credited Chief Deputy Otis Griffin for organizing the deputies’ schedules in order to provide "24/7" coverage.

According to Griffin, he was able to schedule patrols around the clock when the department’s manpower reached 15 full-time deputies in recent weeks. The department also employs eight part-time deputies and two process servers.

The Panola County Sheriff’s Department has traditionally operated without a deputy on duty from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m., Griffin said, with deputies instead being off the clock but "on call" for those few hours.

"What happened was, when we reached 15 deputies, I was able to stagger their work hours," said Griffin. "We now have someone on the clock day and night, seven days a week, and no more ‘on-call’ deputies."

With supervisors’ approval, Bright has slowly increased the number of patrol deputies employed by the sheriff’s department since he won a special election in November, 2005.

The sheriff’s office is up for re-election this year, and so far Bright has drawn one opponent, Batesville police officer Jamie Tedford.

The number of full-time patrol deputies has jumped from about 12 deputies when Bright took office to 17 deputies, a number that includes the hiring of Davis and the moving of Dickson from jailer to deputy.

The sheriff’s 2006-2007 fiscal budget is approximately $2.5 million.

Last summer, supervisors flexed their political muscle during Bright’s first budget meeting when they turned down his request to hire a deputy and purchase a department vehicle. The sheriff left the meeting with the approval to purchase a drug dog and hire a second supervisor to oversee roadside trash pickup.

Griffin said the hiring Tuesday of Dickson and Davis will allow the sheriff’s department to schedule a second deputy to work the late-night shift.

"We were providing coverage with one man, and now that man will have on-the-clock backup," Griffin said.

Aldermen  seek peek at city bills
By John Howell Sr.

Crenshaw Mayor Sylvester Reed strongly defended his decision not to pay all of the town’s bills when he thinks there is not enough in the town’s bank account to cover the check.

Alderman Alberta Bradley questioned Reed at the city board meeting last week when he asked aldermen to approve February’s docket of claims.
"Why was the gas cut off to the fire house?" Bradley asked.

"There wasn’t none of them paid," the mayor replied in a raised voice, referring to gas bills for heating town-owned buildings in January. "When we approve the claims, they are to be paid, but if there isn’t money to pay them; it wasn’t nothing there," Reed continued.

"As far as what my decision was, we didn’t have any; I don’t write bad checks; I was trying to meet payroll," he added.

Alderman Keith Pride then made a motion to pay the January claims.

"What all hasn’t been paid in January?" Bradley asked.

"I need a second," Reed said, referring to Pride’s motion.

"When you vote on them to be paid, you assume they will be paid," Bradley said.

"We have other bills that are still standing out," Reed said. "The library obligation is still unpaid."

"What do we bring in per month in water?" asked Alderman David Whitsell.

Town Clerk Renee Ward replied that municipal water bill payments bring in from $25,000 to $27,000.

"Do we pay the ones that are really behind first?" Whitsell asked.

"No, we pay the regular bills along with the addition of some to catch up," Reed said. "We’re bringing them all down," Reed said, naming a past due electricity bill, a past due bill from Panola County Solid Waste and past due payments on a town fire truck.

"Things like utilities have to be paid," Whitsell said.

"We’re basically about to get it now," Reed said.
Property owners will be paying 2006 taxes and the collection should swell coffers, he explained. The town increased its property tax rate by 10 percent this year.

Near the end of the meeting, Whitsell returned to the subject of the town’s budget with a motion to drop recently adopted raises back to their previous level, "since our finances are so bad," he said.

"You’d have to go through a lot of rescinding," Reed replied, reiterating that he thinks that the town’s financial situation is about to improve.

No easy ride to fund, build city skatepark
By Emily Williams

Batesville parents, young people and city officials last Thursday took the next step in providing a safe haven for the town’s skateboarding residents.

Mayor Jerry Autrey and Alderman-at-Large Teddy Morrow, along with about 30 local young people and interested adults, attended an informative meeting at city hall to discuss getting the project rolling.

The Batesville Skatepark Committee was organized and has set meetings for every second Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m.

This committee, consisting of children and adults, was formed to receive and maintain funds for the planning and construction of a freely-accessible public skatepark in Batesville.

Funds raised by the group will be distributed to the city, a spokesman said.

"Our goal is $150,000, but we are hoping to get a matching grant," said newly-elected committee president Emily Griste, making total funds to be raised $75,000.

"You can have a skatepark, but it is up to you (committee) how long it will take to get it," the mayor said.

Committee members must pay $5 dues yearly and attend meetings.

"We would love to have as many children as possible to be a part of this so they will feel like they had a part in getting this done," said Griste, a school teacher at Batesville Junior High.

"We are also encouraging anyone with logo ideas and t-shirt ideas, to submit any designs to our e-mail, which is batesvilleskatepark@yahoo.com. We will be working on a Web page and brochures," said Griste.

The committee is working with the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi to establish itself as a non-profit, thereby allowing any donations to be tax-deductible for the contributor.
At last Thursday’s meeting, the group heard from Mike Rains, who had helped with Oxford’s skatepark. Mayor Autrey reported that he had talked with a company about the design and planning of a skatepark.

Also discussed were fund-raising suggestions, including sponsoring a booth at this year’s SpringFest.

"I think a skatepark would be good, because these kids do not need to be skating on the roads. It is too dangerous," said parent Jerry Lightsey during the meeting.

Officers elected during the meeting were: president – Emily Griste; vice-president – Kim Cook; secretary – Emily Williams; and treasurer – Julie Ferguson.

Anyone interested in helping with the project or becoming a member can e-mail the group at batesvilleskatepark@yahoo.com.


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