Headlines – 2/23/2007

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 23, 2007

The Panolian: HEADLINES – February 23, 2007

  From the 02/23/07 issue of The Panolian   –   

     Dancing and singing this weekend in the final number of the musical "Fancy: God’s Grace Is What We Claim" is (front, left) Jessica Cannon who portrays Hattie Mae and Anderson Boothe, who portrays Rabbit. More information on the musical, written by Batesville native Pervis Parker, is on page A12.
‘First Friday’ music planned for Square
By Billy Davis

A springtime concert series is coming to the Downtown Square in Batesville, kicking off March 2 with Batesville bluesman Casey Lipe and his bandmates.

The First Friday Concert Series, sponsored by the Batesville Main Street Program, will run on March 2, April 6 and May 4, leading up to annual music festival SpringFest, said Main Street manager Colleen Clark.

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There will be no admission charge to the music events, which will begin at 6 p.m. and run for two hours.

The concerts will be held at Memorial Park, beneath the pavilion located on the west side of the Square.

Clark said the pavilion was built with music concerts in mind and was designed to be acoustic-friendly.

Amy Lipe said her husband and a scaled-down version of their band, The Southside Rockers, will take the stage March 2. The smaller arrangement is called The Distributors.

Following Lipe’s appearance March 2, the following Friday concert date falls on Good Friday. The praise and worship team from Hosanna Family Worship Center is scheduled to perform.

Hosanna pastor Damon Plummber said the church is excited to participate in First Friday, especially since the concert date falls on Easter weekend.

"To be honest, we’re excited to be taking it to the streets about what we do," said Plummer, referring to the church’s energetic contemporary worship style.

The May 4 act has not been booked.

Clark said Main Street has not booked any acts beyond SpringFest, explaining that the spring lineup is testing the musical waters.

"We’re going to see how the spring concerts go first," said Clark.

Qualifying slows down
By Billy Davis

The break-neck pace at which dozens of candidates were throwing their hats into the political ring has slowed, at least for now.

By Thursday at noon no one has turned in qualifying papers this week to announce a run for county office, according to deputy clerks in Circuit Clerk Joe Reid’s office.

The qualifying process began January 2, and challengers were popping up every week since. The last was District 3 supervisor candidate Monty Thomas, who turned in his paperwork last week.

To date, competitive county races include supervisor races in Districts 3, 4, and 5, the sheriff’s race, the circuit clerk’s race, the District 1 constable’s race, and the District 1 justice court judge’s race.

The deadline to qualify is March 1.

Vicious dogs get scrutiny
By John Howell Sr.

Assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell and Batesville police are researching city ordinances restricting the ownership of vicious dogs following a request for help from Lawrence Hoskins, owner of Hoskins Learning Center at 115 Patterson Street.

"I want to tell you about a problem we’re having with a pit bull dog," Hoskins said at Tuesday’s meeting of Batesville’s mayor and aldermen.

Hoskins said that an occupant of a trailer located next to the day care center property had recently acquired at least one pit bull dog which is tethered on a large chain. The dog’s chain allows it to within six inches of lot owned by the day care center where a fenced playground is planned, he said.

The day care owner said that recent pit bull maulings in Memphis had prompted him to come to the city officials to seek help.

"What’s going to happen if someone is out playing in our yard and a dog gets loose?" he asked.

"This is getting to be more of a problem," Alderman Bill Dugger said.

"I can understand his concern about this being a day care," Aldermen Bobbie Jean Pounders said.

Alderman Rufus Manley said that Hoskins had spoken to him about the problem with the pit bull earlier and he had tried to talk to the dog’s owner but to no avail, he said.

Pounders, who joined the board for the full meeting after undergoing surgery for a malignancy last week, asked police to check vicious dog ordinances in other towns.

Deputies nab hiding probationer
By Billy Davis

Panola County sheriff’s deputies nabbed a man accused of probation violation Wednesday morning, arresting him a day after he eluded law enforcement when he fled on foot.

Panola sheriff’s deputy Justin Maples said state inmate Larry Daniels met law enforcement officers at the front door of a home near Sardis about 7:30 a.m. Daniels surrendered without incident, Maples said.

Daniels was sentenced to 10 years in prison for burglary of a building and auto theft. He was serving a five-year probation.

Officers with the Miss. Department of Corrections had been looking for Daniels for a probation violation when deputies responded Tuesday, February 20 to a disturbance call at a home at 346 Greenhill Circle.

When deputies arrived at the home about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Daniels fled on foot and eluded capture when he ran into a wooded area.

Miss. Highway patrolman Dennis Darby and his K-9 searched for Daniels throughout the afternoon until the search was called off at 4:09 Tuesday afternoon, Maples said.

"Daniels’ ex-girlfriend told us he would be back at the house the next morning," Maples said. "And he was."

Storms won’t stop nice temps
By Billy Davis

Up-and-down temperatures that famously play havoc with Mid-Southerners health and patience have finally gone up, delivering a week of early spring-like weather.

Daytime temperatures this week hovered in the 60s, owing to a series of cold fronts that have since moved on, carrying a cold snap with them.

"What you’ve got now is a break from the cold thanks to a strong high-pressure system and southerly winds," said meteorologist Marlene Mickelson of the National Weather Service office in Memphis.

Strong thunderstorms and cooler weather are predicted for Saturday, Mickelson warned, but the warm weather should continue through next week. Another week of highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s are predicted.

"The storms will cool things down a bit, but the nice temperatures will return," the meteorologist said.

To know the weather beyond next week, flip a coin.

Services planned for fire victims
By Jason C. Mattox

The second body recovered in a February 14 house fire near Sardis has been identified as 44-year-old Shirley Smith, according to Panola County Coroner Gracie Grant-Gulledge.

Smith is originally from Louisville.

The bodies of Smith and the other victim, Kenneth Thomas, 46, of Sardis, were taken to Jackson for examination by the state Medical Examiner who used DNA testing to establish the identities of the badly burned victims. Results were released on Thursday, eight days after the fire.

The two perished in a late-night house fire at 15 Edwards Road.

"The bodies were burned so badly, there was no other way of identifying them," the coroner said.

Thomas was employed by BLR Enterprises in Sardis in the warehouse. His funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, February 24, at Morris Chapel M.B. Church in Sardis.

Eddie Robinson and Son Funeral Home has charge.

"Kenny worked for me for nearly 10 years," BLR owner Billy Russell said. "He was like a member of my family, and I am going to miss him as an employee and a friend."

Services for Smith are scheduled for 11 a.m. the same day at Jones Funeral Home Chapel in Macon. Hampton Funeral Home of Louisville has charge.

The cause of the late-night fire remains under investigation by the Panola County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi Fire Marshall’s Office.

No foul play is suspected, Panola County Emergency Management Deputy Director Daniel Cole has said.

Wallace touts business experience
By Billy Davis

(Editor’s note: The Panolian interviewed House District 11 candidate Teresa Wallace this week for the following pre-election story. An interview with her opponent, Joe Gardner, was published in the January 20 issue of The Panolian).

In the January 13 special election, political novice Teresa Wallace came in second among five candidates. In fact, she placed second among voters in Panola and Tate counties.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that, even with the decent showing, the second-place Wallace still trailed the top-finishing candidate, Joe Gardner, in the election totals by nearly 400 votes.

Wallace, of Como, believes better voter turnout will help her, especially in Tate County, where she works as a real estate agent and is well known. Gardner received only 12 votes out of 1,610 cast.

"I’ve got to have Tate County," said Wallace.

While eyeing those Tate County votes, Wallace spoke to The Panolian about her entry into the District 11 race.

Panolian:  Why do you want to be a state representative?

Wallace:  I called down to Jackson today because I don’t think – to my knowledge – a woman has ever run for this position. I think we need a fresh face and somebody honest who will listen to the people.

I’m going into this with no preconceived ideas about what I want to do or what should be done. I believe that’s up to the voters. I’m their instrument in Jackson. I can’t promise anything other than that I will be honest and I will work hard.

As a woman, what perspective would that bring to the job that’s unique?

Wallace:  I just think that government has got to be run as a business. As a businesswoman I know what you have to do. You can’t spend more than you make. You’ve got to budget.

Panolian: In the February 20 interview with your opponent, Joe Gardner, he said Mississippi’s most pressing problem – what needs fixing – is public education and the need for more funding. In your opinion, what needs fixing the most? Why is Mississippi seemingly last place in everything?

Wallace:  I think it’s because of our workforce. We need to get more people trained and realize that not everybody is meant to go to college.

What hurts us more in North Mississippi is, for instance, down in Jackson you have all these places you can go to study to be an x-ray technician. To my knowledge, the only place we can get that kind of training is at Northwest Community College.

Panolian:  To summarize your answer, you believe Mississippi’s greatest challenge is improving its workforce?

Wallace:  Yes. We need to be able to say to industries, "Hey, we’ve got trained people. Come on."

Panolian:  What qualifications would your bring to the job as a state representative?

Wallace:  I’m honest. I’m a business woman. I’m dependable. You might not know that I don’t have a college education – and I don’t want that to be a point of contention – but I have worked. I have had some college, but I don’t have a degree. I’ve always worked.

Panolian:  Do you feel that your work as a real estate agent would help you in District 11 – which is about 60 percent minority – since you’re working with clients of various backgrounds and incomes?

Wallace:  That’s right. Some of my best clients were black families who wanted to work and worked hard, and kept their credit up. They’re the ones who come up and hug me in the grocery store. They’re so grateful.

Panolian:  When you look at the legislature, what is your opinion of current issues being debated in Jackson?

Wallace:  I don’t know. I have not kept up with it like I should. I really can’t comment on that.

Panolian:  I’ll name off some issues that I named for your opponent and get your opinion. How do you feel about raising the state sales tax on tobacco products?

Wallace:  Coming from a family that was heavy smokers – my father-in-law died of emphysema – I have no problem with that, speaking strictly from a personal point of view.

Panolian:  What about the debate to lower the grocery tax? Where do you stand on that debate?

Wallace:  What’s the state going to do with that money? I would have to know. We are a lot lower than Tennessee. The sales tax there is – what? – nine percent and we’re still at seven (percent). I don’t know if that’s the answer. If it would help everybody, I’d be for it. But I would like to know where those funds are going.

Panolian:  Can you describe where you lean politically – liberal, moderate, conservative?

Wallace:  I’m very conservative. I think you have to be if you’re dealing with people’s money and the rules that are going to govern their lives.

Panolian:  Sometimes some hot-button issues come up in the legislature such as abortion and gay marriage. What is your stance on those issues?

Wallace:  There is only one abortion clinic in the state, and that’s in Jackson, and I don’t think that’s really a hot issue right now. I think there are times you have to – if someone is brutally raped, I can understand that. But I don’t believe that just because you go to bed with someone and get pregnant, you should go have an abortion.

On gay marriage, I think gays have rights just like everybody else. I’m not for gay marriage at all.

Panolian:  I asked your opponent this same question. Over time Leonard Morris bridged a gap between the black community and white community. How will you continue to maintain that "bridge" that he built if you’re elected?

Wallace:  I think that when we have more equal opportunities for everyone in the workforce, we will see better race relations. I think a lot of it has to do with the poverty level, and it’s not black and white. It’s not a racial thing.

Panolian:  Following up on that comment, how would you personally do your part to be fair, honest and accessible to your constituents regardless of skin color?

Wallace:  I think I would have to listen to the people in my district, each and every one of them. It will be up to them to let their voices be heard so I will know what to do.

Panolian:  Here’s a question that was asked of your opponent: the runoff that will be decided February 27 has broken down along racial lines, between yourself and your opponent. Should race be a factor in the race?

Wallace:  No. I don’t think it’s a black and white issue. I think it’s who will do the best job and work the hardest.

Panolian:  The follow-up to that question is this: some voters may look at your qualifications and your opponent’s qualifications, but others may look solely at skin color as a qualification. Do you think voters will ever get beyond skin color?

Wallace:  Only when we get where blacks and whites are equal in the workforce and everybody feels like they’re equal. I don’t have the answer. I don’t think anybody has the answer. We’ve just got to work together.


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