Headlines Cont. – 2/23/2007

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 23, 2007

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – February 23, 2007


SP board upholds suspension decisions
By Rupert Howell

Suspensions for three South Panola students were upheld by members of that school’s board of trustees at the monthly meeting, February 13.

The family of one of those students had requested a hearing that was held prior to that meeting. Trustees went into executive session at the end of the regular meeting when they decided to uphold the recommendations for suspension.

Trustees also heard reports from three principals and some of the schools’ department heads during that meeting, with principals offering "progress reports" in terms of numbers of A’s and B’s compared to the numbers of F’s.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Trustees approved two recommended school bus turn-arounds, 1048 Pine Lake Drive and 606 A Gleaton Road, to be maintained by the county road department.

The county is prohibited from working on private property but can maintain driveways and turn-arounds used by school buses if approved by the school board and accepted by county supervisors.

Trustees also accepted a recommendation to increase the mileage rate reimbursed to school officials and employees for travel to $.485 to correspond with federal and state amounts.

The school will soon undergo an accreditation visit by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Superintendent Keith Shaffer told trustees that Dr. Dolores Barnett was spearheading preparation for the upcoming evaluation and visit beginning February 25-28.

Parker’s ‘Fancy’ premiers in Batesville
By Myra Bean

In the days of slavery, mothers and fathers had no control when the slavemaster wanted one of their daughters for his own.

"Fancy deals with the uncontrollable circumstances that our forefathers went through," said producer, director, playwright and song writer, Pervis Parker. "They couldn’t control but they held so strong to their faith in God."

That plight is the topic of Batesville’s Pervis Parker new musical, "Fancy: God’s Grace Is What We Claim."

The play will take the stage for the first time Saturday, February 24, in honor of Black History month. Batesville Jr. High School auditorium is the setting beginning at 7 p.m.

"It’s kind of different from what we’ve done or what I have seen here," Parker said. "It’s such a cool concept. It’s so different than what I’ve done because I actually had to write the songs to it."

Parker wrote seven songs along with the script. Kianna Leland, choreographed the musical and did the musical arrangement for the songs. Her brother, Pianist/composer Tejuan Leland put the words and arrangements to music.

Kianna Leland will also star as Fancy.

Parker went back to New York this past Christmas and saw "The Color Purple" on Broadway and said that is where he got the idea.

"I came back home and started writing," Parker said. "God started working. We got "Fancy." I told the guys this is what I want to do for black history."

This is a musical, Parker explained, which is different from his other play, "Unity: A Family That Prays Together Stays Together."

"What we have seen in Batesville is a play that has music in it," Parker said. "The closest thing to a musical was American Pop."

Without getting "too risque" the play develops as Poppa Joe, played by Parker, is asked to honor a promise to the young slavemaster Thomas, Justin Rogers, that he have Fancy when she turns 18.

It is one day before a now engaged Fancy’s birthday and Thomas, now married, asks for Fancy.

Thomas waited this long because at one time Poppa Joe saved Thomas’ father’s life.

Fancy’s family is devising a way to get her out and that will be spelled out in the play, according to Parker.

The play starts out with slaves working in the field, chopping and singing.

"The master’s voice is heard telling them to get back to working and stop singing," Parker said. "It actually goes off into singing what they are feeling."

There is a lot more music in it than usual, according to Parker.

"Basically, here what you are thinking is sung," he said. "It’s toe-tapping, hand-clapping music. The choreography is good. It’s going to be different."

Parker said he cannot sing a "lick," but he was able to get the sound he heard in his head over to The Lelands to arrange.

"Kianna and the rest are so talented," Parker said. "I was like, ?This is the way it sounds in my head,’ but it may not come out right. So she and her brother did the rest.

"It works," Parker continued. "We use the people from Coleman Chapel to sing some backups."

The cast of Fancy includes:

Fancy: Kianna Leland (choreographer /arranger)

Jebadiah: Justin Bobo
(set designer)

Poppa Joe: Pervis Parker
(producer, director, playwright, song writer, set designer)

Rabbit: Anderson Boothe
(set designer)

Hattie Mae: Jessica Cannon

Betty Jean: Whitney Pegues

Martha: Breonna Barnes

Master Thomas: Justin Rogers

Tobby: Marlin Nash

Lousie: LaTasha Flowers

Resse: Denise Green

Mary: Monica Towns

Henz: Shaun Morning

Bubba: James Parker

Painist: Tejuan Leland

Drummer: Deitrich Listenbee

Tickets are $12 at the door.

Potential jurors sent home after judge declares mistrial in drug case
By Billy Davis

A pool of potential circuit court jurors was sent home Wednesday by Judge Ann Lamar after several of them reported to a bailiff that they were threatened by the defendant’s girlfriend.

Panola Chief Deputy Otis Griffin confirmed that a drug trial was set to get under way in Sardis when Lamar learned of the incident and declared a mistrial. He did not name the defendant or his girlfriend.

Griffin said he was present at the county courthouse when the incident occurred but did not witness it.

Several potential jurors were confronted when they gathered outside the courtroom during a break in jury selection, the chief deputy said.

"She was talking at the jurors during their break, hollering and cussing at them," Griffin said. "One juror said she told them she would kill them, but other witnesses said she didn’t, so that’s hearsay to us."

A potential juror, who told The Panolian of the incident and asked to remain anonymous, said Lamar returned to the bench after the break and "thanked us for our time."

"She asked us how many heard the disturbance and several raised their hands," said the juror, who said he did not witness the incident.

No physical contact took place and no one was hurt, the chief deputy said.

Alerted about the incident, sheriff’s deputies searched for the woman Wednesday outside the courthouse but could not find her, Griffin said. She was arrested Thursday at her mother’s house in Sardis.

Asked about any charges pending against the woman, Griffin said no charges have been filed. Instead, the woman will be taken from jail Friday to a face-to-face meeting with Lamar.

Griffin said the incident likely delayed the trial until July.

Five new recruits added to BVFD roster
By John Howell Sr.

Batesville Fire Chief Tim Taylor at Tuesday’s meeting of the board of mayor and aldermen submitted the names of five newly-recruited volunteer fire fighters in his department.

"In the past, we’ve never brought this back and forth before the board," Taylor said, regarding the addition or removal of volunteers from the fire department.

"Is this something that is necessary?" he asked.

City Clerk Laura Herron and assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell told Taylor that the name of anyone who receives a check from the city should be recorded in the meeting minutes.

The new recruits are Billy Sheppard, Billy Sheppard Jr., Travis Bell, Tim Hill and Casey Jenkins.

Taylor’s remarks triggered a rambling discussion between him and city officials which included the need for volunteers, their training and utilization.

"I need 20 volunteers," Taylor said. He added that volunteers are used to fill in when career fire fighters are sick or out of town.

Taylor attempted to bring a proposal to "increase the base pay for career firefighters," he said.

"We’re not having raises until the end of the year," Aldermen Rufus Manley said.

There was some additional discussion of fire fighters’ pay, and Taylor presented base pay figures for fire departments in surrounding towns, but the mayor and aldermen stood by their decision to postpone discussion until nearer the end of the city’s fiscal year on September 30 as the 2008 budget is prepared.

Taylor said later that base pay for a starting career fire fighter in Batesville is $20,422 per year compared to about $28,000 annually in Oxford and $26,500 in Grenada. The base pay figures do not include overtime, he said. In a story in Tuesday’s Clarion Ledger about Jackson pay for fire fighters and police officers, the starting pay for that city’s fire fighters was about $27,000 annually, it stated.

Province appointed assistant police chief
By John Howell Sr.

Batesville aldermen appointed Don Province as Assistant Police Chief Tuesday at their second February meeting.

Province’s appointment followed action on February 7 to accept the resignation of Police Chief Gerald Legge Jr. and the appointment of Tony Jones as Police Chief effective March 1.

Legge will begin 14 months of paid leave that he has accumulated during his police department career. He will engage in private consulting work with DARE programs and in writing grant applications.

Jones recommended Province’s appointment to the post while he made requests for the police department to the mayor and aldermen.

Responding to Jones’ requests, Batesville aldermen also approved:

? Lease-purchase of a new digital 911 recording system for $14,500. Jones recommended a lease-purchase to spread out payment over the five years of the lease and also because installation and service are included, he said;
? additional training for officers including Communications Supervisor Beverly Pope who will receive 911 training in Washington and Lt. Kerry Pittman and Officer Shenika Hudson who will receive training in field sobriety testing;
? an application for the department to seek a federal grant to pay for overtime for officers;
? the purchase of a canine transport unit for patrol cars to carry "Maik," the department’s new dog;
? the request of outgoing Chief Gerald Legge to continue wearing during the next 14 months his Batesville Police Department uniform during out-of-town DARE workshops.
"This will be good advertisement for Batesville," Alderman Rufus Manley said;
? naming administrative secretary Barbara Lambert to serve as contact person for the police department’s grant application.
Batesville aldermen also decided to keep a two-way stop at the intersection of Pamela and Bates Streets following a traffic court report from Jones.


Copyright 2001-2007 by Batesville Newspapers, LLC.  All rights reserved
Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission  is prohibited.