Headlines Cont. – 3/16/2007

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 16, 2007

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – March 16, 2007


Smith to oversee local Regions Bank
David C. Smith will serve as City President for Regions Bank offices in Batesville, Water Valley and Senatobia, according to an announcement by Ronald G. Smith, Southwest Banking Group Regional President for the new Regions Bank. The company is organizing leadership teams following the merger of AmSouth and Regions Bank, which was finalized in Fourth Quarter of 2006.

David Smith’s responsibilities will include the day-to-day oversight of all bank operations for these areas. Smith joined AmSouth in 2001, and served as manager of the bank’s Knoxville, Tenn., branch and as a business banker for AmSouth in Tupelo prior to his new role.

Smith graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in Managerial Finance.

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He is an active member of the Tupelo Rotary Club and Orchard United Methodist Church in Tupelo.

Aldermen adopt yard sale ordinance
By Jason C. Mattox

Yard sale proprietors in the City of Batesville will soon face stricter regulations after the mayor and board of aldermen adopted a new yard sale ordinance Thursday morning.

The new ordinance, which will become effective April 14, imposes a $5 permit fee which would be required for every yard sale. The permit covers three days and is to be obtained at City Hall. The board set no limit on the number of yard sales individuals can hold during the year.

Aldermen did limit the signage associated with yard sales, stating that only one sign is allowed per sale. The sign can be no larger than eight feet square, is to be at the site of the sale and can only be up during the sale.

"We have people now that will go out and put signs all over town," Pounders said. "They will put them up on light poles or in business parking lots, and it’s just not aesthetically pleasing."

In addition to being limited on signs, the hours of yard sales will also be restricted under the new ordinance. A yard sale will not be permitted to begin prior to 6:30 a.m. and must end at 5 p.m.

"Most people who have yard sales will begin at 6 a.m. or earlier, and the problem is that their neighbors might not be up by then," Alderman-at-Large Teddy Morrow said. "I don’t think a 6:30 a.m. start time is going to hurt them that much."

"If they have someone come up earlier, they can put a sold sign on it and tell them they have to come back and pick it up after 6:30," Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley added.

Ward 1 Alderman Bill Dugger told fellow city leaders he would like to see the city find city-owned property that could be used for yard sales.

"We have some property out there we could use, it’s just a matter of finding the right spot," he said. "We wouldn’t have to let them do it every weekend, just maybe once a month."

Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders said the city needed to take shade into consideration when looking for property.

"If this is something we decide to do, we need to make sure there is shade, because yard sales will start early in the morning and last all day," she said. "This time of year it is going to get hot."

Pounders then asked what kind of penalties should be imposed for violating the ordinance.

"I don’t think the fine should be any more than $25," Manley said.

Pounders then added the fines should add $25 to each violation.

"So after the second fine it’s $50 then $75 for the third," Mayor Jerry Autrey clarified.

BJCC’s rating improves
By John Howell Sr.

Batesville Job Corps Center (BJCC) was ranked 47th among the nation’s 118 Job Corps centers in the most recent monthly evaluation, Center Director Alexander Alston said Monday at a joint meeting of the center’s community relations council (CRC) and community industry council (CIC).

"We’re on the second page," Alston said, describing the evaluation position on a three-page list of the nation’s Job Corps compiled by the Department of Labor.

"We’re at the top of the second page; if we can make it to number 44, we’ll be on the front page," the center director said.

The BJCC position on the Department of Labor’s monthly evaluation has climbed steadily upward since Alston took the helm as center director in 2005 when it ranked 112th out of 118 centers. The monthly evaluation "judges how well we train and the overall services we provide students and the placement of students in jobs or other training opportunities and how many are there six months and 12 months later," Business and Community Liaison Director Roger Givens said last October when BJCC’s rise to 59th was announced.

Alston also cited monthly student surveys that indicated a high level of satisfaction among students with their experience at BJCC and their safety on the center.

An important factor in evaluations is "… when our students leave here and those students get placed in jobs that they are trained for," said Cordella Smith, CRC liaison who coordinates activities between the center and employers of students.

Needed in the Panola area, Smith and other BJCC representatives said, are employers who provide work-based learning sites in the chosen trades of student trainees. The employer, in return, receives the benefit of a part-time employee at no cost. Job Corps also covers all insurance and liability costs.

The center offers training in one or more of the following skills: bricklaying, business office technology, carpentry, food service, health occupations, material handling, painting, retail sales and welding.

CIC member Sarah Pride said of the student trainee currently working with her at Pride Auto Sales: "Her name is Angel, and she is an angel."

Pride also said that she occasionally receives calls from former students, who worked for her as student-trainees while they attended Batesville Job Corps, expressing appreciation for "giving them a chance," she said.

In addition to training in trades, BJCC assists students in obtaining high school diplomas or GEDs and has partnered with Northwest Mississippi Community College to allow further education.

Land commission says Paw Paw’s can be grandfathered
By Billy Davis

Long-time restaurateur Cheryl Bishop is closer to opening a new eatery after the county land development commission agreed that the facility she is renting is "grandfathered," which allows her to avoid a public hearing and application process.

Bishop was not on the agenda for the commission’s Monday evening meeting in Batesville, so she waited until the commission had finished its planned business before she described her plans to re-open Paw Paw’s Restaurant.

The restaurant is located west of Batesville next to North Delta School.

Accompanying Bishop to the meeting was restaurant owner David Bailey, who spoke on behalf of Bishop and her plans to re-open the doors.

"Cheryl has been paying me a monthly fee, and I’m just trying to help her get going," Bailey told the commission.

Bailey said he operated the restaurant for about seven months until the pain of standing all day on a concrete floor forced him to quit. Even though he closed the doors, he maintained the utilities to the restaurant for more than two years while he searched for a suitable renter for the restaurant.

Bailey’s comment about paying the utilities caught the attention of commission consultant Bob Barber. The use of utility bills is sometimes used to show that a business has not been abandoned, Barber told the commission.

The county’s land-use ordinance stipulates that a non-used business is considered abandoned, which would revert the property from commercial back to agricultural, if it has not been operated for 120 days.

Barber and commission chairman Danny Walker described the dilemma: is the restaurant considered abandoned since it has not been in operation for more than two years, or is it still in operation since Bailey has been paying the utilities and searching for a renter?

"If (Bailey) had abandoned it, then he wouldn’t be keeping up on paying the water and sewer," responded commission member Tim Holliday.

After about 20 minutes of discussion, commission member Donna Traywick made a motion to allow the restaurant to re-open via a grandfather clause on the provision that Bailey provide utility bills to back his claim.

The commission voted unanimously to approve the motion.

Panola County permit clerk Diane Stewart told The Panolian Tuesday that Bailey delivered the required utility bills to her office Tuesday morning.
The land commission’s vote to allow the grandfather clause came after its members learned from Bailey that Panola County Administrator David Chandler had given him permission to skip the public application process so he could quickly open the doors to his restaurant.

Stewart showed the land commission a letter sent to her from Bailey, which he said Chandler helped him write to speed up the restaurant’s opening date.

The letter states, in part, that Bailey received permission from the two boards "to go ahead and open up."

"I do understand that I will appear before the Panola County Land Commission at a later date," the letter also states. "I also understand the problem is my land is classified as agricultural but needs to be commercial."

Barber acknowledged to the commission that Chandler had communicated with him about Bailey’s time-sensitive situation. During that conversation, he told Chandler about a "hold harmless" clause that is sometimes used to prevent liability issues.

The final sentence of the letter hints at that tactic, stating that "this building has always been a commercial building but I do not hold Panola County responsible for this oversight."

By opening its doors, Bailey’s restaurant would have been allowed to sidestep the procedures required of all other businesses in the county, land commission members agreed.

"Even though nobody is likely opposed to your restaurant, the public is entitled to a public hearing before you open," Walker told Bailey.

"Everybody’s looking forward to Ms. Cheryl opening, but you must follow the process," commission member Danny Jones also told Bailey.
The commission then heard from Bailey about the utilities, and discussion turned toward the possibility of a grandfather clause.


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