Headlines Cont. – 3/23/2007

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 23, 2007

The Panolian: INSIDE STORIES – March 23, 2007


Batesville man asks city leaders for permission to build fence
By Jason C. Mattox

A Batesville man asked the mayor and board of aldermen for permission to build a fence on city property that would give him "a little more backyard."

Jay Johnson, who lives at 153 Hemlock Rd., appeared before the city leaders to ask their permission to build a privacy fence on city property that joins his own.

"I have been cutting the lot and keeping it up for about three years now," he said.

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The property in question is only half of a city lot that is cut in half by a road leading to one of the city’s lift stations in Dogwood Hills.

"The fence would not interfere with the road to the sewer pump," Johnson said.

Mayor Jerry Autrey seemed perplexed by the request.

"Why would you want to build a fence on our property," he asked.

Johnson said his reasoning was to allow for more running room for his 3 year-old.

"To be honest with you, my yard is too small and I would like to have a bigger back yard," he said. "If that means buying the property or leasing it, I have no problem with it."

Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders said the matter should be investigated further by the city attorney and water department superintendent Rickey Shirey.

"Would the fence he is talking about cause any kind of problem?" Pounders asked Shirey.

Shirey said he could not properly answer the question without first examining the property.

Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley asked Johnson if he would give permission for city employees to be on his property.

"Yes sir, I will be home this afternoon if they want to come look, or they can just come when they get a chance," Johnson replied. "I have no problem with that."

Ward 1 Alderman Bill Dugger echoed Pounders earlier remarks by suggesting the city attorney be allowed to looking into what the city could do with the property in terms of a sale or lease.

"I know there are legal steps that have to be followed, and we need to let (assistant city attorney) Colmon (Mitchell) see what we can do," Dugger said.

The matter was tabled until a later meeting.

In other board business:
A bid for a 3/4 truck for the water and sewer department was awarded to Hallmark Ford as the apparent low bidder at $25,668.
All bids opened at the first meeting in March for handheld equipment in the utility department were rejected. The city will seek two quotes for the five units they need.
Autumnwood Subdivision was given final plat approval pending the necessary signatures.
Code enforcement officer John McCollum and code enforcement office administrator Pam Comer were given permission to attend the annual Building Officials Association of Mississippi Conference June 18-22 with expenses paid by the city.
Off-duty police officers were given permission to work as security at J.P. Hudson Field March 31-April 1 for a tournament.
Boys and Girls week planned by club
Special activities are planned for Boys and Girls Club Week March 25-30 in Batesville.

On Sunday there will be a Youth Gospel Fest from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the Batesville Boys and Girls Club, located at the corner of Eureka Road and Highway 51 South.

Monday is "Feature Teacher Day," to be celebrated from 5-6 p.m.

On Tuesday there will be a Penny Carnival from 4-6 p.m. A Cup Stack Tournament will be held Wednesday from 4-6 p.m.

On Thursday the annual Boys and Girls Club Steak and Steak Banquet, a fund-raiser, will be held at 6:30 at the Batesville Civic Center.

On Friday there will be a basketball tournament from 3-5 p.m. and a pajama party for girls only from 6-10 p.m.

For more information, contact Kiana Johnson at 578-7309.


Crenshaw schedules clean-up week

By John Howell Sr.

The Town of Crenshaw will mark "Cleanup Week" Saturday, March 24.

Mayor Sylvester Reed urged aldermen and volunteers to meet at the town hall Saturday morning at 8 a.m. to remove litter and trash on streets.

Mississippi Department of Transportation is providing garbage bags to contain the trash and signs to promote the event, he said. Needed are donations of water and volunteers to pick up the trash.

North Panola board approves new ALS system
By Jason C. Mattox

Students in the North Panola School District who are placed in in-school suspension or at the Alternative Learning School will soon be able to participate in their regular classes from computer-connected locations.

Board members voted to move forward with implementing the new project at a cost of $14,000 to connect all of the school’s campuses, with a portion of the funding coming from federal programs funding.

District technology director Jeff Hubbard and Glen Popiel presented the board with an alternative to the traditional alternative school setting.

"Right before spring break, Mr. Popiel was here and we were looking at what other schools in the state were doing," Hubbard said.

Hubbard explained that Benton County Schools and Senatobia City Schools were already using a computer set-up to allow students to participate in their regular classes while being in a separate location.

"Senatobia has not rolled out the program completely, but they are getting close," he said. "Benton County has fully executed this plan."

The system Hubbard and Popeil were demonstrating would be comprised of :

  • Trixbox phone and video system
  • Free software
  • Can use regular phones.

"With the software, we can turn every computer into a phone system, intercom system or video phone system," Hubbard said.

ALS students would connect to their regular classrooms with the computers and the student would then not be left behind when they return to the regular classroom.

"There are several districts in the state looking at this program," Popiel said.

Phones can be programmed to not allow outgoing calls anywhere other than the district.

"None of us want to have a teacher in the classroom on the telephone all day," Hubbard said. "With this, we would be able to monitor and control the system."

No new wiring would be required, according to Hubbard.

"Administrators, teachers and students are using this program would love the idea of being able to take the classes on a computer," Popeil said.

"This is a minimal cost and could help us address the drop out rate," Hubbard said. "Because you see a lot of students drop out after they get behind their regular classroom."

"Sign us up," school district trustee Billy Russell said. "If we say yes, how soon can you have this up and running?"

"As soon as I can get a purchase order," Hubbard said. "The set up will only take about one day."

Teachers have the option of muting students who become disruptive to the classroom.

"Two years ago this probably would have cost us about half a million dollars," Hubbard said.

We just want your support and to let us try it," he added.

Crenshaw hires employees, discusses audit
By John Howell Sr.

Crenshaw’s mayor and aldermen hired six new municipal employees during executive session in a called meeting Tuesday afternoon, March 20.

Police officers hired included Donnie Long, Cornelius Conley and Deon Ross., city clerk Renee Ward said following the executive session. Three maintenance employees were also hired, Ward said: Sylvester McGlothian, Andrew Buck and Brian Reeder.

Ross, who attended the meeting, said that he is from Clarksdale. McGlothian, who also attended, said that he had returned to Crenshaw after retirement from the Milwaukee, WI municipal government.

In other business conducted during the open session, aldermen voted 2 to 1 to hire David Chandler to perform a compilation audit covering the town’s last two fiscal years. Mayor Sylvester Reed told aldermen that the deadline for the completion of the audit is March 28 but that Chandler had said the town could seek an extension of the deadline by 30 or 40 days.

Reed’s proposal that the town hire Chandler to perform the audit prompted a discussion about other duties for which Crenshaw has engaged Chandler.

"My understanding was that when he was hired, that when audit time came, everything would be ready with no extra charge," alderman Alberta Bradley said.

The town clerk said that Chandler was hired to assist with the town’s accounting in December of 2005.

"It was my understanding that it was the budget they were hired to do," the mayor said.

"When we talked to him that night, he said he could get us ready to go through the audit at that particular time.

"I do know that our time is very short; the state is looking at us," the mayor said.

"I feel like we should do it," Pride added, citing the close deadline and the lack of lead time to consider other proposals for the compilation audit. Chandler’s proposal was $2,000 per year for a total of $4,000.

Alderman Shirley Morgan made a motion to hire Chandler which Pride seconded.

"I’m opposed to it," Alderman David Whitsell said.

Bradley abstained from voting.

"Then we’ll go with Mr. Chandler," the mayor said.

Mayor Reed also gave a report on a variety of matters, including the need for a pickup for the town maintenance department.

"We’re looking at purchasing a truck, looking at one for $3,000," he said. Currently town employees are "using private vehicles to get parts, the mayor added.

"We’re still waiting for [ad valorem] tax funds to come in, and it’s still slow. We expect more by the end of the month," the mayor said.


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