Headlines – 4/3/2007

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Panolian: HEADLINES – April 3, 2007

  From the 04/03/07 issue of The Panolian   –   

All escape serious injury after SUV flips, throws kids
     A Batesville firefighter standing guard with a fire hose rests against a fire hydrant Friday at the scene of a two-vehicle accident in Batesville.
By Jason C. Mattox
and Billy Davis

A two-vehicle wreck Friday afternoon in Batesville resulted in an SUV that flipped onto its roof, injuring several passengers including children.

The automobile accident occurred about 3 p.m. in front of The Panolian newspaper office, located at Highway 51 North and Watt Street, when a full-size truck travelling south struck a four-door Chevrolet Tahoe that was exiting Tiger Drive with several passengers.

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"Officer Brandon Moses was directing traffic and motioned for traffic to pull out from Tiger Drive and the vehicle traveling southbound didn’t stop," Deputy Police Chief Don Province said. "We aren’t exactly sure why he didn’t stop."

Immediately following the wreck, the truck’s driver, Jordan Wilkie, told The Panolian that he had clipped the Tahoe on the right side but said the SUV failed to stop. The hood of Wilkie’s green Dodge truck showed evidence of the collision.

Although the Tahoe was heading west toward Watt Street at Tiger Drive, the vehicle came to rest on Watt with its front end pointed east.

Some employees of The Panolian said they witnessed the wreck, turning at the sound of the collision to see a child being ejected from the SUV.

Emergency response personnel treated the children at the scene for minor cuts while adults were cautiously removed from the vehicle.

Province said three women in the SUV were injured but all had returned home as of Monday.

One SUV passenger, Berthenia Shaw, was airlifted to The Med where she was treated for injuries and has since been released, Province said.

The driver of the SUV was identified as Barbara Jones. The other adult passenger was Sheronda Parker, the officer said. Three children were passengers.

"There were no citations issued and the matter is still under investigation," Province said.

Chief deputy: Green Hill hurt by scared residents, absent parents
By Billy Davis

For decades Green Hill resident Georgia Wilson has complained about pot holes and ditches when she appears at supervisors’ meetings, but the long-time critic of local government addressed a new concern Monday morning: crime and public safety.

Wilson told supervisors at their "first Monday" meeting that she is pleading for help to control crime in the community. She cited as the latest example a March 27 shooting at a Green Hill Circle apartment that left two women wounded and a 65-year-old man charged with the crime.

The Green Hill community is located just west of the Sardis city limits.

Wilson said one source of the problem is children who walk the streets late at night and early in the morning, apparently unsupervised. She suggested a county-imposed curfew would help solve that problem.

Responding to Wilson’s comments, Board of Supervisors president Robert Avant said he discussed Green Hill’s crime last Friday with Panola Chief Deputy Otis Griffin.

"Something will be done," Avant told Wilson.

Reached after the supervisors’ meeting, Griffin said the sheriff’s department plans to address the large number of unsupervised children before summer arrives and their numbers swell.

"We plan to nip it in the bud," Griffin told The Panolian.

However, one obstacle to addressing that problem, Griffin said, is that the children have a legal right to be on the streets regardless of the time of day.

"Obviously you’ve got a problem with parents not watching after their kids, but you can’t stop them from walking the streets," Griffin said.

Despite the legal barriers, Griffin said the sheriff’s department plans to confront parents who allow their children to roam the streets at night.

Griffin said the Green Hill community is also gripped by fear, explaining that residents are afraid of reprisals if they cooperate with law enforcement.

"If we’re not there to see something then we have to rely on somebody to step forward and give us information," Griffin said. "But when we get there, nobody’s seen anything."

After Wilson addressed the problem of crime, she still managed to take personal swipes at the board of supervisors for clogged drainage.

Tourism tax boasts big jump
By Rupert Howell

Sales tax collections for December 2006 were up nine percent in the City of Batesville according to figures from the State Tax Commission.

Municipalities are reimbursed approximately 20 percent of sales tax collected in their jurisdiction. That diversion totaled $280,508 in February representing December’s sales tax collections.

The City has received eight percent more during the fiscal year that began July 1 compared to the previous year’s figures. That amount totals $2,481,137.

Batesville’s increase in the check received in February for December, is greater than the state average of three percent for both the month of December and the year-to-date.

Batesville’s Tourism and Economic Development Tax increased a whopping 54 percent for the same reporting period according to tax commission figures.

The City received $78,250 in February representing December’s collections compared to $50,806 collected during the same period last year.

Those figures also indicate that since July, those collections have increased 15 percent from $490,670 to $566,630.

The Tourism and Economic Development Tax is derived from a three percent tax placed on sales of hotels/motels and food and beverages sold within Batesville’s City limits.

Other Panola County municipalities showed diversions returned in February 2007 compared to 2006 respectively:
  – Como, 13%, $14,873.53 and $13,186.74;
  – Courtland, 10%, $1,599.49 and $1,449.96;
  – Crenshaw, -10%, $2,792 and $3,120;
  – Crowder, 40%, $1,150 and $823;
  – Pope, 0%, $1,820 and $1,816;
  – Sardis, 20%, $23,891 and $19,931.

Local municipalities in the Panola County trade area received diversions in February 2007 compared to February 2006 in the amount of:
  – Charleston, $26,164 and $23,135;
  – Lambert, $3,312 and $2,949;
  – Marks, $21,819 and $20,648;
  – Sledge, $1,312 and $1,470 and
  – Water Valley, $33,225 and $32,913.

Other nearby municipalities received diversion checks for December sales tax collections for the months of December 2005 and 2006 respectively:   
  – Clarksdale, $253,335 and $227,838;
  – Grenada, $311,012 and $291,478;
  – Oxford, $421,664 and $371,282 and
  – Senatobia, $162,723 and $154,430.

Students get holidays on Friday and Monday
Students in the South Panola School District, North Panola School District, and at North Delta School will be out of school Friday and Monday in observance of Easter holidays, officials at all three schools confirmed on Monday.

Classes will resume Tuesday at their regularly scheduled time.

Northwest president asks for funding help
By Billy Davis

Northwest Community College president Dr. Gary Spears made a "goodwill visit" to supervisors Monday to request an increase in funding from the county.

Spears specifically asked for additional funding for Northwest’s "plant fund" for which Panola County taxpayers are contributing $19,300 this year. The additional funds will help construct a nursing school, he said.

"We have a critical need for our nursing students," Spears told supervisors.

Panola County government sets aside millage for Northwest each year after supervisors set the millage rates during their budget meetings.

Spears said a millage rate of 2.2 mills from Panola County will contribute $400,000 to the Northwest this year. That rate excludes the plant fund.

After the meeting, County Administrator David Chandler explained that the "plant fund" is Northwest’s building and repair fund, which Panola currently helps fund at .11 mills.

"It’s been .11 mills forever," Chandler said.

Spears told supervisors that 608 Panola County students attend Northwest, the third highest of the 11 counties served by the campus.

Northwest employs 75 Panolians, he said.

In other county business:
Supervisors accepted a bid for their yearly road improvement funding in the amount of $800,000. Trust Mark Bank bid the lowest among five banks with a bid of 3.82 percent.
     The funds are used for summer paving and other seasonal road work.
District 1 Supervisor James Birge suggested that the board improve road signage in the county by adding road names to other signage, such as the road caution signs that indicate hidden entrances and curvy roads.
     The road name signage is typically added to the bottom of the sign, Birge said.
     "I’ve seen that done in other counties and it seems to work well," Birge told his colleagues. "It helps you keep from slowing down to read the road signs when you’re looking for a road."
Scamming schemers claim another victim
By Jason C. Mattox

The Batesville Police Department is warning residents to avoid falling victim to so-called pigeon drop scams.

This latest warning comes after a citizen, whose name was not released, fell victim to such a scam last Friday.

"From what we understand, a black male in his forties described as being of a thin build and wearing a blue and white striped conductor’s hat, approached the victim at the Shell station on Highway 6," Deputy Chief of Police Don Province said.

Province said the suspect pulled out a large sum of money claiming it was money from an inheritance and asked for a ride.

"The victim gave the suspect a ride to Wal-Mart where they met up with a second black male," he said.

Province said the trio then went to Harry B’s where the second suspect walked over to Covenant Bank where he claimed to have made a withdrawal.

"From there they managed to talk the victim into making a withdrawal at the First Security Bank branch on Power Drive," he said. "That money was going to be good faith money that would entitle him to some of the suspect’s funds."

After that withdrawal was made, the three drove to Cracker Barrel where the two suspects were going to meet up with a female they knew.

"They told the victim to drop them off and drive around and they would meet him back out front of the business," he said. "After he drove off, he never saw them again, but they did leave with the victim’s money."

Province said people needed to be more aware of this type of scam.

"If you are ever approached by someone claiming to have a large sum of money, the best thing you could possibly do is call 911 and let the police know what is going on," he said.

No arrests have been made. The case remains under investigation.

City leaders approve purchase of livestock panels for civic center
By Jason C. Mattox

Batesville aldermen accepted the highest of two bids for livestock panels to be used at the Batesville Civic Center during last Tuesday’s meeting of the mayor and board. The decision came at the request of BCC director Roy Hyde.

Aldermen opened two bids for 98 livestock panels during their March 20 meeting and took them under advisement while Hyde researched the options before them.

The two bids were:

  • W & W Livestock Systems, Dodge City, KS- $12,144.
  • Mississippi Prison Industries, Jackson- $11,700.

"I suggest we go with the higher-priced bid because the panels are more versatile," Hyde said.

The cost difference between the two bids is $2.31 per panel, according to Hyde.

"With the lower-cost panels, they can’t be used for anything but livestock," he said. "We could use the higher-priced option for crowd control and barriers during non-livestock events."

Hyde also said the gate on the lower bid was a reason for concern.

"The way the gate is situated, handlers will have to bend down to get into the pens," he said.

"That doesn’t sound like a gate to me," Ward 2 Alderman Rufus Manley replied.

Ward 4 Alderman Bobbie Jean Pounders asked assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell if the city should simply re-advertise.

"I think his determining that this is the best bid gives you good reasons to accept it," Mitchell replied. "I don’t think anyone will disagree with you."

Alderman-at-Large Teddy Morrow asked Hyde how long it would take for the panels to arrive.

"If I get a purchase order today, we are going to be pushing it to have them in by the next scheduled livestock event," he said. "But we should make it."

The next scheduled livestock event is the Mississippi Bore Spring Goat Show May 26-27.

Dog attacks blamed for three weekend injuries
By Jason C. Mattox

Dog bites sent three children to Tri-Lakes Medical Center for treatment in separate incidents over the weekend. One young victim was later transported to LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center in Memphis, according to Deputy Chief Don Province of the Batesville Police Department.

Tri-Lakes reported the first incident Friday afternoon when an 8-year-old was admitted for treatment.

"Apparently the dog was in a fenced in area and got out and attacked the child," Province said.

The attack happened at 106 Turtle Creek in Dogwood Hills.

"The dog was taken to the pound and then to a vet’s office for observation," Province said of the mixed-breed animal.

After a short observation period, Province said he was told the owners could pick up the dog.

"The vet said the dog was current on all vaccinations and can be released back to the owners," he said.

The second incident was reported Saturday afternoon at 1:06 p.m. at 101 Martinez Street.

"The dog had been chained up, but broke off the chain and bit a 4-year-old on the back," Province said.

The victim was treated and released.

The third incident happened just hours later on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

"We received a call just before 5 p.m. about a dog biting a young girl," Province said.

"We were told that she was playing with her dogs and there was a loud boom that scared the dogs and she was bitten on the ankle," he said.

The extent of the injuries was not known.


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