Headlines – 4/10/2007

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Panolian: HEADLINES – April 10, 2007

  From the 04/10/07 issue of The Panolian   –   

BPD: females fled after house burglary
By Jason C. Mattox

Three Lafayette County residents have been arrested and charged for their alleged involvement in a home burglary that resulted in a manhunt Monday morning.

According to Det. George Williford of the Batesville Police Department, Johnie R. Pettes, 48, Crystal Brooke McCullar, 28, and Sabrina J. McCammon, 24, all of Lafayette County, have been charged with burglary/grand larceny.

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The charges stem from a home burglary gone awry after witnesses called and reported suspects at a residence on Pearson Street.

"The subjects were seen going into the house," Police Chief Tony Jones said. "When it was called in, patrol responded and began looking for the gray car the suspects were driving."

Officers recovered the car at Still Trailer Park and arrested the male suspect, Pettes with the vehicle.
"When the car came to a stop, at least two female subjects jumped out of the car and ran," Jones said, referring to McCullar and McCammon.
Sgt. Grey Nickels and Officer Nick Hughes pursued the suspects on foot and were able to arrest one of the females at Panola Apartments.

"When we were unable to find the third suspect, Sgt. Ruby Myers and Maik (the police department’s search dog), Officer Jeremiah Brown and the Panola County Sheriff’s Department were called out," Jones said.

Jones said Myers and Brown and the dog followed a trail of tracks and discovered the suspect hiding in brush just north of Still Trailer Park.

Williford said BPD was not fully aware of what had been taken from the home Monday morning.

"The victim is still going through his home and getting us a list of all the things that are missing," he said.

Williford said a fourth suspect, who he did not name, is expected to be charged in the coming days. All four suspects could face an additional charge in addition to burglary/grand larceny, he said.

The case remains under investigation.

In other police business:
Raymond D. Roper, 115 File Rd., Batesville, was arrested and charged with grand larceny of a motor vehicle and two counts of forgery after stealing a vehicle from the parking lot of Batesville Quality Carpets two weeks ago.

"He was picked up in Oxford last week," Jones said. "Oxford also has some charges for the suspect."

PanGens’ plans for museum include stops at public boards
By Billy Davis

Representatives from the Panola County Historical and Genealogical Society (PanGens) have begun visiting public boards to announce plans to open a history museum in Batesville.

The museum, which would showcase the history of Panola County, would rely at least partly on public funds to open and operate, so Panola County supervisors heard the pitch for the project at their "second Monday" meeting.

"We next plan to visit with the Batesville Board of Aldermen Tuesday," PanGens member Robert Rawson, who met with supervisors, told The Panolian.

Rawson attended the supervisors’ meeting with fellow PanGens member Conner Vick. While Rawson briefed supervisors on the plans, Vick displayed 10 items that he said represent items that could be displayed.

Vick challenged supervisors to guess the purpose of items that included a butter mold, a handmade wood spigot, an "alligator" wrench, and the gas cap from a Model "T" car.

"Panola County is loaded with artifacts like these," Vick told the board. "I would love for them to be put in a museum."

In a brief description of future plans, Rawson told supervisors the historical society is talking with Panola County’s local VFW post about opening the museum at its facility.

VFW Post 4968 is located along Highway 51 South in Batesville.

Reached after the supervisors meeting, Rawson said PanGens is being respectfully cautious about announcing any future use of the VFW property and building.

"We’re in a discussion phase. That’s all," Rawson said.

In January, a representative from the museum department within the Miss. Department of and History met with the organization in to describe the rigors of opening and operating a museum, Rawson said.

Despite the challenges that were conveyed, and regardless of the future locale, PanGens’ members are unanimously committed to opening a museum in the near future, Rawson said.

"I believe we are going to have a first-class museum," he said.

Code Enforcement follows up on promise
By Billy Davis

They can’t say they weren’t warned.

According to City of Batesville code enforcement officer John McCollum, he handed a Notice of Violation of Junk Ordinance to 11 Batesville homes Tuesday, April 3, following up on a promise he made a week earlier via the newspaper.

"I went from one side of town to the other," McCollum said.

The code inspector visited homes on Willa, Bruce, Dell, Normandy and Hemlock streets, and several others, finding junk that ranged from a satellite dish and kitchen appliances to a pile of old tires and a four-wheeler on blocks.

Backed by a junk ordinance, the city’s code enforcement office responds to complaints made by residents, most often about their neighbors’ junk-filled or trashy yards. The complainants remain anonymous.

McCollum told the newspaper last week that the number of complaints tends to increase each year when spring weather arrives.

McCollum said one resident told him she expected a visit at her home after reading the story of his plans in the March 30 issue of The Panolian.

"She opened the door and said, ?Come on in. I knew you were coming,’" McCollum recalled.

The ordinance gives a homeowner seven days to clean up the unsightly mess or face a second visit by an enforcement officer and a possible trip to municipal court.

Justice court coverage new Panolian beat
The Panolian has changed its policy concerning publication of the arrest log each week from the county jail, according to managing editor Rupert Howell.

"We have begun to cover Panola County Justice Court and publish the results from criminal trials each week," Howell said.

"Sheriff’s Department officials were concerned that our handling of the large ledger book was making them come apart. Copying the information contained in the ledger by hand is tedious and leaves more room for error. Our time can better be spent in county court," Howell stated.

"The bright (no pun intended) side to the new arrangement is that those wrongly arrested and found innocent will have their day in court published on a regular basis," said Howell

Panolian reporters will continue to review the jail log regularly, according to Howell, who noted that Justice Court coverage begins in today’s edition.

Carver is manager of lakes
Jimmy Carver of Pope has been named U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Project Manager overseeing Grenada and Enid Lakes, and now Arkabutla and Sardis Lakes, with his recent promotion to project manager for the Mississippi Project Office.

Carver was named to the position after Frank Walker, project manager for Sardis and Arkabutla, recently retired.

In earlier years each of the north Mississippi flood control reservoirs had managers who lived at residences on Corps property at the reservoirs.

Later there were two project offices – one in Grenada for Grenada and Enid Lake, and one in Sardis for Sardis and Arkabutla, according to Carver.

Carver noted there are 10 million visitors per year between the four lakes, which encompass around 268,000 acres of land and water.

Carver said he is excited about working with the staff and communities at Sardis and Arkabutla just as he has worked with the folks at Grenada and Enid.

Carver has served the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 36 years, starting as a summer worker at Enid before working his way through school at Mississippi State University and returning to Enid as temporary park ranger after college.

Carver later took a full-time position at Enid and worked there for a year until accepting a position as assistant park manager at Degray Lake in Arkansas for two years.

He returned to Enid in 1976 as lake manager and worked there until 2003 when he moved to Grenada as Grenada Lake project office manager.

Born in Grenada while his parents were living in Webster County, Carver came to Batesville in 1955 when his father, the late Troy Carver, joined the Highway Patrol here. Carver attended all but his first year of school in the South Panola District.

He and his wife Jackie have two children, Amy Stenson and Beth Carver of Southhaven. They are awaiting the arrival of Stenson’s first child and the Carvers’ first grandchild in early April.

Alderman challenges court decision
By David Howell

The bid for the at-large seat in Como remains unsettled after Alderman John Walton filed a motion for a rehearing with the Mississippi Supreme Court Tuesday.

Walton’s motion puts the March 22 ruling handed down by the Supreme Court on hold. In that ruling, the Supreme Court declared that the office of alderman-at-large of the Town of Como is vacated, and Ruhl shall be commissioned by the governor, and shall qualify and enter upon the duties of his office, according to court documents.
At issue in the election contest were 38 mail-in absentee ballots that Judge Sharon Aycock ruled as invalid.

The Supreme Court sided with Dr. Forster Ruhl in the March ruling, citing that Circuit Court Judge Sharon Aycock erred in ordering a special election rather than declaring Ruhl the candidate having the greatest number of legal votes in the 2005 election.

Ruhl is represented by Iuka attorney Richard Bowen.

However, there is a 14-day window following the ruling in which the other party can file a motion for rehearing. Walton is represented by Ellis Turnage.

Como’s City Attorney, Leigh Ann Darby, explained the process during the Tuesday night, April 13, board meeting. Alderman Clark Gregory had asked for the item to be placed on the agenda for the meeting.

"There have been a lot of questions and a lot of rumors on how it should have been done," Darby said.

"The Supreme Court issued a ruling on March 22, 2007, to reverse and remand a previous order of Circuit Court Judge Aycock," Darby explained.

She said that Dr. Ruhl could not have been sworn in last Thursday .

"We could not swear Dr. Ruhl in last Thursday because the Circuit Court has to enter a judgement," Darby explained about the circumstances prior to Walton filing the motion for a rehearing.

Until that order is entered, John Walton holds the position, she continued.

After the motion for a rehearing is filed, Darby explained that the matter is going back to the Supreme Court for further determinations .

She also said she had called the Supreme Court to get an idea of the time frame involved in this process.

"The Supreme Court is moving slow," Darby said she was told.

City to spend MDOT funds on Keating Rd.
By Jason C. Mattox

Funds available through the Mississippi Department of Transportation will be used to purchase a new stoplight for one of Batesville’s major intersections and for improvements on one of the town’s most-traveled thoroughfares, aldermen decided at their Tuesday, April 10 meeting.

Blake Mendrop of McBride Engineering told city leaders they had $350,000 in funds available from MDOT that could be used for improvements.

"If you use the money anywhere but on safety, there is a 20 percent match," he said. "But if you wanted to get three new stoplights with the metal arms, there would be zero cost to the city."

Mendrop said the city could use some of the money to purchase one stoplight and the remaining funds could be used on Keating Road.

"I know we have discussed making some improvements to Keating Road, and I believe we could at least do some milling and an overlay with the funds that are left," he said.

Ward 1 Alderman Bill Dugger asked if the improvements to Keating Road would also include turning lanes in high-traffic areas.

"We know that has been a problem area, and I think we had discussed constructing some turn lanes," he said. "Would we be able to do that?"

Mendrop said the remaining funds after installing one new stoplight at the intersection of Highways 6 and 51 would not be enough to construct turning lanes.

"But this is a situation where we could work on the road until the money runs out and then budget some other upgrades later," he said.

Aldermen voted unanimously to spend the fund on one stoplight and upgrades on Keating Road.

In other board business:
City officials were given permission to attend the Mississippi Economic Council’s annual meeting May 2 in Jackson with expenses paid by the city.
A quote from Central Pipe and Supply for handheld equipment used in the water department for $14,990 was accepted.
City Clerk Laura Herron was given permission to hire a high school student part-time.
Batesville Fire Department Fire and Life Safety Team members William Stewart, James Snyder and Rip Copeland were given permission to attend the Mississippi Association of Public Fire Life Safety Educators conference April 19-22 in Hattiesburg with expenses paid by the city.
Partnership will hold annual meet
By Rita Howell

Congressman Roger Wicker will be the speaker for Thursday night’s annual meeting of the Panola Partnership. The event will begin with a social hour at 6 p.m., followed by dinner. The location is the National Guard Armory on Keating Road.

Members and guests of the Partnership, which is the county’s chamber of commerce, will hear from CEO Sonny Simmons about work accomplished during the past year.

Brad Robison, who has served as president of the organization for the past year, will pass the gavel to David Chandler.

Awards will be presented to the Citizen of the Year, Business of the Year, and the Partnership’s Ambassador of the Year. In addition, an outstanding educator will be recognized.

The county’s new Miss Hospitality will be crowned during the evening. Seven local young women were nominated by civic organizations. The winner will represent Panola in the state Miss Hospitality pageant this summer.

Nominees are: Brittany Boggan, Maribeth Cook, Brittany Flippo, Jessica Jenkins, Madison Kilgore, Lauren Russell and Alicia Wilson. (See related story on page A12.)


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