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Citizen asks for one more yard sale

Aldermen stick with ordinance, won’t make Christmas exception

This week’s regular meeting of the Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen was routine, livened only by the return of Dogwood Hills resident Linda Mitchell, who had argued against the recently-passed “yard sale” ordinance last month.

Mitchell was on the agenda again, this time to ask permission for one more yard sale this year. Under the new ordinance, citizens are allowed limited number of permits for sales, and she can’t legally have another sale this year.

“I have Christmas toys galore and I’m asking you to let me have a Christmas sale. I’m asking for a favor one time, so I can distribute some of the toys to parents and grandparents. A lot of people can’t buy new toys and I need to have this sale,” Mitchell said. “I don’t care about the money, I just want them to have a good Christmas.”

At last month’s meeting, Mitchell said her yard sale customers are the poor of the city who can’t afford to pay retail prices for goods. Her yard sales are not for personal financial gain, she said, but rather a service to provide a market of used clothes and household items to citizens otherwise unable to shop at brick and mortar stores, where traditional retailers must pay normal business expenses and collect state-mandated sales tax on each transaction.

Aldermen declined to relax the ordinance, Christmas toys or not, and reminded her that all permit applications must go through the Code Enforcement Office, and not before the aldermen.

Police Chief Jimmy McCloud suggested Mitchell donate the toys. “Since you aren’t concerned about making a profit, you could donate them to the Grace Place or some other organization to distribute,” he said.

Mitchell said she has donated many items, but the people that benefit from Grace Place also come to a food pantry she operates. “They are on they system and they go round and round to get, and that’s not who I want to help because these people can get out and work,” she said.

Mitchell said she plans on attending future board meeting to stay abreast of how aldermen are conducting city business. “There a lot of people right now who don’t agree with the decisions ya’ll are making up here, and the people need to know what’s going on.”

Board members thanked her for attending and speaking, saying she is welcome to be a part of all open meetings. “I wish more people would come to the board meeting and see the work that we actually do,” alderman Bill Duggar said.

Code Enforcement administrator Andy Berryhill asked the board to set a clean-up hearing for the Glenna Collier property located at 219 Church St. The occupant has been issued two citations for violation of city ordinance – one was paid and the other was suspended by the judge for additional time.

Berryhill said he has been unable to contact the resident on recent attempts and told aldermen the property has not been cleaned. Neighbors have long complained about the condition of the back yard where a tree has fallen onto a shed.

The board set a hearing for January and will proceed with cleaning the property and assessing all associated costs, including fines, to the county tax rolls for the parcel.

In a public hearing set last month, the board approved a conditional use permit for Carol Short to operate Jake’s Fireworks stand in the WalMart parking lot.

Berryhill reported the actions taken during the Nov. 25 meeting of the Planning Commission to the mayor and board. In that meeting, commissioners held a Site and Building Design review for two proposed projects, approving both.

South Panola Food Pantry, located on Van Voris St., requested permission to replace the building’s exterior siding with new metal siding, and Cooperative Energy in the Harmon Industrial Park presented plans for the construction of a new storage warehouse for the facility.

McCloud asked for permission to declare confiscated guns that have been forfeited to the city by court order as surplus inventory to be destroyed.

“Can you not sell them,” asked Mayor Jerry Autrey.

“These are guns we don’t want back on the streets,” McCloud said. “We’re going to take them to Martin Bros and have them chopped up.”

McCloud said a 1996 Chevrolet truck that was seized by police years ago and is inoperable should also be declared surplus and sold for scrap. The board agreed, and passed the measure.

McCloud reported that the memorandum of understanding between the police department and the South Panola School District had been drawn and needed the board approval for a signature. This agreement is an annual occurrence that allows for the placement of School Resource Officers at the five campuses in the city limits.

Aldermen gave approval for McCloud to allow off-duty policemen to work on contract for WalMart as security guards during the few hours the retailer is closed during the Christmas holidays.

McCloud also updated aldermen on the success of the D.A.R.E. program in city schools, including this week’s graduation of 309 fifth graders who have completed the anti-drug curriculum.