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Board retires Hawkins’ C2 badge, will make appointment in January

Heeding advice from board attorney Gaines Baker, the Panola County Board of Supervisors declared the office of District 2 Constable vacant, and agreed to wait until the incoming board is seated before making an appointment to fill the seat.

Baker told the supervisors they were under no set deadline to fill the seat, only that state required them to declare the seat vacant within 10 days of the date (Dec. 12) that Constable Raye Hawkins was killed in the line of duty.

He said several opinions he harvested on the question of filling a sudden vacancy made clear that supervisors were only bound to appoint a replacement for Hawkins within a reasonable amount of time.

Because of the pending funeral service, coupled with the fact that two new supervisors will be seated in January, Baker said the supervisors had plenty of justification for waiting until next month to make an appointment.

In the meeting, board president Cole Flint told other supervisors he had spoken with Wesley Hawkins, a Batesville Police officer and son of the slain Constable, earlier in the week offering the board’s condolences.

He said the younger Hawkins also told him that he would decline an appointment to his father’s post should it be offered.

The Election Commission has set the dates of Jan. 6 to June 2, 2020, as the qualifying period for anyone who wants to declare as a candidate for the District 2 post. There will be no primary in the special election and all those who qualify will be on the November General Election ballot, which will also be the Presidential election.

If more than two candidates qualify, one must win a majority of the votes to take the post. If there is no outright winner in the first election, a run-off would be held three weeks later.

Constable Hawkins had completed most of his office’s work for the remainder of the year before his untimely death, and District 1 Constable Faye Pettis has already finished the few assignments and servings he had left for the January court session.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Emergency Operations Manager Daniel Cole, asked the board to retire Hawkins’ badge, C2. Supervisors approved the request, and declared that the badge number will never be worn by another Panola County officer.