Panola County 2020 Year in Review

Published 6:26 pm Sunday, January 3, 2021

Compiled by Allen Brewer


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The Panola County Board of Supervisors for the 2020-24 session was officially seated Monday, Jan. 6, at the Sardis Courthouse.

Terry Smith from the Panola County Sheriff’s Department was appointed the Constable for the Southern District (District 2) on Jan. 6 by the Board of Supervisors following the death of Raye Hawkins.

Batesville City Aldermen approved the hiring of Berry Thompson as a full-time law enforcement officer for the Code Office.

Sardis Alderman, Ward 4, Thomas “Tommy” Neal Rayburn, 76, passed away on Jan. 9 at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford.

The 2020 Panola County Livestock Show was hosted on Jan. 11, and the Northwest District Livestock Show was held on Jan. 17-18.

A storm destroyed around 20 homes in Panola County on Jan. 11.

Citizens participated in the Martin Luther King Jr., Commemoration Celebration in Panola County, with lasted from Jan. 17 – 20.

The monks and sisters of Magnolia Grove Monastery in North Panola County held a week-long celebration of the Lunar New Year, which culminated on Jan. 26.

Chief Deputy James Rudd was honored at the Panola County Sheriff’s Department on Jan. 17 for his many years of service.

The Batesville Police Department hosted Coffee and Conversations on Jan. 24 at McDonald’s.


The Batesville Junior Auxiliary 2020 Charity Ball was hosted on Feb. 1 at the Panola Country Club. This year’s king and queen were Johnny Pace and Dr. Cynthia Savage.

The Panola County Sheriffs Department hosted a short commemoration ceremony on Feb. 7 to officially dedicate a Wall of Honor in the lobby of the David Bryan Justice Complex. Officers placed a photo of former constable Raye Hawkins on the wall during the ceremony.

The Batesville Garden Club hosted Valentine’s Day Gala for the residents of the Providence Assisted Living Center. This year’s king and queen were George Randolph and Jo Nell Berryhill.

Chief Justice Mike Randolph appointed Circuit Judge Smith Murphy V of Batesville as an alternate member of the Commission on Judicial Performance.

The 16th annual Bill Lipscomb Memorial Rodeo returned to the Batesville Civic Center on Feb. 29.

The North Delta School Lady Green Wave won the 2020 MAIS AAA State Championship Saturday, Feb. 22.


Members of the New Hope Church of God hosted a groundbreaking ceremony on the site of the new church building on Hwy. 315 N on March 1.

Abbie Roark of Enid and Caroline Williamson of Batesville served as pages for the Mississippi Course of Representatives.

The town of Sardis sold two police cars to the Town of Como for $1.

Imerys (KT Clay) Co. donated $500 to the Pleasant Grove Fire Department to help purchase fire equipment.

South Panola School District began serving Grab & Go Meals on March 19 via car windows.

Sylvester Kilgore, Jr., was hired By the South Panola School District as the new boy’s basketball coach on March 20.

Batesville Police Department swore in new police officers Trey Logan, Andrew Geeslin, and Markevius Williams on March 25.

Coaches Will E. Robertson, jr., and the late Robert Harold Lightsey were inducted into the South Panola High School Hall of Fame on March 28. The late Coach Bennie Abson and the athlete Chris McMinn were also inaugural inductees.


Children on Westmoreland Circle made Easter signs to brightened the street instead of having a group Easter egg hunt.

A storm tripped through Panola County leaving millions of dollars of home damages and power outages.

The Crenshaw Police Department welcomed Torance Mottley as a new police officer.

Kirk Rowsey of Big Delta Powersports was awarded a plaque for outstanding ExMark mower sales at a dinner banquet in New Mexico.

Members of the Batesville Women’s Club and the Batesville Junior Women’s League traveled to Pontotoc, to attend the Northern District conference.


Sardis Community Nursing Home hosted a Hope Parade for residents where family and friends could see their relatives from a distance.

Restaurants in Batesville began serving customers in their dining rooms on May 7, as long as they were under 50 percent full.

Members of the Como Community Club and the DeSoto Civic Garden Club refurbished planter boxes around Como on May 11.

Brady Bright wines the Mother’s Day gift basket giveaway contest sponsored by the Panolian.

Local Boy Scouts earned their Eagle Scot’s titles by installing eight new benches and a 32-foot flag pole by the Batesville Cross.

A Memorial Day program was sponsored by the Exchange Club of Batesville on May 25.

The Trussell Park hosted a 32-team tournament, which was the first youth softball/baseball tournament in the State of Mississippi since its suspension due to coronavirus in March.


The Square Market opened on the Downtown Square for the summer on June 3.

The American Crappie Trail hosted its National Championship in Sardis and Batesville this week on June 4 – 6.

Ricky Jaco and Marvin Pryor were hired as part-time officers for Crowder Police Department on June 4.

Sheriff Shane Phelps and Batesville Police Chief Jimmy McCloud lead a march in support of racial equality and community unity between citizens and law enforcement on June 7.

The Batesville Women’s Club nominated Andrea Berryhill to represent Panola County in the state’s Miss Hospitality competition.

The Panola County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources department hire Kenyatta Scott and Cody Gaines.

The End of Watch 2019 touring memorial arrived in Batesville to honor the late Raye Hawkins.

Kevin Farmer was named the new transportation director of the South Panola School District.


The Panola County Board of Supervisors appointed Bruce Cook as the new road manager on July 1.

The First Regional Library offered everyone who participates in the Summer Reading Program the opportunity to pick out their new book to keep.

The Board of Supervisors gave a retirement gift to former Road Manager Lygunnah Bean at an event on July 6.

Grovy’s Garage hosted a car show in Como to benefit Wounded Warriors of Mississippi on July 11.

A procession was held in Batesville in honor of the late Chief Deputy James Rudd.

The family and staff of Dr. David Ball surprised Ball with a surprise anniversary celebration for his 50th year in practice.

The Panola Playhouse presented Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.


First Lieutenant Marcus Rice received a new home from the national nonprofit organization Homes for Our Troops on Aug. 1.

Hunt Howell, Doctor of Pharmacy, has been hired as a pharmacist at Mettesave Discount Drugs in Batesville.

South Panola School District announced that students would return to the classrooms on Aug. 17.

Will Hartzel hosted a national basketball tour at his grandparent’s farm via social media on Aug. 18.

Indu Vaghela hosted an open house to mark the grand opening of Home 2 Suites by Hilton.

North Delta played its first 2020 game in Memorial Field and won against Marshall Academy on Aug. 21.


The Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program selected Davis Powell to participate in the undergraduate program.

The South Panola Tigers football team won their first game of the season on Sep. 4.

Troop 478 adds Gabriel Towles and TaDarrian Woodard as Eagle Scouts.

Batesville’s Pizza Hut closed as part of 300 stores that closed nationwide.

Jimmy McCloud announced plans to retire as Batesville Police Chief. The Batesville Mayor and the Board of Aldermen approved the promotion of Deputy Chief Kerry Pittman after McCloud’s departure.

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith came to Batesville to visit the Panola Medical Center on Sep. 19.

First responders from Panola, Quitman, Tunica, and Tate County were treated to a drive-through barbecue dinner on Sept. 26 on Main Street in Crenshaw.

Senior Night was celebrated at South Panola High School at Tiger Field.


Frock hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 1 on the Downtown Square.

Cistern Hill Missionary Baptist Church Celebrated its 150 anniversary since its founding.

Funeral service for Dr. Deck Stone, 90, was held  Oct. 8 at First United Methodist Church.

Local country singer Jameson Rodgers’ song “Some Girls” hits No. 1 on Billboard’s Emerging Artists Chart on Oct. 17.

The North Delta School career team took first place in the Game Day 3A division for the second consecutive year at the Mississippi Associated of Independent School Spirit Completion.

The band Twin Soul played at the Downtown Square on Oct. 22 as part of the October Square Music series held each Thursday of the month.

Dozens of files participated in the annual Family Campout for members of the local Boy Scouts of America Troop 78 and Cub Scouts Pack 478 on Oct. 23 and 24.

Serval local churches and civic organizations held trunk-or-treat events and giveaways with candy on Oct. 31.


Wayne Belk retained his seat as Election Commissioner for District 3 after beating challenger Gloria Tucker on Nov. 3.

Newly-elected Panola County Constable Dennis Darby was sworn in at the Sardis Courthouse on Nov. 3.

The Batesville Fire Department recruited three graduates, Austin Beavers, Cody Inman, and Hunter Stanford, from the Mississippi Fire Academy on Nov. 5.

Batesville’s Mallory Mayer was selected as Miss DSU at the festivities in Cleveland on Nov. 7.

Officer Pvt. Payton Marascalco was named the 2020 Officer of the Year by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.

Debra Beavers and Kandi Beavers of Courtland took part in the Gateway to the Delta 10 Miler and 5K Run during the weekend.

Downtown Nutrition opens on Batesville Square, Nov. 19, by Brandy Roberson.

The new Como Travel Center at the intersection of Interstate 55 and Highway 310 hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Fast & Affordable Cellphone Repair and More LLC moved to a new location on 263 Hwy. 6.


A mobile petting zoo came to the Batesville Elementary School this year since students were unable to go on a field trip.

James Rogers’ new song, “Cold Beer Calling My Name,” featuring Luke Combs, first played on the radio on Dec. 7.

Bailey Guckert from Kirk Brothers won the 2020 Pigskin Pickers contest with a season record of 111-33.

The Batesville Christmas Parade was held on Dec. 8.

Mississippi’s first shipment of coronavirus vaccine arrived on Monday, Dec. 14. The state’s health care professionals working on the frontlines of the pandemic received the vaccine first.

Superintendent Mike Ross retires, Dec. 15, from the Batesville Water Department after 31 years of service to the city.

The Batesville Rotary Club delivered Christmas gifts to selected students at Batesville Elementary School.