National drone competition coming to B’ville

Published 7:42 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Batesville Civic Center will host a national high school drone competition in April 2024. Teams from across the U.S., and some from other countries are expected to participate. The event will be limited to 100 teams, bringing more than 800 students with parents and instructors to the city.

The 2024 National JROTC All-Service Drone Competition will be held in Batesville April 4-6 of next year. Serving as host and also participating will be the South Panola School District’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Corps’ (AFJROTC).

South Panola’s AFJROTC program is a broad umbrella, covering a variety of robotic teams beside the drone group.

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The program’s instructors are Lt. Col. Leonard Boothe and Tsgt. Rodney Williams. They have begun preparations for the major event that will draw participants from around the country for the three-day competition.

The instructors have assembled a support staff for planning, and held a “kick start” event earlier this month at Boothe Event Center.

Sponsorships of $20,000 from Tennessee Valley Robotics, and $5,000 each from Tennessee Retiree Fund and Boothe Wealth Group have been secured, but additional community funding is being solicited for the event.

A Veterans Day Military Ball fundraiser has also been planned for Nov. 11. Tickets are $30 each. Tables with 10 seats are being sold for $300 for the 6 p.m. formal event.

Members of the military, both active and veterans from Panola County, and local families who have relatives serving will be honored during the military ball. Organizers have asked that anyone wanting to be part of the program, or have their family members included, contact Boothe (813) 732-0556 or Williams (662) 809-3547 before Oct. 31. Email contact can be made at and