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Natchez News

       by Peter Rinaldi


New study: Riverland Medical Center’s board of directors will hire an independent firm to conduct a study as to whether the directors should build a new hospital in Ferriday to replace Riverland. Administrator Billy Rucker said the directors want to make sure the hospital continues to expand its services and provide good healthcare for the foreseeable future. Riverland is celebrating is 50th year of service this year and is making a small profit.


Qualifying: Attorneys John Reeves, Jack McLemore and Ronnie McMillan qualified for the Seventh District judgeship now held by Leo Boothe. Judge Kathy Johnson is unopposed, as is District Attorney Brad Burget. Ridgecrest qualifying drew Bobby Shepherd for mayor and Ricky Williams for police chief. Those two men are automatically elected since they have no opponents.


Jobless rates: Unemployment rates remain high in Southwest Mississippi and East Central Louisiana. Adams County reports 9.7% jobless, Jefferson 15.9%, Claiborne 14.8%, Franklin 9.8%, Amite 9.3%, and Wilkinson 11.8%. Concordia Parish has


Port monies: The Louisiana Bond Commission approved $5 million in capital outlay funds for the Vidalia Port. That brings the total state allocation to $10 million, not counting federal monies. Mayor Hyram Copeland said he expects the port to be operational by late 2015.


Con artist arrested: The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department arrested Dwight Rogers, 42, of Roxie, and charged him with fraud. Rogers allegedly hijacked customers’ DIRECTV accounts, so that customers would pay him directly instead of the company. Authorities said Rogers was running his scam in nine Mississippi counties as well as in Alabama and Louisiana. He remains in jail on a $98,000 bond.


Jury verdict: A Catahoula Parish jury found Debbie Adams, 55, guilty of the stabbing deaths of her sister and mother and the shooting death of her brother-in-law. Her boyfriend, John Lee Ponthieux, who also participated in the crimes, was sentenced to three consecutive life terms. Adams will also receive life in prison.


Governmental change: Natchez aldermen formally voted to change the city charter to make the city clerk’s position appointed rather than elected. The change would take place in 2016. Aldermen did not discuss their initial idea of changing the city judge’s position to an appointed one. For now, the city judge’s post will remain an elected job.


Warning: The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office said two companies selling advertising specialties are falsely reporting they’re working with the sheriff’s office to buy bulletproof vests. The CPSO raises money only for the D.A.R.E. fishing tournament and the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association.


Regional millage: Adams County Attorney Scott Slover said the county may have to allocate an additional 5-mills to cover debt and expenses as security for the sale of Natchez Regional Medical Center. Slover is hopeful that the county won’t have to go through with an additional tax levy. But he spoke as to its possibility. The hospital has lost millions in recent years and the sale to Community Health Systems has taken longer than expected. The bankruptcy court is likely to approve Regional’s plans at a Sept. 29 hearing.


Jury request: Concordia Parish voters approved a special millage for Recreation District No. 2, which serves the Ferriday area. But in the past few years, the district has not run any programs at all. Concordia Parish police jurors will send a letter to the district, asking its directors to provide a written program of activities, since they’re getting money from taxpayers.


Bomber caught: Bill W. Womack, 55, of Manifest was arrested for having explosive devices at his home. ATF, bomb squad, and Catahoula Parish deputies cordoned off any area around his home to search and eventually safely explode some of the military-style explosives. Womack has apparently set off a device in his estranged wife’s car, leading to the quick response by authorities.


Development approved: Natchez aldermen approved the rezoning of land near Ashburn Street, so that developer Jody Foster could build 33 upscale town homes. Local residents had opposed the plan, fearing the development would cause too much traffic or devalue their properties. Aldermen didn’t agree, since the traffic generated would be small and each town home would be worth significantly more than nearby housing.


Tosspon arrested: George Tosspon, 61, the former chief financial officer for the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office was arrested for theft and malfeasance, allegedly taking $22,000 in unauthorized excess wages from Aug. 2009-Nov. 2013. A legislative audit found that he had funneled the monies to a separate bank account without the monies appearing on his payroll record.


Wilkinson update: Wilkinson County Supervisors approved a new county health plan that will cost $267,500 a year, saving more than $450,000 a year. Supervisors also voted to buy a new $5,900 air conditioner for the sheriff’s department, since the old four-ton unit won’t work any more. The county expects to move the circuit clerk’s office from the second floor to the first floor at the courthouse, since so many residents have difficult with the stairs and the elevator is broken.


Public hearing: Adams County Supervisors will hold a public hearing on their budget for 2014-2015, Sept. 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the supervisor’s meeting room. The county expects to increase millage by 2.24 mills, which will be allocated to the school district. The public is invited. Final approval of the budget will be at the supervisors’ regular meeting on Sept. 15 at 11 a.m.


Catahoula schools: The Catahoula Parish School Board will provide teachers with a one time pay supplement of $610 and non-teachers with $200 in November. The board’s vote said the extra cash will not be repeated next year.


River stages: The Mississippi River at Natchez-Vidalia won’t show much change over the next few weeks. Right now, the river is at 19.8 feet. It should fall to 17.7 feet by Sept. 24.


Recycling monies: Natchez will spend $100,000 on 35-gallon and 95-gallon recycling containers to be placed downtown. Some of the monies will also be used to purchase compactors and compactor containers. The entire cost is paid for by grant funds.


Franklin news: Franklin County Supervisors will not increase property taxes for the coming fiscal year. Supervisors expect to pass a $5.7 million budget at their meeting on Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. at the courthouse. The new budget year starts Oct. 1


Historic status: Natchez will apply for National Register designation for Martin School in hopes of securing federal and state preservation grants.


West Nile: Mississippi and Louisiana health officials report nearly 100 cases of West Nile Virus in humans this year, with two cases in Adams County and one in Wilkinson County.





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