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Natchez News

       by Peter Rinaldi


Riverland’s good news: Riverland Medical Center showed a profit of $203,000 on revenues of $14.2 million for 2013, according to its CPA audit. The hospital showed a profit of $317,000 last year. Members of the board of directors were pleased with the news, as it is difficult for many small town hospitals to stay in the black.


Jobless stats: Despite cold winter weather, the unemployment picture improved slightly over the past month. Adams County joblessness dropped to 7.3%, Franklin 8.8%, Wilkinson 10.9%, Amite 8.9%, Jefferson 14.3%, and Claiborne 13.4%. Concordia Parish reports 8.1% unemployed, Catahoula 5.6%, and Tensas 7.0%.


Jury can’t help: Residents of Washington Heights in Concordia Parish complained to police jurors that sewage backs up into their yards and houses. But the jury can’t do anything because the sewage system is privately owned by former developer Kenneth Hudnall. Hudnall filed bankruptcy and is unable to make repairs.


Rec meeting: Adams County Supervisors and Natchez Aldermen will meet again this week to discuss a joint approach to recreation. Currently, the city is spending about $1 million a year on recreation and the county is spending $60,000 a year. The county has agreed to pay for the cost of a recreation director. And both bodies have agreed in principle to turn most, if not all recreation management to the ad hoc recreation commission. If new facilities are to be built or the existing ones improved, then the county will have to allocate more money.


Charged with murder: Natchez Police charged Maurice Davis, 22, of Natchez, with the February shooting of Terrance Thornburg, 20. Police believe the pair was involved in a dice game and that Davis lost his money in the game. Thornburg’s family report $1,100 in cash was also missing from the home.


Clerk resigns: Jonesville Town Clerk Deborah Savage resigned her post in the town council meeting. Mayor Hiram Evans tried unsuccessfully to move the discussion to executive session. But Savage explained in the open forum the town finances weighed heavily on her and that working at town hall was a “hostile workplace environment.” The mayor and she exchanged heated words after Savage requested that her back pay and comp time be paid immediately. She said she was worried about the town going broke which angered the mayor. He denied her assertion.


Easter egg hunt: The town of Ferriday will hold its Easter egg hunt April 19 at the playground next to town hall. Start times are for ages 1-2, 11:30 a.m., ages 3-5, noon, ages 6-8, 12:30 p.m., and ages 9012 1 p.m. Entertainment, games and refreshments will be included.


Drug deal: Adams County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Ravaontae Jenkins, 20, and Devon Sweazy, 22, of Adams County, after the pair allegedly assaulted a man with a pistol during a drug deal on Lower Woodville Road. They were charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.


Pipeline politics: Arclight Capital Partners and associated companies own some of the gas lines that run through east central Louisiana and Southwest Mississippi, including, Vidalia, Ferriday, Clayton, Jonesville, Sicily Island, Natchez and Woodville. The companies say they want higher rates for the transmission of natural gas to homes and businesses and have even threatened abandonment. That threat is seen as a ploy to get regulators to increase the costs to consumers. If Arclight, a hedge fund, does not get the revenue it seeks, it can always sell the pipeline service to another investor. Mayors Butch Brown and Hyram Copeland, as well as the congressional delegation, are working to help preserve service while keeping rate increases as low as possible.


No commitment: Adams County Supervisors have not committed to the idea of paying rent for the extension office at the remodeled depot on Broadway.  Natchez Mayor Butch Brown and the aldermen have agreed to spend several million dollars to rehab the historic structure. So far, it looks like the building will be used for unspecified government offices and tourist bathrooms. But it’s uncertain who will occupy the building over the long term. Alcorn has put on hold immediate funding for a new farmer’s market but is still interested in moving somewhere on Broadway for more visibility.


New hospital: Wilk-Amite officials broke ground on their new $21 million hospital that will replace Field Memorial. The 16-bed hospital is expected to open in Oct. 2015.


Finances: Concordia Parish Sheriff Kenneth Hedrick said he will work to improve budgeting, cash flow and monitor expenses, erasing a large deficit. The sheriff’s office most recent audit showed it had a deficit of $998,000 for the year ending June 30, 2013, based on $16 million in revenues. Hedrick said he expects the problem to be fixed by the end of this fiscal year.


Recycling: Adams County joins the cities of Natchez and Vidalia, having adopted a weekly curbside recycling program.


Indictment dropped: District Attorney Brad Burget has dropped felony prosecution against Natchez Police Officer Vincent Bates. Burget originally presented evidence to a grand jury indicating Bates interfered with deputies when they were trying to arrest Bates’ son for murder. But the evidence is not compelling for trial or conviction. Burget has indicated that Bates may face misdemeanor charges for the same incident. Officer Bates had been on suspension from his job. He has now returned to work.


SIDS: A couple found their 5-month-old son not breathing in his crib and rushed the boy to Field Memorial Hospital in Centreville. But the ER team could not resuscitate Korbin Quinn. Wilkinson County Corner Travis Sharp said the likely cause was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The child’s body was sent to the Mississippi Crime Lab for autopsy to try to determine a cause of death. Sharp reported there no trauma to the infant’s body.


Loan extended: Natchez Regional Medical Center will keep a $1.5 million line of credit with UMB through its new bankruptcy. Hospital attorney Walter Brown said under the new terms of the loan, Regional must provide both the bank and supervisors with weekly financial reports.


School tax: Catahoula Parish voters will consider a renewal of a 5.85 property tax levy to support the public schools on May 3. The measure raises approximately $207,000 a year. If passes, the renewal would be in effect for 10 years, from 2015-2024.


Ultraviolet: Franklin Memorial Hospital has purchased V-360+ ultraviolet mobile room sanitizer to help improve disinfection in patient rooms, the ER and other areas. The device disinfects rooms after normal cleaning and is supposed to help combat the new strain of “super bugs.”


Robber arrested: Police arrested Anthony Thompson, 31, of Natchez, and charged him with armed robbery and aggravated assault, after he allegedly drove his victim from a Natchez casino to the victim’s home to steal money. The victim retrieved some money from the residence. Then Thompson took the man to another location, where a conspirator was waiting for the cash-laden victim. The criminals assaulted the man and stole his money. Police are looking for the accomplice.


River stages: The Mississippi River at Natchez-Vidalia is at just over 30 feet. Forecasters believe the river will drop to 23.2 feet by April 23.





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