Online Edition                                         Natchez, Mississippi                                       


Natchez News

       by Peter Rinaldi


            Better jobless stats: Reflecting an improving fourth quarter economy, the regional unemployment statistics are better than normal. Adams County reports 6.8% jobless, Franklin 7%, Jefferson 11%, Claiborne 10.6%, Amite 7.2%, and Wilkinson 8.3%. These latest numbers are the best of the past year.  Concordia Parish has 10% of its workforce unemployed, Catahoula 7.4%, and Tensas 9.1%.


            Investigation: Natchez police continue their investigation into the shooting death of Orenthia Bailey, 37, of Natchez. His body was found next to his home with a .45 caliber pistol on the ground nearby. If you have any info about the killing, call Crime Stoppers at 601-442-5000. A reward of up to $1,000 will be paid for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the crime.


            River: The Mississippi River at Natchez-Vidalia is at 21.1 feet. It should rise to 25.6 feet by Jan. 7 and then fall to 21 feet by Jan. 21


            Jail arrest: Catahoula Parish Sheriff's deputies arrested Leole Patrice Thomas, 23, of Baton Rouge, after she planned to bring seven grams of cocaine into the Catahoula Parish Jail. Thomas was passing contraband inside the prison and deputies received consent to search her car in the parking lot, finding the drugs. She was booked into the jail.


            Elections: Adams Chancery Clerk Tommy O'Beirne and Dist. 4 Supervisor Darryl Grennell said they will not run for re-election in 2015. Adams County Administrator Joe Murray said he might run for O'Beirne's job. Meadville Mayor Lane Reed plans to challenge first-term State Senator Melanie Sojourner.


            Nabbed: A Natchez woman stole her boyfriend's car, wallet and credit cards and went on a holiday shopping spree at the Natchez Mall. Adams County Sheriff's deputies arrested Melissa A. Omara, 41, of Natchez, and charged her burglary, larceny and credit card forgery.


            Co-Lin classes: The first day of orientation for the spring semester at Co-Lin Natchez is Jan. 6. Classes start Jan. 7.


            New name: The board of directors of Field Memorial Hospital voted to change its name to Field Health System, reflecting the building of the new hospital and operation of clinics in Woodville, Liberty and Crosby.


            Work continues: A Baton Rouge contractor has finished installing high-speed internet cable across the Mississippi River from Natchez to Vidalia. The work is in preparation for the construction of a $1.2 million broadband-technology center at the site of the old Vidalia city hall. Mayor Hyram Copeland said he expects the center to be finished in eight to 12 months, offering businesses and government the fastest internet service available in the region.


            Captured: Jeffrey McWhorter, 20, an inmate at the Wilkinson County Community Work Center, escaped but was recaptured within hours. He was serving a two-year sentence for burglary and could face an additional five years for the escape. He has been transferred to Rankin County.


            Trinity open house: Trinity Episcopal School will hold an open house for prospective students and their parents Jan. 22 with two sessions, 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 5:30-7:30 p.m. The school offers pre-K through Grade 12 education in a college preparatory setting. For more info, call 601-442-5424.


            Grade: Now in its second year of operation, the Delta Charter School in Ferriday earned a grade of  C from the state department of education, based on test scores. School backers had hoped Delta would have earned a B. Monterey remains the parish's top graded school, earning an A.


            Property taxes: Concordia Parish property tax collections rose from $14.3 million in 2014 from $13.8 million in 2013. The top taxpayer was Catalyst Old River Hydroelectric at $4.182 million.


            Scam: An elderly Crosby man was scammed out of $33,000 for home repairs by con artists. The contractors did minor repairs and kept demanding cash from the 87-year-old.


            Repair bill: The Wilkinson County Board of Supervisors owes Cajun Contractors $101,000 for raising the level of the St. Mary Spillway. The contractors raised the height of the control structure so the lake level would rise 14 inches. Supervisors still plan to ask the state if they can reallocate $70,000 in leftover spillway grant funds for road repairs in the area.


            Interviews: Natchez-Adams Airport directors are interviewing for a new airport manager. Clint Pomeroy will be retiring soon.


            Audit: Natchez Mayor "Butch" Brown says the long-overdue audit should be released next month. Brown has met with The Gillon Group to discuss preliminary findings. The mayor said that the audit will point out bookkeeping and accounting problems, but that current and future grants will not be in jeopardy. The city has already receive numerous letters from state agencies saying no more grant money could be given to Natchez until the city meets compliance standards.


            Robbery: A masked woman robbed a casino patron at gunpoint of $100 in cash, as the victim made his way from the Isle of Capri parking lot to the casino on Silver Street. After stealing the money, the woman jumped into a Chevy Malibu driven by a male and the two made their get-away. So far, no arrest has been made.


            Jail costs: Franklin County Supervisors and their sheriff's office incur only nominal charges to hold errant teens in the Adams County Juvenile Detention Center and adults in the Amite County Jail. The fees incurred are much less expensive than operating a county lockup.


            Voter prop: Catahoula Parish voters will go to the polls March 28 to consider a renewal of a 10-year one cent sales tax levy to benefit roads and bridges. The measure raises approximately $785,000 a year. The police jury gets 75% of the money and Jonesville, Harrisonburg and Sicily Island share the rest.


            Refinancing: The Concordia Parish Police Jury could get a road bond refinance rate as low as 2.65%. The parish is currently paying 4.65%. Issuing a new bond for the remaining balance from 2006 could save the parish as much as $256,000.




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