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Natchez News

       by Peter Rinaldi


Happy weekend: Natchez will host its annual July 4 fireworks celebration along the river shortly after dusk. The 22nd Annual Lake St. John flotilla will be July 5 starting at 2 p.m.


Jobless: Unemployment percentages are falling, a sign the economy is improving ever so slightly from early spring. The numbers in the workforce continue to decline, reflecting out-migration of workers. And the regional economy has lost jobs compared to 2013. Adams County has 7.6% jobless, Jefferson 14.2%, Franklin 9.0%, and Wilkinson 10.0%. The four-county area employs 19,440 people, down 500 jobs from a year ago. Concordia Parish reported 9.0% jobless, Catahoula 6.6%, and Tensas 8.8%. The tri-parish area now employs 11,877 workers, 36 fewer than last year. Statistics are compiled by the Miss. Department of Employment Security and the Louisiana Department of Labor.


Oil spill: Oil was spilled on about two miles of the Jackson, La. road in Wilkinson County. The sheriff’s department reported the spill. R.W. Delaney was hired to clean up the mess, first thought to be the responsibility of Halcon Oil. It turned out that a Halcon subcontractor was actually responsible. Sand was mixed with the oil to absorb the contaminant.  Unfortunately, the clean-up was not complete, with supervisors saying mounds of sand were still along the roadside. The county will contact the parties involved to make sure the clean-up is finished properly.


Riverland to the good: Riverland Medical Center Administrator Billy Rucker reported the hospital made just under $290,000 in May, the fifth time in six months it made a profit. Rucker credited improved services and his employees’ hard work for the good news.


Rape arrests: Two Natchez men allegedly raped a 14-year-old female at Gulf Shores, Alabama. Police arrested Alvion Simpson, 20, and John Sanders, 21. The teen said she was riding in the car with the men and they provided alcohol. She became intoxicated and was then raped.


Jury suit: The Concordia Parish Police Jury may file suit against Plains Marketing for damages to Kemp Landing Road in Monterey. The oil tanker company has been using the road for years. Jury president Melvin Ferrington said the company’s heavy trucks have caused at least $500,000 in damage to the road. A parish ordinance limits the weight of loaded trucks and Plains violated this law, he said.


Public hearing: Adams County Supervisors will hold a public hearing as part of their regular meeting on July 7 at 9 a.m. to discuss whether to adopt specific building codes and enforcement countywide. The legislature has given boards of supervisors the choice to opt out of the new regulations, if counties desire to do so. Supervisors could require all contractors working in the county to be licensed and homeowners and businesses to secure building permits, inspections and pay fees. Supervisor Dist. 1 Mike Lazarus said he didn’t think supervisors had an interest in expanding regulations. The public is invited to the hearing.


Horse killer: The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office is looking for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons who randomly shot and killed two horses and wounded another so badly, it had to be put down. The incidents occurred near Lake Concordia. If you have info about the shootings, call 318-336-5231.


Alternative school: Ombudsman Educational Services of Libertyville, Illinois, will run the Natchez School District’s alternative school for a second year beginning this fall. The district will move the alternative school to the Robert Lewis Magnet School, since the facility has extra room.


Wilkinson news: County Chancery Clerk Thomas Tolliver Jr. told supervisors he had spent nearly four days in Houston talking to oilmen interested in drilling the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale formation in Wilkinson County. Supervisors expect the number of drilling rigs to increase dramatically, as will the wear and tear on the county’s roads. Administrator Bruce Lewis said the county’s recycling program will begin soon, with recycling cans placed around the county. Supervisors expect to save as much as $30,000 on trash pickup and disposal in the coming year, awarding a low bid of $8.25 per month per customer for residential pickup to Waste Pro and $22 per ton for disposal to Riverbend Environmental Services.


Deal still in the works: The final agreement for sale of Natchez Regional Medical Center has been delayed as Community Health Systems of Tennessee seeks a special economic development designation from the state for its purchase. Such a designation would help CHS obtain economic development loans and preferred tax status. A monkey wrench has been thrown into the negotiations when it was learned that supervisors could not take some of CHS’s advance tax payments and apply them to the hospital’s loans and past due bills. Such tax payments would have to be escrowed for taxes only. That would leave supervisors and Regional trustees with unpaid millions in debt and past dues. Regional could amend its bankruptcy filings to not pay unsecured creditors. Supervisors could also attribute residents’ Homestead Exemption in payment of the loans, as well as raise property taxes. It’s hoped that CHS’s economic development status might cycle some state money into the deal.


MDOT project: MDOT and T.L. Wallace Construction of Columbia, Miss., will begin construction to lengthen the Homochitto River Bridge on Hwy. 33 in Franklin County. The lengthening of the bridge is necessary due to the erosion of the river banks. During construction, one lane of the bridge may be closed at times. Work begins this month and should be completed by Oct. 2014.


Passing: Former Adams County administrator Charlie Brown, 86, died after a long illness. Brown was the county’s first administrator and served in his post for 17 years. Vernon Morris White Sr. also passed. He was Concordia Parish’s civil defense and emergency preparedness director for 31 years. He was 74.


Up and down: The Mississippi River at Natchez-Vidalia is at just over 36 feet. Forecasters say the river will rise to 39.7 feet by July 9 and then begin a slow fall to 32.8 feet by July 23.


Franklin schools: The Franklin County School Board has requested an additional $116,000 from supervisors to fund the local schools in the coming year. Supervisors will have to adjust their own budget or increase property taxes to fund the request.


Judge’s rulings: Judge Lillie Blackmon Sanders presided over circuit court in Wilkinson County. The judge accepted guilty pleas from Keyonda Begettsy and Stephanie Beverly for introducing contraband to the county prison. They were placed on probation. William Christopher Woodall had sentence withheld for also introducing contraband to the prison. Andreius Samuels was charged with sexual battery and pled guilty to the lesser charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was sentenced to six months in jail but released for time served. Shanell Monqiue Wilson pled guilty to malicious mischief and was placed on probation. William Nathan Gardner pled guilty to possession of meth. He was entered into the drug court program. Kenita Weatherspoon entered a plea of guilty to a lesser charge of malicious mischief and was non-adjudicated and placed on probation.


Chief reports: Interim Ferriday Police Chief Derrick Freeman said a gang fight in town led to shootings. No one was killed or wound, but seven Ferriday and one Alexandria teen were all arrested. Freeman said a group called, “the Swim Team,” wants to show how tough it is. But the chief promised arrest any gang lawbreakers to curb violence.


Jonesville water system: In its annual water report, the town of Jonesville reported four instances of boil water advisories. The town was required to test two samples per month for coliform bacteria contamination and no detected results were found. One of the town’s test sites showed larger than expected amounts of lead, which was probably from the corrosion of household plumbing systems or erosion of natural deposits. But the level tested was still low and within the acceptable range.


Brick repairs: Memorial Park in Natchez sidewalks are being repaired thanks to a $25,000 MDOT grant that provides youth employment for the summer.


Civil War camp: Historic Jefferson College will host a Civil War camp for children ages 8-12 July 9-11. The program is designed to help young people learn about the art of Civil War soldiering. They will fire black powder weapons, learn military drill and receive lessons in cavalry tactics and the use of artillery. At the end of the three days, the cadets earn the rank of private first class and receive a diploma as members of the Jefferson Military College Avengers. The fee for the program is $35 per child. For more info and to register your child, call 601-442-2901.




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