Local News Compiled and Edited by Our Staff
Natchez aldermen and CVB commissioners met behind closed doors to hammer out a new working agreement between the city and the Natchez Convention Promotion Commission. The mayor and aldermen decided to keep the meeting secret and not open to the public, citing discussion of legal affairs as a pretext for not following the state's open meeting law. The aldermen should meet Aug. 22, formally adopt the agreement and place it in the minutes.
Farmers have not been able to get into their fields because of the recent heavy rains. Concordia Parish County Agent Carol Pinell-Allison said the excessive moisture has damaged some crops.
Merit Hospital Natchez has filed suit against Adams County, objecting to its property tax level. The assessor has place a value on the hospital of $23 million. Merit says it's only worth $14 million. Merit pre-paid $8 million in property taxes when it bought the hospital from supervisors. Merit wants it Natchez Community Hospital campus to be valued at $600,000, since it plans to tear the structure down. Both filings were placed in Adams County Chancery Court.
The Natchez Senior Center held an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate its new computer lab and learning center. Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell thanked Roy King for his donation of equipment and software to set up the lab.
Confidential informants were used to arrest 11 people in a drug sweep of Adams County. The arrests were of street-level dealers.
The Ferriday Board of Aldermen plans to amend its budget at its September meeting, after the board learned it has just $48,000 in reserve for the rest of the year, while paying $98,000 monthly for payroll. The last administration had a payroll of $55,000 per month. Aldermen agreed the town needs more revenue and does not need to rely on the police department and ticket-writing.
Jennifer Waller, 43, a former Zales Jewelry employee, was arrested for allegedly stealing up to $36,000 in cash and jewelry from her Natchez Mall store. Police say she confessed to her crime. Bond was set at $25,000.
Natchez aldermen decided not to renew Waste Pro's garbage collection contract. They will accept new bids. Mayor Darryl Grennell said he'd like the proposals to offer both once a week pickup and twice weekly pickup. Aldermen also voted to retain its current health insurance agent, LS & Associates, without getting new bids. Aldermen are happy with the current arrangement. City employees only have a $1,000 deductible. Les Smith said he was changing the city's administrator for its healthcare claims to Covenant Healthcare, because he has difficulty getting responses from Medova Healthcare, the current administrator.
The American Duchess paddlewheel riverboat, part of American Queen Steamboat Company, will begin serving Natchez. The boat offers luxury accommodations and 5-star cuisine and can carry up to 166 guests. The American Duchess will include St. Francisville, Natchez, Vicksburg and Greenville on its itinerary.
The Concordia Parish Police Jury, the Town of Ferriday and the Louisiana Department of Veterans Services will open a local veterans service office st 109 Doty Road in Ferriday. The jury agreed to pay the state $942 per month for six months for its veterans services at the site. Then the cost will rise to $1371 per month for the second six months. The jury agreed to buy some Christmas decorations for the old courthouse and provide gravel and grade pickup lines at Monterey School. The jury will consider a 25 m.p.h. speed limit on Centennial Road in a public hearing in two weeks' time.
Natchez, Inc. said it would begin to start to recruit retailers to the city. In past, the agency has worked on industrial prospects almost exclusively. The city is expected to provide Natchez, Inc. with more funding to hire a person to do the recruiting.
Roger L. Johnson, 45, of Natchez, was charged with the sale of crack cocaine by the Adams County Sheriff's Office Special Operations Group. The deputies made undercover buys from Johnson at several locations. A warrant served on his house found crack, $709 in cash and a digital scale.
Adams County Port Director Tony Hauer said heavy rainfall this summer has cut down on barge traffic to the port. Only two barges of grains have been loaded or unload at the port this year. He expects business to pick up as the weather becomes sunnier.
Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said the city will place its municipal codes online so voters and taxpayers can read them.
Concordia Parish Dist. 1 Justice of the Peace Elijah Banks has opened an office at 409 Virginia Avenue in Ferriday. He will hold court the second Tuesday of the month at Clayton Town Hall. Banks shares his Ferriday office with Constable Michael Kelly.
Natchez Railway and the Natchez-Adams County Port Commission will be allowed to send a representative to meetings of Natchez, Inc. There has been conflict between the railway and Natchez, Inc. in the past. And it's hoped including the railway and port guests will improve communication. They will not be able to vote in board meetings.
The Concordia Parish School Board will expand the space available for students at the Concordia Parish Academy for Math, Science and Technology. The district expects enrollment to grow from the current 262 students to 306 by 2019-2020. At first, the schools will use temporary classrooms.
Regions Bank Natchez celebrated the opening of its new branch on South Canal Street. Hotelier Warren Reuther will start remodeling the old Regions branch on Franklin Street for a boutique hotel.
Adams County Supervisors will spend $67,000 to repair the Quitman Road bridge. The county also has plans to repair two other bridge, one on Deerfield Road and another on Hutchins Landing Road. All three were closed last month due to their fragile condition.
Circuit Judge Al Johnson read a statement aloud in his courtroom from the Mississippi Supreme Court. In attendance, retired Justice Court Judge Charlie Vess stood in silence to receive a verbal reprimand for his behavior on the bench. In a criminal justice court hearing, Vess had threatened a defendant, saying he might take out his pistol from under his judicial robes and shoot the man if he caused trouble. Vess also admonished the man's mother for doing a poor job of raising her son. The Supreme Court ruled on a recommendation from the Miss. Commission for Judicial Performance and Judge Johnson delivered the high court's sanction. Vess was also assessed a $1,100 fine and a 30-day suspension for his behavior. The justice court judge expressed little remorse. Outside the courtroom, he said he might run for office again, next time for Adams County Circuit Clerk.
Vidalia ended its 2016-2017 fiscal year with $1.4 million more in revenue than expenses. Revenue totaled $33.8 million, $2.2 million less than budgeted because port revenue was less than forecast because the port is not open yet. The fiscal year ended June 30.
Adams County voters will fill a few political posts this November. A special election for Justice Court Judge South has two aspirant so far, Danny Barber and Jack Blaney. Bryan Callaway and Shameca Collins have qualified to run for Adams County Prosecutor. And Alma Fletcher has signed up to run for Election Commissioner Dist. 5. Deadline for qualifying is Sept. 8. The election will be Nov. 7.
Mona R. Manchester, 56, of Vidalia, was killed when the log truck she was riding in on U.S. Hwy. 71 near Leesville overturned and caught fire. Manchester's husband was driving the truck. The husband, Allen Manchester Jr., 58, was able to escape the flames. But his wife could not. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Mr. Manchester required hospitalization for his burns and injuries.
Natchez businessman Kevin Wilson has filed suit, a bill of exceptions in Adams County Circuit Court, asking the court to rule that the Natchez school board acted improperly and illegally when it passed a measure for a $9 million bond issue to repair the local schools. Wilson alleges the board acted improperly, not giving enough public notice for its July 20 and July 26 meetings when the bond issue was passed, not taking public comment and illegally adjourning a meeting without a formal vote. Wilson was the architect of a petition drive to stop to force a referendum on the bond issue, but not enough signatures could be garnered to secure a special election.
Vidalia's new technology center on Carter Street is almost complete. The building will house internet services for the city and the community and a business incubator. The town is installing fiber optic cable to give locals higher speed internet with automated meter reading. The installation of the high speed cable should be done by sometime in 2020. The technology center will host an open houses this fall.
An unidentified child riding a bicycle on Sixth Street in Ferriday was struck by a pickup truck. Police said the child did not stop at a stop sign. The driver did not see the child in time to avoid the accident. The child was transported to Riverland Medical Center for treatment and is recovering.
Adams County Search & Rescue saved two men from the Mississippi River when there boat ran out of gas near Giles Island and floated downstream. One of the men dialed 911. The 18-and 20-year-olds were found about eight miles south of the Adams County Port. Their boat was towed back to safety. Neither man was injured.
The Natchez-Adams County Humane Society has asked city aldermen to allocated $60,000 a year to care for animals instead of the normal $25,000. Expenses for the society's shelter run more than $300,000 a year. Aldermen took the request under advisement for their new budget year which starts Oct. 1
Merit Hospital Natchez no longer needs its Natchez Community Hospital campus. Since a buyer has not been found for the property, Merit plans to demolish the structure at a cost of $500,000-$700,000. Once demolished, the company feels it will be able to sell the vacant land for a good price, since it is zoned for business use. Happy
The Sixth District Attorney's Office dropped aggravated assault charges against Michael Thomas, 20, of Adams County, who had allegedly participated in a shooting in June 2016 at the Holiday Apartments in Natchez. While the charges are dropped, he still faces trial for allegedly shooting a man in the legs following a dice game in Feb. 2017, again at Holiday Apartments.
Vidalia aldermen discussed amending their drug and alcohol policy. Currently, two violations of the policy and a second positive tests results in termination. They'll also pass an ordinance that will codify officials salaries. The salary ordinance is required by law.
Ferriday aldermen met and discussed the need to cut payroll. During the last four years, payroll has run about $55,000 a month. But just this past month, payroll topped $98,000 because of increased due to police department staffing. Alderwoman Gloria Lloyd was acting as mayor pro tem, as Mayor Sherrie Jacobs was out with an illness. The aldermen used her absence to bash her leadership. A new ordinance was reintroduced to set officials salaries: the mayor $44,000, aldermen $6,000 each, police chief $39,312, fire chief $31,200, street supervisor $28,090, water supervisor $27,040, and court magistrate $6,000. The town currently does not have a water supervisor.
Stewart Williams, 26, of Adams County, pled not guilty to threatening Natchez School Board member Phillip West. Williams and West argued at a July meeting of the board. West filed a complaint with law enforcement and Williams was charged with disturbing the peace and simple assault by fear, both misdemeanors. Because of interest in the matter, Sheriff Travis Patten said, the case will probably moved to a bigger county courtroom to accommodate citizens who want to attend. No trial date has been set.
Three Adams County men pleaded guilty to eliminate the prospect of a trial involving the murder of Charles Barnes in Oct. 2015 in a drug deal gone bad. Kelsey Wilson, 23, pled guilty to second-degree murder. Chadwich Watson, 23, and Darnell Stevenson, 18, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Earlier in March, a fourth man, Darryl Hurts Jr., 19, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robbery. The shooters also seriously wounded a pregnant woman who was in Barnes' vehicle. Circuit Judge Al Johnson sentenced Watson and Stevenson to a maximum of five years in prison. Watson's sentencing has been delayed until Aug. Hurts sentencing will also be later, as he faces additional charges.
Natchez aldermen decided to seek new proposals for garbage collection services. They will not extend Waste Pro's contract. The contract with the company started in 2013.
The Miss. Department of Health will hold its annual Alzheimer's Conference in Natchez for the second year in a row. The event is scheduled for Aug. 16-18 at the Natchez Convention Center. The public is invited to attend.
Adams County Supervisor Mike Lazarus said the county will likely lower its millage this year, since assessed values continue to rise. The school board has requested an additional $422,000, but the increase in assessments may produce enough revenues to cover the expenditure. The cost of the new school bond for $9 million won't go into effect until next year's budget. The decrease could be 1-2 mills and would still give the city, county and schools more monies.
Ferriday NAACP leader Justin Conner has been sentenced to six months in jail with all but 15 days suspended, after pleading guilty to operating a vehicle under suspension. After serving his time, he will be on six months probation and must successfully complete a substance abuse program. He will report to jail Aug. 10 or earlier. Judge Jimmie Peters told Conner that if he was convicted of another DWI, he should expect the maximum sentence.
Natchez Police responded to Snapchat threats made against Cathedral School on July 24. Police did not release details other than to say a parent reported the threats and police know who made the threats.
Ferriday Police Chief Arthur Lewis complained he is not receiving the respect of the mayor and board of aldermen. He said he is ready to quit or be fired. The aldermen have asked the state attorney general's office whether Lewis should be paid for the three months he was on suspension.
Circuit Judge Al Johnson sentenced Lavander Williams, 37, to to 30 years in prison, after he pled guilty to the Nov, 2015 shooting of Charles Knight at M&M Grocery on MLK Road. The two men argued and Williams followed Knight to his truck, shooting him with an assault rifle.
Judge John Reeves ruled that newly elected Ferriday Alderman Dist. D Andrew Keys is legally entitled to hold his office. Reeves dismissed with prejudice the suit of former Alderman Johnny Woodruff who claimed that Keys was not a legal resident of the district.
Adams County Supervisors have contracted with Camo Construction of Vidalia for $182,000 in emergency repairs to MLK Road. An earth slide and erosion will be remedied.
Jimmy E. Franklin, 32, of Jonesville, faces a mid-August sentencing date after he pled guilty to the Dec. 2016 attempted first degree murder and kidnapping of an Enterprise woman. He could get up to 50 years in jail without probation or parole. Franklin broke in the door of the woman's home with a shotgun, assaulted her and kidnapped her, taking her to Franklin Parish. As he tried to escape he shot at deputies.
Vidalia is working to pave or repave D.A. Biglane Road, the road near the former Vidalia Apparel building and the new road next to the Town Place Suites hotel now under construction.
Antonio K. Johnson, 33, of Natchez, was arrested by police after she shot four rounds into a van parked on East Franklin Street. A man and a woman were in the van but not injured.
Adams County has an 9.7% unemployment rate. 10,430 people have jobs, up 10 jobs from a year ago. Concordia Parish reports 9.3% joblessness. 6,799 people are working, down 45 jobs compared to last year.
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