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By JB Clark

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Boys & Girls Clubs of America President and CEO Jim Clark served as a celebrity judge in Saturday night’s Dance Like the Stars fundraising event and even kicked off the night with a dance of his own.

“So You Think You Can Dance” top 15 contestant and Boys & Girls Club alumni Novien Yarber also served as a celebrity judge and performed for spectators.

The event serves as the largest fundraising event and biggest single income-generator for the Boys & Girls Club of North Mississippi, bringing a record $246,000 last year. This year’s total reached $200,895.

Amanda Angle of Tupelo was the first celebrity dancer to compete and dressed as Alice in Wonderland, performing a Viennese waltz.

“I have a 10-year-old son who does an after-school program and I feel like there should be an opportunity for all kids to continue their education after school,” Angle said. “I’m definitely not going to win the dance, but I’m excited about the amount of money we’re going to raise for the club.”

The Rev. Jason Harms of Ripley said he participated in the competition because he’s seen the impact the Boys & Girls Club has on his community.

“I know they’re doing some good stuff in Ripley and I hadn’t had a chance to get involved with it yet so this was a great way to do something for the club,” Harms said. “It’s important for kids to have a place after school that’s meaningful – where they’re getting attention and love and things that help them. That helps them, their families and our communities.”

Harms said he was nervous to perform in front of his family, friends and church members in attendance.

Zell Long, the club’s chief operating officer, said she was thrilled with the turnout at Saturday’s event.

“It’s been a wonderful crowd and they’ve had a good time,” she said. “They’re laughing and getting out on the dance floor and they’ve supported our celebrity dancers.”

jb.clark@journalinc.com

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WINNERS

Judges choice

1. Jason Harms

2. Janea Britton

3. Torrie Robertson

Fundraising grand champion award

1. Amanda Angle $32,687

2. Felicia Pollard $21,778

3. Janea Britton $18,851

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com Jacob Olson, left, talks to Randy Esco of Victor Mill in Greenville, South Carolina on Saturday in the Indigo Imports showroom during the fall Tupelo Furniture Market. Olson is the general manager of Indigo Imports, which is located in Ozark, Missouri.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Jacob Olson, left, talks to Randy Esco of Victor Mill in Greenville, South Carolina on Saturday in the Indigo Imports showroom during the fall Tupelo Furniture Market. Olson is the general manager of Indigo Imports, which is located in Ozark, Missouri.

By JB Clark

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Exhibitors fought off exhaustion Saturday as smaller furniture buyers, like mom-and-pop shop owners, took to the floors after a busy first two days at the Tupelo Furniture Market.

“This is nearing the end of the market and you’ve been busy so you’re a little tired and a little weary,” said V.M. Cleveland, CEO of the Tupelo Furniture Market.

He said Saturday is the day for smaller furniture store owners to buy floor samples to quickly get into their stores.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com Autumn Cox, 7, curls up on a mattress at the National Mattress space Saturday while with mom Nikki Harmon during the fall Tupelo Furniture Market. National Mattress is based out of Plantersville.

Lauren Wood | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Autumn Cox, 7, curls up on a mattress at the National Mattress space Saturday while with mom Nikki Harmon during the fall Tupelo Furniture Market. National Mattress is based out of Plantersville.

Many exhibitors used the slower pace of the day to catch their breath, reorganize their booth and relax. Exhibitors and buyers chatting on a plush couch or across each other from a table was not uncommon, as opposed to the fast pace of sales Thursday and Friday crowds brought.

Nikki Harmon and her daughter were keeping watch over the National Mattress booth, a Plantersville-based company owned by her parents.

“Saturday is a little less busy,” said the three-year veteran of the furniture market. “It’s a laid-back, blue-jean kind of day.”

Harmon said they had many buyers come back on Thursday and Friday but Saturday she rested on their mattresses as a few prospective buyers trickled by.

Jacob Olson, general manager of Indigo Imports based out of Ozark, Missouri, said even with a slower Saturday than he had hoped for he was able to sell most of his furniture, evidenced by “sold” signs hanging from virtually every item in his display room.

“We’ve had a 90- to 95-percent sell through of all our floor samples,” he said. “It’s always a great market and that’s because of the people that run the market.”

He said Thursday was an excellent day of sales, followed by a typical Friday and a fairly decent Saturday.

“It’s usually a little busier but today has been decent,” he said. “It’s usually mom-and-pops toward the end.”

Olson said they do 12 markets each year and he enjoys how easy the staff at the Tupelo Furniture Market make it to get in and out of the market and how nice they are to work with.

“It’s less stressful and almost like a vacation,” he said. “They’ve had lots of buyer events and parties and done an excellent job recruiting buyers this year.”

Cleveland said it is the goal of the Tupelo Furniture Market staff to provide plenty of entertaining events and Southern hospitality.

jb.clark@journalinc.com

By JB Clark

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Red Cross Northeast Mississippi chapter named Guntown’s Joe Lukas this year’s outstanding volunteer and the CREATE Foundation this year’s community partner of the year at its annual meeting.

Lukas was given the award for his weekly dedication to the chapter.

“He comes in two or three times a week, deployed to several national disasters and worked on local disasters like the April 28 tornado,” said the chapter’s executive director, Patty Tucker. “He was instrumental in getting our shelter up and running. We can always depend on him.”

Tucker said the CREATE Foundation was recognized because of its immediate fundraising efforts following the April 28 tornado.

“We appreciate their initiative and that they dispersed the money to so many organizations that provided services and continue to provide services to the community,” she said.

The Northeast Mississippi Red Cross received more than $600,000 from United Way, individual giving, corporations, local governments and in-kind gifts in the chapter’s 16-county footprint during the 2014 fiscal year.

“The 2014 fiscal year was an outstanding year because of the support we received from the community,” Tucker said. “We just received a tremendous amount of support financially and through community partners as a whole. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of the community.”

During the same period, the chapter responded to 252 single-and multi-family fires, assisting 600 families and households with clothing, food, household items and shelter.

During the recent tornado, the chapter served more than 3,000 meals, distributed more than 2,000 relief items (like hygiene kits, work gloves and shovels) and provided more than 2,000 health consultations while deploying at least 100 volunteers.

The chapter also trained 990 people in health and safety classes and assisted 217 local military members and their loved ones.

The chapter’s advisory board officers were also elected for the new fiscal year and are:

Chairman – Henry Cobb of Union County.

Vice Chairman – Buddy Collins of Itawamba County.

Treasurer – Colt Doom of Union County.

Secretary – Rosland Jackson of Lee County.

jb.clark@journalinc.com

COOPER

COOPER

By JB Clark

Daily Journal

TUPELO – A Pontotoc man was arraigned on three separate counts of molestation in the Lee County Justice Court Friday.

Richard Earl Cooper, 57, of Pontotoc, had his bond set at $400,000.

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said they heard of the incident in early August when it was reported Cooper brought three Pontotoc children with him while he was doing yard work at a Lee County Residence.

The incidents happened at the residence where Cooper was doing yard work.

The three children belonged to a friend of Cooper.

Cooper was previously charged with touching a child for lustful purposes in Calhoun County in 1996. He is a registered sex offender.

Pontotoc law enforcement officials are currently looking into the possibility of additional charges against Cooper, according to Johnson.

GETER

GETER

KEY

KEY

By JB Clark

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Two Tupelo men were arraigned on armed robbery charges stemming from a Thursday afternoon incident.

Travis N. Key, 30, and Leroy Geter, 28, both of Tupelo, had their bonds set at $100,000 each in the Lee County Justice Court Friday afternoon.

They were both arrested Thursday afternoon shortly after the alleged robbery.

Tupelo Det. Scott Floyd said the incident began at a restaurant near the Sprint Mart on Eason Boulevard and then carried over into the Sprint Mart when the victim attempted to flee.

The two men fled the scene and were later apprehended near Crosstown.

Floyd said Geter has previous felony convictions and was in possession of a firearm at the time of his arrest. He said Key is currently out on bond for controlled substance charges.

Police are currently searching for a third suspect aren’t currently releasing a description.

By JB Clark

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo Police Chief Bart Aguirre said the planning phase of the new police headquarters building is nearly complete, and he is anxious to see construction start.

Will Lewis, architect for JBHM Architecture, told the Tupelo City Council at a Monday work session the cost estimate for the 38,150-square-foot building is $9,599,505, under the city’s $10 million budget.

The new facility would unite most police operations on a four-acre property at Front and Franklin streets and add modern equipment and infrastructure. Early design estimates had been as high as $11 million.

Not included in the budget is optional housing for the explosive ordnance disposal and motorcycle divisions, which Lewis said has been designed and priced at $427,000.

“That’s one thing we had to keep out to stay within the budget,” he said. “The EOD and motorcycle garage we have planned, and it’s in our plan to include it as an alternative in the event the bids come in lower than we expect. You’ll certainly get the best price if you get it as part of a package.”

The early designs show a two-story building with a basement garage on the northeast end of the building.

The basement garage, which is labeled as an evidence garage in the plans, is where Aguirre said motorcycles will be stored until the second building can be built.

Lewis and Aguirre said they were proud of the square footage, which came in just over 100 square feet more than was deemed necessary in the project’s planning stages.

Lewis said they hope to be able to prep the site for groundwork by the beginning of 2015 and then have the entire project completed by late 2015 or early 2016.

The project has been in talks since Chief Harold Chaffin was in office, making Aguirre the third police chief to work on the project.

“We’ve been working on this process for some time, and now we’re ready to get some movement on it,” he said. “There has been a lot of things holding us up along the way. Getting that property held us up for quite some time. I’m ready to get rolling.”

Plans to build a new police facility stalled as city leaders waited to acquire the $1.5 million property seized by federal agencies as part of a contraband cigarette operation.

jb.clark@journalinc.com

By JB Clark

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo City Council may vote next week on adding electronic cigarettes to the city’s public smoking ban, but the ordinance will include concessions to traditional tobacco businesses as well as those with heavy sales in the battery-operated vaporizers.

A split council delayed action last week on adding e-cigarettes to the city’s smoking ordinance, with several council members saying they wanted more time to gather information and ensure safeguards for the businesses that sell them.

At Monday’s council work session, City Attorney Ben Logan said e-cigarettes – battery-operated devices used to deliver nicotine and other chemicals through vaporized flavored and scented water – would be illegal in public places just like cigarettes if the council decided to move forward with an affirmative vote.

To accommodate business owners who already have been granted permits to open e-cigarette shops, where many have set up areas for customers to test the products, Logan said the proposed ordinance would allow e-cigarettes to be smoked in shops where e-cigarettes make up at least 50 percent of sales.

In order to be fair to other products whose use in public places is outlawed by the city’s smoking ordinance, Logan said tobacco shops and cigar shops also could allow customers to test and use the products inside the store as long as the store did at least 50 percent of its business in those tobacco products.

“It’s a question of fairness and application of the law across the board,” Logan said. “If they are selling cigars and smoking cigars there, this would exempt them from the tobacco ordinance, as long as they didn’t sell other things up to 51 percent of their total sales.”

Logan emphasized that in places like gas stations and convenience stores where tobacco does not constitute at least 50 percent of the sales, tobacco could not be smoked under the revised ordinance. He also said the ordinance differentiates between cigarettes and e-cigarettes so cigarettes cannot be smoked in e-cigarette stores.

Council President Mike Bryan asked Logan to have the updated ordinance prepared for the next board meeting Aug. 19.

jb.clark@Journalinc.com

OXFORD – A Tishomingo man faces DUI manslaughter charges in connection with the death of two motorcyclists on the Natchez Trace.

Donnie Sartain, 49, of Tishomingo, was formally charged with DUI in Oxford’s U.S. District Court for North Mississippi Thursday and had his bond set at $10,000. He was released from the Lafayette County Jail on bond Friday.

The charges stem from a Wednesday afternoon wreck on the Natchez Trace in which Gerard Nasult and Pauline Demeres, both 56, of Sherbrooke, Quebec, were killed when the motorcycle they were riding collided with Sartain’s truck around 4:15 p.m.

Natchez Trace Parkway Chief Ranger Sarah Davis said additional charges are pending as they continue to investigate the accident, which happened near milepost 289 north of the Pharr Mounds in Prentiss County.

news_accident_greenBy JB Clark

Daily Journal

OXFORD - A Tishomingo man is facing manslaughter charges after he collided with a motorcycle on the Natchez Trace Parkway Wednesday.

Donnie Sartain, of Tishomingo, was charged in the U.S. District Court for North Mississippi in Oxford Thursday with one count of DUI manslaughter.

Gerard Nasult and Pauline Demeres, both 56, of Sherbrooke, Quebec, were killed when the motorcycle they were riding collided with Sartain’s truck around 4:15 p.m.

Natchez Trace Parkway Chief Ranger Sarah Davis said additional charges are pending as they continue to investigate the accident, which happened near milepost 289 north of the Pharr Mounds in Prentiss County.

 

 

THOMAS WELLS | BUY AT PHOTOS.DJOURNAL.COM Since taking office in July 2013, Saltillo Police Chief Grant Bailey has restaffed his department with nine full-time officers.

THOMAS WELLS | BUY AT PHOTOS.DJOURNAL.COM
Since taking office in July 2013, Saltillo Police Chief Grant Bailey has restaffed his department with nine full-time officers.

SALTILLO – When Grant Bailey was named chief of the Saltillo Police Department in July 2013, his top priorities were to restaff his severely understaffed department and then build positive relationships within the community.

Until he could restaff, to maintain the necessary two-patrolman shifts, officers (and Bailey himself) worked overtime. Now, with reserve officers and three full-time officers, the force is up to size.

Now, with nine full-time officers, Bailey said the department can handle the shifts and save overtime funds for exciting assignments, like community outreach and sporting events.

“We are still short-handed if someone needs to take off their shift but we’re good on a day-to-day,” Bailey said. “The biggest overtime thing is when we’re in the community.”

Bailey said now that they have a big enough department, his next goal is to expand the department to meet the needs of the growing city and up their two-patrolman shifts to three.

“This past month we answered over 400 calls,” he said. “We stay busy and with limited manpower it can be hard.”

Bailey now also wants to build a bridge between the department and the community, starting with the schools.

“It’s important because we’re there to protect the kids and that’s the bottom line,” he said. “If we get involved with children at an early age and establish a good relationship, even in high school, it will help us do our job and let them know we’re here to help and not harass.”

The department has provided security and crowd control at each of Saltillo Schools’ sporting events as well as escorts to many away games.

“Our buses are traveling and if they break down two hours away we have an officer who can help quickly or at least keep traffic off of them,” Bailey said. “We’ve gotten great response from the parents.”

To connect with the business community, Bailey has made sure his patrol officers spend time around shopping centers and in parking lots.

“Working with them is important because they keep us here by bringing revenue to the city,” Bailey said of the businesses, which have provided about $14,000 in donated items to the department since Bailey took over – paying for new office furniture and bulletproof vests.

To improve relations with other city departments, Bailey has worked with department heads to enact new policies like the requirement that a police officer respond anytime the fire department is dispatched.

“We go out on each call they go on so we can help with crowd control or whatever we need to do,” he said. “It helps, if you need something, to be able to call the head man and know that department will help out.”

Internally, new policies require each officer to be certified on and use a department-issued weapon and allow night-shift patrol officers to wear more comfortable tactical uniforms.

“Before they had to use their own guns and maybe an officer qualified on a .45 but he wants to carry his .40 – that could be a liability,” Bailey said. “Now we know the serial number, know they’re qualified and know what bullets they’re using. It takes a huge liability off the city and officers themselves.”

“It’s been challenging but I’m enjoying it and it’s gotten better,” he said. “Every day I’m trying to learn something new, and I won’t ever know everything, but hopefullyI’ll get better and I can continue to keep myself motivated to do my best for the people out there.”

Bailey said the past year has been the best and most rewarding of his law enforcement career. “To have this opportunity, I’m blessed.”