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county_alcorn_greenBy Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – The Alcorn County school district earlier this week approved a revised random drug testing policy for its students.

The policy applies to all students who participate in activities of the Mississippi High School Activities Association, including band, vocal, choral, cheerleader/dance and athletics.

“We want to get away from punishment and make sure more than punishing the young person there’s got to be some avenues for some help,” said Assistant Superintendent Ritchie Williams.

Williams, working with district principals who have experience as coaches, consulted with the independent drug testing agency that the district uses – the same one used by most area school districts – and also incorporated some elements from various policies from around the region and the nation.

“I read a lot of different policies and talked a lot with the drug testing agency, and we’ve got to make sure the students understand how this will adversely affect them in the future,” Williams said.

The district provides a randomly generated list of students involved in activities to the drug testing agency, including students in activities that are in season and not in season.

Some key policy changes are: After a first offense the student will be suspended for 30 calendar days; second offense, 60 calendar days; third offense, a calendar year; fourth offense, indefinite suspension and barred from school events and activities.

Also, mandatory counseling will be required after each offense at the student’s expense.

Any additional offense after the first could result in the student being placed at the district’s alternative school for a calendar year on the recommendation of the principal.

Students and their parents or guardians will be provided with copies of the policy and must sign an agreement before being allowed to participate in an activity.

“I have two kids myself who will fall under this policy, and I thought about myself as a parent when we were reviewing this policy,” Williams said.

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com

town_corinth_greenBy Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – As sculpture of the statue commissioned for the Mississippi Monument at Shiloh proceeds toward an early 2015 completion date, Mississippi’s Sons of Confederate Veterans are nearing their fundraising goal for the installation.

The $425,000 for the statue is in hand, $250,000 from an allocation of the Mississippi Legislature earlier this year and $175,000 raised mostly by the Col. W.P. Rogers SCV Camp 321 in Corinth.

“We’ve also raised additional funds for the dedication, and any funds left will go into an account to be used for upkeep on the monument,” said Camp Commander Larry Mangus, although the National Park Service will have primary responsibility for the statue’s maintenance once it is installed.

Having a statue to honor Mississippi’s soldiers who fought in the Battle of Shiloh has been a dream for many years, and achieving the goal came closer to reality when the 2010 Mississippi Legislature agreed to help fund the project.

Last year Buddy Ellis, a past commander of Camp 321 and Second Brigade Commander for the Mississippi Division SCV, was honored by the state group with the J.Z. George Preservation Award for his fundraising work on the project.

“It was my idea to do this,” Ellis said. “In June 2005, when they dedicated the Tennessee Monument, people started asking me why we didn’t have one.”

At the time Ellis was leading the fundraising effort to restore the Col. Rogers statue in Alcorn County, a project that took 10 years to raise $25,000.

“When that was done I took the idea to the state SCV convention,” Ellis said. “When I take on a project I take the bull by the horns and don’t let go till it’s done. It went slow at first, but then started picking up steam.”

The monument is expected to be completed by April, in time for the April 6, anniversary date, but October is also being considered and a decision is pending.

Meantime, the group continues to raise funds to bolster plans for the dedication ceremony and the maintenance fund.

Last month the Corinth camp was honored for the fifth consecutive year with the Jefferson Davis Award as the top SCV camp in the State.

“Being the lead camp in raising funds to place a monument to the Mississippi soldiers that fought at the Battle of Shiloh,” was one of the key accomplishments cited for the award.

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com

news_court_greenBy Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – A former Alcorn County employee last week reinstated her sexual harassment lawsuit against the sheriff in federal court.

U.S. District Judge Debra Brown stopped proceedings in the suit brought by former sheriff’s department employee Michelle Cohoon-Loyd against Sheriff Charles Rinehart in April after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said it had issued Cohoon-Loyd a right to sue letter in error.

Brown lifted her stay on proceedings on May 14 and authorized Cohoon-Loyd to file an amended complaint in the case by July 21.

Cohoon-Loyd filed the original lawsuit in February after she received the first EEOC notice. Rather than disposing of the case itself, EEOC’s letter said that the case should have been referred to the Justice Department, which handles all local and state government entities.

Cohoon-Loyd had worked in the sheriff’s office for about six years, until Aug. 23, 2012, as administrative assistant to the sheriff.

The complaint by Cahoon-Loyd was filed in U.S. District Court in Aberdeen by Corinth attorney Danny Lowrey. However, she is being represented by her Houston, Texas-based brother-in-law, attorney John Bruster “Bruse” Loyd, who has received Mississippi licensure to handle the case.

Her lawsuit, which is one side of a legal issue, claims that Rinehart – her direct supervisor – on two specific occasions in June 2012 and August 2012, tried to kiss her by force and otherwise sexually harassed her, subjected her to a sexually hostile work environment and retaliated against her in the workplace.

Cohoon-Loyd requested a jury trial and award of attorney fees, expert fees, court costs, damages and other relief as the jury may decide.

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com

By Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

BOONEVILLE – A Wheeler man remains in custody in Prentiss County Jail on a $150,000 bond in connection with multiple drug and firearm charges.

Joseph “Joe” Randolph Moore, 47, was arrested July 22, at a Highway 30 West residence near Frankstown when county narcotics investigators, deputies, Booneville narcotics officers and North Mississippi Narcotics agents executed a search warrant, said Sheriff Randy Tolar.

Moore was charged with possession of controlled substance-methamphetamine, conspiracy to possess, sell, distribute or deliver a controlled substance-methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Investigators also seized four handguns and $719 in cash.

Moore was on parole at the time of his arrest and is being held for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

The investigation is ongoing, Tolar said, and other charges may be forthcoming.

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By Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

“Okolona, Okolona,

There’s no other place like thee.

Okolona, Alma Mater,

Dearest spot on earth to me.”

–Okolona College alma mater

–––––

OKOLONA – Dozens of alumni, children and grandchildren of alumni, and others attending Okolona’s fourth annual Okolona Magnolia Festival came to the former Okolona Industrial School and College Campus on Saturday morning to witness the unveiling and dedication of its Mississippi Historical Marker.

Mayor Louise Floyd Cole said she did not attend the school but three of her sisters did, and for her the campus was another place to play.

Nellie Minor Adams, a graduate of the high school in 1945 and the college in 1947, read the inscription from the historical marker:

“The Okolona Normal and Industrial School was founded in 1902 by Dr. Wallace A. Battle. It educated African-Americans through high school and provided industrial training for young adults. At its peak the school’s enrollment topped 200 students annually. In 1921, the school became affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and a member of the American Church Institute for Negroes. The school changed its name to Okolona College in 1934 and closed in 1965.”

Unable to attend Saturday’s ceremonies, the oldest living alumni of Okolona College is Willa Tucker Raspberry, 108, who lives with her daughter in Indianapolis, Indiana.The property remained vacant until 1990, when it was purchased by the National Council of Negro Women.

NCNW President Mary Gates, an Okolona College alumni and Okolona councilwoman, reported Saturday that the property is entirely debt-free.

The historical marker, said Okolona Area Chamber of Commerce President Perry Grubbs, should be considered a sign of reawakening on the campus.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has received an appropriation from the state Legislature to be used for Okolona College, the mayor said, and they will assess how to make best use of the funds.

Ambitious plans were developed in 1997 by the Small Town Center at Mississippi State University to revitalize the campus, and in 2002 MDAH helped the school receive designation as a National Historic Landmark.

Despite fires that destroyed many of the buildings on campus through the years, friends and alumni of the campus remain optimistic and determined to see it return to its former place that launched young people out into the world.

“We unveil the sign that marks the site of the historical Okolona College, a place that means so much to so many of us,” said 1956 alumni Herbert Floyd, 78. “It is a place where some of us left home for the first time to seek a higher education, a place where some of us met our spouses and went on to raise successful families. … There were people along the way – Effie T. Battle, A.M. Strange, R.T. Milton, W. Milan Davis and Walter Wiburn – and because of these individuals we still cherish these hallowed grounds.”

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com

Lena Mitchell | Buy at photos.djournal.com Tatum Cole, 10, from left, Shelby Morgan, 10, and Amelia Kreher, 10, are learning the craft of basket-making from J.D. Jones, with Tatum's grandmother, Vickie Davis, looking on.

Lena Mitchell | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Tatum Cole, 10, from left, Shelby Morgan, 10, and Amelia Kreher, 10, are learning the craft of basket-making from J.D. Jones, with Tatum’s grandmother, Vickie Davis, looking on.

By Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

TUPELO – Children who worked on pioneer craft projects at the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor Center on Saturday afternoon will carry on the traditions taught by members of the Tombigbee Pioneer Group.

Some of them, like Tatum Cole, 10, of New Site, Shelby Morgan, 10, of Amory, and Amelia Kreher, 10, of Memphis, Tennessee, learned to make reed baskets.

“My two grandkids are in the junior ranger program,” said Vickie Davis of Booneville, grandmother of Tatum Cole and 8-year-old Gunner Hill of Booneville. “I thought it would be good for them to see some of this.”

J.D. Jones of Baldwyn, who was teaching the basketweaving group, has pursued the hobby for about 20 years, enjoying passing along the tradition to kids.

“Sometimes I make presents, but mostly I like to teach the kids,” Jones said.

At the same time other children worked on making corn husk dolls, learning to play the dulcimer and making pioneer leather pouches.

But the array of crafts available to them – as well as adults interested in learning the crafts – included spinning wool and spinning silk to make different kinds of yarn, weaving cloth and knitting.

“What crafts are available depends on each volunteer’s schedule,” said Denise Miller of Yazoo City, who alternated between spinning her wool into yarn and working on a knitting project.

The Tombigbee Pioneer Group conducts demonstrations every fourth Saturday, February through November, said founder Pat Arinder of Amory, who teaches pioneer leather working.

“We’ll have a special program on the fifth Saturday – Aug. 30 – a prehistoric and Native American program,” Arinder said. “We try to give young people a hands-on experience with early American crafts and activities. We’ve been coming here since 1995, so next year will be our 20th year, and we started doing it every month in 2000.”

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com

MOSS

MOSS

By Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – A suspect in the Wednesday night shooting death of a Baldwyn man will be arraigned today on a charge of murder in Corinth municipal court.

Police have arrested Amartrie Moss, 17, of Corinth, and charged him as an adult, said Corinth Police Capt. Ralph Dance.

Moss is accused of shooting Anthony Beene, 19, who died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Witnesses told police Beene got out of a vehicle at John Street Park. Words were exchanged between Beene and the suspect, and when Beene began walking toward Moss, Moss fired a handgun and struck Beene several times, Dance said. Afterward, Beene ran from the park and up nearby Droke Road, where he knocked on the door of a residence and the police were called.

Police responded to the Droke Road address about 7:15 p.m. to find Beene dead on the front porch of the home.

Dance said the suspect left the scene of the park, and a manhunt was launched, aided by the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Alcorn County Sheriff’s Department.

Moss’ mother approached Police Chief David Lancaster about 2 a.m. Thursday, saying she thought she knew where her son could be found, and asked police to hold off until she could bring him in to surrender, which he did about 3 a.m., Dance said.

Although Beene and Moss had exchanged words about a year ago and then about two weeks ago, Dance said late Thursday that investigative interviews have revealed no specific motive in the shooting.

Beene’s body has been taken to Jackson for autopsy, and the case remains under investigation.

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com

news_court_greenBy Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – Amy Denise Towles was convicted Thursday in Alcorn County circuit court on a charge of aggravated assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Towles, 46, of Corinth, will serve five years after Judge Thomas Gardner suspended 15 years of the sentence, and ordered five years post-release supervision.

Towles was charged in October 2012 by a grand jury with shooting William Clay Wells in the abdomen with a .22-caliber rifle on June 17, 2012.

She was represented by Corinth attorney Clay Nails, who said he hoped the judge would consider the severity of the sentence in light of the fact that the shooting happened during a domestic dispute in which the defendant and the victim struggled over possession of the weapon.

Gardner also imposed a $1,000 fine, court costs and the usual assessments, said Assistant District Attorney Richard Bowen, who prosecuted the case. The charge carried a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

At trial Wells testified he had incurred medical expenses approaching half a million dollars and additional bills approaching $300,000, and continues to suffer complications from his wounds, Bowen said.

It was revealed during the trial that Towles and Wells had lived together on and off about four times prior to the shooting incident, and Wells had moved back in with Towles at the time of the shooting.

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com

other_crime_alt1By Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – A 17-year-old suspect is in custody in the Wednesday evening shooting death of a Baldwyn man.

Police have identified the victim as 19-year-old Anthony Beene of 860 County Road 511, Baldwyn.

Beene died of multiple gunshot wounds, said Corinth police Capt. Ralph Dance.

Witnesses told police that Beene and two other males got out of a vehicle at the John Street Park. Words were exchanged between Beene and the suspect, and when Beene began walking toward the 17-year-old suspect, he fired and struck Beene several times, Dance said. Afterward, Beene ran from the park and up nearby Droke Road, where he knocked on the door of a residence and the residence occupants called the police.

Police responded to the Droke Road address about 7:15 p.m. to find Beene dead on the front porch of the home.

The suspect left the scene of the park, and a manhunt was launched that included the assistance of the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Alcorn County Sheriff’s Department, Dance said.

The suspect’s mother approached police Chief David Lancaster about 2 a.m., saying she thought she knew where he could be found, and asked police to hold off until she could bring him in to surrender, which he did about 3 a.m., Dance said.

The suspect has not been charged, but a charge is expected to be filed later today, Dance said.

Beene’s body has been taken to Jackson for autopsy, and the case remains under investigation.

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com

By Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – Police were releasing limited information about a shooting that occurred about 7 p.m. today in Corinth.

Corinth police Capt. Ralph Dance said the victim was a male, about 20 years old, but he would not identify him pending notification of all family members.

A suspect has been identified and is being sought, but Dance said he also could not be identified at this time, and may in fact be a juvenile.

Additional officers were called to the scene of the shooting on John Street after some family members of both the victim and the potential suspect confronted each other.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.