Sheriff David Hedrick    See our CPSO Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CPsheriff.

The Natchez School District may reorganize to have pre-K through Grade 1 at Susie B West, Grades 2-4 at McLaurin, Grades 5-6 at Morgantown and Grades 7-8 at Natchez Middle (old Natchez High). The change would accommodate the smaller school population and the difficulty in attracting certified teachers. The district educates just 2,800 students, a dramatic drop in numbers in recent years, because people are moving away from the community. District leaders discussed the idea at the Natchez High cafeteria in a public meeting. 

Robert Gardner

Vidalia Alderman Robert Gardner is in difficulty again. This time, he received an advance city travel payment of $128 but did not attend a scheduled  February government conference. He just pocketed the money. He never turned in receipts for $198 from the town to attend another conference last August. The mayor and aldermen brought up the issue at the recent aldermen’s meeting.

A rummage sale will be held at the Kingston Community Center, April 13, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and April 14, 12 p.m.m-6 p.m.   

Headliners at the Oct. 26 Homochitto River Festival in Meadville will include Foghat, Riders in the Sky and T. Graham Brown. 

General election April 27

Early voting for the Ferriday general election runs April 13-20 and Election Day is April 27.  Candidates are for Mayor: Joey Bazile, Alvin Garrison; District B Alderman: Devin Bryan, Devonte Schiele; and District D Alderman: Andre Keys, Ashley Skipper. 

Jonesville Police Chief MacArthur Tolliver says a new six-man crisis response team will respond to natural disasters. 

The Village of Harrisonburg Water System is under a boil advisory due to a break in the main line. 

Famous historic restaurant closes

The Carriage House Restaurant at Stanton Hall has closed. It originally opened in 1946.

Storms came through the Natchez area 4-10 a.m. Wednesday. Natchez and Concordia schools were closed. Cathedral and ACCS had virtual classes only.  Minor street flooding was reported.

Natchez city election winners included Ward 1 Alderperson, Valencia Hall, Ward 4 Alderperson Felicia Irving, and Ward 5 Alderman Ben Davis. Turnout was exceptionally low.

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Solar eclipse on Monday affects Mississippi and Louisiana

Concordia Parish has 6,354 people with jobs, down from 6,521 jobs a year ago, a decline of 167 employed.

Seventh District Judge Kathy Johnson sentenced Matt Lee Mason Jr. to life imprisonment at hard labor without the benefit of parole, probation or suspension of sentence for the Aug. 2022 killing of Tyberia Bell of Vidalia.

92 pound carp

During standard spring electro-fishing sampling on Lake Concordia in March, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists found a 49.5-inch Grass Carp weighing in at a whopping 92 pounds. Had the carp been captured by traditional fishing, it would have been a record holder.

Adams deputies arrested Mary C. Bequette, 35, of Natchez, after she purposely ran over her boyfriend with her vehicle. She was arrested for her aggravated assault and DUI test refusal. She remains in jail on a $500,000 bond. Her victim is in intensive care at Merit. She has had other misdemeanor run-ins with the law involving alcohol.

Breanna N. Stumps, 28, of Natchez, turned herself into the Adams County Sheriff’s Office. She was wanted for accessory before the fact stemming for her alleged involvement in an aggravated assault and shooting on Pitchford Pkwy. perpetrated by Ricky McGruder. Her bond was set at $25,000 and she is expected to post bond and be released within 48 hours. He remains in jail on a $250,000 bond.

Sarah Freeman

Miss Vidalia and Vidalia High senior Sarah Freeman competed in the Miss Louisiana Teen Pageant in Metairie this past weekend. Freeman finished in the top 10 of 28 contestants.

Franklin County supervisors heard about the condition of Providence Road at their recent meeting. Asphalt on the road should be milled and turned to gravel, as it is in poor condition and can damage vehicles. District 1 Supervisor Ronald Hunt said he would do what he could do about the road, which is located in his jurisdiction and would ask to borrow District 4's milling machine. Chancery Clerk Jill Gilbert informed the board that residents expressed concerns about the dead trees along the side of county roads. Crews have been cutting some of the dead trees down but there are still many left and will likely be many more as lingering effects of last year's drought become evident. Board Attorney Bill Halford and County Engineer Mike McKenzie then discussed how close to the road a tree must be for county workers to legally be able to remove it without obtaining right-of-way.

The Bude Community Foundation will host its first annual "Pop-up Shop" event on Saturday, April 6 in the Bude Community Center parking lot. Vendors can sign up for a $10 fee. The event will take place from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and will also serve as a way for business owners to promote their businesses. "We are looking at doing this every year," Bude Community Center Director Veronica Brown said. "We have some food trucks signed up, and we will also have some $1 items available for purchase, with proceeds going to the Bude Community Foundation." To register, call Brown at 601-384-2008.

JA'MAR WHITE for NATCHEZ ALDERMAN, WARD 5: Thank you for your vote and support on April 9. Let's work together to move Natchez forward,  Congratulations to Ben Davis on his victory.  https://www.facebook.com/jamar.white.9216  Paid for by the JA'MAR WHITE campaign.

Natchez shooter arrested

Ricky McGruder, 36, of Natchez, assaulted a man in a car in a convenience store parking lot on Hwy. 61 South in Natchez on Sunday. When a Good Samaritan intervened to help the victim twice, once on 61 South and again on Pitchford Parkway, McGruder shot at the Good Samaritan but missed. McGruder was later arrested, charged with three counts of aggravated assault and his bond was set at $250,000. He remains in jail. Thanks to police and deputies who worked on the case and captured the shooter. In 2022, he was arrested in Adams County for burglary and child endangerment. He has a record going back to at least 2011, with both felonies and misdemeanors.   

Natchez City Clerk Megan McKenzie issued a statement on the city's redistricting: "The Board of Aldermen approved the redistricting in November of 2022, the notice was advertised 3 consecutive weeks as required. The Election Commission worked with the law firm that handled the redistricting to ensure a correct listing of house numbers was provided. The Election Commission then worked to update the information in the State Election Management System. As you know, amid all of this we had a special election for the city, a county election and now a federal election. Once all addresses had been corrected, new voter registration cards were mailed. It was brought to our attention, after these cards were mailed, that the residents effected by these changes on Briarwood Road, Amberwood and Linwood were still listed in their old ward. We have spoken with the Election Commission and have been reassured that the correct ward has been updated in the management system, however because we have an open election the updates have not rolled over yet. Once tomorrow’s election is closed out, they will be able to rollover the updates and print new cards for these residents. Being that the city election is next week, we felt it was best to send a letter to the residents in this area so that they would have the correct voting precinct information as quickly as we could provide. Most importantly, it is important to understand the changes in ward lines addressed in this letter are the approved ward lines from the redistricting that was approved and advertised."

Adams County Supervisor Kevin Wilson filed a trespassing complaint against resident Millicent Graning, saying she trespassed on his property that is likely to be used as an oilfield waste disposal site. The state has not yet permitted the site. Graning says she did not enter Wilson’s property but has driven along the public roadway nearby. She has been an outspoken opponent of Wilson’s planned development. Graning will appear in justice court to face a misdemeanor trespassing charge. Wilson will have to provide evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Graning did indeed trespass. Graning says she is innocent.   

Current city redistricting map was not publicized until April 1 and is nearly unreadable for interested voters

The Natchez city election is April 9. Some residents of Ward 3 in the Dunkerron subdivision are being told they are now in Ward 1, and Ward 1 Alderwoman Valencia Hall has been seen in Dunkerron campaigning. This came as a big surprise to the locals, as the city ward lines published map on its website continue to show Dunkerron in Ward 3. The city clerk says it’s all a big mistake. The city knew of the changes back before November. But city officials did not inform the public or even the election commission of the changes in a timely fashion. Residents on the south side of Briarwood, Linwood and Amberwood are affected, about 63 voters. The last minute change could affect who wins or loses.   

Natchez police responded to an early morning shooting Easter Sunday on Main Street at the corner of MLK Street. At least one person was wounded in the parking lot. Between 10-20 shots were fired.  

Famed Trinity School football coach Jack Benson has died at the age of 89. Benson was a top football player at Natchez High, Mississippi State and on several U.S. Army teams. He took a struggling Trinity football program in the early 1980’s and turned it and the teams that followed into true academy powerhouses. Benson emphasized physical conditioning and defensive play. He had served in the Army and in Vietnam and later in Army intelligence at Fort Devens. He and his wife, Peggy, were very active in the Natchez community over many years. Known for his quiet strength, self discipline and determination, Coach Benson helped many kids find their maturity and grow in responsibility.

Dennis Mitchell

Natchez police arrested David Mitchell, 63, of Natchez, for aggravated assault, after he allegedly stabbed a man twice with a tire iron. His victim is expected to recover. Mitchell was arrested in August for felon in possession of a firearm. For that offense, he was released on bond and bound over to the grand jury. 

Ryan Mullen, 43, of Jayess, and Duane Dufrene, 56, of Destrehan, were sentenced on March 20 and March 27 respectively by U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo for two separate cases involving conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Judge Milazzo sentenced Mullen to 160 months imprisonment for both cases and she sentenced Dufrene to 24 months imprisonment for the same two cases. According to court documents, Mullen and Dufrene used fictitious entities, falsified tax returns, fraudulent financial statements, and fraudulent appraisals to defraud the lending institutions so that the men could purchase a residence in Jayess. (using a state bank in Mississippi), The Briars bed and breakfast in Natchez, (using a Mississippi credit union) and two other Natchez hotels (using an out of state commercial lender). The sale of the Jayess residence was premised on false financial information provided by Dufrene to Mullen, who then gave it to the Mississippi bank. The sales of The Briars and the two hotels were premised upon not only false information prepared by Dufrene and given to the financial institutions by Mullen, but also on inflated appraisals stemming from side sales agreement between the men. After the sales of the bed and breakfast and hotel properties, Mullen paid Dufrene $90,000. Mullen used the proceeds to buy at least 20, some already governmentally seized, high-end luxury cars, a number of which have been seized. The loss from their fraudulent purchasing and flipping schemes totals approximately $6.5 million. In the second fraud scheme, Mullen conspired with Dufrene, Dillon Arceneaux, Lance Vallo, Grant Menard, and Zeb Sartin to use several shell Louisiana corporations, devoid of assets, to defraud a Georgia based merchant cash company. Mullen and Dufrene helped establish Arceneaux, Vallo, Menard, and Sartin as the owners of the existing shell corporations. Mullen and Dufrene then created fake vendor accounts for the corporations, and Mullen, along with another person, created falsified bank records for the companies. Mullem then used an alias and represented himself to be a broker for the shell companies he helped create.

Jordan Carriers celebrated the grand opening of a new headquarters building on Hwy. 61 South in Natchez.  The trucking company employs approximately 1,000 drivers across the U.S. 

THE FLOWER STATION: 387 John R. Junkin Dr., Natchez. All occasion florist. Mother's Day is Sunday, May 12! See our arrangements and decorations for your home or for a gift. Live green and flowering plants from our own greenhouse. Mylar balloons. Balloon and flower bouquets. Each gift of flowers is lovingly and creatively chosen and arranged. So much beauty and wonderful decor! Prompt, professional and courteous delivery. Order online at theflowerstationms.com 601-442-7224

New fire truck for Natchez

Natchez aldermen will purchase a $677,000 fire truck. They will use a supervisors’ grant and some city cash and finance the balance of $437,000 for 10 years at 2 percent interest. 

Paula Morris is a Mississippi Parent of the Year finalist, representing Natchez and the 2nd Congressional District.

Natchez aldermen are expected to finalize a new 6 year garbage contract in early April, with Arrow Disposal likely to continue as the contractor. Natchez residents now $24.15 per month for the service and it’s expected to increase about $2 per month. The contract may include a cost of living rider, which would increase rates annually.   

Ronn Eller and Andrew Scott Smith runoff

Voters in Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Wilkinson counties go to the polls Tuesday, April 2 for a Republican Primary Runoff Election. Ron Eller and Andrew Scott Smith will be on the ballot for the Republican nomination for the 2nd Congressional District. The winner faces Bennie Thompson in November.

Contact CPSO's Victim Advocate with questions regarding eligibility for the Crime Victims Reparations and help with filing a claim. Caal Brandy Spears, Victim Advocate at 318-437-0439 or email bspears@concordiasheriff.org.

The Cancer Screening Mobile Unit of the Cenla Medication Access Program’s will visit Catahoula Parish on April 16 and 17 to offer free breast, colorectal and cervical cancer screenings for eligible Central Louisiana residents. The mobile unit will be located in the parking lot of Ford’s Grocery at 612 4th Street in Jonesville on Tuesday, April 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Wednesday, April 17, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Services include mammograms, cervical screenings and take-home colorectal cancer kits. Appointments are required. Annual mammograms are recommended for women ages 40-64, cervical screenings are scheduled every other year for women ages 25-64, and colorectal screenings for men and women ages 45-64. Residents should contact the Cancer Screening Project to see if they qualify; we accept the uninsured and Medicaid. The Cancer Screening Mobile Unit is a partnership between The Rapides Foundation, CMAP and the Partners in Wellness Program at Feist-Weiller Cancer Center at LSU Health Shreveport. To request an appointment, please call Cancer Screening Specialist Stephanie Heinen at 318-767-3027 or toll-free at 1-855-767-3027.

Boat ramp repairs

The Okhissa Lake recreational area remains open but its boat ramp remains closed for repairs. The repairs are taking longer than expected because rains keep increasing the lake level. And water has to be drained from the lake more often than expected to keep the boat ramp dry.   

When law enforcement arrested Myracle L. Washington, 22, of Natchez, on misdemeanor charges in February, subsequent investigation and a preliminary hearing led her misdemeanors to be retired to the file. However, she has formally been charged with felony sexual battery and her case has been turned over to the grand jury, which may or may not indict her. 

The Concordia Parish Police Jury had asked Juror Genesia Allen to form a local committee of volunteers who wish to spearhead the restoration of the old parish courthouse. Allen will look for any available grants and her committee will draw up plans for interior and exterior improvements. The old courthouse was built in 1939 and is now considered a historic building. 

ONE SOUTH FEDERAL CREDIT UNION: If you live or work in Adams County or Concordia Parish, enjoy the benefits of membership in our credit union. Free checking for seniors (age 62 and older) & students. Free checking for adults with $100 minimum balance. Debit cards linked to checking accounts. 24-hour banking at www.onesouthfcu.com. Electronic statements, direct deposit, notary, payroll deduction services, ATM on premises. Checking accounts subject to ChexSystems approval. 70 years of service and still growing! 148 North Shields Lane, Natchez, 601-442-4382. 

Very slight increase in jobs

Adams County reported 9,670 people with jobs in February, up 50 jobs from a year ago. First quarter reports are usually the worst of the year. The March report will also show some slack in the number of jobs. But normally April-June show better numbers. The second quarter is a time when retail, service sector and agriculture employment improve.

When Madison Bidco, a British investment firm, bought Velocys in December for a little over $5 million, it did so knowing that Velocys lacked the capital or resources to carry out any of its projects, including the Bayou Fuels biomass refinery for Natchez. Velocys had pledged to take the Bellwood Industrial Park and make a $500+ million investment in Natchez, when it didn’t have the capital to build anything at all. This past year, Velocys was nearly out of cash, unable to raise more private equity funding, with ever increasing multimillion dollar losses. To continue its planning phases, the company was using grant monies from the U.S. government. Madison will now take the company private because the Velocys stock price is so low not to be viable. Madison says it has raised $40 million from investors to pursue Velocys projects, including those in Natchez and Ohio. However, Madison still does not have the resources necessary to do the Natchez project, which has already received subsidies from Adams County and Mississippi taxpayers as well as Uncle Sam. In its most recent press release, Velocys went into great detail about its production plans for Ohio, barely mentioning the larger project in Natchez at all. That lengthy discussion led me to question even more whether the Natchez project is even a dream-like possibility due to its high projected cost of construction. Note: Velocys normally reported its financials in British pounds because it is a British company. As a publicly owned company, it reported its revenues, expenses and detailed finances every six months. Now that it is a private company, it does not have to make its finances public.  

The State of Mississippi returns some of the sales tax collected to towns and cities. Using a sales tax year that starts July 1, the state returned $4.0 million to Natchez July 1, 2022-February 28, 2023. For the year July 1, 2023-February 29, 2024, sales tax returned amounted to $3.8 million, a 5 percent decline. Natchez will still get receipts in March, April, May and June before the tax year is complete.

Adams County audit cites errors

Bridgers CPAs of Vicksburg was not able to finish the Adams County 2022 audit on time, being more than six months late, because the county did not collect its data and pass it to the CPAs in a timely fashion. Findings included here: 1. The county did not always follow state purchasing rules. The county paid a few invoices without the proper documentation. In response to the error, supervisors appointed a new purchasing clerk. 2. Purchases from the road department were authorized by persons other than the road manager. The county says it will correct this problem. 3. Bank reconciliations were out of balance by small amounts. Circuit Clerk Eva Givens had assigned a lower level clerk to handle this, and that clerk was unable to figure out why there were discrepancies. Additionally, the fee account was not reconciled for an entire month. 4. Circuit Clerk Givens did not deposit excess funds into the county's general fund on a timely basis. Givens failed to make her annual financial report on time. Once filed, she also claimed an expense of $16,805 that was not allowable. Unfortunately, it was a lower level clerk that made the reporting error. Additionally, there were math errors in computing retirement contributions. The CPAs said Givens should re-file the report with the appropriate corrections. Givens did not respond to the problems herself. But the unnamed clerk said she would correct the errors. The CPAs pointed out that these statute responsibilities belong to Givens herself as the elected official. 5. Tax Collector Terrence Bailey showed an overage of $526,000. The Tax Collector kept his own manual accounting system on spreadsheets, instead of using the Delta software used by county offices for many years. He did not know how to use the software, despite being in office for four years. As a result, it was not possible for the CPAs to verify his accounting procedures and tallies as necessarily accurate. The Tax Collector's Office has repeatedly not performed bank reconciliations since 2018. The audit showed he did not compare reconciled cash with booked cash. And the amounts were different. Additionally, the lack of accurate bookkeeping made it uncertain as to whether Adams County, the City of Natchez and Natchez-Adams School District got the proper amounts due. The CPAs concluded the lack of controls over cash could result in the loss or misappropriation of funds. The CPAs did not feel confident that the stated cash figures from Bailey's office were accurate or could be substantiated, so they left those figures out of their report. Bailey responded saying he has passed on all collections to the various entities required, including state and local. He arranged for Delta consultants to come and teach him about the software in Fall 2023. Whether that training was successful is unknown. And whether he has corrected the glaring bookkeeping and cash control problems is unknown.

Adams County deputies arrested Darrell White, 21, of Natchez, for burglary of a dwelling. 

Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten said his deputies deserve more pay, as they are doing a good job but are leaving for better paying jobs. Supervisors then agreed to raise the pay of 10 deputies in hopes of holding onto them. The sheriff's office has laid off some jailers because inmates are being housed in Concordia. Some jailers have been retained and with the cost of housing inmates in Concordia will likely increase overall expenditures. The increasing cost of carrying 75 county law enforcement personnel, including overtime costs, was one of the factors leading to last year’s county budget crisis. Supervisors made some cuts and increased property tax millage 14.5 percent as a result of poor budgeting. Supervisors recently voted to go ahead with plans to build a new jail. While the specifics of the jail, cost and financing of the new facility have not been finalized, once built, operational costs for the sheriff’s office will continue to rise.

Vidalia, Ferriday and Clayton returns

Saturday's election returns include Vidalia, Ferriday and Clayton results. Vidalia Chief of Police: Joey Merrill 63%*, Frank Duson 37%; Vidalia Alderman A: Tron McCoy 57%*, Chakatria Fitzgerald 11%, Christine Washington 10%, Bonita Cage 10%, Joseph McCoy 5%; Vidalia Alderman B: Robert Gardner 57%*, Cassandra Lynch 43%; Vidalia Alderman D: Tommy Probst  64%*, Debbie Brocato 38%. Ferriday Mayor runoff: Alvin Garrison 49%*, Joey Bazile III 18%*, Deborah Jones 16%, Rydell Turner 9%, James Skipper 4%, Mitchell Hunter 3%, Charles Anderson 1%; Ronnie Reese 1%; Ferriday Alderman A: Dra'Carl Walker 58%*, Brandi Bacon 42%; Ferriday Alderman B runoff: Devin Bryan 40%*, Devonte Schiele 32%*, Juan King 14%, Elijah Banks 13%; Ferriday Alderman D runoff: Andre Keys 48%*, Ashley Skipper 32%*, Patricia Williams 13%, Jennie Kimble 8%; Ferriday Alderman E: Gloria Lloyd 58%*, Essie Green 30%, David Turner 11%; Clayton Mayor: Robert Lee 84%*, Cortlandt Flournoy 16%.

The Natchez Planning Commission agreed with the owner of Ravenna that he could add two more bed bed and breakfast rooms to the three he has now. But the commission denied owner Mark Beasley permission to do weddings, parties and corporate special events. The city planner had recommended approval, but the commission listened to neighbors who said they didn’t want extra traffic on their street or the noise from outdoor events.

 Adams County supervisors want to reconstitute the pool commission to oversee the city-county pool. The commission was eliminated last year. The city hasn’t said whether it favors the idea. Last time, the commission rented the pool for alcohol events, increasing the risk of injury to patrons and of liability to taxpayers. Additionally, not all pool rental revenues showed up in the bank account.


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Matt Lee Mason Jr., Tyberia Bell

A Concordia Parish jury has found Matt Lee Mason Jr. guilty of the Aug. 2022 strangulation death of Tyberia Bell. Judge Kathy Johnson will sentence him April 3. 

Natchez police and Adams deputies pursued a couple after they fled a traffic stop on Providence Rd. After a hour long chase, authorities captured and arrested Shonkerria Calvin, 23, and Antonio Coleman, 38, both of Natchez. Coleman had oustanding warrants in Natchez-Adams County. Calvin was charged with expired registration and felony fleeing. Coleman faces his warrants plus charges for possession of Ecstasy and marijuana with intent to distribute. 

Dr. Tracy Cook has been serving as interim president of Alcorn State. He has now been appointed permanent president. 

Tamala Hughes

Tamala Hughes, an English teacher for the Natchez School District, has been named a finalist for Mississippi Teacher of the Year. 

The CPSO Child Exploitation Unit began investigating an adult subject, after complaints were made by two juveniles, stating that he had touched them in a sexual manner on numerous occasions. After conducting forensic interviews with both children, detectives also interviewed the adult subject, who confessed to the allegations. He was taken into custody today by the LaSalle Parish Sheriff's Office without incident and will be transported to the CPSO jail. Arrested was Dustin Wayne Mullins, 31, of Vidalia, for two counts of Molestation of a Juvenile and Indecent Behavior with Juveniles. 

Vidalia Methodist Church's plans for a new church on Oak Street are approved and bids for the new church will be received April 23. In July 2021, the old Methodist Church was destroyed by fire.

Jason Tyson killed by Benjamin Ceasor

On March 18, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Louisiana State Police Troop E was requested by the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office to respond and investigate a three-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 425 at U.S. Highway 84 that occurred inside the city limits of Ferriday. The crash claimed the life of 44-year-old Jason Tyson of Ferriday. The initial investigation revealed that 29-year-old Benjamin Ceasor of Ferriday, driving a 2004 Ford Crown Victoria, was wanted by Tensas Parish Sheriff’s Office (TPSO) for aggravated assault with a firearm. A CPSO deputy identified and conducted a traffic stop with Ceasor at EE Wallace Road and Texas Avenue. Ceasor fled the initial traffic stop, ran the stop sign at U.S. Highway 425 and collided head-on with a 2017 Ford F250 and a 2020 Ford F150. Ceasor, whose restraint usage is unknown, sustained moderate injuries and was transported to a local hospital. The driver of the Ford F250 and a juvenile passenger in the Ford F150, who were restrained, sustained moderate injuries and were transported to a local hospital. The driver of the Ford F150, who also was restrained, sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased on scene. Toxicology samples were obtained and submitted for analysis. LSP arrested Ceasor and charged him with aggravated flight for an officer (two counts), felony hit and run (two counts), vehicular homicide, vehicular negligent injury (two counts), resisting an officer by providing false information, stop sign violation and felon in possession of a firearm. This crash remains under investigation. Ceasor was arrested in 2017 by Concordia deputies and charged with two counts of attempted second-degree murder, aggravated criminal damage to property, illegal possession of a stolen firearm and three counts of resisting an officer after allegedly committing a drive by shooting in Clayton. 

Friends of CPSO Approach with Care program, aimed at providing the highest level of service to people in our community with special needs. The goal of the program is to help law enforcement and first responders recognize when a vehicle or a home may be occupied by a person with a special need. Law enforcement officers and first responders will recognize that there may be a person with a special need when they see a decal placed on the rear window of a vehicle or near the front door of a residence. The decal reads, "Friends of Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office" and "Approach with Care". The decal displays ribbons that represent some of the special needs that the program encompasses. These special needs can include, but are not limited to: dementia, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, down syndrome, hearing impaired or any other physical or mental disability. Sheriff Hedrick wants to ensure that all interactions between law enforcement and persons with special needs are positive and safe for everyone involved. The objective of the decal is to limit misunderstandings and communication barriers. The two ways to register someone for the Approach with Care program: 1. Visit the CPSO website www.concordiasheriff.org and click Approach with Care to complete the "Friends of Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office" registration form. 2. Use the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office mobile app: Click "more", then click "Friends of Concordia Parish Sheriff's Office" to complete the registration form. Once registration is complete, decals will be mailed to you and your information will be given to 911 to be added into the computer system. Contact Public Information Officer Brandy Spears at 318-437-0439 with questions. 

 Firefighters responded to a travel trailer fire on Patsy Brown Rd. The resident has in the trailer escaped without injury but the trailer was quickly consumed by the fire.   

City prefers Arrow Disposal

Natchez aldermen held a second meeting to discuss the new garbage contract on Tuesday. The mayor and aldermen wanted to comply with the open meetings law based on the advice of the city attorney, after conducting their first meeting behind closed doors. Aldermen still prefer to do business with Arrow Disposal. Mayor Gibson said Arrow has offered the lowest price so far.  Arrow's submitted rate is 18.94 per month per household for one time per week pickup and 21.94 for twice per week pickup. The cost increases to 22.44 with disposal for once per week pickup and 25.44 with disposal for twice per week. New carts would be provided by Arrow. The city has the option of adding to the monthly rate to cover the cost of mosquito spraying, bookkeeping and to allow for past dues. The city bills garbage collection through its water bills. The new contract will start in June. 

Benny Vault Sr., former Jonesville police chief and one of Catahoula’s most respected citizens, died earlier this month. His family and friends will remember his kindness and outgoing personality at a balloon release at the softball park on March 22 at 7 p.m. 

Due to a large rate increase in garbage pickup price for Jonesville, which will result in an increase for citizens, the mayor and council are still in the process of negotiating with the company.  No agreement has been met, therefore  garbage pickup is on hold. 

Natchez Powwow

The 2024 Natchez Powwow will be held March 23-24 on the north end of the Bluff on Broadway. Mar. 22 schedule includes Food and Craft and Farmer Market Vendors, open 9 a.m., Traditional Stickball Game 11 a.m., Gourd Dance 1 p.m., Grand Entry and Intertribal Dancing 2:30 p.m., Camp Feed for Singers and Dancers and family/friends 4 p.m., Gourd Dance 6 p.m., Grand Entry and Intertribal Dancing 7 p.m., Closing 9 p.m. March 24 schedule includes Food and Craft Vendors open 9 a.m., Gourd Dance 1 p.m., Grand Entry and Intertribal Dancing 2:30 p.m, Spectators should bring lawn chairs. 

Natchez aldermen voted to move the city primary from April 2 to April 9. 

Concordia Parish Schools will move to a four-day school week in the fall. The school board voted 8-1 for the change.

Primary election

Concordia voters go to the polls March 23 for a Presidential preference primary. Vidalia, Ferriday and Clayton voters have municipal primaries. Vidalia candidates are: Chief of Police: Frank Duson, Joey Merrill;Alderman District 1: Bonita D. Cage, Chakatria Johnson Fitzgerald, Joseph McCoy, Triand McCoy, Christine Washington; Alderman District 2: Robert Lee Gardner Jr., Cassandra D. Lynch; Alderman District 4: Deborah Brocat, Tommy Probst; and Mayor Buz Craft, unopposed; Alderman District 3, Brent Smith, unopposed; and Alderman District 5, Jon Betts, unopposed. The Ferriday ballot includes: Mayor: Charles Anderson, Joey Bazile III, DeBorah Elaine-Jones, Alvin Garrison, Mitchell Hunter, Ronnie Reese, James Skipper, Rydell Turner; Alderman District A: Brandi Bacon, Dra’Carl Walker; Alderman District B: Elijah Banks, Devin Bryan, Juan King, Devonte Schiele; Alderman District C: Gail Pryor, Unopposed; Alderman District D: Andre Keys, Jennie Kimble, Ashley Skipper, Patricia Williams; and Alderman District E: Essie Green, Gloria Lloyd, David Turner. The only contest in Clayton is for mayor: Cortlandt Flournoy, Robert James Lee are candidates. 

Natchez police arrested Evin Felton, 34, of Fayette, for aggravated assault and attempts to do injury and commit malicious mischief. 

Natchez aldermen will open bids April 18 for sidewalk improvements to be made on Commerce St. between Main and Franklin. The project will include making the sidewalks ADA compliant and installing eight new light poles with bases. 

idalia Chief of Police JOEY MERRILL thanks you for your support on Election Day. Looking forward to serving you over the next four years. Let's work together to KEEP VIDALIA SAFE. Paid for by the Joey Merrill campaign.

Ava Landry

Natchez Early College at Co-Lin student Ava Landry was selected as a 2024 William Winter Scholar for Copiah-Lincoln Community College. She was honored at the 35th Annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration. Each Winter Scholar is chosen by his or her educational institution as the Humanities Division's most outstanding student, faculty member, or professional. The annual award also carries with it prestige and public acknowledgment of how highly the person is regarded by his or her institution. 

Ord Lee Moore, 59, of Concordia, was reported missing and has been found safe.

The Natchez-Adams School District begins registration for next year on March 25. 

Destin Bradley

 In January, Destin Bradley, 7, of Natchez, smelled fire at his home. His mom, Ravyn, thought the smell was just her cooking. His dad, Robert, was asleep in the bedroom. Destin continued his investigation, going outside to find the family’s dog shed on fire. It was so cold, the family had put an electric heater in the shed and the dog had turned it over. Since the pipes were frozen, Destin and his sister used some blankets to smother the fire. And the parents were able to retrieve a few buckets of water to help. Destin’s quick action saved his family’s home from burning. The family dog suffered no injury.

Natchez’s homeless encampment next to Walmart on city property continues to attract the mentally ill and drug dependent. So far, the city has taken no action to remove the vagrants, and as a result, the number of homeless living there has doubled. The homeless are accosting customers going into Walmart and are occasionally seen inside Walmart itself. 

Natchez police found the skeletal remains of a person near First Lutheran Church just off Sgt. Prentiss Drive and Fatherland Rd. The remains have been sent to the state for an autopsy.   

JA'MAR WHITE for NATCHEZ ALDERMAN, WARD 5: Transparent Leadership, Safer Neighborhoods, City Sponsored Youth Programs, Improved Infrastructure. Vote for an Alderman Who Will Stay in Touch with You BEFORE and AFTER the Election. Thank you for your vote and support on April 9. https://www.facebook.com/jamar.white.9216  Paid for by the JA'MAR WHITE campaign.

Sales tax collections dip

Natchez sales tax collections dropped quite a bit in Feb. 2024 compared to Feb. 2023, from $452,000 last Feb. to $421,000 this Feb., a drop of 7 percent. For the period July-February, the city has received $3.8 million, down from $4.0 million from the year before, a 5 percent decline. The state distributes a portion of the sales tax it collects back to towns and cities. 

The Concordia School Board has voted 8-1 to go to a four day week beginning in August. The Legislature is considering a bill that would mandate a five day week. Eleven of the state’s 69 school districts are on a four day week. Concordia would be the 12th. 

On March 14 in Concordia Parish, at approximately 12:45 a.m., Louisiana State Police Troop E responded to a one-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 84 at Pete Davis Road. The crash claimed the life of 76-year-old Robert Hood of Jonesville. The initial investigation revealed that a 1999 Jeep Cherokee, driven by Hood, was traveling east on U.S. Highway 84. For reasons still under investigation, Hood’s vehicle left the roadway, traveled down the ditch embankment and struck a tree. Hood, who was not restrained, sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. Hood’s juvenile passenger, restraint usage unknown, sustained moderate injuries and was transported to a local hospital. Routine toxicology samples were obtained and submitted for analysis. This crash remains under investigation. 

Grand opening soon

The new Jordan Carriers headquarters building is almost finished. The headquarters is at 188 Hwy. 61 South in Natchez and will celebrate its grand opening on March 28 at 11 a.m. The public is invited.

Natchez aldermen to spend $600,000 to repair the Canal St. Bridge. The bridge will remain open as work is done. Mayor Gibson said the bridge will eventually have to be replaced at an estimated cost of $6 million. 

The Brushy Bayou flood control and drainage project will receive another $4.3 million in FEMA funding to complete the work budgeted at just over $10 million. Concordia Parish suffers from lowland flooding during torrential rains and extended rainy periods, as well flooding from the Tensas River. And the work is expected to have a positive impact, reducing some of the flooding that affects agricultural and residential properties in the northern and western parts of the parish. 

Syrah reduces its debt

AustralianSuper, a trade union investment fund, will convert $64 million in notes it holds from Syrah Technologies to Syrah common stock. The transaction will allow the fund to purchase the stock at a 19 percent discount. This swap of notes to common stock will free up Syrah’s cash to help pay for its ongoing operations. Such a swap is common in corporate financing, as it frees a company from debt and allows the investor to reap a huge profit immediately with hopes of making more in the future, if the common stock share price increases. An oversupply of lithium based products in the world markets has negatively impacted the company’s finances, showing a loss of $33 million in the first six months of 2023, its most recent reporting period. Syrah’s revenues have fallen from $49 million to $28 million compared to the similar reporting period last year. The company’s cash position is still relatively strong at $100 million but it owes $38 million in accounts payable. Syrah owes $186 million in borrowing and leases. 

Ferriday Police Chief Sam King made a stop for a traffic violation and ended up arresting two men and a juvenile for possession of multiple drugs with intent to distribute and illegal possession of weapons. Those arrested include Kadarrius Terrell, 25, of Natchez, Kamron Singleton, 20, also of Natchez, and an unnamed juvenile from Ferriday. The trio were in possession of marijuana, Promethazine, Alprazolam and Ecstasy and handguns. Terrell was shot in the back and wounded by a gang member in Broadmoor in early 2023. Singleton was arrested by Adams deputies for stealing several ATVs as part of a theft ring in 2021. 

The Concordia Parish Police Jury is thinking about hiring ChemPro, a company that provides spraying of ditches and adjacent to roads to cut back on vegetation. The Quebec company would charge the parish $95 a mile for spraying both sides of the road twice a year.

Murderer still on the loose

If you have information on the whereabouts of Jaimonte Davis, 23, of Natchez, call Adams deputies at 601-442-2752. He is wanted for a 2018 aggravated assault in which he shot and wounded a man and for the 2023 shooting murder of two men in the Cash Savers parking lot. A $5000 Crimestoppers reward is available leading to his arrest and conviction.   

April 1 is the deadline for making changes with your Homestead Exemption in Mississippi. If you already have the exemption, you don’t need to change anything. But if you bought or sold property, turned 65 in the last year, got married, widowed or divorced, you should check with your county’s tax assessor office to see if those changes will benefit you with a slightly lower tax bill.  

The new Natchez Youth Baseball League has signed up 311 kids to play this spring. Natchez Rec Director Ryan Porter and volunteers are helping organize the program. Kids as young as three have signed up. So far, only 15 eleven and twelve year olds have signed to play. So organizers are hoping to get a few more older kids to create two teams in that age group.   

Dog park donation

The AAZ chapter of PTK, Copiah-Lincoln Community College-Natchez made the first donation to the Natchez Dog Park. The Natchez-Adams County Community Alliance Dog Park project is moving forward. This $1,000 donation is a step forward in making the park a reality. Stay tuned and reach out if you are interested in being involved. Thank you to Adara Blalock, Beth Richard, and Betty Jo Harris for representing Co-Lin PTK. 

Natchez police received a tip that led them to find and arrest Eddie W. Jones, 57, of Natchez. Jones was wanted for exploiting the elderly. He often does households jobs and repairs for seniors and then bilks them out of their money. In March 2023, he was arrested on multiple charges, including failing to show up for court. He was then given an easy bond of $1100 in city court. He posted bond, was freed and he didn’t show up for court again. In Feb. 2024, he was bound over to the grand jury on his felonies.  

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson traveled to D.C. The highlight of the week was Friday, when Congressional and Presidential approval of over $3 million for projects in Natchez was secured, to include a new fire truck for the Natchez-Adam's Airport, important drainage projects for south Natchez and landscaping and infrastructure improvements for Revels Plaza and our Natchez US Colored Troops site. Lobbying for these projects began a year ago when Supervisor Warren Gaines and the mayor made a trip to Washington to visit with our congressional delegation. Supervisors Rickey Gray and Angela Hutchins also made a visit of their own three weeks ago. 

Judge Reeves denies bond

Judge John Reeves took the threat to the community seriously after three Concordia residents participated in a shooting in Ferriday on Friday that killed a man. Accused shooter Otis Frazier received no bond. Frederick Frazier, who allegedly supplied Otis with the firearm, received no bond. And Ann Lewis, who allegedly impeded the police investigation, received a $450,000 bond.

Rev. Reginald Buckley of the General Missionary Baptist Convention said his organization will spend $797,000 to repair the Huddleston Chapel at Natchez College. An Eli Lily grant will pay for most of the work and repairs will begin soon. The Convention wants to rehab the entire Natchez College campus for a new arts center.  

Franklin County Promotions has donated the Bude fairgrounds to the county board of supervisors. Supervisors are talking about making improvements to the property.   

Three arrests in Ferriday

Ferriday police said Kaderrius Minor was shot and killed  near Louisiana and Mickey Gilley Avenues on Friday night. Officers made three arrests. Otis Frazier, 38, was charged with second degree murder, attempted second degree murder, convicted felon in possession of gun, illegal use of a weapon and obstruction of justice. Fredrick Frazier, 40, was arrested as a principal to second degree murder, principal to attempted second degree murder, obstruction of justice and illegally supplying a felon with a gun. Ann Lewis, 42, was arrested for obstruction of justice. Other arrests are pending. 

A Mississippi appeals court has affirmed the conviction and sentence of Zachary Minor of Natchez for trafficking marijuana and THC edibles. Minor was arrested in 2019, tried and convicted by a jury in 2021. Judge Debra Blackwell sentenced him to 10 years in jail to be followed by probation for 10 years. The appeals court said the trial was fair and the jury and judge’s actions were appropriate.

Concordia Parish noted a small decline of 58 jobs compared to a year ago. The parish reports now 6514 people working.

New garbage contract

Arrow Disposal’s six-year contract for city of Natchez garbage and recycling pickup ends at the end of May. Aldermen open bids for a new contract at Tuesday’s meeting. Currently, residents pay $24.15 a month for the service. $1 of the monthly fee covers mosquito control. 

The Mississippi Presidential Preference Primary is March 12. All polls are open 7a.m.-7 p.m.

Early voting runs through March 16 for the March 23 primary election. Offices on the ballot include mayor, chief of police and alderman races for Vidalia, Ferriday and Clayton. All Concordia voters can vote in the presidential preference primary. 

Supervisors sue Delta Energy

Adams County supervisors have filed suit against Delta Energy-Natchez, saying the closed company did not meet its employment guarantee to have 91 full-time employees. Delta employed 61 and received incentives from both state and local governments. The county says Delta did not follow through on its contract both in hiring and by shutting down, entitling the county to $194,000 for contract breach. Delta answered the county, admitting it did not meet employment guarantees because some planned railroad improvements were not done. Delta admits the breach and says it was the county’s fault. The suit was filed in Adams County Circuit Court in January and moved to the U.S. Southern District. Scott Slover, as board attorney, is handling the case for supervisors.

Missing teenager John Fredrick Leckie of Natchez has been found safe. 

Adams County supervisors did not tell those teams and parties wanting to use the new Chester Willis Field that they should reserve use of the field with a county administrative assistant. It turns out Natchez High gave Alcorn permission to use the field, even though the schools have no ownership or authority over the field. It’s considered normal for a “renter” of a public field in most communities to sign a contract for the use of the field, which includes satisfying security, insurance and safety concerns, specifying what gate and concession fees and conditions will be and what rental fee will be paid to the owner of the field. The rental fee covers maintenance, cleanup, grounds prep and electricity for lights. The county was in such a hurry to open the field, it did publicize the field’s rental or contract terms. Whether Natchez High was going to charge Alcorn a fee or give it to the Braves for free is unknown. 

Another shooting

Natchez police arrested Trevor Malone 15, of Natchez, and charged him as an adult for the shooting that occurred outside of Vape Plus on Sergeant Prentice Drive Wednesday. One person was wounded. Malone has been arrested for attempted murder, shooting into a vehicle, and firing within the city limits. Also arrested were Adrian Thomas, 18, as an accessory before the attempted murder and Tyrese Thomas, 19, as an accessory after the attempted murder.

Catahoula deputies arrested Myles McMillin, 61, of Harrisonburg, after he allegedly committed 100 counts of cyberstalking. McMillin conducted an internet and messaging campaign to friends and acquaintances saying Sheriff Toney Edwards is a pedophile and Edwards was about to be arrested by the state for sending pictures of himself to a 16-year-old Concordia girl. McMillin’s messages had lots of specifics in them to make the details seem true. But all his claims were false. There was no 16 year old, no local or state investigation against Toney and no pending arrest. La. lew prohibits the sending of electronic messages accusing a person of indecent or criminal conduct. To do so is a felony. McMillin faces jail time of up to one year and a $2000 fine if convicted.

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security reported Adams County had 10,100 people employed in December and just 9,660 employed in January. Losses in retail, service jobs and manufacturing contributed to the decline.

New jail likely

Adams County supervisors plan to accept a donation of 30+ acres of land on Hwy. 61 North  from an unnamed donor to build a new jail and justice center. A Jackson-based construction company will update jail plans and the building costs, estimated to be $8-10 million. Supervisors may ask the Legislature to pass a private bill to authorize long term financing. A tax increase to build and operate the jail is likely. Supervisors already increased property taxes 14.5% this year because they lost track of their revenues and expenses and spent themselves into a hole.

Natchez police reported break-ins and burglaries overnight at Home Furnishings, Farm Bureau and Dairy Queen, all on John R. Junkin Drive. DQ suffered significant vandalism as well as the burglary.   

The Meadville St. Patrick’s Day parade will be March 7 at 5:30p. It is sponsored by the Lion’s Club.

Travis  Patten and Felicia Bridgewater Irving 

The Natchez Business and Civic League chose Sheriff Travis Patten and Alderwoman Felicia Bridgewater Irving as its Man and Woman of the Year.

Adams deputies said John Frederick Leckie, 16, of Natchez, is missing. He has been missing since Sunday. If you know of his whereabouts, call ACSO at 601-442-2752.

CPSO detectives received a call on Feb. 26, regarding a juvenile who had been given narcotics and physically attacked by an adult male subject who she was reportedly in the vehicle with at that the time of the call. The vehicle was located at the Sonic in Ferriday, with both the adult subject and juvenile inside, at which time the detectives made contact with the driver. He was detained and found to be in possession of a loaded firearm, narcotics and was out on bond for an attempted murder charge in Catahoula Parish. As the investigation went on, it was learned that the juvenile had been with him for two days, under the influence of narcotics and had engaged in sexual activity numerous times. Later the same date, narcotics detectives executed a search warrant at the suspect's residence in Clayton, at which time three grams of fentanyl was recovered, along with $1255 in counterfeit cash. Arrested was Myja Thompson, 26, of Clayton, for Felony Carnal Knowledge of a Juvenile, Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, Possession of Schedule II CDS (Fentanyl), Monetary Instrument Abuse, Possession of Schedule I CDS (Marijuana).

Asjleigh Johnson 

Miss Natchez Hospitality 2024 is Ashleigh Johnson. She will compete statewide for a $100,000 scholarship. She currently attends Co-Lin

The body of a missing man, Philip “Tip” Gordon, of Crosby, has been found in rural Wilkinson County, near Crosby. Officials have not indicated any cause of death.

Natchez police arrested Tiffany Lynn Brown, 27, of Crosby, for burglary. She had been arrested in August in Lincoln County for burglary, placed on bond and released. She is currently being held at the Natchez Police Department. 

Two new businesses

The owner Pure Carwash in McComb says he will open his second location on Sgt. Prentiss Dive in Natchez. Richard LaNasa says that he subdivided his lot and the buyer will build and open a Zaxby’s restaurant next door to his car wash in Natchez. 

Kevontay Haynes, 26, accused of murder and kidnapping, was recently been seen in Jonesville and Ferriday driving a dark green 2017 Toyota Camry with initials on the back glass reading KNS inside a circle. The car has Texas tags. Haynes was wanted for murder in Monroe and should be considered extremely dangerous. He has been captured.

Ja’Quarius Davis, 21, of Ferriday, allegedly burglarized cars and shot and wounded a man near Maryland Heights in February 2022. He also stole a car in Ferriday to perform the burglaries. He was then arrested and recently indicted for both aggravated assault and burglary in Adams County. But he is not considered a continuing threat to property or people, so he has been allowed back on the street with a $50,000 bond. 

Larry and Brenda Holmes and their home

George F. Bowles built this house between 1886 and 1890, according to Mimi Miller of the Historic Natchez Foundation. It is located on the very site that was home to Natchez’s first public hospital building, the Mississippi State Hospital, built in 1813. The main section of the hospital was demolished in 1866. The city has placed a historic marker on the property. Larry and Brenda Holmes are owners of the house.

Dr. Roscoe Barnes III has been elected vice president of the Mississippi Historical Society. He serves as cultural heritage tourism manager for Visit Natchez.   

Firefighters from Natchez, Adams County, Franklin County and Concordia Parish responded to a large fire of tires, cars, car parts, wood, plastic and metal debris at a junkyard at 10 Ratcliff Road in Adams County. The property owners’ mobile home at the site burned to the ground. No injuries were reported. It took hours to fight the fire as there were so many combustibles.

Loan for fire truck

Natchez aldermen will borrow $500,000 from the Miss. Development Authority to help pay for a new Rosenbauer Custom Chassis fire truck. Supervisors have agreed to earmark a $90,000 grant for the purchase. Total cost for the rig will be about $680,000. The purchase of a new truck contributes to the city’s fire rating and lower priced fire insurance for property owners.

La. Early Voting runs March 9-16, including voting for Vidalia and Ferriday municipal elections. The March 23 primary includes the Presidential preference primary for all parish voters.   

Vidalia police arrested Paxton McCullen, 51, of Natchez, for obstruction of justice, public intimidation and possession of contraband in a penal facility.  

Wilkinson prison cited

The Justice Department announced its findings that conditions of confinement at three Mississippi Department of Corrections facilities violate the 8th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Department’s 60-page report details its findings from a thorough investigation of the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, South Mississippi Correctional Institution, and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility. These three prisons currently house about 7,200 people. The report concludes that MDOC routinely violates the constitutional rights of people incarcerated at all three facilities by failing to protect them from widespread physical violence. The state does not adequately supervise the incarcerated population, control the flow of contraband, adequately investigate incidents of serious harm, or provide adequate living conditions. These problems are exacerbated by chronic understaffing that has allowed gangs to exert improper influence inside the prisons. The report also concludes that Mississippi unconstitutionally subjects persons at Central Mississippi Correctional Facility and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility to prolonged restrictive housing under harsh conditions that places them at substantial risk of serious physical and psychological harm. “The conclusion of the investigation and the issuance of findings is only the start of the work necessary to ensure that the state of Mississippi and the Mississippi Department of Corrections fulfill their constitutional obligations to the people it incarcerates,” said U.S. Attorney Todd W. Gee for the Southern District of Mississippi. “The minimum remedial measures outlined in this report create the framework for what the state must do to reasonably protect people in these facilities from violence and prevent deprivation of fundamental physical and psychological needs. While this report makes clear that there is much work for the state to do, we are committed to working with state officials to ensure that Mississippi abides by its constitutional obligations.”

Trinity Medical’s board has re-elected Jim Graves as its chairman. He has served for eight years, including during the transition between Riverland and Trinity. He is widely regarded as a key person in the growth of the hospital in both services and finances.

Vidalia police arrested Paxton McCullen, 51, of Natchez, for obstruction of justice, public intimidation and possession of contraband in a penal facility. Those arrested are considered not guilty unless convicted by a court of law. 

New study planned

Natchez aldermen will use an engineering firm to conduct a traffic and parking study for downtown at a cost of $37,000. The city has used parking access as a way to limit commercial development over the years, using tighter restrictions to prohibit the continuing operation of businesses when properties changed hands and to limit the number of AirBnBs. The traffic study will also look at which streets should be one way and whether diagonal parking would help in the immediate downtown area. At one time, Natchez had some diagonal parking but eliminated it in favor of parking on both sides of the street. The ideas promulgated from a traffic study are often used in conjunction with a master plan. The recommendations, if enacted, can help or harm economic development. 

The Miss-Lou Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame has awarded $11,000 in scholarships to local kids this month, including its top award of $3,000 to scholar-athlete Braeden Jarrod Gregg of Cathedral. 

Spring Pilgrimage dates are set: Natchez Garden Club, March 8-April 29 and Pilgrimage Garden Club, March 9-April 9. The Pilgrimage includes tours of antebellum homes, dining and special entertainment events. For more info go to https://natchezgardenclub.org or natchezpilgrimage.com.

Stolen car ring arrests

Adams deputies arrested three local men for participating in an interstate stolen car ring. Those arrested include Ricky Lee Ellis, 34, of Fayette, Sahmaad Grayson, 23, also of Fayette, and Henry Washington Jr., 27, of Natchez. The trio was allegedly involved with thieves that moved stolen cars through Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Bond on Ellis was set at $10,000. Bond info on Grayson and Washington has not been released. Those arrested are considered not guilty unless convicted in a court of law. 

Meadville police reported the town’s public works director, Howard Williams, was injured when a passing pickup truck struck him, while he was on the job, injuring his shoulder and hand. The driver did not stop. Police have a tag number and are looking for him. Williams is recovering. 

Nearly 100 people participated in the Miles for Marlee walk-run in Franklin County, raising $5,000 to help pay for her medical care. Marlee Tindle was seriously injured and auto accident last year. 

Remains identified as Sheryl Turner of New Iberia

On Jan. 24, the partial remains of a female body was found in the Ouachita River in Catahoula Parish by a local boater. An autopsy was ordered by Conorer Raymond Rouse and the unidentifiable remains were taken to Broussard, Louisiana, on Jan. 25 in which DNA and toxicology tests were also done. While searching for missing persons in an attempt to identify the remains, detectives came across a lead of a missing person by the name of Sheryl Turner, a 19 year old female from New Iberia who fit the description of the body detectives located. Turner had been reported missing by her twin sister Sherry Turner, stating that she had left to go to Monroe on her own with a black male that no one knew were going to Monroe, Louisiana. She was willing to give a DNA sample to match or rule out if the remains were Sheryl Turner. On Jan. 30, Detectives spoke to Sherry Turner. She wanted to meet at her father’s house at approximately 10:00 am on Wed. Jan. 31. Detectives traveled to New Iberia and learned that she had been admitted to the hospital due to complications with her pregnancy. After meeting with Sherry Turner’s parents, detectives were able to go to the hospital with the assistance of the New Iberia Police Department to collect the DNA which was submitted to the crime lab the same day. While in New Iberia, our detectives also spoke with Jerone Isiah Tines, whom Sheryl stayed with for a while. Sheryl had confided in Tines that she was going to Monroe, Louisiana. He dropped her off at her mother’s house on Jan. 1. Sheryl texted him when she made it to Monroe, but there was no further contact with him after Jan. 2. On Feb. 1, Catahoula Parish Detectives were in a boat with a cadaver dog for several hours in the Ouachita River. The dog did alert in three locations. The next day the detectives went back and scanned the areas with a live scope the dog alerted to, but waters were moving too fast to warrant sending divers down. On Feb. 21, Catahoula Parish Detectives were contacted by the Shreveport crime lab stating that DNA swabs from both the mother and father of Sherry Turner could be used to confirm or rule out Turner. The next day Catahoula Parish Detectives traveled back to New Iberia in order to collect the requested DNA swabs and delivered these swabs to the North Louisiana Crime lab in Shreveport to submit the reference samples for comparison. Verbal confirmation was given to the Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Office at approximately 3:40 on Feb. 23. Chief Deputy Ben Adams and Detective Dewain Littleton traveled to the home of Michael Turner, Sheryl’s father, and gave victim notification in person to the family. Sheriff Toney Edwards would like to inform the public that this is an ongoing investigation. “At this time, we are asking people, if you saw Sheryl in the Monroe area in January, to please contact the Sheriff’s office at 318-744-5411. Any information can be helpful. Also I would like to say thank you to everyone who has worked on this case and to those who called in because you knew of a missing person. During this time, we were able to rule out fifteen missing person reports. This case starts in South Louisiana and travels to Northeast Louisiana. We are working with the State Police, FBI, New Iberia Police Dept. Iberia Sheriff, and Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Department. Again, I want to stress, if you have a loved one you have not seen or had contact with in an unusual amount of time, do not be afraid to report them missing.”

Adams supervisors reappointed Diane Bunch to the Natchez-Adams School Board. She has been on the board since 2019. Bunch is a professor of English at Alcorn State University .

Testing licensed pulled

The Miss. Department of Health will no longer allow Rapid Analytics of Natchez to test and certify marijuana products as safe for consumers. The state conducted a two-month investigation that found that the company violated testing procedures for contaminants and for dangerous pesticides. Proper testing is important as organized crime has infiltrated the national supply of marijuana with harvested weed that had been sprayed with dangerous chemicals. The company can appeal the decision. Rapid Analytics was testing about 70 percent of the state’s legal marijuana before it ran afoul of the state.

Adams deputies arrested Archie Doss, 31, of Natchez, for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Bond was set at $50,000. He remains in jail. In 2016, he was sentenced to 11 years for aggravated assault but was released early. Those arrested are considered not guilty unless otherwise convicted in a court of law.

Funeral services for John Truett Patrick also known as "Johnny" and "JP", 73, of Lake Concordia, will be held at Young's Funeral Home in Ferriday on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. Interment will follow at Greenlawn Memorial Park. Patrick was known as one of the parish's leading insurance agency owners and active in service to his community. Attuned to local politics, he also served as Concordia Parish Sheriff in the 1980's. 

DeSanto Rollins

DeSanto Rollins’ suit against Ole Miss and football coach Lane Kiffin has been dismissed. Rollins had asked for $10 million in damages and another $30 million in punitive damages after the team took him off his starting position as a defensive lineman. Rollins said he was illegally removed from the team, alleging discrimination based on sex, race and disability. Ole Miss says he’s still on the team roster. Rollins can appeal the decision. He is from Woodville and graduated from Trinity in Natchez.   

Natchez police originally charged Chelsea Anding, 38, of Natchez, with felony child abuse after her 9-month-old child sustained serious head injuries. The child was airlifted to Jackson, received intensive care but died of her injuries. Now Anding has been charged with second defree murder. 

Woodville police are still investigating the shooting death of Danelle Harris, 24, who was found deceased in the mobile home he was renting on F. J. Johnson St. in Woodville. If you have any info that might affect this case, call Woodville Police Chief Lemuel Rutledge. 

Chronic wasting disease spreads

Most of this year’s outbreak of chronic wasting disease in deer has been limited to Tensas Parish but Claiborne County has been added to the danger zone for infected deer. Northern Concordia remains on a watch list.

Gerald Boelte, 77, of Natchez, died Thursday night in an off-road accident on his property near Quitman Road. Preliminary reports said he died in an ATV utility vehicle accident.

The Miss. Department of Health will no longer allow Rapid Analytics of Natchez to test and certify marijuana products as safe for consumers. The state conducted a two month investigation that found that the company violated testing procedures for contaminants including dangerous pesticides. Proper testing is important as organized crime has infiltrated the national supply of marijuana with harvested weed that had been sprayed with dangerous chemicals. The company can appeal the decision. Rapid Analytics was testing about 70 percent of the state’s legal marijuana before it ran afoul of the state. 

Repeat felon gets suspended sentence

Judge Debra Blackwell sentenced Michael S. Simpson, 41, of Natchez, to 10 years suspended, with five years reporting to a probation officer and five years with no reporting. He has previously been arrested for attempted murder, arson, stalking, criminal trespass and other misdemeanor and felony offenses. Despite his lengthy rap sheet and illegally carrying a gun, the judge felt he deserved a suspended sentence and immediate freedom. 

Many residents showed up an open meeting to protest high rates now charged by Concordia Electric Co-op. The utility held its annual public meeting which is usually just a cookies and coffee event and election of officers But this year, several dozen people showed up, with some saying their rates had doubled or tripled. The co-op recently increased rates, especially on lower usage customers. 

Ferriday police arrested Roosevelt Brooks III, 30, of Ferriday, for domestic abuse battery (strangulation), arson and an outstanding bench warrant. He remains in the parish jail. 

Cruises camceled

American Queen Voyages has stopped all current and future cruises across the U.S., including those on the Mississippi River. The company is expected to declare bankruptcy. The company owes hundreds of customers refunds it cannot pay. It is unable to pay its vendors. The company had also pledged to help pay for the raising of Silver Street and a Natchez dock. The loss of funds will probably delay both projects.

Natchez aldermen and Adams supervisors have yet to agree on funding and cost sharing for fire protection and E911 dispatch. The county is dragging its feet on paying its fair share of costs to run city fire trucks into the county. And the city doesn’t really want to move dispatch to the new building the county purchased on Feltus St.

Meadville Mayor Lane Reed said an engineering firm estimated it would take $300,000 to repair or replace deteriorating sewer lines. Aldermen listened to the news but took no action. The town asks residents not to pour grease down kitchen drains. When the grease cools, it congeals and clogs sewer pipes.

Concordia-Catahoula drug bust

Narcotics units from the Concordia and Catahoula Parish Sheriff’s Offices began a joint operation that resulted in eight individuals being taken into custody after firearms and large amounts of methamphetamine and marijuana were recovered from two separate residences. A search warrant was obtained and executed on Feb. 16, 2024, at 240 Grayson Road in Fowles (Catahoula Parish) at the home of Michael Dawson, where six people were taken into custody for multiple drug and weapons charges. Two of those arrested were on parole. Dawson, however, was not at the residence. After further investigation, the narcotics Units obtained a second search warrant for the home of Shelia Myers, 8573 Hwy 566 in Clayton, LA (Concordia Parish) where Dawson and Myers were located inside the residence along with a large amount of Methamphetamine and Marijuana. Both Dawson and Myers were taken into custody without incident. Arrests included: Michael Dean Dawson, 54, of Clayton, for Possession of Schedule I Drugs with Intent to Distribute; Possession of Schedule II Drugs with Intent to Distribute; Possession of Drug Paraphernalia; Shelia Myers, 62, of Clayton, for Possession of Schedule I Drugs with Intent to Distribute; Possession of Schedule II Drugs with Intent to Distribute; Possession of Drug Paraphernalia; Antonio Tyrone Atkins, of Sicily Island, for Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Meth w/ intent to Distribute, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia; Kendrick Michael Magee, 29, of Sicily Island, for Possession of Crystal Meth, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia; Henry Thomas Crawford, 47, of Sicily Island, for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Crystal Meth; Stephen Ray Hinton, 42, of Clayton, for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Crystal Meth;  Melissa Maureen Farmer, 48, of Jonesville, for Possession of Firearm with Felon, Possession of Legend Drug Without Prescription, Possession of Marijuana W/Intent to Distribute, Possession of Schedule II Drugs, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of a Firearm While CDS in Possession; and David Farmer, 37, of Natchez, for Possession of Firearm with Felon, Possession of Legend Drug Without Prescription, Possession of Marijuana W/Intent to Distribute, Possession of Schedule II Drugs, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of a Firearm While CDS in Possession.

Concordia deputies arrested Quaneshia Bradford, 40, of Newellton, for malfeasance in office and introducing contraband into a penal facility. She had been employed at the Concordia Corrections Facility. She remains in jail. 

Ferriday will begin enforcement of traffic laws by computerized cameras March 20. The Ferriday Board of Aldermen approved Meta Traffic of Harrisonburg to use speed trap camera traffic enforcement. The town will get 60 percent of the fines collected and the company gets 40 percent. Speeding tickets are then sent through the mail. If the ticket is not paid, the driver's license is suspended. Clayton recently went to traffic cameras and fine revenues increased 2,000 percent.

Collections drop

January sales tax collections for Natchez dipped 1.95% in January compared to last January. For Jan. 2023, the city received $535,183 and for Jan. 2024, it got $524,925. A portion of the total collected by the state is returned to the city. 

An oil well owned Black Jack Oil caught fire on Giles Island, Paraffin at the well head and nearby leaves and branches caught fire. No one was injured, and the fire was put out quickly.

Devin Cole Hines, 29, from Olla, was shot to death in Caldwell Parish on Feb. 11. On Feb. 16, a warrant for 2nd Degree Murder was obtained for Richie Alan Norris, 34, of Vidalia. Norris was arrested on a traffic stop by Caldwell deputies and Louisiana Probation and Parole in Caldwell Parish at La. Hwy 4 and La. Hwy 846.

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