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

Concerned that Officer Oliver Robison III should not be on duty with Ferriday police, unconfirmed reports say the majority of Ferriday’s police and its chief, C.J. Hall, Jr., walked off the job yesterday. They also say the mayor interfered directly with the running of the department.  Whether they quit permanently or will come back is uncertain. Robinson faces felony charges of forgery and theft in Little Rock that were filed in 2023. And Ferriday Mayor Alvin Garrison said he won’t suspend Robinson pending the outcome of the trial. CPSO has increased its patrols in town to help.

New Hope hearing

The Natchez Planning Commission voted to rehear the petition of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church to use the former Natchez Children’s Home building as a children’s home once again. In early June, the commission deadlocked 4 to 4 and made no decision on whether to grant the exception for New Hope. Many nearby residents have expressed opposition to the idea, in part because Dr. Tina Bruce misled the city and neighbors as to what she was going to do with the site. Bruce and her employees have been at the children’s home several times in recent weeks, but New Hope has not said whether she is a tenant or not.   

Adams deputies arrested four local residents after the perpetrators stole two pickups, guns, hunting gear and appliances in a July 4 burglary. Nancy N. Evans, 40, Joseph Todd Partridge,36, Jonathan D. Newman, 42, and Vicki Byrnes, 37, were arrested. in mid-July. Deputies seized drugs, drug paraphernalia. handguns, rifles, bows, a saw off shotgun and other items in follow-up raids at the suspects' residences in mid-July. The four were charged with various offenses, including burglary, theft, drug possession and intent to sell drugs. Some had outstanding warrants and had failed to appear in court. All are being held in jail. Evans was arrested for felony drug possession in 2023. Partridge was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle in 2023. Newman was charged with aggravated assault in 2023. 

The appeal hearing of Truth Lounge will be held this coming July 25 in Adams County Circuit Court. I expect the city to argue that it closed the bar because of safety concerns after the shooting in the Goodyear parking lot. Truth Lounge may say it operated legally and safely with extra security and should not be held responsible for violence that occurred 600 feet from its premises by non-customers. Truth could also argue that the city did not follow its own rules for permitting and closing the bar and that law enforcement and owners of properties nearby allowed loitering, drinking and noise over which the bar had no control.

Oliver Robinson III

Concordia deputies picked up Ferriday Police Officer Oliver Robinson for an outstanding felony warrant in Little Rock. He is still on the active duty roster and released to attend court in Arkansas. I placed calls to the police chief and Mayor Garrison about this. Neither man was available. The mayor’s voicemail was full, so I sent him a FB message hoping for a return call. Robinson, like all those arrested, is presumed innocent. Robinson says on FB his arrest was a case where someone stole his identity, whitewashed a check and used ID to cash a fraudulent check. He went to Little Rock today, spoke to the judge, and he was released to come back home. Robinson says he will still have to hire a lawyer, appear in court at a formal hearing and testify how his ID was stolen and how the check was altered. He said he has not done anything wrong. When Concordia detained him, they did so based on the Arkansas charges. That information became public record immediately, and so we reported what was in the public record. Arkansas authorities said they conducted a detailed investigation, have probable cause and significant evidence to try him. They believe he committed the crime and intend to prosecute him. Of course, he may be found guilty or not guilty at trial. Ferriday could suspend him pending resolution of the charges. Mayor Garrison said Robinson will not be suspended. Robinson has served in various Louisiana police departments for more than a year and should have completed academy training and been certified by now. The La. Commission on Law Enforcement says he does not have Louisiana certification, which raises the question whether he can legally serve. Louisiana requires its officers to complete academy training and become certified within 12 months of working for a police department or several departments.

The Natchez Adams County Airport Commission will open bids Aug. 13 to purchase a rescue and firefighting vehicle. The truck will have a large water tank capacity and the ability to douse electrical and chemical fires. 

Dip in collections

Natchez sales tax collections distributed from the state to the city fell slightly in the past year from $5.908 million to $5.759 million, down 2.5 percent, reflecting a slowing economy. The Miss. Department of Revenue uses a fiscal year of July 1-June 30 for reporting purposes.

Adams deputies have arrested three accused drug dealers in the last two weeks. But Justice Court has been allowing the dealers to walk on $10,000-$15,000 bonds. This has been a reversal of policy where dealers often get a higher bond of $25,000-$100,000. Judges consider flight risk, risk to the community’s safety, the likelihood of reoffending and history of arrests and convictions of the person arrested when setting bond. When a felony bond is set at just $10,000, the judge is communicating to the public that the accused poses little or no risk to the community. Using a bail bondsman, the accused needs $1,000 cash to get out on a $10,000 bond. Richard C. Harper, 37, of Natchez was arrested by deputies for intent to distribute drugs. His bond was set at $10,000. 

This school year in Catahoula Parish, 7th and 8th graders will experience an exciting new way of learning with the launch of a Star Academy program at Block High School. Star Academy is a “school-within-a-school” where students learn their core subjects through hands-on projects, experiments, and multimedia experiences while working in pairs and groups. It has proven effective both for students who have fallen behind and for motivated students who merely want to excel. Students are exposed to over a hundred different careers, and they gain an understanding of how what they are learning can be applied to these careers. Star Academy also imparts valuable “soft skills” such as responsibility and working well with others. The program includes a three-year service agreement, training and professional development for teachers and administrators, and turn-key installation, along with all necessary equipment, furniture, and materials. Star Academy has proven itself in 16 states, typically driving improvements in test scores, grades, attendance, and disciplinary referrals. Neighboring Concordia Parish has experienced great success with its Star Academy program at Ferriday Junior High School. (Catahoula News Booster)

Software problems

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office reported that its new 911 software is not compatible with the computer-aided dispatch system. The error means supervisors will spend an extra $4800 to go back to the old system software. 

The Natchez Food and Wine Festival returns to the Natchez Convention Center and other locations in town July 26-27 from 6-9 p.m. One of the most highly anticipated culinary events in Mississippi, the Natchez Food & Wine Festival attracts top chefs and restaurateurs from throughout the Gulf South. Each summer, they gather in Natchez to stage multiple-course dinners in historic mansions, progressive dining events, gourmet tastings, and casual social occasions that make the most of the city’s spectacular riverside setting. All along the Great River Road, renowned chefs, restaurateurs, vintners, and craft beer brewers descend on Natchez for the summer Food & Wine Festival. Friday night offers a huge taster’s fair, ”Tastings Along the Mississippi River," with scores of regional chefs and restaurants participating (it always sells out); and top regional chefs stage elaborate feasts in grand Natchez mansions on Saturday night. It’s a weekend-long chance to enjoy fine food, wine, and craft brews. Tickets $90. For info, call 601-445-4611. https://natchezfoodandwine.com.

William Hill, 39, of Fayette, died unexpectedly while in the custody of MDOC. He received emergency aid on the scene and was transported to the hospital but could not be saved. Cause of death is not known, and an autopsy will be ordered. He was serving time for an armed robbery and illegal gun possession he committed in Adams County and was being held in the state correctional facility in Meridian. 

Ferriday High

Concordia school board members are considering doing an exterior facelift to Ferriday High. Architects are working with the board, considering styling and features of the building that could improve and modernise the look of the school.

Benjemen Tigue, 43, of Natchez, was arrested by Adams deputies for intent to distribute meth. McTigue is scheduled for release on bond within 48 hours. For dealing drugs, his bond was set at $15,000. 

The La. Legislative Auditor gave the Concordia Parish Police Jury an extension to June 30 to file its missing 2022 CPA audit. Neither the 2022 audit nor the now due 2023 audit have been filed, as required by state law.

New hangar to be built

Adams County supervisors allocated $200,000 as a local match with $800,000 from the state to build a new 10-plane hangar. They will also spend just under $69,000 to fund a jail assessment needs study. 

The Concordia School Board have voted on a different lease for the Southern Designs building. The board approved a 12 month lease which will includes use of offices, kitchen and storage space for $5000 per month. 

Adams deputies arrested Marion D. Jackson, 29, of Natchez, for dealing drugs. He remains in jail with bond set  at $10,000. 

The Vidalia Conference and Convention Center is the optimal location for the event to remember. Located along the bank of the Mississippi River in Vidalia, La., directly across the river from historic Natchez, Miss., adjacent to the Clarion Suites Hotel and just north of the Riverfront RV Park. 20,000 square feet of rental space for conventions, parties, exhibits, weddings and special events. For more info, call 318-336 9934.  Visit our website: www.vidaliaconventioncenter.com 

James Biglane

James Biglane has died at 82. He was one of Natchez's most outstanding leaders from the 1970s-present. His biographical credits include: Univ. of Oklahoma, Petroleum Management, 1st Lt. US Army Vietnam, LSU School of Banking, president of Biglane Operating Company, co-founder and chairman of First Natchez Bank-UMB, Miss. State Banking Board, president of Alcorn Community Foundation, co-founder of Great Miss. Balloon Race, supporter and a leading contributor to United Way, Boy Scouts, Santa Claus Committee, head of the Natchez EDA, and supervising Under the Hill revitalization. He led his bank to unparalleled progress from one little branch in a mobile home to 10 branches in the Miss-Lou. The success of his bank and the continuing success of the oil company allowed him to donate to scores of local causes and charities, becoming one of the Miss-Lou's top donors to local non-profits. Biglane authorized a multi-million dollar line of credit from UMB to Natchez Regional when Regional completely ran out of cash, couldn't make payroll, and was going to close immediately, laying off 400 people. No other local bank came forward to keep Regional open or lend it money. He lent the money to Regional with no real guarantee the bank would be repaid, saving the hospital and the county from disaster. Today, Merit Health Natchez exists, in part, because he gave Regional the money it needed to operate and to go through bankruptcy, so the county could sell its hospital assets to a private and well-heeled national healthcare company.

Concordia deputies arrested Brenda K. Valentine, 59, of Ridgecrest, and charged her with house burglary. She is being held in the parish jail. 

The water was shut off due to a broken pipe in the Lake Drive area of .Ferriday. The town will perform repairs. 

Natchez threats against Trump

Two Natchez women have been reported to the FBI for issuing indirect threats to Donald Trump’s life. Jacqueline Marsaw and Elodie Pritchartt both posted on FB that they endorsed the shooting of Trump and thought it should be done again. Marsaw deleted her posts, but she was fired as a result from her job as a congressional aide to Bennie Thompson. Both women are liberal Democratic activists. On Saturday, Marsaw said that she was trying to make humorous posts. On Saturday, Pritchartt said she stood by her posts. But on Sunday, she apologized and said she was joking. The FBI visited Marsaw at her home on Sunday and she profusely apologized. Adams Sheriff Travis Patten said he believed the veiled threat issued by Marsaw was a violation of federal law and punishable by up to 5 years in prison, if convicted. 

Jacqueline Loy, 31, of Natchez, was arrested by Adams deputies for assaulting a law enforcement officer. If convicted, she faces up to five years in jail and as much as a $1000 fine. in a separate case, Deputies arrested Nicholas Tyreik Crockett, 22, of Natchez, for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Bond was set at $50,000. He will be released within 48 hours.

The Concordia Parish School Board has voted to give all support staff a 5 percent raise. 

Habitat celebration

Habitat for Humanity will celebrate its 25th anniversary in Natchez with the dedication of its latest home Sunday, July 14 at 2 p.m. at 319 Old Washington Rd. 

A complaint has been filed by Lee Ford of Natchez filed a complaint with Natchez police, saying Fire Chief Robert Arrington threatened Ford with bodily harm at this week’s aldermen’s meeting. Ford alleges that Arrington used profane language and told Ford to stay away from Arrington’s wife. The men exchanged words and almost came to blows. Alderman Billie Joe Frazier interceded and separated the verbal combatants.   

Adams deputies arrested Kenny Roy Brandenburg, 47, of Natchez, for dealing drugs. MDOC released him from jail in 2023 after serving time for selling meth. He is currently being held on a $20,000 bond.   

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. 

Mayor Buz Craft and Alderman Gardner spar

Vidalia Alderman Robert Gardner complained that a new ordinance passed by the town was unconstitutional. Vidalia aldermen had been getting a pay of $700 a month. When they decided to increase their pay to $1000 per month, they added the provision that an alderman must attend the meetings to get the extra $300. Gardner objected, because he has missed three meetings in a row, and he wanted his $1000. Mayor Buz Craft explained that the town had checked with the attorney general’s office and other state officials to make sure the ordinance is legal. And so it is. Gardner was still complaining, but he must attend in order to get his extra money. 

Concordia deputies arrested Kyshaune McCullar, 21, of Clayton. He is being held in the parish jail, charged with possession of drugs with intent to distribute, possession of drugs while in possession of a firearm and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. 

A special meeting has been called for Monday, July 15 at 8:30 a.m. by the Catahoula Parish Police Jury. The jury will consider including municipalities in the renewal of the one cent sanitation tax. The tax currently on the November ballot no longer allocates 25 percent to Jonesville, Harrisonburg and Sicily Island for house to house garbage pick-up. The renewal in the upcoming election dedicates 25 percent to garbage collection, 25 percent to roads and bridges and 50 percent to pay for emergency services (ambulance/fire department).

New budget

Ferriday aldermen approved a new budget, forecasting $2.4 million in revenues and $2.7 million in expenses. The deficit will be made good by an interfund transfer. Alderman are planning to put one or two tax measures on the ballot this November to stem ongoing budget problems. The previous administration did not put the renewal of the taxes on the ballot before it left office. Alderperson Gloria Lloyd has been chosen as mayor pro tempore.  

Concordia and Catahoula deputies arrested eight people during drug raids in February. Now two of those arrested have plead guilty to some of the charges and been sentenced by Seventh District Judge John Reeves. David Farmer, 38, of Natchez, and Melissa Farmer, 48, of Jonesville, were arrested for possession of meth and marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of firearms while in possession of drugs and possession of firearms by a convicted felon. David Farmer pled guilty to two felony charges and was sentenced to to two four-year terms which will be served concurrently. Melissa Farmer pled guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia, and was sentenced to five days in the parish jail. Her other charges were dropped.   

Christmas in July will be celebrated in Downtown Natchez on Saturday, July 13. Natchez downtown merchants are always looking to get into the holiday spirit early, so join us for fun, sidewalk sales, and in-store discounts. Free food and refreshments will be available at some stores.   

Events venue and pool club

Natchez aldermen have approved the rezoning of the Elks Lodge on Lower Woodville Rd. as a special events venue including a pool club. Businessman Jimmy Allgood is heading the private sector venture. He intends to improve the maintenance and care of the property. All events will have insurance and security. Allgood said he and his family have invested more than $500,000 in the project so far.

The Natchez Public Works Department has been losing employees due to those workers taking jobs elsewhere and also due to retirements. The aldermen have awarded employees some raises, but the leakage has not stopped and the department is understaffed. The city is reviewing its options to retain employees long term. Mayor Dan Gibson the extra monies spent on animal control are paying off, with fewer strays, more animals cared for and fewer citizen complaints. The city works with the humane society which cares for animals and promotes adoptions. 

Natchez Aldermen voted to return the supervision of the municipal court clerks to the city clerk to comply with the city's charter. The court clerks have been supervised by the municipal judge, the police chief and the city clerk at various times. Natchez has had trouble collecting its fines levied against misdemeanor offenders. The city collects approximately $30,000+ a month in fines, whereas during the Judge John Tipton era, it collected $60,000 or more per month. The causes for the decline in collections include the poverty of the defendants, fewer offenders and fewer convictions and a lax collections policy by judges. Mayor Dan Gibson, City Clerk Megan McKenzie and Judge Christina Daugherty may opt to hire a collection agency with aldermanic approval to collect past dues.   

IMPORTANT FINANCIAL INFORMATION FROM ATTORNEY JACK LAZARUS: STOP those nasty phone calls from creditors. STOP the harassment. STOP credit card debt, foreclosure or repossession. Jack Lazarus has helped people and businesses turn their finances around. Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy may be the best answer. Call for a FREE initial consultation: 601-445-8899. Get a fresh start in life! ATTORNEY JACK LAZARUS, PLLC, 106 South Wall St., Natchez. jacklaz45@gmail.comjacklazarus.com. Helping people is our only business. Hablamos Espanol.  

More streets to be redone

Natchez aldermen will open bids Aug. 8 to hire a contractor for the Downtown Pavement Repairs and Improvement Project. The work in this project consists of asphalt base failure repair and milling and overlay of select downtown streets. Once the contractor starts work, the project is expected to be finished in 60 days. 

About 17 percent of Natchez public school students are chronically absent. The district has an attendance improvement program, as do other districts in the state. Absenteeism was especially high following the COVID shutdown and has been lessening since then. Of the 2800 students in the district, approximately 480 are chronically absent. You can see how such significant absenteeism would affect test scores for students. 

Adams County now has a therapy dog provided by taxpayers through the sheriff’s office. The dog gives comfort to victims of crime along with its deputy dog handler. 

Alvin Garrison

Newly installed Ferriday Mayor Alvin Garrison said his top two priorities include making the town safer and improving its finances. Ferriday had been suffering from a crime wave that includes drug dealing, shootings and thefts. The town has had difficulty make ends meet. I mentioned to Garrison about the town being past due on its CPA audits for 2022 and 2033. He responded, saying he would talk with both the CPA and the Legislative Auditor to see what can be done to get the audits done and submitted to the state, as required by law. On July 6, officers with the Vidalia Police Department responded to the Mississippi River for a boating accident that caused 5 civilians to be thrown over board.  Officers quickly responded to the area where they were told the accident was approximately 2 miles south of the Mississippi Bridge. Multiple civilians along with Wildlife and Fisheries swiftly put boats in the river and was able to rescue all 5 civilians with one civilian suffering from an head injury. 

From the Natchez Democrat: (Mayor Dan) Gibson said it is with the favor of God that Natchez continues to be blessed, as a city that follows his command to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. “We see too much bickering in Jackson. We see too much bickering in Washington. Let it be said of us that we set a new standard, that in keeping with our commitment to you and to the oath that we have taken in the presence of God Almighty, we’d look to his favor in his time because in his time all is made whole,” he said. “Had we gotten the (RAISE) grant a year ago leaving 12 million on the table, we also would have missed out on the opportunity to now improve crosswalk safety at every intersection of downtown Natchez. It wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t walked in God’s favor. So many great things are coming our way.”   

Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said he wants to see the completion of the resurfacing of D.A. Biglane Street. The town will increase code enforcement for blighted properties and combat litter. Craft said he will assist volunteers who will place a replica of the war memorial wall from Washington, D.C., on the Vidalia Riverfront. The town will sponsor several safe streets and sidewalk initiatives, renovate the fire station and the Council on Aging building and work on the initial construction of Polk Park.

Shaquille Williams

During Natchez’s July 4 celebrations, city officials, including Dan Gibson, Billie Joe Frazier and Curtis Moroney commended Natchez athletes who participated in the Special Olympics in Biloxi recently. Shaquille Williams from Natchez was named Special Olympics Athlete of the Year for Mississippi.   

Becky Albert is Ferriday’s new town clerk. She was appointed by Mayor Alvin Garrison. Albert has previously served as municipal court clerk.   

On July 6, officers with the Vidalia Police Department responded to the Mississippi River for a boating accident that caused 5 civilians to be thrown over board. Officers quickly responded to the area where they were told the accident was approximately 2 miles south of the Mississippi Bridge. Multiple civilians along with Wildlife and Fisheries swiftly put boats in the river and was able to rescue all 5 civilians with one civilian suffering from an head injury.

THE FLOWER STATION: 387 John R. Junkin Dr., Natchez. All occasion florist. Beautiful SUMMER 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

Headliners announced for balloon fest

Chapel Hart will be the headlining band for Natchez Balloon Festival October 18-19. For more info, go to Natchezballoonfestival.com

Natchez songwriter and lyricist Glen Ballard will be added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the entertainment industry. 

Two inmates escaped from the Claiborne County Detention Centeron July 5 around 2:20 a.m. Tyrekennel Collins, 24, was being held for Copiah County. Dezarrious Johnson, 18, who was being held for Jefferson County but is from the Natchez area. They were captured within 24 hours and now face felony escape charges. 

Appointment to commission coming

The City of Natchez Planning Commission is looking to add one member to serve on the commission. Applicants should have a demonstrated knowledge of or interest, competence, or expertise in planning, construction, engineering, architecture, education or other relevant experience. If you are interested in serving on the Planning Commission, please submit a resume with relevant experience to the Mayor’s Office, 124 S. Pearl Street, Natchez, MS or by email to mayor@natchez.ms.us. Aldermen make the appointment.

The City of Natchez has scheduled live entertainment on July 4 the Bluff -- 3 .pm.: Cha Cha Boo; 5:p.m.: The Lincoln Outfit; 7 p.m.: Mira Got Soul. Miss-Lou Fireworks on the river start at 9:30 p.m.

The trial of Benjamin Ceasor, 29, of Ferriday, has been reset for July 10 He is charged with the vehicular homicide death of Jason Tyson in March. He aslo faces charges of aggravated flight from an office, possession of weapons by a felon, negligent injuring and domestic abuse battery. In 2017 he was charged with two counts of attempted second degree murder and criminal damage for a drive-by shooting and sentenced to five years for burglary.

Natchez Water Works Has Launched a New Online Account Management and Payment Portal 

VISIT natchezwaterworks.com and register today to obtain access to the following features: VIEW your statements online; RECEIVE email and phone notifications; ENROLL to receive text notifications; ENROLL in automatic payments; SCHEDULE future payments and/or GO paperless. Creating an account is easy! Simply follow the few steps once visiting the new payment portal website. Click "Register Here" under the "Quick Pay" button and use your customer number. After you register and log into your account, please verify all contact information was transferred over from the old billing software correctly. If there are any inaccuracies, please update them on the portal. 

Contact Numbers: Office (8a-5p): 601-445-5521. After Hours (Emergency): 601-445-5521 press 8. Pay by Phone: 601-445-5521 press 3 or call directly at 601-864-1725150 North Shields Lane.

Arthur L. Grayson, 55, of Natchez was arrested by Adams deputies in April 2022 for trafficking in Oxycodone and released on bond. In Jan. 2024, deputies arrested him for sale of Roxicodone. He was released on bond. Now Adams Special Operations deputies have arrested him one more time, along with two other men, for trafficking more than 600 Roxicodone tabs worth $20,000. Deputies seized 9 vehicles, more than $3000 in cash and other items in the bust and follow-up investigation. Those arrested included Quentin L. Pollard, 35, and Alphonse Lewis, 60, both of St Francisville. DA Tim Cotton says Grayson goes to trial in August on the accused’s charges from 2022. Also, the DA has filed to revoke Grayson’s bond. Even if there’s a hung jury or not guilty verdict in August, Grayson will held in jail pending trial because of his trafficking arrests. He is a continuing threat and likely to reoffend. 

Adams Supervisor Ricky Gray has backed off his stand that United Infrastructure needs to improve its garbage collection services. The county sent a letter to the company outlining poor service, including not sticking to schedule, using poor equipment, allowing trash to fly off trucks into roadways and other deficiencies. Gray says his original motion and intent were misinterpreted by his fellow supervisors. The letter sent spells out the problems in detail. If United does not fix the problems, the county can fine the company, terminate the contract or sue the company. Gray has continually supported both the old bankrupt company and the new company despite service problems and escalating costs.   

Terrence Shelvy Jr., 20, of Natchez, was arrested for the shooting murder of Mikel Chatman in Natchez in 2021. Shelvy gunned down the unarmed Chatman after Chatman tried to break up a fight between Shelvy and another teen. The accused killer was released on bond and soon after being released then robbed a man at a c-store in Fayette. Now the killer has plead guilty and received a 30 year sentence for the second degree murder of Chatman. DA Tim Cotton handled the prosecution. Judge Debra Blackwell delivered sentence.   

Sam King

Vidalia Police Chief Joey Merrill says former Ferriday Police Chief Sam King will be hired as an investigator for the Vidalia Police Department. Sam did an outstanding job for Ferriday. Vidalia will benefit from his service.   

The Bude Community Center will host a "Franklin County Sings the Gospel" event starting at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 13. The event will take place at the Community Center, which is the forearm Methodist Church on Main Street in Bude. Featured performers include: New Grace, Vance Woodcock, The Community Choir, Larry Wallace, Boo & Crew, Jill and Jordan Gilbert, Ebenezer Church Choir, Gail Collins and Evelyn Higgins. The schedule is subject to change, but the finale of the event will be, all singers and visitors joining together to sing "Amazing Grace." Dinner plates will be sold starting at 5 p.m. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Bude Community Center.

Natchez aldermen have appointed Louis Davis as interim director of Natchez Transit.   

Timothy Downs

The CPSO Cyber Crime Unit began investigating allegations of lewd acts performed in the presence of a child at a Ferriday residence. Last Friday, the victim disclosed details of the incident to forensic interviewers from the Alexandria Child Advocacy Center and an arrest warrant was obtained for the perpetrator. He was taken into custody the same day and booked into the CPSO jail. No further information can be released at this time. Arrested was Timothy Downs, 47, of Ferriday, for Indecent Behavior with Juveniles, victim under age 13 and Molestation of a Juvenile, victim under age 13.

Ferriday Mayor Alvin Garrison appointed C. J. Hall as police chief and Danny Cupit as fire chief. Best wishes and congratulations to both. Vidalia Police Chief Joey Merrill says former Ferriday Police Chief Sam King will be hired as an investigator for the Vidalia Police Department. Sam did an outstanding job for Ferriday. Vidalia will benefit from his service. 

Appeal suit filed

Truth Lounge has filed its appeal to Adams County Circuit Court. The planning commission withdrew its permission for the bar to operate and the aldermen rejected Truth’s appeal. Truth may argue that the city did not follow its own rules in permitting and that it singled out the lounge for selective and improper enforcement and denial to operate. If the circuit judge rules in Truth’s favor, the bar could be allowed to reopen, and the bar could sue the city for loss of income, damages and attorney fees. If Truth loses its appeal at circuit court, it might still be able to appeal to the state’s appeals court.   

The Concordia Parish School Board has rejected two lease proposals to rent the Southern Designs building for a central office building. The board is concerned that the rental costs are excessive and terms are not in the interest of the district. The same goes for its former location owned by Joby Weeks which had mold issues. The rent is expensive and the place too small. Both owners are asking above market price for their buildings.   

The Natchez School District will use more than $5 million in COVID relief funds to repair and improve Robert Lewis Magnet School and the David Steckler Multipurpose Building. 

Mark Sturivant

Convicted church burglar, Mark Sturdivant, 37, of Natchez, has been sentenced to 14 years in jail. He was on parole for a felony conviction in Amite County. Since he violated his parole, he will have to serve the 3 years remaining from the Amite sentence for a total of 17 years. DA Tim Cotton’s office secured the conviction and sentence. 

Concordia deputies arrested Elna Etheridge, 84, of Vidalia, for aggravated assault. She has been released on bond. Deputies charged Leigh Ann Chafton, 42, of Vidalia, with theft greater than $1000 value. She has been released on bond. Deputies arrested Michael R. Sereal, 37, of New Iberia, for conspiracy to distribute drugs and introduction of drugs and contraband into a penal facility. He is being held in jail. He is a convicted sex offender and was arrested for kidnapping a 10 year old girl in 2021. 

Judge Debra Blackwell sentenced Michael “Traedo” Thomas to 40 years in jail after he plead guilty for the second degree murder of Johnny Mason in 2022.

Shoot-out in Natchez

Natchez police say a Toyota carrying four people ages 17-21 was stopped at the intersection George F. West Blvd. and West Stiers Lane on Wednesday night. The occupants of a passing car opened fire, wounding two males and injuring a female by broken glass in the Toyota. The fourth person was not hurt. The victims returned fire. It’s unknown whether their return fire hit the intended targets. The wounded and injured were treated at Merit Health and released.  Police are not sure whether the vIctims' story was truthful. Anyone with any information about the shooting is asked to call the Natchez Police Department. No arrests have been made.

The Jonesville Police Department and Catahoula Sheriff's Office both received calls of a body being located behind a residence at 605 E.H. Johnson Street in Jonesville on June 26. Upon arrival, officers found the body of a deceased female. There was no obvious signs of trauma. The body has been sent to Lake Charles for an autopsy. This matter is still under investigation at this time. Police Chief MacArthur Tolliver and Sheriff Toney Edwards ask that if anyone has any additional information on this incident,  please contact the Jonesville Police Department at 318-339-9886 or the Catahoula Parish Sheriff's Office at 318-744-5411. 

The Natchez School District will spend $88 million in the coming year, of which $14.4 million will be contributed by Adams County taxpayers. The school board will ask supervisors for $138,000 more in subsidy. Supervisors have the option of raising taxes to cover the additional expense or absorbing the amount and rearranging their own budget.

Chae Lee Coles

Chae Lee Coles, 40, of Ferriday, is being held in the parish jail, after he allegedly stabbed and killed a dog during a family argument. He has been charged with felony aggravated cruelty to an animal. If convicted, he faces 1-10 years in jail and a $5,000-$25,000 fine. He also has pending shoplifting charges. 

The CPSO Cyber Crime Unit began investigating an adult subject, who made contact with what he believed to be a minor online for illegal purposes. The subject engaged in lewd conversation, requesting to meet, while also asking that the minor send him lewd photos. Upon positive identification, a warrant was obtained for his arrest. He was taken into custody today by the Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office and will be extradited to Concordia Parish for prosecution. Sheriff Hedrick would like to thank Sheriff Jason Ard and the LPSO for their assistance in the matter. Arrested was Jeffrey W. Reine, 46, Denham Springs, for Computer Aided Solicitation of a Minor and Indecent Behavior with Juveniles. 

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents cited a southwestern Louisiana man on June 17 for allegedly illegally taking a Louisiana black bear in Concordia Parish. Agents cited Madison M. Watkins, 36, of Welsh, for taking a bear during a closed season and two counts of failing to validate his deer harvest. Agents received information that Watkins harvested a black bear in Concordia Parish in December of 2023. During the investigation, agents made contact with Watkins’ on June 17 and he admitted to taking a black bear with a compound bow on the Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge on Dec. 12, 2023. He also admitted to taking two antlered deer in Calcasieu Parish in October of 2023 and failing to validate the tags on both deer. Agents seized two sets of four point deer antlers and the compound bow. Taking a bear during a closed season brings a $900 to $950 fine and up to 120 days in jail. Failing to validate deer tags carries up to a $350 fine. Watkins may also face civil restitution totaling $10,000 for the replacement value of the illegally taken bear.

Bridge repairs

Natchez aldermen will open bids July 23 to repair the Canal Street Bridge over the railroad. Aldermen expect the repairs to be completed within 100 days of the start of the project.

Ferriday officials said Paul W. Baxter, 61, of Lynn Haven Drive, died at a fire at his home early morning Wednesday. Cause of the fire is not known. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the cause of death. Prayers for Paul and his family. 

Concordia deputies arrested Jermaine Griggs, 24, of Ridgecrest and Ferriday, for possession of drugs for intent to distribute, flight from an officer, possession of drug paraphernalia and miscellaneous traffic violations. In 2023, Ferriday police arrested him for five counts of aggravated assault and illegal use of a firearm. He has previous arrests for drug possession. In a separate arrest, Concordia deputies arrested David R. Swillie, 45, of Vidalia, for possession of stolen firearms, possession of a firearm with controlled substances, possession of Sch. 1 drugs and misdemeanor vehicle violations. He is being held in the parish jail. 

Myra Williams

The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office began an investigation on June 23rd into a complaint made by a resident of the Sunshine Therapeutic Group Home, that a staff member had thrown her on the floor and held her down by her neck. CPSO was initially dispatched to the Group Home to assist staff with residents who were in a physical altercation. During the time at the Group Home, CPSO deputies discovered that one of the children was allegedly assaulted by a staff member. The child was taken to a local hospital for examination and treatment of her injuries. She was held in a safe location until the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services could take custody of the child and find a new placement for her. Myra Williams was arrested late last night after CPSO deputies obtained warrants for cruelty to a juvenile.  The Sunshine Therapeutic Group Home, owned by Tina Bruce and located on Highway 84 between Vidalia and Ferriday and is allowed to house up to ten females who are between the ages of 12-17 years old. The children living in the home are either in the custody of Louisiana Dept. of Child and Family Services or Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice. Arrested was Myra Williams, 59, of Vidalia, for Cruelty to a Juvenile. 

The Franklin County School Board will spend $389,000 for property insurance this coming year, up from $365,000. The new policy includes some flood insurance for the softball field house and concession stand, which suffered from creek flooding this past year. The policy includes a general rate increase and slightly higher deductibles for wind and hail damage. 

Whest Shirley is the new high school and middle school principal for Cathedral School, replacing Robin Branton, who resigned her post. Shirley recently retired from the Concordia school system.

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Population estimates

New Census estimates update population figures for Southwest Mississippi counties. Adams 28,408, Wilkinson 8,143, Amite 7,642, Franklin, Jefferson 7,087, Claiborne 8,805, Copiah 27,719, Lincoln 34,717, and Pike 39,644.

Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Natchez is registering now for Kids College! The college will offer a variety of camps for kids during the month of July. All camps, excluding tennis, are held at Co-Lin’s Natchez Campus. Showstoppers will learn all about the art of theatre, including acting, audition techniques, scene study, and much more. This camp is taught by theatre director Malori Giannaris and is open to all students grades 5th-9th regardless of previous experience in theatre. Camp will be held July 8-18 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. (no camp on July 12) for a fee of $85. Clever Crochet teaches all about the art of crochet, including the basics of crocheting with a hook as well as skills to make flowers or baskets. The camp is taught by Gabby Champ for $65. Students will need a 5.75 mil. hook. Camp for grades 2nd-5th is July 8-11 and camp for grades 6th-9th is July 15-18 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Dancing and Cheer Dynamics will teach students the basics of dance, cheer, twists, tumbling positions, flexibility, balance, and more. The class touches on dance styles such as ballet, jazz, and hip-hop. Instructor Danielle Gaylor will lead the class for a cost of $65. Camp for grades 6th-8th is July 8-11 and camp for grades 2nd-5th is July 15-18 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Custom Treasures will teach the fundamentals of jewelry making through designing bead bracelets and learning to style and design unique, handmade bracelets using a variety of materials. The class is taught by Robin Grennell for a cost of $60. Camp for grades 2nd-4th is July 8-11 and camp is grades 7th-9th is July 15-18 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tennis offers participants the opportunity to learn the mechanics of basic strokes, rules, scoring, tennis etiquette, and footwork. Participants needs to bring their own racket, towel, hat, and water. Camp is from 9-11 a.m. at Duncan Park. Camp for grades 7th-8th is July 8-11 and camp for grades 2nd-5th is July 15-18. Tennis Camp is taught by Jordan Mitchell for a cost of $70. To register for any of the above camps, contact Kimberly Grover at 601.446.1103 or Kimberly.grover@colin.edu. Class sizes are limited and registration is required. 

The number of employed workers in Adams County increased to 10,070 in May, up 90 jobs from a year ago, when the county had 9,980 people employed. The county has an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent. Concordia Parish has 6,608 workers with jobs, compared to last May's 6,661 people employed, a decline of 53 employed. The parish jobless rate is 4.9 percent.

Judges John Reeves and Kathy Johnson

Complaints had been filed with Seventh District Judicial Court that Judge John Reeves and Judge Kathy Johnson should recuse themselves from pending cases because two judicial assistants of the court were also working as employees of the Catahoula Sheriff’s Office. It was alleged the judges could not render decisions fairly since judicial staff was also working as law enforcement. The two judicial employees had sought commissions as reserve deputies so they could carry handguns on duty and receive handgun training, as the Catahoula courthouse and staff had received threats. But the request for the commissions was withdrawn within five days of initial filing. Judge James Brodie heard the motions for recusal and ruled that no recusal was necessary, as the judicial assistants took no actions acting as law enforcement and continued to work only for the judges. Additionally, the request for commissions by the two employees as reserve deputies had been withdrawn before the Clerk of Court had filed the oaths with the state.

Adams deputies arrested Brandi S. Ware, 31, of Natchez, for felony false pretense. Ware has served time for being twice convicted of shoplifting. She is scheduled to be released on bond in the next 48 hours. 

The Concordia Sheriff’s Office reports that Mike Rhinehart, 69, of Natchez, drowned at Lake St. John Saturday. Rhinehart jumped into the water from his boat to help his wife, Cheryl, who had fallen into the water. Cheryl survived with a head injury and lacerations, but Mike did not. 

Peyton Reeves

Catahoula Sheriff Toney Edwards has officially and publicly commended Deputy Peyton Reeves for her heroic and life saving actions on April 8. A driver had wrecked his pickup near the intersection of Hwy. 126 and 923. As Reeves stopped to help, she noticed the driver had suffered a very large and bleeding wound from his chin to neck. Reeves removed her deputy shirt, leaving on her undershirt and used her duty shirt to stop the blood flow and apply compression to the wound until AMR emergency personnel arrived on the scene. Reeves’ quick response saved the injured man from bleeding and additional trauma that could have killed him if let unattended. 

Whest Shirley is the new high school and middle school principal for Cathedral School, replacing Robin Branton, who resigned her post. Shirley recently retired from the Concordia school system.

Mark McCann, 63, a beloved teacher and coach at Cathedral School, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 63. 

Property tax hike possible

The Natchez School District has issued a legal notice that it is spending $80 million this year and plans to spend $88 million next year, which would require Adams supervisors to increase property taxes. The legal notice does not comply with state law, as the school district is required not only to publicize the amount of its budget but how much specifically in dollars and cents the school board wants in extra funding. As long as the school district runs essentially an illegal legal notice, supervisors are not required to give the district any extra money, until the district complies with the law. 

The 2024 Ward Graning Scholarships have been awarded to Caroline Rout (Concordia Parish Academy), Bennett Gilly (Cathedral), Kailisa White (Natchez High) and Camren Strittman (ACCS

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said the U.S. Department of Transportation will give Natchez a $24.6 million grant to improve the roadway, sidewalks, crosswalks, lighting and streetscapes from the Butch Brown flyover on D’Evereux to St. Catherine St., Jefferson St. and eventually the Bluff. The RAISE grant is supposed to complement the construction and offerings at the Forks of the Road, Revels Plaza to the planned Civil War black soldiers monument for the bluff. The grant application had the support of Sen. Roger Wicker, Rep. Bennie Thompson and the National Park Service.   

Jobs numbers

It’s still too early to say whether the number of jobs in Adams will increase, decrease or stay about the same for 2024. The first quarter was a bit slack. The May figures showed the expected spring upswing in jobs, with 10,070 employed. Note: the 2020 figures are a bit of an anomaly, as the pandemic closures and layoffs whacked the economy. 

The CPSO Cyber Crime Unit began investigating an adult subject, communicating with what he believed to be a minor online in a sexual manner. Upon making contact, the subject engaged in lewd conversation, requesting photos in return. Upon positive identification, he was discovered to be employed by the Lafayette Parish School board and was taken into custody today by the Carencro Police Department. He was booked into the LPSO jail and will be extradited to Concordia Parish. Sheriff Hedrick would like to thank the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office and the Carencro Police Department for their quick assistance in the matter. Arrested was Cody Allen Talley, 37, of Carencro, La.,  for Indecent Behavior with Juveniles. 

The Concordia Sheriff’s Office reports a Natchez man drowned at Lake St. John Saturday. The man jumped into the water from his boat to help his wife, who had fallen into the water. The man’s name has not yet been released.

Traedo to be sentenced

The prosecution is asking that  Michael “Traedo” Thomas, 25, of Natchez, be sentenced to 40 years for the second degree shooting murder of Ricardo Mason at Holiday Apartments in 2022. Sentencing will be later this month. He was previously sentenced to five years for aggravated assault and let out early. He was arrested for kidnapping his girlfriend. “Traedo” became widely known for his YouTube videos filmed with his gang, threatening violence and death to people who opposed him.     

Convicted drug dealer Keisha Campbell, 41, of Natchez,  has been sentenced to 15 years in prison. According to her sentencing, she must serve at least 10 years. She had been released on parole in 2022 and was promptly arrested for selling Xanax, Ecstasy and meth. She has a history of felony arrests and convictions for drugs and illegal gun possession.

Judge Debra Blackwell has sentenced Shalece Thomas, 35, of Natchez, to 20 years for the manslaughter shooting death of her mother on Thanksgiving Day, 2022. Thomas was wanted for second degree murder in Dallas, Texas, at the time of the Natchez shooting. 

Catahoula accident kills two

On June 21, at approximately 11:13 p.m., Louisiana State Police Troop E responded to a two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 84 west of Louisiana Highway 913. The crash claimed the lives of 58-year-old Fredrick Washington of Jonesville and a 5-year-old juvenile passenger of Latrobe, PA.The initial investigation revealed that a 2018 Kia Soul, driven by 25-year-old Viktoria Jones of Latrobe, PA, was westbound on U.S. Highway 84. For reasons still under investigation, the Kia crossed the centerlines into the eastbound travel lane and collided head-on with a 2011 Nissan Maxima, driven by Washington. Jones, who was not restrained, sustained moderate injuries and was transported to a local hospital. Two juvenile passengers in the Kia, who were restrained, sustained moderate injuries and were transported to a local hospital. An additional juvenile passenger in the Kia, who was restrained with a lap belt only, sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. Washington, who was not restrained, sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced dead on scene. Three juvenile passengers and one adult passenger, who were not restrained, sustained serious injuries and were transported to a local hospital. Routine toxicology samples were obtained and submitted for analysis.   

Adams County supervisors have decided to send United Infrastructure a letter of complaint regarding its garbage collection service. Supervisors say United fails to keep a regular schedule, fails to pick up garbage at all homes, uses inadequate equipment, allows garbage to fly off its trucks and the workers leave trash and garbage on roads and driveways from emptied trash cans. Supervisors will ask United to make effective remedies. Supervisor Kevin Wilson said the company is providing the same level of lousy service it did before its bankruptcy. But the company still has the support of Supervisors Hutchins, Gaines and Gray, who chose the company initially because it was a black owned company. Cities around Louisiana, including New Orleans, and cities with black run governments have dumped the company because its service is so bad.

Governor Jeff Landry has appointed Vidalia Police Chef Joey Merrill to the Crime Victims Reparations Board.

Slight dip in tax collections

Natchez sales tax collections are distributed from the state to the city: July 2023-May 2024 $5,267,000; July 2022-May 2023, $5,416,000. The slight decrease from 2023 reflects a slowing economy.   

Vidalia aldermen will receive a raise to $1000 per month, a five percent increase. Town employees also get a five percent raise with the new budget that begins July 1.

Fritz Street Park in Jonesville  is receiving a facelift and a new name. The Jonesville Town Council voted last week to change the name to Vault-Mackey Park. Mayor Loria Hollins and the Jonesville Town Council renamed the park during the June 11 meeting. The two men’s love for the park, field, and community, led to the decision to honor the late Chief of Police and Town Councilman Benny Vault, Sr. and former Jonesville Police Department Captain Earl Mackey, Sr. Both men worked tirelessly to build the softball field from the ground up. The park was maintained at their own expense to ensure everyone would have an opportunity to enjoy baseball and softball. (Catahoula News Booster story and photo)

Vidalia dog pound

There is no truth to the online rumor that the Vidalia Animal Shelter will kill animals when the town takes over the operation. The city owned facility will be run as a dog pound versus a shelter, which means animals will be released back to owners, adoptive homes found or dogs transferred to actual long term shelters if no home is found. Dogs that are vicious and dangerous or dogs that are terminally ill or mortally injured will be assessed by a vet as to what is best to do for that specific dog. The aldermen have not determined the rules and regulations for the dog pound as it transitions from a shelter. Those guidelines and rules will be discussed in open meeting beforehand and then voted on with public input. The dog pound will be run under the auspices of the police department. Inmates will help care for the animals. A vet will provide examinations and special medical care. The current shelter is in the process of adopting out all its current animals.   

The Franklin County Family Medical Group plans to build a new clinic on 27 acres it recently purchased. The new facility should open in late 2025. 

Concordia deputies arrest Lawrence Gardner, 48, of Ferriday, for two counts of threatening a public official, unlawful use of a social networking site and two counts of sex offender violation. He is bringing held in the parish jail. He has previous been arrested for failing to register as a sex offender.   

Truth appeal denied

Natchez aldermen voted 3-2 to sustain the planning commission decision to withdraw Truth Lounge’s special exception. Aldermen Moroney, Hall and Smith voted in the majority and Aldermen Frazier and Irvin were in the minority. Ben Davis was absent. Now that Truth has been denied permission to operate by the planning commission and the aldermen, it’s expected the bar will file suit to try to recover its privilege to operate.

Ryan Mullen, 43, of Jayess, was one of the operator-owners of the Hotel Vue in Natchez in recent years. He and his partner were previously convicted and sentenced on two separate bank and financial fraud schemes on his Natchez property. Now he has been indicted by an Adams County grand jury for three counts of tax evasion and one count of embezzlement. Adams County deputies and a U.S. Marshal picked him up in Jayess and brought him to Adams County for arraignment. 

The Lake St. John Flotilla parade will be held July 6 at 2 p.m.   

 Kidnapper shot and killed

Adams Sheriff Travis Patten said a domestic disturbance resulted in Calvin Carter forcing Tawana Jones at gunpoint into his car and kidnapped her. As Carter sped away from Carmel Church Road, Jones’s son pursued Carter’s car to Shieldsboro Road, where shots were fired and Carter was mortally wounded. He succumbed to his injuries. Jones was taken to Merit Health for treatment of her injuries. She suffered broken bones and bruises, was treated and released. Deputies continue to investigate the case. No arrests have been made. 

An Adams County jury convicted Reginald Butler of the 2020 shooting murder of Braylon James. The storyline was somewhat confused by the pleadings of the defense, including attorney Zack Jex, who said Butler shot and killed in self defense. In the end, the jury didn’t really buy the self defense argument argued by attorney Chris Green, as the victim was shot in the back and the only bullet casings found at the scene belonged to defendant Butler. The jury found Butler guilty of manslaughter. Judge Debra Blackwell sentenced him to 20 years in prison. With good behavior, he could be out in 5-8 years. 

Natchez aldermen will spend $40,000 to make major repairs to the Judge Armstrong Library air conditioning system. Aldermen previously did a/c repairs there in 2013 and 2015. The library will continue with reduced hours, open mornings only, until the condenser and air handler arrive and the repairs are completed in a few weeks.   

Silver Street upgrade on hold

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said the Silver Street roadway project is on hold. Despite $2 million in grants and $500,000 in expected donations from riverboats, the cost of the project has risen to be unaffordable. The lower part of Silver Street floods every few years, and the city had hoped to raise the level of the street.

The city of Natchez did not attract any bidders to microseal dozens of streets. The mayor said the project will not be rebid at this time as microseal contractors have no openings in their schedules for more work. Microsealing is an inferior way to treat streets, as high traffic will seriously degrade the coating within a few years. It is better used in parking lots, where the renewed surface will usually last 6-8 years. It does extend the life of city streets but not for very long. Microsealing works better on streets that are already in good condition or have little or no traffic. On streets that are in poor or fair condition, the results are often less than satisfactory in terms of durability or service life.   

Jonesville aldermen approved an ordinance that would require bars to hire certified security officers. An officer would have to be on duty if there are 75 or more patrons. For every additional 75 patrons, another officer must be added. If five or more officers are on duty, one shall be designated supervisor. Mayor Loria Hollins said the extra protection is needed because of increasing violence at and near the bars.  

Water rates increasing?

Vidalia may raise its water rates. The state requires utilities to break even or make a small profit. And water ratepayers, those actually receiving water, are not supposed to be subsidized by taxpayers. 

While Ferriday aldermen considered Andre Keys proposal to raise their pay $300 per month, they voted 3-2 against the increase due to the town’s stressed financial condition. The town also has serious service issues, including broken sewage pipes and poor quality water. 

Walt Grayson will be at the Gazebo on the Bluff in Natchez Friday, June 14 from 4-6 p.m. piecing in some live bits to WJTV Meet Mississippi’s famous weatherman and host of Mississippi Roads. The public is invited.

Teen charged with murder

Jefferson County deputies arrested Christopher Barnes Jr., 13, for allegedly stabbing and killing his stepfather, Philip Queen, 34, of Fayette. The juvenile was charged with murder and arraigned as an adult. He has received no bond and is in jail. 

The 2024 Miss-Lou Career & Resource Fair featured 35 major employers from both sides of the River at the Natchez Convention Center. Approximately 100-125 job seekers attended today seeking career opportunities and our employers were available to discuss what opportunities are available now and in the near future. 

Brad Jones, CEO of the Bank of Franklin, has been elected president of the Miss. Bankers Association.

Natchez visitor

A black bear was seen on John R. Junkin Drive in Natchez on Jun 10. The bear was also seen on Homochitto St. 

In Feb. 2023, Kemonte Leonard, 20, of Ferriday, was arrested by Ferriday police for theft of a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen AR15 rifle and possession of other stolen goods. Police said Leonard had participated in auto burglaries at Maryland Heights and a shooting there. They also believed he participated in four unrelated shootings in Ferriday in 2022. Now Natchez police have arrested him after he terrorized his girlfriend and her children at Susie B. West Apartments. He has been charged with aggravated assault, burglary and grand larceny. He allegedly tried to set fire to the apartment.   

Concordia deputies arrested Byron J. Burns, 33, of Clayton, for aggravated assault and aggravated criminal damage to property. In 2022, deputies charged him with aggravated assault with a firearm, violating a protective order and resisting an officer. In 2017, we was arrested for simple assault. He is being held in the parish jail. In a separate arrest, deputies arrested Duncan Miller, 24, address not released, for possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, possession of drugs and violation of probation and parole. He remains in the parish jail.

Planning commission deadlocks

On April 30, the City of Natchez Planning Commission mailed letters to most homeowners living within 160 Feet of the boundary of the former Children's Home located at 806 North Union Street; several homeowners did not receive this notice. Application PC-2415. Charles E Stuart Sr. for New Hope Missionary Baptist Church request to approve a Special Exception to re-establish the nonconforming use of the property as a Children's Home. Homeowners could fill out the form letter with their objection and return it to City Planning or simply disregard it . The first hearing was scheduled at City Council Chambers on May 16. The hearing was dismissed when only five commissioners showed up so they did not have a quorum. Earlier that day, two people who live near the Children's Home delivered a petition with over 60 signatures and several letters of objection. The second hearing was scheduled for June 6. Eight commissioners were present with Cheryl Rinehart as the chair. Many more people attended the second hearing than the first. There were about six speakers for each side of the issue. Rev Stanley Searcy of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, the owner of 806 North Union Street said he did not receive a letter. He only knew about the hearing when he noticed a sign posted in front of the building by the street. Charles Stuart Sr and their attorney from the Cochran Law Firm in Jackson, Ms did not have the 3 minute limit on their speeches as the other speakers did. One commissioner asked Stuart and the attorney FOUR times if Tina Bruce would be involved in this group home. They would not answer the question; they just kept talking about hundreds of needy children in the state that need a home. Tina Bruce was not present. The commissioners voted 4 for a group home and 4 against it. Cheryl Rinehart said that there had never been a situation like this before so they would have to consult the city attorney.

Mark LaFrancis, 75, of Natchez, has died after a battle with cancer. He came to Natchez as a reporter and then editor of The Natchez Democrat and later served as the public relations director for Co-Lin Natchez. He was an Air Force retiree, motivational speaker, wrote children’s books, co-authored a book and helped develop a documentary film on the Parchman Prison jailing of Natchez civil rights demonstrators in the 1960s. He spent much of his free time on veterans’ issues, including the Home for Heroes Foundation and its new museum. His wife, Eileen, served as Adams County Justice Court Judge for many years. Mark will be remembered as an excellent writer, smart, absolutely dedicated to veterans, Natchez and the entire community.

The Catahoula Parish Police Jury collects a one cent sales tax from residents. That levy is up for renewal this November requiring voters’ approval. The jury plans to rededicate the revenues as follows: 25 percent for garbage collection, 25 percent for roads and bridges and 50 percent for emergency services, which may include restoring ambulance service. The new formula caught local towns by surprise. Jonesville has been receiving 16.5 percent of the tax, Harrisonburg 3.5 percent and Sicily Island 5 percent with 75 percent going to the police jury. Of that 75 percent, the jury spends 25 percent on roads and bridges. The new distribution formula caught the towns by surprise, as they had used the monies to help pay for garbage collection. Now their budgets will be out of whack. The jury says it plans to use the 50 percent for ambulance service. If the voters approve the renewal, the rededication of revenues begins April 1, 2025. The parish gets about 300 ambulance calls per month, including transport and emergency calls. As of now, service is delayed and response times longer, because the parish is not paying for an ambulance station within the parish. Ambulances from Concordia and Rapides are dispatched to cover Catahoula calls. 

Adams County felons arrested in raid

On June 6, deputies with the Adams County Special Operations Group executed a narcotics search warrant pm Field view Dr. in the Cranfield area of Adams County. The Sheriff’s Office had received several complaints about the criminal activity taking place at a couple of houses on this street. During the execution of the search warrant, the target of the search warrant, Roy Ray Jr. ran to the bathroom and started flushing the drugs that he had in his possession. Deputies were able to take him into custody without incident. Deputies were able to dismantle the toilet and were able to retrieve Suboxone strips, 2 bags of marijuana, and a clear bag with pills that were beginning to dissolve in the water. Deputies also recovered a set of digital scales in the bathroom trashcan. While searching the residence, a set of Brass Knuckles and plastic baggies were recovered from the kitchen counter. Deputies learned that Roy Ray Jr. received a message from Tabitha McClain warning him that the Sheriff’s Office was coming to his house just prior to Deputies pulling into the driveway, putting the Deputies at risk. Deputies went to 11 Fieldview Dr. and arrested Tabitha McClain for Hindering Prosecution. While waiting on a transport unit, a Ford Explorer, being driven by Edrina Fay Fairchild, turned onto Fieldview and began accelerating towards the deputies standing on the side of the road. Fairchild continued accelerating toward the deputies and caused them to take evasive actions for their safety. Fairchild continued accelerating down Fieldview until she reached 37 Fieldview, where other deputies were still conducting the search warrant. Fairchild was then taken into custody for two active warrants and Reckless Driving. On June 7, Deputies with the Adams County Sheriff’s Office received information about a wanted subject (Joshua McClain) at 11 Fieldview Dr. When deputies arrived at the residence, they were able to arrest Joshua McClain for Failure to Appear warrant. Deputies also located James Johnston who had active warrants for Trespassing and Chastity Hammers who had active felony warrants for Probation Violation in Louisiana. Deputies were able to confirm that Louisiana would extradite Hammers and she was then placed under arrest. All three were transported to the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and booked in. Roy Ray Jr., 49, who has a long history of arrests, 23 felony charges and 12 misdemeanor charges, was arrested and charged with Possession of a Weapon by a Convicted Felon, Possession of Sch. II Drug (Suboxone), Possession of Marijuana less than 30 grams, and Tampering with Evidence. Ray is still on Probation for a prior dug charge and Mississippi Department of Corrections and Probation has filed a Probation Violation for Roy Ray Jr.. Tabitha McClain, 18, was arrested for Hindering Prosecution. Edrina Fay Fairchild, 49, was arrested for Reckless Driving and Contempt of Court Warrants. 

Ron Riches, of Los Angeles and Natchez, has died at the age of 82. He and his wife, Lani, moved to Natchez in 1978 to live part-time and restored the antebellum home Monmouth as their home, inn and restaurant. Ron was a co-founder of the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race and the Natchez Opera Festival. Known for his outgoing and energetic manner, Ron spent much of time over several decades working to improve the Natchez economy.

Jonesville violence

Jonesville will hold a public hearing June 11 at 5:45 p.m. to discuss a proposed ordinance that would require bars to hire certified security officers. An officer would have to be on duty if there are 75 or more patrons. For every additional 75 patrons, another officer must be added. If five or more officers are on duty, one shall be designated supervisor. Mayor Loria Hollins said the extra protection is needed because of increasing violence at and near the bars. 

The Eide Bailly CPA audit of Trinity Medical shows the hospital’s finances improving from 2022 to 2023. Trinity had $31.4 million in revenues in 2023 compared to $26.4 million in 2022. The hospital showed a healthy $2.2 million surplus in 2024. Trinity needs large amounts of cash on hand and a good surplus to be able to invest in its facilities, equipment and new personnel each year.

Concordia Chief Deputy Fred Middleton has been named Louisiana Deputy of the Year. He has brought more than $1 million in grants and donations to the sheriff’s office. He established the parish’s cybercrime unit under the direction of Sheriff David Hedrick. The unit has been very successful arresting cyberperps from across Louisiana and Mississippi. He also helps lead the bookkeeping, financial and operational management teams that keeps track of millions of dollars in revenues and expenses and manages personnel.

Darnell Griffith

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said Darnell Deontae Griffith, of Bude, was last seen on Monday, June 3 around 10 p.m. in the 2900 block of Highway 184 in Franklin County. He was driving in an unknown direction. Griffith is believed to be in a 2023 White Toyota Camry bearing the Mississippi tag FNA 258. Family members said Griffith suffers from a medical condition that may impair his judgment. Anyone with information on his whereabouts can contact the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office at 601-384-2323 or 911. 

The Diesel Equipment Technology Program at Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Natchez Campus offers a two-year instructional program that equips students with the essential skills and knowledge required to maintain and repair a variety of industrial diesel equipment, including agricultural tractors, commercial trucks, and construction equipment. Financial aid and scholarships are available. For more information, please contact Co-Lin Academic & Career and Technical Education Counselor Rukiya Abston at rukiya.abston@colin.edu or 601.446.1225.

Blarrington Ashley, 53, of Natchez, was arrested by Natchez police on an indictment and placed in the Concordia Parish jail pending release on bond or trial this Spring. Unexpectedly, he died while in custody. An autopsy showed he suffered from serious hypertensive and atherosclerotic heart disease and his death in late April was because of his condition. There was no foul play.

Five shooting murders

Wilkinson County has suffered five homicides in recent weeks. The two latest include the death of Henry Dyer of Woodville, who was found shot and unresponsive on the side of the road on First West Street North. He died at the scene. Police were called again the same street three days later, when a car crashed into a home. Inside the car a teen was found dead, shot to death. Two more were killed on or near First West Street. A fifth killing occurred earlier in May in Centreville. All the deaths have been from gunshots. And no one has been arrested so far. Call Crimestoppers with info 888-442-5001. Ben Davis faced Tarsha Ambeau in the Natchez Alderman Ward 5 General Election. Davis won 39-4, with few affidavit or absentee votes yet to count. All the other city races had been decided earlier, with all incumbents returned to office. 

Franklin County supervisors are expected to change the location of two unnamed voting precincts. Those two are without bathrooms and running water which makes working at the polls more difficult. The county election commission is expected to select two new locations for supervisors’ approval.   

In April, Hartwell Tiffee, 42, of Monterey, was arrested by Concordia deputies, for allegedly issuing terroristic threats and criminal damage to property. Concordia deputies said Tiffee allegedly issued similar threats to a Concordia family this past weekend. Deputies tracked him to Rapides Parish, where law enforcement there arrested him for DUI, possession of drugs, open container and speeding.  He had left a Concordia dealership in a vehicle he had pledged to buy but did not complete the paperwork. He was charged in Concordia with simple assault, criminal damage to property and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He is being held in the Rapides Parish Jail. Tifffee was charged in 2016 for the murder of Duell Moreland. The State Attorney General convened a grand jury to indict Tiffee but the jury did not do so for a lack of evidence.   

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