Help us select top news stories of 2000

Published 6:00 am Friday, December 15, 2000

As 2000 nears an end, we wanted to look back at the top newsstories in the Brookhaven and Lincoln County area.

Certainly, the presidential election will be top national newsstory for the year, but what should be the top local story? Here’syour chance to help us decide.

Listed below, in no particular order, or some of the big eventsthat happened here. We would like to narrow the list to a top 10.Mark what you think are the top 10 in the order of importance, withnumber one being the top story.

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Mail your copy to me at P.O. Box 551, bring it by the office onRailroad Ave. or fax it to me at 833-6714. To make it more fun, thefirst 10 who respond will get a prize guaranteed not to be worthanywhere close to $10.

Here are the choices:

___ Library improvement project: Lincoln County Public Libraryreceived $500,000 grant from state for project and supervisorsmatched with $500,000 bond issue. The project will addresschildren’s area expansion, handicap accessibility and otherneeds.

___ Beat system return: Following a 1999 vote, countysupervisors began operating under the beat system in October. Thecounty purchased several hundred thousand dollars in equipment forthe return, but supervisors said the equipment was neededregardless of beat or unit system of government.

___ New county jail opens: Capable of housing over 125 inmates,the new jail facility opens. Contingency fund spending requires$200,000 on top of library bond issue to complete. County pursueshousing state and federal inmates to help offset cost ofoperation.

___ Tax increases: County operations costs, plus bond issues inthe county for the library and jail and in the city for schoolrepairs, help raise tax bills for residents. County school districtresidents see a net decrease in tax rate.

___ Lake Lincoln closed for fishing: Spillway repair forcesdraining of the lake, which will be closed for fishing for twoyears. It will reopen for other activities as soon as the spillwaywork is complete and rain refills the lake.

___ New section of Highway 84 opens: This allows four-waytraffic for much of the way to Natchez. Laird’s Crossing remains asafety concern as motorists adjust to new traffic route andpatterns.

___ Old Saron cemetery: A citizens group tries to get a roadmaintained to the historic cemetery, where some of area’s firstsettlers are buried. Road efforts are unsuccessful, but awarenessof this cemetery and others like it is heightened.

___ City airport: Following a closed-door meeting, Brookhavenaldermen vote to abolish the airport governing board. Followingweeks of silence, city officials finally cite mismanagement andother reasons in the “City Record” in response to controversy. Thecity assumes operational control and a new advisory board isappointed to assist aldermen.

___ Closed meetings: Some area boards — Brookhaven and Wesson– discuss issues such as airport and weather service system behindclosed doors in questionable executive sessions.

___ Intermodal transportation center: Brookhaven gets $1 millionfederal appropriation to help plan for a new facility to house avariety of transportation services. The city pursues other fundsfor the facility, also expected to have retail shops, a restaurantand maybe a museum.

___ Chamber lodging tax: The Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamberof Commerce proposes a 2 percent tax on motels and hotels to fundtourism and retiree development efforts. Lodging establishmentofficials oppose the plan, saying the tax will send guestselsewhere.

___ Specialty Minerals Inc.: The new $20 million facility beginsoperations in Industrial Park.

___ Delphi-Packard: A $73 million capital improvements projectand the addition of over 130 jobs earns the auto parts maker”Industry of the Year” honors in Lincoln County.

___ Miss. School of the Arts work: Work begins to transform theWhitworth College campus into the Mississippi School of the Arts,slated to open in 2002. State budget woes prompt speculation offunding reductions, but officials say the state is committed toproject. Tobacco attorney Dicky Scruggs makes the first part of$500,000 donation to school.

___ BHS building work: Following $7.5 million bond issueapproval in 1999, work begins to restore the main Brookhaven HighSchool building and construct two new educational wings. BHSstudents are moved to trailer classrooms for duration ofproject.

___ Post office mail box plans: Plans to install “tacky” mailboxes for curbside delivery meets quick public opposition,especially in historic district areas of Brookhaven. Post officeultimately says plan is voluntary.

___ Student tragedies: At least four Lincoln County students andone Lawrence County student are killed in auto accidents.

___ Plane crash: Former Brookhaven residents, Dr. Jimmy Barnettand his wife Missy, are killed in the crash of their private planeat the city airport.

___ Lord’s Prayer plans: Bogue Chitto School gets statewideattention for fans’ plan to recite the Lord’s Prayer at footballgames following a Supreme Court ruling banning prayer over schoolpublic address systems.

___ Mentoring program: Brookhaven is chosen as one of eightregional centers to lead implementation of Big Brothers-Big Sistersstatewide mentoring program. City efforts get good review fromstate Attorney General Mike Moore in a December visit.

___ Balance Budget Act impact: BBA problems force King’sDaughters Medical Center to transfer rural clinic operations to theFranklin County hospital and to later close its home health careservices.

___ Weather: An extended hot summer makes everyone miserable.Lincoln County is placed under a temporary burn ban due to extremehigh temps and dry conditions.

___ Franklin County Lake project: Lake Okhissa is officiallynamed and work begins on a new attraction for area.

Vote soon, and watch for the results later in The DAILYLEADER.