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Crime, legislative activity highlight 2002 first quarter

Bright glimmers of hope and love could be found amid thescattered ashes of criminal activity and fire losses thatunderscored the first quarter of 2002.

January

A late-night raid on the home of a Jayess man resulted in hisarrest and the confiscation of 19 lbs. of marijuana and a .22caliber rifle Jan. 10. Also seized was $1,376 in cash, a Mazda 626and a Chevrolet Suburban. Sheriff Joel Thames said it was thelargest amount seized in the county. The previous record was 15lbs., he said.

State legislators pledged their support to the MississippiSchool of the Arts during Brookhaven Day at the Capital ComplexJan. 15. They stressed community support and private funding wouldcontinue to play a major role in the school’s development.

Brookhaven aldermen were informed that population shifts in thelast decade have placed them in a position where redistricting wasneeded Jan. 22.

A search for a hunter who became lost and disoriented near theBogue Chitto River ended happily when he was led out more thaneight hours later.

Violence at a high school sporting event sent shockwaves throughtwo small town communities Jan. 25. A basketball game at BowlingGreen Academy in Franklinton, La., was halted in the second quarterwhen hometown fans attacked and injured the two officials callingthe varsity boys game between the academy and Brookhaven Academy.The attack came after one of the officials called a personal foulon one of the Bowling Green players. Three Bogalusa men werearrested the next week and charged with battery and disturbing thepeace in connection with the “basketbrawl.”

A former Lincoln County pastor and his family died Jan. 29 whenfire swept through their Florence home in the early morning hours.Sammy J. McDonald, 41, his wife, Patricia, 36, and their sons,Allan, 14, Lowery, 11, and Reese, 9, were killed. McDonald pastoredat Gum Grove Baptist Church in the early 1990s.

A Lincoln County man in his mid-20s was sentenced to 20 years inprison Jan. 29 after being convicted of manslaughter in the Aug. 4,2001, shooting death of another county man in the BrignallCommunity. The death was the result of an argument over who was the”baddest” while they were in high school.

February

The Ole Brook Wind Symphony made its debut with its firstperformance in the Brookhaven Elementary School auditorium.

A lot of questions still remain unanswered in the mysteriousshooting of Brookhaven real estate businesswoman Betty MontgomeryFeb. 9. Montgomery was talking to her sister on the phone when abullet entered through a bedroom window and struck her in the backof the head. She eventually recovered.

Fire gutted an historic residence on South Jackson Street Feb.12. The fire began in the kitchen and quickly engulfed the home.The house was one of the oldest in Brookhaven and was built around1873.

Mississippi lawmakers got a glimpse of the future Feb. 21 whenthey saw firsthand what progress had been made on the arts schoolduring a visit here.

Wesson Police Chief Frank Coker suffered a heart attack while onduty and was admitted to King’s Daughters Medical Center. He tookoffice in January. He returned home March 2, but was unable to workand Lance Falvey was selected as acting police chief March 5.

A cold snap the last week of February had resident scramblingfor ice scrapers and de-icers as temperatures hovered in theteens.

March

Finishing touches were made in March to the new home of SudiePalomarez and her four children. The family lost their home to anOct. 5, 2001, fire and more than 150 volunteers from the communityworked from December to March to build them a new one. The familypaid for materials while volunteers supplied the labor.

Work continued on the South First Street project in March. Theproject began in mid-January. By March, handicap ramps and othersidewalk work had been completed and a portion of the streetoverlaid with new asphalt.

Former U.S. Rep. Mike Parker was fired as an assistant secretaryof the Army March 6 after criticizing the administrative budgetproposal to cut spending on Army Corps of Engineers’ waterprojects. Parker was the civilian head of the Corps ofEngineers.

Authorities began investigating allegations of sexual harassmentof students by a teacher in the Brookhaven School District March 7.Two district instructors were suspended with pay March 20 pendingthe results of the investigation. The second instructor wasidentified during the course of the investigation.

The Whitworth Fire Loop System project was delayed March 19 whenthe city received only one bid for the work, and it was higher thanexpected.

In an effort to address a gloomy solid waste services picture,city officials began taking a closer look at the department. Solidwaste department problems would continue throughout the year.

Visitors gave good reviews to the expansion and renovation ofBrookhaven High School during a dedication ceremony March 25.Classes began in the renovated building April 2.

Editor’s Note:On Friday, the Year in Review series takes alook at happenings in April, May and June.